Sunday, February 28, 2010


This video of Kathleen Raine, a renowned Blake scholar, talking about Blake can be viewed on youtube. Seen in the video along with Raine is the actor who played Blake in the production about Thomas Paine and William Blake. The actor is Mark Rylance who is known for being the Artistic Director of the Globe Theater.

Video - 'God is the Imagination'

Seeing Kathleen reminds me of how Larry first discovered Kathleen Raine's Blake and Tradition when he was in the sitting room of the National Gallery in Washington DC waiting for me to finish looking at pictures. The Melons were instrumental in envisioning and financing the museum and also sponsored the publication of Raine's book. So that may explain why the book was available there. After that we would sometimes go to the National Gallery just so Larry could read the book, since our local Arlington library didn't have a copy. One cold and rainy Saturday morning we went to the museum but were disappointed - the sitting room was overflowing with anti-war protesters who were looking for a warm spot to dry their clothes and feed their babies. A friend who had a friend who had borrowing privileges at the Library of Congress, borrowed the book for us so that Larry could get a longer look at it.

Read Kathleen Raine's book online. 

Of this Title Page of Jerusalem, Raine says: "The soul is depicted under the classical emblem of Psyche, the butterfly. The natural universe of sun, moon, and stars is represented as 'dust on the Fly's wing' of the soul, with whose life they live. The figure at the top of the plate is, following another traditional emblem, bee-winged."

Friday, February 26, 2010


Songs of Innocence and Experience, Nurse's Song (E 15)

"When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And every thing else is still

Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Come come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies

No no let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all coverd with sheep

Well well go & play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed
The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh'd
And all the hills ecchoed"

Here is a simple poem about playing children. But there is more than that. It is about the life of the imagination which to Blake is not a state but existence itself. We get a clue in the first verse: 'My heart is at rest within my breast, And every thing else is still.' This is the moment Blake speaks about in Milton:

PLATE 29 [31] (E 127)
For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery.

Blake calls the Human Imagination the 'Divine Vision & Fruition In which Man liveth eternally.'

Imagination in children needs to recognized and cultivated, allowed expression in play and dreaming and creating. But the imagination is not outgrown. We shouldn't put our imaginations to sleep when we put away childish things. The world may try to take away our playfulness and creativity but we don't have to let it.

"Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity."

Jerusalem, Plate 77 (E 231)

"I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.
Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more."


Blake's Sublime Allegory continues to be a fertile source for gaining understanding of Blake message. This is from the chapter, Blake's Radical Comedy, by W.J.T. Mitchell, page 305:

"The second thing we ought to notice is that the courage required for self-annihilation is not in itself sufficient to redeem either the self or the world. Milton's act would remain within the fruitless cycle of creation and destruction which continues to trap the male imagination, even after his descent, if it were not for Ololon's response, her renewal to life to balance his descent to death. Ololon's final transformation into an ark and a dove, the bearer and messenger of life amidst the annihilating flood, occurs when she casts off her false femininity. Her seeking out Milton reverses the traditional passive role of the virtuous heroine in epic and romance, but she does not escape this role by becoming a female warrior, a woman in the armor of a man. "A Female hidden in a Male, Religion hidden in War" (40:20). On the contrary, she sees that the stereotypes ruling the behavior of both sexes are the basis for the vicious cycle which entraps the best efforts of Milton and the sons of Los, and that these roles must be annihilated and recreated as human relationships before the cycle can be broken and transformed into the fruitful, liberating dialectic of contraries."

In this short passage and the pages surrounding it, we get help in understanding many of Blake's concepts.

1)First that annihilation is not the total solution for redemption. Annihilation is the 'bottom', the point where regeneration can begin in the individual and society.

2)The relationship of the male and female, the active and the receptive, are necessary ingredients in breaking the cyclical pattern called the Orc cycle (construction and destruction repeating itself.)

3)The female's role is not adopting the male's attitude of making the opposite sex into a 'commodity', but relinquishing the female attitude of jealousy of the males role as initiator.

4)The contribution of the female is to be the carrier of life and hope through which male and female can regenerate a relationship based on Human (unified), attitudes rather than Sexual (divided), attitudes.

5)Contraries are redeemed when the Negative of seeing them as being opposed to one another rather complementing one another, is annihilated.

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 135)
"O how the Starry Eight rejoic'd to see Ololon descended!
And now that a wide road was open to Eternity,"

Plate 40 [46] (E 142)
"But turning toward Ololon in terrible majesty Milton
Replied. Obey thou the Words of the Inspired Man
All that can be annihilated must be annihilated

That the Children of Jerusalem may be saved from slavery
There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary
The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries
The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination.

PLATE 41 [48]
To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration
To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering
To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration
Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Femin[in]e Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into

PLATE 42 [49]
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee

So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold & with a shriek
Dolorous that ran thro all Creation a Double Six-fold Wonder!
Away from Ololon she divided & fled into the depths
Of Miltons Shadow as a Dove upon the stormy Sea.

