William Blake Month: She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot; is bound / In spells of law to one she loathes

Some thoughts from Mr. Blake on free love, fidelity, procreative pressure, and the institution of marriage as it functioned (and did not) for ladies during his lifetime:


Jane Birikin and the dread Serge G.

… She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot;
is bound
In spells of law to one she loathes:
and must she drag the chain
Of life, in weary lust!


Must chilling murderous thoughts obscure
The clear heaven of her eternal spring?
to bear the wintry rage
Of a harsh terror driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod
Over her shrinking shoulders all the day;


Marilyn and Arthur on their wedding day. Marilyn’s dress was ivory but her veil arrived white, so rather than freak out or buy a new one she soaked it in tea overnight. She was an orphan and imminently practical.

& All the night
To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings
that wake her womb
To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form
That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more.

(William Blake, excerpt from Visions of the Daughters of Albion. 1793. Shockingly self-published.)


The Graduate (Kubrick, 1967).EDIT: It was directed by Mike Nichols, not Stanley Kubrick. Jesus-christ-bananas. How that got past me is a mystery. Mucho mas mucho thanks to Peteski for the heads-up!

Happy bride month, am I right? Goin’ to the chapel…

In all seriousness, William Blake was a sort of pre-feminist and a great admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft but for all his forward-thinking, he could behave curiously backwardly and contemporarily to the times in his personal life, almost as if his own wife, Catherine, did not count in his reckoning of the equalities of the opposite sex.


Audrey and Mel. She looks terribly unhappy and trapped. I do not believe this was their wedding day but rather shortly before their breakup in an ad for Givenchy’s L’Interdit, the first celebrity fragrance. I wear Givenchy Amarige when I am Really Me. But that is very rare. So often it is best to be Other Me-s, so I roll with Michael by Michael Kors.

As an example, when they had trouble conceiving, Blake openly advocated bringing another, younger woman into their marriage and relegating Catherine to second-class status in a different bedroom. My guess is he backed up his proposal by citing the timeless, good ol’ Rachel/Leah biblical argument, which reminds me that I get to hit Handmaid’s Tale next month.


Humbert and Lo’s toes. Lolita (Kubrick, 1962).

Okay, I went in to more insomnia-fueled bookfoolery and this entry is now uncomfortably longer than I’d prefer a Blake one to be. I’m going to split it up. Meet me in the next post. More Kubrick, even (I didn’t intend for that to happen but now that it has I’m on board). (edit: again, The Graduate is directed by Mike Nichols. Not Stanley Kubrick.)

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6 Responses to “William Blake Month: She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot; is bound / In spells of law to one she loathes”

  1. Peteski Says:

    email me, or check yer fb.

  2. John Salisbury Says:

    From a very young age I wanted to marry, to be a husband and father, grandfather–it was more important to me than career, which, come to think of it, is probably why nobody wanted to marry me–but I shudder to think how disastrous it might have been if I had. All things considered it’s for the best that I didn’t. I shouldn’t speculate about others, but it seems good marriages–and even fortuitous divorces–are so rare. As Robertson Davies wrote, “A lot of love is misery; bad weather punctuated by occasional flashes of sunlight.”

    I don’t know why I’m telling you my life story, here–actually it seems odd you get so few comments, making mine all the more awkward. I’ll stop.

    • E. Says:

      My husband and I were both the same. Marriage and family held a centrality in both our visions for our lives. And it did not work. I think it is why we have drug our feet so badly on a split that it seems most people our age quickly hurl through.

      It is true that this post has had 161 unique views so far today and you and Peteski are the only comments. I assume most people just take a glance at the pictures, maybe? But I would rather have a smattering of small, meaningful conversations than a glut of empty nonsense, so I must say I enjoy you sharing your life story.

  3. DrtyBlvd Says:

    What a lovely lovely comment.
    🙂

  4. Kevin Says:

    Blake was a pre-everything, though, as you note, dude was born in 17-fecking-57, and it must have been tough to be Alan Alda before toilet paper was invented. He was also into ideas very close to our modern 1960’s notions of “free love.” Funny thing about some self-described “forward-thinking” men with strong personalities: everything’s all open and free and liberal — until it affects them more directly. Then it’s my way or the highway. Of course, I am personally so wonderful it hurts….

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