Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Early in 2010 the Tate gallery announced that it was purchasing a set of Blake prints which had long been lost. The group of eight prints was in the possession of Blake when he died and was inherited by his wife Catherine. An inscription on the back of one of the pictures indicates that they were given by Catherine to Frederick Tatum with whom Catherine lived after William's death. They did not surface again into public view until the were found in a secondhand railway timetable purchased in a used book sale in 1978. The owner offered them for sale as a set to the Tate Gallery which purchased them for 441000 pounds.

The group of eight includes six images from the Book of Urizen, one from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and one from The Book of Thel. The images are etchings from plates produced for the earlier works. They are finished with pen and ink, watercolor and tempera to be viewed as individual works of art. Text was left off of the engravings. Have a look for yourself courtesy of the BBC.

Keri Davies has studied the pictures since they were first shown at the Tate in 2007 and suggests that they were a part of Copy B of the Small Book of Designs. He provides the captions which appear on the newly discovered set which are absent in the set called Copy A. The pictures go on exhibit at the Tate this month and will be included in an exhibit at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art, Moscow in November 2011.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blake and Jesus

Though Jesus appears often in Blake's poetry, you might reflect that he truly met Jesus when he heard that he was the ram horn'd with gold.
Long before I had met Blake, under the aegis of C.G.Jung's Four Functions, I had concluded that Jesus was a 4444 type on the Myers-Briggs test;
(if each one of the four digits represents the relative strength of one of the functions, then Jesus was four-fold, unique in fact among the human race.)

Well! fourfold! that's what the Bible is all about:
There are only two instances of four-fold in the Bible, but that's certainly not the whole picture:
The river that went out of Eden divided into four heads (Genesis 2:10); Isaiah spoke of the four corners of the earth, and Jeremiah spoke of the four winds and the four quarters of Heaven.

But it's Ezekiel of course who had most to say about four as he described the temple, followed closely by Revelation. Blake was thoroughly familiar with both of these books.

When Blake said that he must create a system or be enslaved by another man's, he wrote of four fractured facets of the Fall that divided Albion (the universal man, but not the Eternal Man); that was a key to the system he created--

In Jesus, once Blake recognized him as such, all the four zoas (functions) coalesced into 4444, the fourfold wholeness and perfection of the Universal Man.

I wonder if Blake ever made that connection between foursquare and the Saviour; if he had met Jesus earlier in his life, I feel sure he might have been able to include it in his system: Jesus, the foursquare complete man, The Eternal Man incarnated!

Four is the magic number of completeness, and 4444 can only mean completeness in four senses.l

Sunday, July 25, 2010


After reading in A Blake Dictionary, Damon's description of Blake's Illustrations to the Book of Job, I came up with one word titles for each plate: ............................................................ Vision - Plate 13
1. Innocence
Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations of the Book of Job
Linnell Set, Plate 13

2. Doubt
3. Wrath
4. Disasters
5. Temptation
6. Shame
7. Experience
8. Anger
9. Disillusionment
10. Rejection
11. Insight
12. New Birth
13. Vision
14. Synthesis
15. Encounter with Unconscious
16. Reversal
17. God of Love
18. Forgiveness
19. Humility
20. Self-giving

21. Wholeness

Blake's Illustration to the Book of Job from the Boston College website and from Gutenberg Press .

Damon also associated the stages which Job traverses with the Eyes of God. Since the Seven Eyes are the stages of psychic, social and religious development of man, Job in his ordeal of individuation recapitulates each of the phases.
1-2. Lucifer - the selfhood
2-4. Molech - the executioner
5-6. Elohim - the judge
7-8. Shaddai - the accuser
9-10. Pahad - terror
11-12. Jehovah - commandments
13-14. Jesus - God in humanity

Here is an earlier post on the Eyes of God.

Each of the Eyes is represented in two plates in the descent/ascent of Job into his self-knowledge. On Job's return from the nadir each Eye is revisited with a single plate, but in it the Eye takes on its positive or redeemed nature.

15. Jehovah reveals the unconscious depths.
16. Jesus causes the Last Judgment.
17. Pahad reveals love.
18. Shaddai becomes forgiveness.
19. Elohim practices charity.
20. Molech brings forth the feminine.
21. Lucifer is freed of the selfhood.

