Sunday, May 16, 2010


Jerusalem, PLATE 54 (E 203)
"In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives
forth or Emanates

Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine

And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem
in every Man"

In his poem Jerusalem, Blake uses his character Jerusalem as the carrier of the Light Within. I read the following words as Jerusalem's testimony of faith.

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 211)
"But the Divine Lamb stood beside Jerusalem. oft she saw
The lineaments Divine & oft the Voice heard, & oft she said:

O Lord & Saviour, have the Gods of the Heathen pierced thee?
Or hast thou been pierced in the House of thy Friends?
Art thou alive! & livest thou for-evermore? or art thou
Not: but a delusive shadow, a thought that liveth not.
Babel mocks saying, there is no God nor Son of God
That thou O Human Imagination, O Divine Body art all
A delusion. but I know thee O Lord when thou arisest upon
My weary eyes even in this dungeon & this iron mill.
The Stars of Albion cruel rise; thou bindest to sweet influences:
For thou also sufferest with me altho I behold thee not;
And altho I sin & blaspheme thy holy name, thou pitiest me;
Because thou knowest I am deluded by the turning mills.
And by these visions of pity & love because of Albions death.

Thus spake Jerusalem, & thus the Divine Voice replied.

Mild Shade of Man, pitiest thou these Visions of terror & woe!
Give forth thy pity & love. fear not! lo I am with thee always.
Only believe in me that I have power to raise from death
Thy Brother who Sleepeth in Albion: fear not trembling Shade"
Here is my paraphrase of the above passage:
Jerusalem can feel and see and hear the presence of Christ. She asks if those who have confessed loyalty to Christ are not the ones who are hurting him. She see that those within the church don't acknowledge the living Christ and the nature of Eternity. Eternal things are being called shadow and delusion and lifeless. God and Christ are denied as unreal. Jerusalem has an inner knowledge of Christ even when outer circumstances are harsh and deadening. She knows that Christ is with her in her suffering even if she fails to recognize him. Jerusalem knows that the illusory world deceives her and obscures her vision because of its brokenness from Eternity.

Jerusalem hears the reply of Christ affirming the love and pity she has for the broken shadowy inhabitants of her world. Christ assures Jerusalem that he will not depart from her. She should continue to affirm his presence and the true spiritual nature of Eternity which is being restored to its unity.

In making this paraphrase I came to realize that this passage can be seen as a critique of deism which had become the respected form of Christianity in Blake's day. Blake often referred to it as natural religion in contrast to revealed religion. There was no place for vision or mystical experience in deism. Blake's religious experience was that of a God who is present to man as an internal reality. Blake's God is not accessed through reason or external proofs; his God is manifest in lives of faith, love, forgiveness and brotherhood.
Gospel of Matthew
28:8 - Then the women went away quickly from the tomb, their hearts filled with awe and great joy, and ran to give the news to his disciples.
28:9-10 - But quite suddenly , Jesus stood before them in their path, and said, "Peace be with you!" And they went forward to meet him and, clasping his feet, worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go now and tell my brothers to go into Galilee and they shall see me there"


Susan J. said...

what a beautiful poem - what a beautiful reflection - I'm with Blake and with Ellie on everything herein - in fact I've written down some of it to think about during the day today -- my one stumbling block is Blake's apparent equating of "Lord & Savior" with "Human Imagination" -- I just can't go there, in any sense of the words that I've come to thus far. In my understanding, worship of self is the worst sort of idolatry. But I'm hanging in there... :-)

Larry said...

But 'self' has various meanings; it's especially defined various ways by psychologists. Susan uses self for the ego. A poor man's Jung: the crucifixion of the ego leads to the emergence of the Self (the Christ image). Jung's theories are really more complicated than that.

So like most words you could say, speaking crudely they have a good and a bad meaning.