Then as a Moony Ark Ololon descended to Felphams Vale
In clouds of blood, in streams of gore, with dreadful thunderings
Into the Fires of Intellect that rejoic'd in Felphams Vale
Around the Starry Eight: with one accord the Starry Eight became
One Man Jesus the Saviour. wonderful! round his limbs
The Clouds of Ololon folded as a Garment dipped in blood
Written within & without in woven letters: & the Writing
Is the Divine Revelation in the Litteral expression:
A Garment of War, I heard it namd the Woof of Six Thousand Years"

Yale Center for British Art  Jerusalem, Plate 76
Albion & Jesus

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Blake's pictures in The Book of Thel supplement the ideas he presents in the text. In this copy of the Book of Thel from the Library of Congress, Rare Books Collection, we can read the text and view the pictures together as they were meant to be understood.

Book of Thel

First you may notice that although Blake talks of clouds, lilies, worms and clods he pictures human beings. This reinforces the idea that he is not talking about nature in general or specific parts of it, but about humans and aspects of the psyche. So the answers given by the lily and her associates are our answers, the way we explain the puzzling inconsistencies of our experience to ourselves. We may open or close ourselves to Blake's reasonings, or we may try them on for size before searching elsewhere.

On the title page we notice that Thel, the shepherdess is the observer not the participant. The sexual imagery which many people notice in Thel is apparent in the male and female soaring images on this page. Erdman (The Illuminated Blake) says 'these lovers are the human form of the Dew and the Cloud'. The flowers on this page are not the lilies of the poetry but the pasqueflower 'said to require the wind to open the petals' for fertilization.

The images surrounding the word Thel at the top of the page 3 bring to mind the four Zoas although the characters remain to be fully developed as Blake continues to write. You may recognize the soaring lady with the flying infant from the Preludium to the First Book of Urizen - it is not Urizen but a tie to his book. The man in the sky reaching for the eagle is a reminder of Los who like the eagle can represent imagination. To the right carrying shield and flaming sword is the Zoa of emotions, Luvah, who for the first time is mentioned in this poem. Reclining on the seedpod of grain is a figure in a position reminiscent of the 'renovated man' who appears above the man entering death's door in the engraving for Blair's The Grave. The picture for The Grave and the appearance of Tharmas as man's body will be later inventions but the fourfold split is already present.

Plate 4 shows Thel looking very much like the Lilly with whom she converses. Plate 5 is all text. On Plate 6 which concerns the worm, we see an image of an infant on the ground and the matron clod soaring in the air as she discusses with Thel how 'we live not for ourselves.' Thel demonstrates her astonishment. In plate 7 Thel, the observer as usual, watches the mother and child, clod and worm, as they play together. Children happily ride the serpent as the poem ends with
plate 8.

If this poem is seen to address the issues which specifically face women, those of being expected to be gentle and receptive rather than assertive and active, we may contrast it to the poem "how sweet I roamed". The latter poem represents the adolescent beginning to be aware of opportunities and abilities and facing society's limitations on the expanding possibilities. In the poem Thel, the young woman seems to be offered limited possibilities to begin with: humility and service, basking in another's attention, not reasoning, and living for others instead of for herself. This may be what Thel rejects: accepting a subservient role in a household or in a society that undervalues women. Was Blake commenting on the role of women as well as the human condition of being born into the material world?

The poem does not specifically mention the world of Generation, but the images present Generation as the world to which Thel is invited. The rejection of the feminine role or the fear of sexuality may be impediments to Thel's accepting the opportunity to enter the material world. Read the words, read the pictures, read in the context of Blake's work, read according to your own light.

Thel I

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Spectre

In the cold early pre-dawn, sitting beside the fire, full of joy at all life's goodness I wished that I could "annihilate my Selfhood"; then came this Vision straight from Our Heavenly Father:

Like all Blake's metaphors the Spectre has many names:

THE SELFHOOD: you'll find the word 3 times in Milton, Plate 14/15 , but the best statement is at:
Jerusalem, Plate 5

"Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me. Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task! To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination, O
Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness &love:
Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all
my life!"
THE SERPENT: In this picture we see the serpent as the tempter, wrapped around the 'human' form; he might be called Lucifer.

SATAN pervades Blake's works where it occurs 250 times. Here are a few:

In MHH Plate 5 we have the ironic viewpoint of a young Blake. Thereafter his use of Satan varies remarkably through the rest of Blake's works.

The Four Zoas [Nt 4], 56. 19-22 Erdman 338:
"And first he found the Limit of Opacity & namd it Satan
In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand
And next he found the Limit of Contraction & namd it Adam
While yet those beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil"

We can only puzzle about this one (for a post in the future).

FZ8-113[1st].1-3; E376:
" We behold with wonder Enitharmons Looms & Los's Forges
And the Spindles of Tirzah & Rahab and the Mills of
Satan & Beelzeboul
In Golgonooza Los's anvils stand & his Furnaces rage"

We're in Ulro here, and Los's creative work is competing with the nihilistic "Mills of Satan & Beelzeboul" in his (our) attempt to bring about "God's kingdom on Earth" (But it won't happen!)

FZ8-107[115].22-27; E380:
" And this is the manner in which Satan became the Tempter
There is a State namd Satan learn distinct to know O Rahab
The Difference between States & Individuals of those States
The State namd Satan never can be redeemd in all Eternity
But when Luvah in Orc became a Serpent he des[c]ended into
That State calld Satan"

And you will find many other rich indications of the meanings of Satan for Blake.