A post on Job , Blake & Jung.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


In the beginning Blake called The Four Zoas Vala. The emanation of Luvah, she has a checkered career. In Eternity she is Jerusalem; fallen she became Vala, somewhat comparable to Eve in the garden. She carries all creation, all love, but in Ulro love is totally bad (not so in regeneration and in Eternity).

Vala was the contrary (opposite) of Jerusalem (the bride of Christ). She represents all the negativity of the feminine character. She also goes by the names of Rahab and Tirzah.

Hear Vala in the beginning of the poem:

"Hear! I will sing a Song of Death! it is a Song of Vala!
The Fallen Man takes his repose: Urizen sleeps in the porch
Luvah and Vala woke & flew up from the Human Heart
Into the Brain; from thence upon the pillow Vala slumber'd.
And Luvah seiz'd the Horses of Light, & rose into the Chariot of Day
Sweet laughter siezd me in my sleep! silent & close I laughd
For in the visions of Vala I walkd with the mighty Fallen One
I heard his voice among the branches, & among sweet flowers."
(Four Zoas 1:10-16, E 305)

So we can see that in Blake's myth Vala occupied the same symbolic role that Eve did in the Garden.

In The Four Zoas Blake used two kinds of daughters , who collectively represented Jerusalem and Vala:
1. Daughters of Beulah (Inspiration) are devoted to the well-being of man. They guarded the body of Albion in his mortal sleep on the Rock of Ages.

2. Daughters of Albion (Memory), obeying Reason weave the natural world of spiritual depravity.

In the poem Jerusalem we read: "The fallen Albion meets Vala and hears her say "Know me now Albion: look upon me. I alone am Beauty The Imaginative Human Form is but a breathing of Vala. I breathe him forth into the Heaven from my secret Cave, Born of the Woman to obey the Woman O Albion the mighty For the Divine appearance is Brotherhood, but I am love." (Jerusalem 29.49-52; E176)

And this from wiki : "Albion and Vala are deeply connected in Blake's myth. Originally, Albion was also with Jerusalem, but he abandons her after she claims that both Vala and Albion are too obsessed with the idea of sin. Jerusalem's fall provokes Vala to claim that she is the triumphant beauty and embraces materialism along with statements that women are dominant. Los rejects these claims and defends mankind. Although she has entered into a fallen state, from her line Jesus would be born. In the fallen state, she promotes revenge, jealousy, and justice during war. When she is redeemed after the Final Judgment, she is joined [as Jerusalem] with Albion as his bride. This allows for a union between mankind and the divine."

More on Vala may be found here and here.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I enjoy locating Blake images which are rarely seen. Last week I came across an image in the British Museum collection which I had not seen before. It is from A Large Book of Designs which Blake was commissioned to make for Ozias Humphry (a painter of miniatures) in 1794.
The images from the book include:
plate 1: "Albion rose from where he laboured at the Mill with Slaves
Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death"
plate 2: The Accusers of Theft Adultery Murder, used as frontispiece of copy B of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
plate 3: Plate 21 of Book of Urizen - Los, Enitharmon, Orc
plate 4: Plate 4 of Visions of the Daughters of Albion
plate 5: Frontispiece to Visions of the Daughters of Albion
plate 6: Joseph of Arimathea Preaching to the Inhabitants of Britain
plate 7: Plate 8 of Book of Urizen
plate 8: A Dream of Thiralatha from a canceled plate for America

Most of the images in A Large Book of Designs are familiar from other sources but this one was new to me: A Dream of Thiralatha. To see images from the Small and Large books of designs in the British Museum click on link.
These are two mentions of Thiralatha in Blake's early works.
Following America (E 59) [Fragment] [d]

"As when a dream of Thiralatha flies the midnight hour:
In vain the dreamer grasps the joyful images, they fly
Seen in obscured traces in the Vale of Leutha, So
The British Colonies beneath the woful Princes fade.

And so the Princes fade from earth, scarce seen by souls of men
But tho' obscur'd, this is the form of the Angelic land."

Europe, Plate 14, (E 66)
"Sotha & Thiralatha, secret dwellers of dreamful caves,
Arise and please the horrent fiend with your melodious songs.
Still all your thunders golden hoofd, & bind your horses black.
Orc! smile upon my children!
Smile son of my afflictions.
Arise O Orc and give our mountains joy of thy red light."

