Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nebuchadnezzar

I was first introduced to William Blake's visionary art-works via an album cover by the 1970's progressive rock band Atomic Rooster! Somehow Blake's visionary art has not been embraced whole-heartedly as much as, say, his poem Jerusalem ('And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England's..') annoyingly bleated at the jingoistic Last Night of the Proms every September. Anyway, as ever there's a Sir T.B. connection, this time from his 1658 work of 'active imagination', The Garden of Cyrus. But first, the Bible verses that inspired Blake -

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. Daniel 4:33

and here's Browne's take on the scene-

Nebuchodnosor whom some will have to be the famous Syrian king of Diodorus' beautifully repaired that City; and so magnificently built his hanging gardens; that from succeeding Writers he had the honour of the first. From whence over-looking Babylon and all the region about it, he found no circumscription to the eye of his ambition, till over-delighted with the bravery of this Paradise; in his melancholy metamorphosis, he found the folly of that delight, and a proper punishment, in the contrary habitation, in wilde plantations and wanderings of the fields.
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