"The Virgin answerd. Knowest thou of Milton who descended

Driven from Eternity; him I seek! terrified at my Act
In Great Eternity which thou knowest! I come him to seek
So Ololon utterd in words distinct the anxious thought
Mild was the voice, but more distinct than any earthly
That Miltons Shadow heard & condensing all his Fibres
Into a strength impregnable of majesty & beauty infinite
I saw he was the Covering Cherub & within him Satan
And Raha[b]"

There are many others:

All Satan has to do is to keep our minds fixed on materiality and off of anything else.

What it boils down to is that all of these things are in you and in me, and in our community, in our world as well.

on Erdman's Plate 41 of Jerusalem:

"Every man is in his Spectre's power
Until the arrival of that hour
When his Humanity awake
And cast his Spectre into the Lake."
(The mirror image of this appears in the picture.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Songs of Innocence and Experience, Song 9, (E 9)

Little Black Boy
"And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love,"

Book of Thel

In Thel we have the story of a young woman uncertain about her future, considering several possibilities and retreating to the safety of the status quo. Thel is not in this world nor in the Eternal world. She resides in a potential state, incomplete, embryonic - the seed of possibility.

She consults with the lily, the cloud, the clod and the worm seeking to learn their roles in existence. Each feels fulfilled in a limited but purposeful role. Thel has already awoken to herself as a transient illusory entity so the answers of the others are not hers. Thel passes through the northern gate and observes the generated world. Seeing her open grave she questions the conditions which define mortal life and withdraws in horror. She refuses to enter the world of Generation.

A persistent theme in Blake's poetry is that the path to Eternity goes through materiality and mortality. As stated in Little Black Boy, we must 'learn to bear the beams of love.' Thel's refusal was to that option.

We who have been born into materiality are asked to perform tasks also. Just as Thel goes through experiences which lead to her opportunity to make a choice of going on or going back, so are we offered options. Progress for us is to move in the direction of Eternity, disregarding materiality. Turning back is always Death; Life is moving on. The Eternal, Spiritual world looks like Death to those who have not developed the ability to perceive the infinite. Thel's crisis of seeing a threatening world and refusing to enter is metaphoric of our fearing to turn loose of our investment in the physical world for the promise of Eternity.

Near the end of The Four Zoas, Blake returns to the worm, flowers, clay, the veil and seed and weaves them together to generate the 'New born Man'.

You may read this Passage from The Four Zoas in our post the Web of Life.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Three Classes of Men II

From Milton, Plate 25, (E 121):
"The Elect is one Class: You Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed, Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect".

Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He takes three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.

The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who
"cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth".

The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."

The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."

From Ellie:
"When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.

The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)

The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable.
The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.

The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human,
sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual, with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.

The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for
congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake."
From Larry:
Here's the earlier post:
In MHH we met two classes: angels and devils.
Blake ironically names free spirits as devils and
good dutifull church goers (and other
establishment types) as angels.

Los and his 'emanation', Enitharmon "bore an enormous race" (not only mankind, but every other created thing as well). But in particular Enitharmon's progeny consists of three classes:

From Milton Plate 7 :
The first the Elect from the foundation of the World, symbolized here by Satan.
The second, the Redeem'd, symbolized by Palamabron.
The third, The Reprobate, symbolized by Rintrah.

The Bard's Song begins Blake's description of how
these three classes of men relate.

To Rintrah (the just man) was assigned the plow.

To Palamabron, a kind and gentle boy (not a strong
minded one), was assigned the harrow.

Satan (Selfhood) was assigned to the mills.

Rintrah and Palamabron are contraries; Satan is a

In the Bard's Song those were the three
assignments of Enitharmon's three sons.

A post could be written about the plow (See Damon
329); the plow of Rintrah might be the heated
words of the prophet that denounces and breaks up
the corrupt establishment. (It might be several
other things as well.)

The harrow follows the plow; for Blake it was a
metaphor for redemptive poetry.

The Mill symbolizes Reason-- conservative, reducing the creative to the commonplace. But it may have been born in Blake's mind from the insidious mills brought about by the Industrial Revolution which impoverished so many people.

Los of course was the father of these three boys,
a farmer-- the World being his field. He had
expressly forbidden Satan from using the harrow.
But Satan wheedled his amicable brother,
Palamabron into letting him use the harrow.

This led to disaster (the kind of disaster we have
all lived under most of our lives).

A simpler (and probably better) explanation of the Bard's Song can be found at The Farrm at Felpham, but you may have to join the Yahoo William Blake group to gain access to it.

All this was part of the tale told by the Bard at
an Eternal gathering. The Bard's Song induced
Milton to forsake heaven and return to the Earth
to correct the errors of his mortal life. Milton's
adventures in the World with Los and Blake is the
subject of Blake's Milton.

There is much more to the Bard's Song, but this
will give you a beginning. Learn the Bard's Song,
and you will find it much easier to enjoy Milton,
the first of Blake's two major works.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


'voices of children are heard on the green'

I was struck by the following lines in Jerusalem because they reminded me of words I was familiar with in another context.

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 204)
"To be their inferiors or superiors we equally abhor;
Superior, none we know: inferior none: all equal share
Divine Benevolence & joy, for the Eternal Man
Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers & his Friends:"

To Quakers, those who belong (a loosely used term not signifying official membership) to the Religious Society of Friends, this has a familiar ring. One of our Testimonies is to Equality. Those of any age, sex, station, race, position, wealth, background, ability or disability: all are recognized as equally valuable to God and equally capable of manifesting His Spirit and responding to the His touch. We aim not to consider anyone superior or inferior, but all equal.