On page 124 of A Blake Dictionary, Damon provides a diagram of THE REPRESSION OF SEX UNDER ENITHARMON. On the female side the regression is from Ethinthus (the body) to Leutha (guilt) to Oothoon (frustrated desire) to Thiralatha (the erotic dream).
Although Damon calls Thiralatha "the last overt expression of thwarted sex," something of the imagination remains in her as seen in the lovely woman and child of the dream.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


To demonstrate how an individual can give different interpretations to Blake's illustrations at different times and in different circumstances, lets look at Plate 64 of Jerusalem.

In The Illuminated Blake (page 343), Erdman has this to say about the figure at the bottom of plate 64: "At the bottom this scroll of Natural Religion reaches the Rational Power, and the "Indefinite Spectre" Urizen, with fingers on book, checking with his index finger the message of the blots and blurs on the veil. At the top of the page: "The figure blindly writing the scroll, sleeping on it, yet with a sunburst (yellow against pink) of potential halo around her head is evidently Vala..."

In choosing the picture from Plate 64, as the illustration on the cover of The Complete Poetry and Poems of William Blake, Erdman sees the picture in a more personal manner:

"The design on our cover, constructed upon plate 64 of the Mellon copy of Jerusalem, was inspired by our editorial respect for the Committee on Scholarly Editions (CSE). The proofreader at the bottom with knuckles on text represents the five of us who, as required by the Committee "to prevent recontamination of the text," will have been "scrupulously and repeatedly" proofreading during the course of this book's production. Why that left hand held to shield the text from the light shining from the inspired (but nodding) author, with quill on scroll beautifully unfolding to constitute a New Heaven? Our attention must be upon what the author wrote, not upon our vision of his vision, even though we keep watching. That greater liberty is the reader's privilege."
The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, page XXVII

It is a privilege to read the words of Blake as Erdman and his committee provided them the to us. The greater liberty of trying to discern Blake's vision through the text, we pursue as diligently as Erdman pursued his editing. Without the diligent and meticulous work of Erdman and his associstes, Blake's vision would not be so easily available to us.

Here is the Plate 64 image from the Blake Archive, which allows us to view the only color copy of Jerusalem in existence.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Speaking of the Spectre

Strangely enough I haven't found any labels for the spectre, certainly a central image in Blake's poetry. It might be labeled as ethics, but that would be putting Blake in a box too small for him. Psychology would be more like it.

Modern thinkers speak of the shadow side of the ego, but Blake generally intended something else when he used shadow. I've posted on My Spectre around me night and day often enough, and that middle sized poem tells us as much about the Spectre as anything else Blake composed.

Does Blake's Spectre have any analogues? Indeed it does, the leading one of which might be Satan; then there's the covering cherub (plate 37 lines 4-18), the angel with the two-edged sword standing before the door to Eden. But the most pointed analog is the Selfhood. You could say that all of these images are synonymous-- a fourfold Image.

The second thing to say is that none of these (Spectre, Satan, covering cherub, Selfhood) are persons; they are states. Can you imagine getting into a satanic state? Some people profess to believe that they are living above sin, or even that there's no such thing. Blake met some such people, and he watched them carefully; the ones he thought the least of were Bacon, Newton, and Locke.

The complete myth (the Old Old Story) is that we are Innocent as babes, living in Beulah, but we lose our innocence in the world of Experience; then we struggle in the Sea of Time and Space, where many drown, especially the Elect. Los and Enitharmon clothe our souls with bodies (called Generation). In due time a fortunate few are regenerated and eventually regain Beulah on The Way to Eden.

And the Spectre? well it's annihilated.

Monday, July 19, 2010


In Plate 31 of Milton, a contrast is seen between the way things appear in the fallen world and in the unfallen world. The first paragraph quoted below concerns Satan and Rahab, Generation, Kingdoms of the Earth, War and Strife. All of the Living Creatures of the Four Elements are wailing in bitter lament. They weep because "they see the Lord coming in the Clouds of Ololon with Power & Great Glory!"

Beulah is said to weep also, but the lamentation of Beulah is seen as a vision the greatest beauty, joy and hope. The eyes of vision see the loveliest things of the natural world as expressing the culmination which will result from Ololon's sacrificial descent following Milton in his return to the world of matter.

