It’s a little difficult to understand. I know. But it plays between Milton’s Paradise Lost and Keat’s Hyperion.
Hyperion is about Democracy being overthrown by a Theocratic power. The poem is criticizing Milton’s discourse about faith. Keats is using Milton’s own imagery to say that Satan was not a fallen angel, but was a Titan, and thus, the satire begins there. The imagery is obviously about the Freemasons, who built the American Democracy. It is simply saying that Reason—or rather an age of reason—is superior to one based on power.
Contrast that to Milton, who was misunderstood by Keats. Milton’s criticism was reason’s foray into dangerous ideas. Such things that Satan is depicted as using reason to try and convince his cohorts—and the reader—to be complicit in murder. So, reason in Milton is being akin to justifying crime, which is not far off from actually being the case that reason is beginning to do this. Because we come dangerously close to reasoning away morality as a culture, and also our freedoms.
My poem is using the archetype of Islam as the White Horse, basing it in Keat’s understanding. That Keats is criticizing a Theocratic regime overthrowing the Democracies of America and the emerging ones in Europe. So, I’m ignoring Milton’s schema, to draw a comparison. Hyperion is about the fall of democracy.
The third image is Cesar Borgia. Who, as is often noted, appears in portraits of Jesus. The poem gives a short discourse on Borgia being the factual state of the painting, but one imprints Christ over him because—as the poem will draw a metaphor here—that is who God sees in us. We—by very nature of being fleshly creatures—are like Borgia. We are incredibly wicked. Cesar Borgia is a type of our flesh selves, and the spirit is the image we imprint on the picture of Borgia. No longer is it Borgia that we see, but it is rather Christ. The Poem also complies Caesar Borgia as the builder of the democracies, but rather it is what God has done with it that my poem is interested in.
Underlying that is the same with our democracy. Though it was created with the understanding that Democracy was Satanic, it rather was inverted on itself. The foundation laid by the builders of our democracy was Christ. So by that very reason, Christ was the foundation stone—or philosopher’s stone—of truth. Therefore, though democracy was considered a Satanic regime by many scholars, the foundation of Democracy was principled on Christ when it was established here in America—hence John Locke and others who greatly influenced the founding fathers—so that the society could be constructed and stable, and it wouldn’t collapse itself. Thus, the flesh of the regime was superimposed by Christ, to make it right. It is the same way with Christians. Underneath, in fact, we are corrupt and evil. But, with Christ as our cover, what God sees is Jesus in us. Just like we see Jesus in portraits of Cesar Borgia. Same with the Democracy.
So, the poem “Transubstantiation” is dealing with the removal of that spiritual truth, to uncover the flesh of the truth, and therefore undermine the values we uphold in our democracy. The very appeal to “Fact” evidence is counter intuitive to reason, with two facts. A: Reason requires an ending point, and Christ is that ending point. He is the one who substantiates our values, and doesn’t regress us backward into despotism. What is called a “Philosopher’s Stone.” B: The facts cannot substantiate an ethos. They never could, which was why Christ was used to build the foundation of American democracy; otherwise, freedom would unhinge.
Therefore, the poem “Transubstantiation” is talking about the spiritual self being superimposed on both the individual and society. The fact that men are not perfect, but God uses them. And therefore the White Regime—the false regime—coming in tries to substantiate itself on Power instead of reason. Which, to Keats it would be man’s power being criticized, as I don’t believe he believed in God. But I do for this reason, that what was—as a fleshly thing—deprived and evil can be Transubstantiated into something good, be it Democracy or our own selves. The white regime is trying to hand the reigns back to Caesar Borgia, which is why he’s typed with the White Horse in Revelation. The overthrow of the Red Regime—which Red is often typed as evil, and it’s meant to draw some moral distance—by the white regime is considered bad, because now all that is left is the flesh, which is likened to artificial morality without the Philosopher’s Stone of Christ to hinge reason on.