In the passage quoted Blake is speaking of the Eternals. But what he describes is the reality which Blake wants us all to experience - to 'equal share in that Divine Benevolence & joy', to know the 'Eternal Man who walks among us, calling us his Brothers & Friends.'

Quaker Equality Testimony on Page 2

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blake's Bible Interpretation

Recently I've been studying Revelations with two different groups. Chapter Five came up, with the introduction of the lamb; I focused on a short phrase from verse 8: a golden bowl:

"And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

Something clicked: what did Blake do with the golden bowl? In the beginning of Thel we read:

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole:
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
Or Love in a golden bowl?

Pictures from Thel

Early in Thel we're introduced to the Lilly, in fact the Lilly of the Valley, a name for Christ; the Bible also uses the lamb for that purpose, in Rev 5 in fact. So Blake took the lamb and the golden bowl from Rev 5, and used it to set the stage for Thel, one of his earliest lessons for us from the Bible. (Actually "golden bowl" also appears in 1 Chronicles 28:17  and Ecclesiastes 12:6)

Move now down to Blake's first vision of light, and note the identity that God (Christ) gave to him:

Thou ram horn'd with gold. You might say we're still in Rev 5.

(For more on this go here.)

Friday, February 19, 2010


If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is an animated picture worth? Available on youTube is a video from a play by Jack Shepherd called In Lambeth. The play shows an encounter between William Blake and Thomas Paine two revolutionaries through writing. The encounter was reported in an early biography of Blake although it has been fictionalized in the video. Perhaps watching the portrayal will expand your understanding of Blake as a human being.

Video of Blake and Paine (The are 5 segments to this video)

Among the things I noticed about the portrayal of Blake was the rapid movement of his psychic state during the span of the action. He went from what seemed like ordinary social consciousness, to an accelerated state, to his visionary experience, to anxiety resulting from the visionary experience, to a rational discussion of politics and potential solutions to philosophical and social problems, and through other states as well. He went from introversion, to extroversion; from rational to emotional; from self centeredness to other centeredness. I think this rapid movement of states derived from what the author of the play had surmised about his personality from the style of his writing. The hyperactivity in his behavior and the constant movement in the poetry reflect a mind that didn't stay still. I like the way author and actor presented a personality for Blake that is consistent with how he wrote.

There was an interesting contrast between Blake and Paine in personality and philosophy. Blake the younger, more emotional and animated was more conservative in his attitude toward starting revolution. Paine was steady and rational but willing to set off the spark without knowing what outcome might ensue. The line about each rarely having someone with whom to talk about the things that interested him, spoke volumes. A big difference between the two men was that Paine spoke to ears which were ready to hear his message, and Blake's message is still waiting for receptive ears.

'to clothe him with Imagination'

The video may have gotten more viewership if the the first part of the play had been included. The first scene is said to have been of Bill and Kate naked in the branches of a tree, reminiscent of figures in in the illuminations and of the occasion when they were said to have been surprised in their garden 'playing Adam and Eve'.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Rock

The Blake concordance shows 324 occurences of the word rock .

The Dome of the Rock is sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We can be sure that Blake was fully cognizant of these, and it seems likely in this common awareness he used the terms: Rock of Eternity ( the Rock of eternity), Rock of Ages, Rock of Albion, and many other significant Rocks..

Rock of Eternity:
FZ5-59.9-12; E340:
He [Albion] wept & he divided & he laid his gloomy head
Down on the Rock of Eternity on darkness of the deep
Torn by black storms & ceaseless torrents of consuming fire
Within his breast his fiery sons chaind down & filld with cursings

Rock of Ages:
M15.36-40; E109;
First Milton saw Albion upon the Rock of Ages,
Deadly pale outstretchd and snowy cold, storm coverd;
A Giant form of perfect beauty outstretchd on the rock
In solemn death: the Sea of Time & Space thunderd aloud
Against the rock, which was inwrapped with the weeds of death

Also FZ1-18.11-15 E310:
Now Man was come to the Palm tree & to the Oak of Weeping
Which stand upon the Edge of Beulah he [Albion] sunk down
From the Supporting arms of the Eternal Saviour; who disposd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon The Rock of Ages. Watching over him with Love & Care"

Rock of Albion:
FZ2-24.5-8; E314|:
Luvah & Vala trembling & shrinking, beheld the great Work master [Urizen]
And heard his Word! Divide ye bands influence by influence
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizly deep
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion

Albion Cold Lays on His Rock

The Rock, above the Sea of Time and Space, lies on the verge of Beulah, where Albion, forgiven and saved, awaits the Resurrection.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This is one of the Blake's early poems. It was published in the conventional way in 1783 through the the patronage of a friend. As it turned out Poetical Sketches was Blake's only printed volume, all others he engraved himself.

Poetical Sketches (E 411) SONG

"How sweet I roam'd from field to field,
And tasted all the summer's pride,
'Till I the prince of love beheld,
Who in the sunny beams did glide!

He shew'd me lilies for my hair,
And blushing roses for my brow;
He led me through his gardens far,
Where all his golden pleasures grow,

With sweet May dews my wings were wet,
And Phoebus fir'd my vocal rage;
He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.