The world of suffering, war, and strife should welcome the prospect of the Lord's arrival, for it will initiate the world of love, and peace and brotherhood. But it is not so. First an open mind, a receptive heart, a gentle hand, and an intuitive soul must grow in man. The vision cannot appear until we have prepared ourselves for it.

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd
With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife
In Los's Halls continual labouring in the Furnaces of Golgonooza
Orc howls on the Atlantic: Enitharmon trembles: All Beulah weeps

Thou hearest the Nightingale begin the Song of Spring;
The Lark sitting upon his earthy bed: just as the morn
Appears; listens silent; then springing from the waving
Corn-field! loud
He leads the Choir of Day! trill, trill, trill, trill,
Mounting upon the wings of light into the Great Expanse:
Reecchoing against the lovely blue & shining heavenly Shell:
His little throat labours with inspiration; every feather
On throat & breast & wings vibrates with the effluence Divine
All Nature listens silent to him & the awful Sun
Stands still upon the Mountain looking on this little Bird

With eyes of soft humility, & wonder love & awe.
Then loud from their green covert all the Birds begin their Song
The Thrush, the Linnet & the Goldfinch, Robin & the Wren
Awake the Sun from his sweet reverie upon the Mountain:
The Nightingale again assays his song, & thro the day,
And thro the night warbles luxuriant; every Bird of Song
Attending his loud harmony with admiration & love.
This is a Vision of the lamentation of Beulah over Ololon!

Thou percievest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours!
And none can tell how from so small a center comes such sweets
Forgetting that within that Center Eternity expands
Its ever during doors, that Og & Anak fiercely guard[.]
First eer the morning breaks joy opens in the flowery bosoms
Joy even to tears, which the Sun rising dries; first the Wild Thyme
And Meadow-sweet downy & soft waving among the reeds.
Light springing on the air lead the sweet Dance: they wake
The Honeysuckle sleeping on the Oak: the flaunting beauty
Revels along upon the wind; the White-thorn lovely May
Opens her many lovely eyes: listening the Rose still sleeps
None dare to wake her. soon she bursts her crimson curtaind bed
And comes forth in the majesty of beauty; every Flower:
The Pink, the Jessamine, the Wall-flower, the Carnation
The Jonquil, the mild Lilly opes her heavens! every Tree,
And Flower & Herb soon fill the air with an innumerable Dance
Yet all in order sweet & lovely, Men are sick with Love!
Such is a Vision of the lamentation of Beulah over Ololon"

Advice from the apostle Paul:
4:6-7 - Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
4:8-9 - Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.

J. B. Phillips translation of the New Testament

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Job Picture 21

Blake must have gone to the theater often because he seemed to love curtain calls. Picture 21 could be seen in that way, although there are also lots of new and original ideas in it.

It resembles Picture One to some degree except that the moon is setting while the sun is rising. (For Blake the sun of course symbolized the Eternal while the moon symbolized the mundane.)

Rather than reading the book Job is playing a harp, in fact he's directing a symphony while his wife plays a 'mandolin' (?).

Job now had all that he had before except that his vocation had changed to Music rather than the Law; the domestic animals gathered around.

Above the picture:
"Great and marvelous are thy works Lord God Almighty Just and True are thy Ways O Thou King of Saints" (Rev 15:3) Marvelous indeed!

Beneath the picture he inscribed verses 12, 16, and 17 of the last chapter of Job (42).
But between those verses is the same altar we found in Picture 1: he quoted Hebrew 10:6:
"In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure."

Soon after he finished his "Illustrations to the Book of Job, Blake died-- with a song on his lips. Would to God that you and I might die in the same shape as the later Job and the later Blake.

We have a clearer picture in some respects at the McCormick Library at Northwestern University.

If you would like to study all these pictures at one time, here it is.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I like this passage from Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, because it shows how the material or literal can be transformed into the poetic or mythopoeic:

"I tell you these things because my methods of approaching the past have scarcely changed since childhood and adolescence. I assemble what pieces there are, contrast and compare, and try to remain in their presence till I can begin to see and hear what living men and women once saw and heard and loved, till from these scraps and fragments living men and women begin to emerge and live and move again - and then I try to communicate these sensations to my reader...For me the historians principle task should be to raise the dead to life."