Susan J. said...

hmmm.... I can see that... "self" as "Christ image" certainly does sound like a "better" meaning...

but I'm still not able (or willing) to connect the dots, to equate "Lord & Savior" with "Human Imagination." When I pray "help me help me help me Lord" I sure hope there's someone beyond myself (even my best self, my highest self, the image of Christ in me) there to answer....

possibly I'm still missing the point, though...

ellie said...

These are some of the dots I connect:
>God created man in his image.
>In the beginning was the word.
>The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
>The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
>All who follow the leading of God's Spirit are God' own sons.
>you have been made whole in spirit; you have been justified before God in the name of the Lord Jesus and in his very Spirit.

Let's keep dicussing this.

Susan J. said...

That way of framing your thoughts really helps me a lot, Ellie -- "These are some of the dots I connect."

That's what I'm doing with the Clayton Blake Corpus -- I read along and read along until some "dot" catches my eye, and then I sit with it awhile, and then if there's time I move on to another "dot" and after awhile I start to notice that those dots are connecting with other dots in my mind & heart...

So this morning I've gone back and started to re-read your original May 16 "Jerusalem Speaks" post...

So far I've not gotten beyond the opening quote, that starts "In Great Eternity." I'm writing it in my little notebook that I've started carrying around, with things I want to sit with / think about / give space to in my mind & heart...

I have so many Blake-related windows open now, I'd better post this before I lose all track.

Here's an exciting snippet I found - I especially like the part about Eno/Eon making "space out of eternity."

Susan J. said...

I'm confused. The Blake quote I'm so interested in says "Jerusalem PLATE 54 (E 203)

But I'm getting many mysterious results when I try to find it online, in context. I feel like I should already know how to find such things, but I'm not having any success on this one... seemed like a likely place to look, but it seems to not be there right now...


Susan J. said...

">God created man in his image."

Right. Like parent, like child. The child might be "the spitting image" of the parent. In Gen 5:3 Seth is the same Hebrew word (tzelem) "image" of his father Adam. The same tzelem is also used of idols (carved "images") in Num 33:52 and elsewhere, and of humanly produced models or images in 1 Sam 6. So, biblically anyway, humanity in God's "image" both calls us to greatness and also reminds us that we're not God, but rather an image or in-the-likeness of God.

>In the beginning was the word.

Oh yes -- and what a rich saying to ponder -- what does it mean to you, in this context?

>The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Jesus, and also Wisdom, and more... again, how do you understand this?

>The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.


>All who follow the leading of God's Spirit are God' own sons.

The "sonship" metaphor seems to me to follow the same lines as humanity being created "in God's image" -- we are called to the greatness of our "family line" but also reminded that we, the sons and daughters, are not ourselves the divine Parent.

>you have been made whole in spirit; you have been justified before God in the name of the Lord Jesus and in his very Spirit.

Amen and amen!

By being "made whole" I understand health, wellness, healing - Greek hugies -- e.g. Matthew 12:13, Mark 5:34, John 5:6. The biblical references I find seem to all refer to being made healthy or whole in body, but surely the intent is also spiritual or metaphorical. Very often the bodily healing is linked to forgiveness of sin and going and sinning no more.

Similarly, I take biblical "justification" as early Friends did, as simultaneous with "sanctification" and ongoing rather than once-for-all.

But I suspect you are making different connections... say more?

Thanks so much!!!

Susan J. said...

well, duh. for the bazillionth time I'm reminded that, when I think I disagree with someone about something, I should first inquire as to what they mean by what they said. of course I might then still disagree, but at least we'll be on close to the same page about WHAT...

so I looked up "Imagination" in Damon's "A Blake Dictionary." As usual, Blake has his own extensive web of meanings... as well as his own socio-cultural-historical context... and, since he's an English speaker, I should also find the Indo-European root...

what a delightful thicket... :-)

Susan J. said...

soooo.... Blake apparently finds guidance and salvation ("Lord and Savior") in his and humanities capacity to "form and manipulate images" - to share in the divine creative faculty. I can see that.