He loves to sit and hear me sing,
Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
Then stretches out my golden wing,
And mocks my loss of liberty."

This poem is said to have been written before Blake was 14 years old. So it may be seen as a coming-of-age poem. It contains metaphors Blake will depend on throughout his career: 'prince of love', 'lilies,' 'roses,' 'brow,' 'gardens,' 'golden,' 'fire,' 'net,' 'wing' and 'liberty.' Some see the poem as referring to the restricting nature of sexual entanglements. It can be seen also as describing the experience of a young person being on the cusp between childhood and adolescence.

Even for as precocious a child as Blake, there would be a transition point where the boy recognizes his own abilities and possibilities. He realizes that he can be (and will be) more that he was (or could be) as a child. He begins to see more and experience more. His emotional nature is aroused and his voice is unleashed.

But a dilemma arises. There are forces that restrict the full expression of his gifts. He feels he is being limited and restrained. What expression is allowed to him, may be a source of amusement to those who are unable to appreciate his unconventional abilities. The liberty which the young person thought he had found is soon circumscribed in the same old ways or in new ways entirely.

Often in his writing Blake returns to this topic of the youthful impetus for freedom, self-expression and change being met with the forces of tribalism, conservatism and the mores of convention. You may have noticed that we have touched on it in several other posts. But if you follow the thread of this youthful, energetic character as it is developed, and evolves throughout Blake's work, I think you will find his name is Los.

Youthful Impetus for Freedom

If you click on the label Future age, you will find other posts where Blake treats the way things have been, and the way things may be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blake's Death

Entering the Door of Death (Frontspiece of Jerusalem)

The word die is carefully avoided by most of us; when a loved one dies, we say he/she passed away.

The question is-- what dies? The Roman Empire died; the British Empire died? But those were not people per se; they were states, conglomerates of materiality.

So death is relative-- from what to what? Ellie asked a workmate if he considered himself a body or a spirit; "a body", he said; "a spirit", she said.

So what dies? A body or a spirit or both? (In mortal life our bodies are said to actually die (cell by cell) and be renewed every 7 years.)

So at the end of mortal life what dies? the body of course, the garment that we acquired when we descended into the Sea of Time and Space and the 'daughters of Enitharmon' began to cut and splice it.

When Odysseus (or Luvah) threw the garment back to the sea goddess, he was on his way back to Eternity, where we all go sooner or later.
In the French Quarter in N.O. a black friend told me about her dead son; he had had an incurable and painful disease; he came to her and asked her permission to die, which she of course granted.

In one of Charles Williams' delightful metaphysical thrillers two characters are especially memorable: a saintly lady fully in tune with the life of the Spirit, and a man who generations before had been hanged; his spirit still hanged around that locale, which happened to be outside her window. She met him there and gave him permission to depart in peace.

In the series called William Blake Meets Thomas Paine we witness a conversation that Bill Blake had with his brother, Robert (long deceased), and we're led to believe that this was commonplace in Blake's life.

"But when once I did descry
The Immortal Man that cannot die,
Thro' evening shades I haste away
To close the labours of my day."
(From Gates of Paradise)

"Every Death is an improvement in the State of the Departed." (Letter 74 - to Linnell; Erdman 774)

By Death Eternal Blake implied descent into mortal life.
By Life Eternal he meant return to our Eternal Origin.

But what have you and I learned here in our mortal life?
(One Post can do no more than introduce this subject; it has other major ramifications.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How did he get that way?

FIRST of all he came into the world with a tremendous endowment; some people are simply born with unusual gifts.

SECOND Leaving school on the first day his mind was never subjected to the indoctrination most of us got from our teachers. "The primary object of primary education is to socialize the pupil to the conventions of the culture we belong to." That never happened to Blake. Instead he ....

THIRD read! and read! and read! He read the things that had fallen out of the national consciousness-- dominated by an extremely materialistic culture: the Bible, Behmen (Boehme) and hundreds of others, each in his own way representing the Perennial Philosophy. And he saw the Great Painters, not those favored by the Establishment.

FOURTH The population didn't read anything beyond the fourth grade level. When Paine asked Blake if people read him, he replied, "before the people can read it, they have to be able to read" (very much like today!). So there was a chasm between his mind and theirs (and ours).

The aforementioned video shows Tom Paine represented as the soul of rationality and Bill Blake the feeling, and above all the imagination.

So Blake's relationships were with God: Meister Eckhart, Mohammed, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Boehme, Jesus, other men who had had similar visions. He honored God with the "severe contentions of friendship & the burning fire of thought." (Jerusalem 91:17; E251)

His faith came up the hard way: Molech, Elohim, Nobodaddy, Urizen, and finally the Dear Saviour. How many of us good people can say we came to our faith like that?

Thank God we have the benefit of Blake's experience.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blake & Revelation I

David Bindman in William Blake: His Art and
"Uninitiated Christians mistakenly worship
the creator, as if he were God; they
believed in Christ as the one who would
save them from sin, and who they believed
had risen bodily from the dead: they
accepted him by faith, but without
understanding the mystery of his nature”
or their own. But those who had gone on to
receive the gnosis had come to recognize
Christ as the one sent from the Father,
whose coming reveled to them that their
own nature was identical with his and
with God's . . . Those who lacked
spiritual inspiration envied those who
spoke out in public at the worship service
and who spoke in prophecy, taught, and
healed others.