The picture that the Bible builds of the reality of existence, is presented in the context of the progress of specific individuals as they work out their relationships with God and man (and woman). The meaning of various episodes is unclear or confusing when seen outside of the context of the whole body of the collected books. The impression of false starts and repeated failures in the lives of the characters portrayed, interferes with understanding the direction which is being pursued. Perhaps the image of wandering epitomizes the path we follow as we read our way through the multiple books. It takes concerted effort to discern patterns which will provide an overview of the message which the Bible incorporates.

Blake worked under the influence of the Bible. We can see in the body of his work the same unifying conceptualization which leads to meaning being discernible only as an aspect of the complete picture. There are patterns to be uncovered in Blake's work but they are not neatly or consistently presented in a single place or form. We look at the same events from multiple perspective until they congeal into a living image that enhances views of the other living images from which we are constructing the big picture.

Blake will eventually show us the form in Eternity of which he carefully portrays the 'lineaments' of the Identity expressed temporally in the world of Generation.

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 115)
"for man cannot know
What passes in his members till periods of Space & Time
Reveal the secrets of Eternity: for more extensive
Than any other earthly things, are Mans earthly lineaments."

Jerusalem, Plate 71, (E 224)
"As the Soul is to the Body, so Jerusalems Sons,
Are to the Sons of Albion: and Jerusalem is Albions Emanation
What is Above is Within, for every-thing in Eternity is translucent:
The Circumference is Within: Without, is formed the Selfish Center
And the Circumference still expands going forward to Eternity.
And the Center has Eternal States! these States we now explore."
The picture is from Blake's illustrations to Milton's Paradise Regained.
Thanks to wikimedia commons for providing this image and many others from Blake's work. You can always right click on the pictures we post to copy the link location and learn the source of the images.

Please ask questions if you think we can help you with something.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Job Picture 20

"How precious are thy daughters unto me O God how great is the sum of them" (Psalm 139:17)

The upper corners outside of the picture denote luxury: grape vines with two couples in close harmony.

Beneath we see two musical instruments.

"And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. (Job 42:15) (This was unheard of in Hebrew culture.)

The prominence of women in this picture reflects a change in God's psyche toward the gentler sex (that is, the vision of God which some Hebrews had). Sophia has reappeared. (Read the 8th chapter of Proverbs.)

In the background are Job's remembrance of the nightmares he has lived through.

At the bottom another quote from Psalm 139:
"If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." (verse 8) At that point instead of simply quoting from the Bible Job spoke from Experience; he had been both places.

At the very bottom some may see the old man-killing serpent; he's still around, just as he is today. (Depending upon your Experience you may or may not see this.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I ended my last post by saying: "The picture I get is that Jesus, Newton, Blake, the Creator and Urizen shared the same instrument as well as some of the same activity. That activity was giving body to ideas."

Here is the passage from Northrup Frye' s Fearful Symmetry (Page 267) about giving body to ideas.

"The artist does not use natural images to clothe his ideas so much as to give body to them. An abstract idea is a spectre, a collapsing skeleton; a concrete image has flesh and blood. Hence the rather violent image of woven bodies which Blake employs in this context: from the skeleton's point of view it is rather difficult to say whether the flesh is body or clothing.
In making the familiar intelligible, in imposing a permanent vision on the flux of time, the artist creates a body out of nature which has a mental form. He thereby teaches us to see, in the small part of mystery which he has made coherent, the image, that is, the form of reality, of a universal coherence; he suggests, in other words, that if his natural body is a mental form, then the entire body of nature, from atoms to stars, may also be form of the human mind, if the imagination could get hold of it. Our fallen senses hollow out a tiny grotto in a boundless stretch of mystery, and this grotto is our home. But the center of the real universe is wherever we happen to be, and its circumference the limit of the radius of our experience. In the perspective of the awakened mind, the radius of of our experience is the universe, and art reveals to the senses of distant contact, eyesight and hearing, a universal home or Paradise which is ready for us to inhabit."

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin:
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment. Beholding them
Displayd in the Emanative Visions of Canaan in Jerusalem & in Shiloh
And in the Shadows of Remembrance, & in the Chaos of the Spectre
Amalek, Edom, Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Ashur, Philistea, around

This is the world turned upside down.
What we have called reality is seen
to be illusion; what we have called
illusion is seen to be reality. The
powers which have controlled us
have become powerless. Albion
arises and a new day dawns.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Job Picture 19

Picture 19:
Above the Picture: Job 38:41 "41Who provideth for the raven his food"

And I Samuel 2:7 "7The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up."

