September 17, 2007

A POISON TREE


A while back, El Cabrero received a suggestion from a Goat Rope reader and generally shady character to spend a week writing about the radical mystical English poet William Blake, who lived from 1757 to 1827 (along with links and comments about current events).

I figure you could do a lot worse...

I first stumbled on Blake while browsing through my hometown public library decades ago. I thumbed through a book of weird illustrations and almost nursery-rhyme type poems that hit hard and fast.

The first one that I laid my eyes on was about the fruits of nurturing anger and hatred:



A POISON TREE

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water'd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with my smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree


I was pretty much hooked after that and remember asking "Who is this guy?" I've waded through a biography or two sense then but keep going back to that question. Suffice it to say that he was a really strange and revolutionary artist who regularly had visions of angels, devils, fairies, ghosts (including the ghost of a flea), and the divine.

Blake left quite a body of poetry and art, much of it very dense and obscure, but I've found enough to mull over for this lifetime anyway in The Songs of Innocence and of Experience and a very strange short work titled "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell."

To quote Bob Marley, they were "light like a feather/heavy as lead."

SPEAKING OF POISON, HATE AND ANGER, people in West Virginia and Logan County in particular are still stunned by the brutality visited on Megan Williams, an African American woman who was kidnapped, sexually abused and tortured for a week. Six arrests have been made in the case and all the suspects are white. For background, check the links in last week's posts.

This Saturday, I attended a public meeting at Cora in Logan County about the case. Speakers included representatives of the national, state and local NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Logan County Improvement League, the Charleston Ministerial Alliance, and others. Here's the Gazette report.

Some community residents were concerned over the apparent decision of the prosecutor not to pursue hate crime charges against the suspects. However, representatives of some of the groups listed above met for three hours with the prosecutor Friday and were satisfied that the suspects would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that for technical reasons a stronger case could be made for kidnapping, sexual assault, and other charges. Kidnapping alone can carry a maximum sentence of life under WV law.

Short summary of the speakers' key points:

*The law enforcement system worked in this case. Sheriff's deputies investigated as soon as they received a report that a woman was being held against her will. Six arrests were made within 24 hours.

*A $100,000 cash bond has been set for the suspects and it is considered unlikely that they will be able to meet this.

*This action was the depraved crime of a few individuals and not an indictment of the people of Logan County or West Virginia.

*The sheriff's department has established a fund to assist the victim and another fund is likely to be set up soon in Charleston, probably with the help of representatives of the Charleston Ministerial Alliance.

*Local residents should try to unite to respond positively to this tragedy and try to bring about positive changes.

MINING POLL. A new poll shows that two thirds of Americans oppose the Bush administration's rule change favoring mountaintop removal mining.

UNLEASHING WHATEVER. Here are two good op-eds criticizing the cult of the market god as advocated in Unleashing Capitalism. The first looks at its idealized picture of life in the coal camps and the second slams its tax cut mania.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

wvgirl said...

William Blake was an amazing visual artist as well as poet. He is a unique and eccentric dude...kind of like El Cabrero, I'll bet. ;-)

El Cabrero said...

Why thank you! I wanted to use images of his art but I haven't been able to find a source that was free. I guess I'll just link to them. Don't you wonder what he was like?