Sunday, June 27, 2010


Speaking of this plate, Erdman informs us in The Illuminated Blake: "The full picture adumbrates the full plot of the poem, while illustrating the opening lines".

At the beginning of the first chapter of Jerusalem Blake sets forth a theme: he writes about the passage through Eternal Death (the inability to discern the Divine Image), and the awakening to Eternal Life (the life lived as a member of the Divine Family).

Jerusalem, Chap I, Plate 4, (E 146)

"Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life.

This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.
In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?
I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!

But the perturbed Man away turns down the valleys dark;"

Blake tells us the journey he wants us to take and the destination he wishes us to reach but his guidance is not necessarily adequate to insure our success. This website may give us some light for the dark valleys. Here we find an introduction to the book Jerusalem which can act as a primer in grasping the meaning of the book.

The author however offers this caveat: "Indeed, nearly every commentator has qualified their assessment of the poem by admitting that it is likely that no one will ever be able to explain fully the scope of Blake's poetic vision."

"Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, William Blake - Introduction." Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Lynn M. Zott. Vol. 127. Gale Cengage, 2003. 2006.

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