By Brenda Webster
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Extra resources for Blake’s Prophetic Psychology
The theme of seeing or not seeing continues with Steelyard's spying of the maiden (her setting among violets is an alliterative suggestion of his desire to violate her)17 and culminates in one-eyed Joe going 'of his blind side' to consummate his love with the treacle-pot. Images of smell and taste also occur throughout the sequence. The sweet, entrapping treacle reveals the dangerous possibilities of the alluring and seemingly innocent sweet violets and maiden. Scopprell's refrain, 'I ask the Gods no more', sung after the story of Joe, ironically comments on the desires of fallen man.
He has given the narrator (who sounds somewhat like a childhood version of the pious Steelyard) a black eye, 'knockd down the wicket / And broke the stumps' (IM 11, E 454). The narrating child is assuming the father's attitudes - perhaps as Blake's reasonable elder brother James did in their childhood. Such realism in depicting children in their essential ambivalence is rare in Blake. The lack of such realism may be explained in part by the strength of Blake's forces of denial. The Songs of Innocence, which grow from the songs in Island, show idealised children who are notably free of envy or anger against their often cruel fate.
Moreover, through the character of Steelyard Blake implies that Flaxman has both serious weaknesses and a tendency toward oppression. Though Steelyard passively submits to ideas of religious duty, his name indicates that the other side of this passivity is tyranny. And, here, Blake suggests the way certain traits, like 'An Island in the Moon': Images of Dirt and Purity 19 masochism and sadism, exist together in individuals, with one or the other being dominant for a time or indefinitely. Steelyard has an unflattering image of himself derived from Christian themes of self-abasement.