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MINUTE PARTICULARS

SOUTH BOUNDING!

“Here is signed . . . Names which are too Holy to be Written”
Blake’s Thornton Marginalia

The double meaning in Blake’s wirey bounding line is perhaps present in all of his uses of the word “bounding”—or at least of the terms “bounding line” and “outline.” Blake’s line of beauty/energy, “the bounding line and its infinite inflexions and movements” (Descriptive Catalogue 15), is conceived of as doing two things: (1) delineating—“the falling Mind labour’d / Organizing itself” (B Los 4:49-50), “And Orc began to Organize a Serpent body” (FZ 7:80:44), “embodied and organized in solid marble” (Descriptive Catalogue 4), “Branchy forms: organizing the Human” (B Los 4:44)—(2) leaping—as when Tharmas, boundary god, travels by “high bounding over hills & desarts floods & horrible chasms” (FZ 6:69:24). In short, delineating through movement.

Less noticed, or noticed but seldom recalled, is Blake’s expression of the delight he and Catherine felt in their Felpham cottage as the first winter set in:

Our cottage is surrounded by the same guardians you left with us; they keep off every wind. We hear the west howl at a distance, the south bounds on high over our thatch, and smiling on our cottage says: “You lay too low for my anger to injure.” As to the east and north, I believe they cannot get past the Turret. (To Hayley 26 November 1800)
Jerusalem 32(36).   Copy D, Harvard College Library.
Is it only the south wind that bounds (a sufficient meaning for Hayley) or is it not the South itself? Los’s furnaces are in the south now and cathedron’s looms (Jerusalem 59:23); in the south remains a burning fire (18), a furnace of dire flames from Orc’s cave (FZ 6:74:14). The south is where the golden bow lies, to be seized (Jerusalem 97); it is where the golden fire burns when the day begins, the revolution; unfallen, Urizen prince of light dwelt in the south, the “bright South.” When Luvah took charge it became the “fiery south.” Orc the first born coiled in the South—for the serpent can coil to bind . . . or to bound up in Human form.

In Jerusalem 32(36) when the poet describes the Four Zoas raging in East & West & North & South and changing their situations, he watches Albion seeing the Elements divide. “And Urizen assumes the East, Luvah assumes the South.” Blake then begins to announce the names of the Zoas “in the Vegetative Generation” (line 33)—only to scour from the copper plate and keep secret the list of their names that was to be line 34. Fifteen years ago in “The Suppressed and Altered Passages in Blake’s Jerusalem” (Studies in Bibliography 17 [1964]:21) I managed to decipher the four compass-point names, with their actions—all but the “action” of South that must be a transforming match for the weighing and dividing of the three others:

[West Weighing East & North dividing Generation South [ ]ing]

Yesterday the mail brought a thesis chapter from Nelson Hilton on Blake’s polysemous language, and when I returned to the task of one more try at the unsolved riddles of text the question that hung over this line was What polysemous word can fit here for South? I brought out my enlarged photographs of that part of the Jerusalem page in all copies, and a piece of workable acetate, and the Concordance—where Blake’s winter letter to Hayley offered the perfect fit: South bounding! The bounce in “bounding” sets the South in motion, to leap over the Blakes’ thatch. A fine hypothesis: would Blake’s inscribed “bounding” fit the remnant edges of letters in the photographs? I am bound to confess that it delights me to say that it did; it does!

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Here is a full restoration—with semicolons added for the phrasing Blake seems to have wanted (though no punctuation can be recovered from this gouged abyss; see how he uses semicolons in line 42 of this page): [West Weighing; East & North dividing Generation; South bounding]

Copy F, Pierpont Morgan Library.  
Copy H (posthumously printed), Fitzwilliam Museum.   For the techniques employed in verification, see “The Suppressed and Altered Passages,” pages 3-6 and plate IIa.

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