William Blake, noting such different
portraits of Jesus in the New Testament,
sided with the one the Gnostics preferred
against "the vision of Christ that all men

The vision of Christ that thou dost see is
my visions deepest enemy...  Thine is the
friend of all Mankind, mine speak in
parables to the blind:
Thine loves the same world that mine
hates, thy Heavens doors are my Hell gates
. . .  Both read the Bible day and night
but thou read'st black where I read white
. . .
Seeing this False Christ, in fury and
passion, I made my Voice heard all over
the Nation. . . .

The apocalyptic and revolutionary nature
of Blake's beliefs, as he well knew,
rendered normal publication of his
Prophetic works virtually impossible, for
their denunciation of the social order was
unlikely to be encouraged by its
beneficiaries and upholders . . .

I rest not from my great task!  To open
the Eternal Worlds, to open the Immortal
Eyes of Man inwards into the Worlds of
Thought, into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the
Human Imagination.
 The real question here is what did Blake think of Christ.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Milton, Plate 25, (E 121)

"The Elect is one Class: You
Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed,
Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect".

Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He take three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.

The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who
"cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth".

The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."

The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."

When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.

The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)

The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable.
The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.

The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human,
sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual, with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.

The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for
congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake.

Ego, Self, or Shadow?

There is more about the Three Classes of Men on another blog post.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In his novel Till We Have Faces, his work which C.S.Lewis was most pleased with, he treated two Blakean themes: forgiveness, and the contrast of intellectual and emotional religion.

Prominent in the development of the story is the injury caused through blindness, selfishness and fearfulness. Projection of individual weakness onto others further complicated the interpersonal relationships. Only by becoming aware of the falsity of the way she saw herself and the world, and the harm she had done to others was Orual able to open herself to a healing encounter with the numinous. Forgiveness came to her as a byproduct of being reconciled to the emotional, experiential aspects of relating to God. Seeing herself through the eyes of others and through the eyes of her maker, she was able to accept herself in spite of her inadequacies. She was made whole within herself, and one with the wholeness.

We can find the same steps in reconciliation presented in Blake's writing.

Awakening to awareness of our errors:

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 188)
Thus Albion sat, studious of others in his pale disease:
Brooding on evil: but when Los opend the Furnaces before him:
He saw that the accursed things were his own affections,
And his own beloveds: then he turn'd sick! his soul died within
Also Los sick & terrified beheld the Furnaces of Death
And must have died, but the Divine Saviour descended
Among the infant loves & affections, and the Divine Vision wept
Like evening dew on every herb upon the breathing ground

Taking responsibility for our failures:

Milton, Plate 14, (E107)
O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death,
Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate
And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood

Being forgiven:

Jerualem, Plate 34, (E 178)
but mild the Saviour follow'd him,
Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 144)
The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of Sin: he who
waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviours kingdom,
the Divine Body; will never enter there. I am perhaps the most
sinful of men! I pretend not to holiness! yet I pretend to love,
to see, to converse with daily, as man with man, & the more to
have an interest in the Friend of Sinners.


Milton, Plate 32, (E 131)
Thus they converse with the Dead watching round the Couch of Death.
For God himself enters Death's Door always with those that enter
And lays down in the Grave with them, in Visions of Eternity
Till they awake & see Jesus & the Linen Clothes lying
That the Females had Woven for them, & the Gates of their Fathers House

Milton, Plate 39, (E139)
Then Albion rose up in the Night of Beulah on his Couch
Of dread repose seen by the visionary eye; his face is toward
The east, toward Jerusalems Gates: groaning he sat above
His rocks.

Jerusalem, Plate 33, (E180)
we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Blake's Ladder

Blake had many such, but we'll concentrate on one that's already had a good bit of coverage:

"Look again at the end of a famous letter (23)to Butts in 1802:

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

What can we make of the last line? Blake mentioned Newton 91 times in his Complete Works; Newton was his exemplar for purely materialistic sight, and with Bacon and Locke the Unholy Trinity of materialistic culture. Like the logical positivists if it can't be weighed or measured, it's meaningless. Things like love, hate, inspiration have no meaning.

Blake thus called single vision 'Newton's sleep'. Not scientists but people with the least imagination, the flimsiest intellect are the ones gifted with single vision. They live in Blake's Ulro.

So what's twofold vision:
"Blake explains twofold vision very nicely in the poem. Open your heart to nature, let plants and animals speak to you, let trifles fill you with smiles and tears, respond to the world in its minute particulars, the cosmos in a grain of sand, etc." (from this).

"...three fold in soft Beulahs night"? Here's a description of Beulah; perhaps you've already read it. We have the Beulah of Pilrims Progress.

The original Beulah of course came from Isaiah 62:4.

Finally we have Fourfold. (Theodore Roszak began this essay ascribing his own poem to Blake, but no matter).

Monday, February 08, 2010


The field of Ecology which developed in the twentieth century, has a friend in William Blake of the nineteenth century. Both look at the world as a whole - one organic body with interconnections, and inter-dependences. Patterns are embodied in structures which are fluid and multi-dimensional.

The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems, Fritjoe Carpa, Page 295

"According to the Santiago theory, we bring forth the self just as we bring forth objects. Our self or ego, does not have any independent existence. This then is the crux of the human condition. We are autonomous individuals, shaped by our own history of structural changes. We are self-aware, aware of our individual identity - and yet when we look for an independent self within our world of experience we cannot find any such entity.

