Among other things this abiding image provides a
link between Blake and Dylan.
I give you the end of a golden string
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heaven's gate
Built in Jerusalem's wall.
Jeusalem (E 231)
What about the gate? Can you go in? go out?
The Arlington Tempera offers visual instruction
in the matter. From the beginning of time
there have been two passages: to and from
Heaven. The northern passage leads down into
the Sea of Time and Space; the southern passage
leads back up to Eternity. This is the crux of
Blake's myth, and of the Judeo-Chistian one as
If you apply 'gate' to the concordance, you
will find 262 of them. Quite a few gates of
Hell! Two noteworthy gates are (1) at the little
poem, To Morning (E410):
"O holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heav's' golden gates, and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light..."
And then Thel notably traversed the gate in
both directions. From the Vales of Thar (a
region in Heaven) Thel considered the subject
of mortal life, and decided to give it a whirl:
" The eternal gates' terrific porter lifted the
northern bar. Thel enter'd in & saw the
secrets of the land unknown."
But seeing the horrors of 'this vale of tears'
Thel screamed and "Fled back unhinder'd till
she came into the vales of Har."
From the Arlington Tempera you may notice a
maiden holding her bucket and making her way
upward against the stream. Like Thel she had
seen enough and refused mortality.
"O Christ who holds the open gate,
O Christ who drives the furrow straight,
O Christ, the plough, 0 Christ, the laughter
Of holy white birds flying after,
Lo, all my heart’s field red and torn,
And Thou wilt bring the young green corn,
The young green corn divinely springing,
The young green corn forever singing;
And when the field is fresh and fair
Thy blessed feet shall glitter there,
And we will walk the weeded field,
And tell the golden harvest’s yield,
The corn that makes the holy bread
By which the soul of man is fed,
The holy bread, the food unpriced,
Thy everlasting mercy, Christ."
Hymn by John Masefield. How Blakean can you get!