"Autopoiesis , or 'self-making,' is a network pattern in which the function of each component is to participate in the production or transformation of other components in the network. In this way the network is continually makes itself. It is produced by its components and in turn produces those components."

Jerusalem, Plate 99, (E 257)
"All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.
And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem

The End of The Song
of Jerusalem"
Four Zoas, Page 133 (E 400)

"And One of the Eternals spoke All was silent at the feast

Man is a Worm wearied with joy he seeks the caves of sleep
Among the Flowers of Beulah in his Selfish cold repose
Forsaking Brotherhood & Universal love in selfish clay
Folding the pure wings of his mind seeking the places dark
Abstracted from the roots of Science then inclosd around
In walls of Gold we cast him like a Seed into the Earth
Till times & spaces have passd over him duly every morn
We visit him covering with a Veil the immortal seed
With windows from the inclement sky we cover him & with walls
And hearths protect the Selfish terror till divided all
In families we see our shadows born. & thence we know
That Man subsists by Brotherhood & Universal Love
We fall on one anothers necks more closely we embrace
| Ephesians iii c 10 v |

Not for ourselves but for the Eternal family we live
Man liveth not by Self alone but in his brothers face
Each shall behold the Eternal Father & love & joy abound

So spoke the Eternal at the Feast they embracd the New born Man
Calling him Brother image of the Eternal Father. they sat down
At the immortal tables sounding loud their instruments of joy
Calling the Morning into Beulah the Eternal Man rejoicd"

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blake's Bible

Northrup Frye referred to Blake as a Bible soaked Protestant. He was certainly that-- and much more. He read the Bible like no other scholar I've come across. He read it very freely.

In his last years Frye published two large volumes with subtitles: The Bible and Literature. He had started out as a young minister, but made the fatal mistake of studying Blake, after which he became a literary critic-- a real change for the better IMO.

Working on his thesis (called Fearful Symmetry) he had discovered that Blake read the Bible very freely; so he became, yes a Bible soaked Protestant but not (NO, NO!) a bibliolater. He read it more freely than any conforming establishmentarian would dare to do.

In his visions he talked to Isaiah and Ezekiel. Re the cherub God put before the Gate of Eden with a flaming sword Blake had this to say:

"For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy where as it now appears finite and corrupt. This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment."  (MHH, Plate 14)

Just poetry! you might say. Yes, but a fountain of life to non-authoritarians, free spirits who don't feel bound by the inerrancy-of-the-bible crowd. Blake sought Meaning in the Bible, not Law. Bible students divide along that line between free spirits and authoritarian types. Blake belonged to the first category, and so do I, and (hopefully) so do you. Let me know.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Jesus taught forgiveness not vengeance. Blake rejected the God of vengeance of the Old Testament for the God of forgiveness of the New Testament.

Matthew 5:43-45 - "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy', but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike."

Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

In Jerusalem, Blake explains his attitude toward taking retribution for offense. He realizes that executing vengeful punishment does greater harm to the person who has been offended than it does to the offender. Doing harm - hindering your brother - does harm within yourself and hinders your spiritual development. The person who harms others, harms himself. Forgiving your brother opens your heart to receiving God's love and mending divisions in the unity of the whole body.

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 169)
"But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom
Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:
Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals
Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 47, (E 193)
"What shall I [Los] do! what could I do, if I could find these Criminals
I could not dare to take vengeance; for all things are so constructed
And builded by the Divine hand, that the sinner shall always escape,
And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;
If I should dare to lay my finger on a grain of sand
In way of vengeance; I punish the already punishd: O whom
Should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray!
O Albion, if thou takest vengeance; if thou revengest thy wrongs
Thou art for ever lost! What can I do to hinder the Sons
Of Albion from taking vengeance? or how shall I them perswade.
These were his [Albion's] last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages."
Vala, Hyle, and SkofieldBlake created an image on Plate 51, which illustrates the harm which comes to the individual when he does harm to others. The three in the illustration are Vala, Hyle and Skofield; three whom Blake might consider his worst enemies. Vala is materiality, fallen Nature, the obscuring and distorting principle which hides Eternity and restrictes his imagination. Pictured as dark and frozen she bears no resemblance to the rich and glorious unfallen Nature. Hyle is Blake's representation of Hayley who wanted to prevent Blake from following his Imagination in exercising his artistic and poetic talents; pretending to be a friend he wanted to direct Blake's work to popular media. Hyle is pictured as if he were enclosed in a cube, his 'doors of perception' to this world as well as the other, are closed and locked. Skofield who brought Blake to law by false accusation, is pictured in the chains with which he hoped to manacle Blake. He is burning with the fire of wrath rather then sitting in darkness as is Vala.

But I think Blake presented these three, not as the vengeful but as 'the sinners' who 'always escape' although they have 'gone astray.'

Friday, February 05, 2010

Blake's Church

Blake was born and reared in a Dissenting world; his family was at one time associated with the Swedenborg's New Church and with the Moravians. Both of these groups had grown beyond the usual religious sexual prohibitions, and his early positive attitude toward sexual practices reflects that.

Blake was what the French referred to as anti-clerical. He knew too well the enormous religious corruption and depravity that characterized the Established Church for 1800 years,

"The Church Universal was the only Church that he recognized; its congregation was the Brotherhood of Man.....All other Churches Blake rejected with the Dissenter's loathing..." (Damon Page 82)

His primary doctrines were the forgiveness of sins and the annihilation of the Selfhood. He rarely spoke of sin; he considered people's deficiencies as errors rather than evil. As stated in an earlier post, hindering another was the primary 'sin' he recognized: "Murder is Hindering Another; Theft is Hindering another; Backbiting, Undermining, Circumventing, and whatever is Negative is Vice" (Erdman 601)

Blake spoke of the 27 churches-- a religious history of the Judeo-Christian world:
"Satan and Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches"
(Milton plate 32/35; Erdman 132)

"And these the names of the Twenty-seven Heavens & their Churches
Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch,Methuselah, Lamech: these are Giants mighty Hermaphroditic
Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan the second, Salah, Heber,
Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, these are the Female-Males
A Male within a Female hid as in an Ark & Curtains,
Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Paul, Constantine, Charlemaine
Luther, these seven are the Male-Females, the Dragon Forms
Religion hid in War, a Dragon red & hidden Harlot"

With these images he was describing the 'dominant voice'
in each of the 27 periods of history that he had devised.

Think about what Blake meant with the last seven of the
or ask me.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Blake's first level of vision, single vision, is fairly easily transcended. We learn to see beyond the level of material into the level of thought, ideas, reason. And this becomes our mindset, we develop rules, structures and a point of view - an engineer thinks like an engineer and a lawyer thinks like a lawyer. Blake isn't satisfied to let us stay there; he sees it as a prison as much as single vision was. So of each level of vision.
In the Epilogue to Gates of Paradise Blake is trying to force us to another level of thought altogether:

"To The Accuser Who is
The God of This World

Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan

Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill"

He addresses this to 'the accuser' who is in charge of seeing that the law is obeyed; who ferrets out the lawbreakers and begins the process of meting out punishment. The world has made this accuser its God. But this accuser can't even be trusted to distinguish between the underlying humanity and the facade which he presents. He is not aware of the Identity of man which is Eternal and moves through the states without losing his essential nature. The accuser doesn't know that he hasn't the power to touch that which is real or Eternal within man.

Although the accuser takes on the Divine names he is without the substance. His time of strength and power is closing, the unreal illusion which he has sustained in his wanderings will be buried.

Whatever image he has created is only an image, a new image must arise and replace it.

Wikipedia Commons
For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise
Page 19, [Epilogue]

Erdman in the Illuminated Blake writes: "A sleeping traveller, naked, his hand on his staff though a spider has spun his web on the top, lies under a hill beyond which dawn is breaking on all sides. The deity which has resided in his sleeping breast, a black nightmare vision of Satan pretending to power over sun, moon, stars, must vanish like a raven of dawn since shown up as a mere Dunce - yet a Lucifer (feckless but better than no dreams at all) for temporarily lost travellers."

Using some of the same images, these verses in Isaiah resemble Blake's verses quoted above, and the Satan Blake described in other passages. The fall and death of the King of Babylon parallels the fall and death of Satan who has lost his place in the bosom of the Lost Traveller.

Isaiah 14:11-19
3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 

4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!

11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 

12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  
13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.  
16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: "Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 
17 the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?" 
18 All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb.  
19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot,

Previous post on Gates of Paradise

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Grove

"....And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice,
Saying, 'Come out from the grove, my love and care
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice...',"
(Little Black Boy)

"Planting these Oaken Groves: Erecting these Dragon Temples" (Erdman 170)
"Patriarchal Pillars & Oak Groves) over the whole Earth..." (Erdman 171)
"If we are wrathful Albion will destroy Jerusalem with rooty Groves
If we are merciful, ourselves must suffer destruction on his Oaks:
Why should we enter into our Spectres. to behold our own corruptions
O God of Albion descend! deliver Jerusalem from the Oaken Groves!"
(Erdman 184: Jerusalem Plate 38/43 lines 9-12)

"And build this Babylon & sacrifice in secret Groves" (Jerusalem, 60.23; E210)

"For a Spectre has no Emanation but what he imbibes from decieving
A Victim! Then he becomes her Priest & she his Tabernacle.
And his Oak Grove. till the Victim rend the woven Veil."
( Jerusalem, 65.60-62; E217) (See also Matthew 27:51)

"Till I turn from Female love
And root up the Infernal Grove,
I shall never worthy be
To step into Eternity.

Let us agree to give up love,
And root up the Infernal Grove;
Then shall we return and see
The worlds of happy Eternity. (My Spectre)

In his Complete Works Blake used the word 'grove' (or groveling) 26 times; you might wonder how Blake related the two words or about their etiology.

Notice that the 'love' in the last verse is the 'female love' of the earlier one. This 'love' in Blake's poetry is nothing like godly love; in fact it's just the opposite; it's love of fallen materiality- love of things, like Money, or Golf, or Whiskey, or your Stomach; see (See Philippians 3:19)

So what did Blake mean with his groves. Damon said it's a "symbol of error"; I say it's a symbol of the 'fallen material world' where the Druid Priests built their Temples and Altars.

Blake used thousands of words to describe his primary myth: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Return, and many many pictures to portray it, and many, many capsules of two lines that state it. He wanted us to get it.