Below the picture: Job 42:11:
"Everyone also gave him a piece of Money"

42:11 Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold."
(The Jerusalem Bible says, "each of them gave him a silver coin, and each a gold ring").
Carl Jung said a gold ring is an emblem of the union of opposites in the psyche, like bringing the old repressed negative stuff into consciousness where something can be done about it.

Note a field of ripe corn in the background.

Below the picture you may see a smaller picture with two human figures, perhaps symbolic of the brotherhood of man.

And below the two figures this quote from
Psalm 136:23"who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever"

Quoting Edinger (page 69) "Job's fortunes have not only been restored but there has also been an enlargement of the personality as a result of the encounter with the 'numinosum'. As Jung puts it "the widening of the consciousness is at first upheaval and darkness, then a broadening out of man to the whole man."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands of England
The Garman Ryan Collection

Christ in the Carpenter's Shop
"This illustration is one of the Bible series commissioned by Blake's patron Thomas Butts. Eight others from the series are in the Tate Gallery. Christ is pictured as a youth, demonstrating his knowledge of carpentry with the geometric drawing on the floor. The artist's love for symbolism is evident here - Christ's compass indicating rational knowledge and reason, and Christ himself a symbol of imagination and creativity. In actual fact, in the original biblical text the scene refers to (Luke 2:51), nowhere is a carpenter's shop referred to. Blake has interpreted the meaning to relate to Christ's family trade." From the Walsall website.

Legend above picture - The Humility of the Savior
Below picture - "And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." [Luke 2:51]

As usual Blake is doing more in this picture than represent an actual scene from the life of Jesus. The figures we take to be Mary and Joseph seem to be shown symbolically. Christ looks away from Mary as if saying 'what have I to do with thee' (the question asked in To Tirzah), although she focuses her complete loving attention on him. The clothing Mary wears is the thick draped fabric seen in classical painting. So Mary as the material side is covered in dark thick garments (robes.)

The youth focuses his attention on Joseph as an image of the Father, perhaps even with the appearance of Los (the Eternal Prophet.) Joseph shows his left heel, a favorite position of Blake; according to Erdman the heel, synonymous with the word tarsus, suggests the conversion of Paul (of Tarsus).

The boy Jesus engrossed in conversation with the man, is a reminder of the encounter Jesus had had earlier in Luke's gospel with the teachers in the temple as he was engaged in discussions which lasted three days.

The youth holds the two symbols associated with Masonic organization. The compass toward Joseph, the square toward Mary. So the representation is of the male and female, the sky and earth, the spirit and matter, the eternal and the transient. The figure inscribed on the floor (squares and triangles), reminds me that Jesus traced figures in the dust when the woman was taken in adultery, which lead to her forgiveness.

On a more prosaic note, I see Jesus portrayed as a carpenter, an artisan with the tools he used in his work. I don't doubt that Blake had the same tools in his art and printing shop and used them daily. Newton (ever the mathematician) in Blake's portrayal, too, is shown holding the compass and inscribing a figure on paper as Blake himself did, and as was done in the carpenter's shop. The image from the frontispiece of Europe often called the Ancient of Days, shows either the creator God or Urizen, inscribing the world of matter with the compass. The picture I get is that Jesus, Newton, Blake, the Creator and Urizen shared the same instrument as well as some of the same activity. That activity was giving body to ideas.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Job Picture 18

"And my Servant Job shall pray for you"

Blake displays a (spiritual) Sun, not to be confused with the material sun which appears in Picture 21.

"And the Lord accepted Job" (Job 42:9)

"And my Servant Job shall pray for you" (Job 42:8)

Blake shows Job, his wife, and his 'friends' (or unconscious attitudes) in worship mode.

"And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends" (42:10)

In the sacrifice Job is a type of God's "only begotten son".

The open book in the lower left is illegible, but we may surmise that it's the 42nd chapter of Job. Reading it in it's entirety might give us a clearer understanding of what Blake meant, at least provide fertile ground for you own creative imagination.

When you come to the end of Job 42, you will realize that it is the end of the story of Job (but we still have three pictures to show.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Luke 7:44-47
"Exactly," replied Jesus, and then turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "You can see this woman? I came into your house but you provided no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. That is why I tell you, Simon, that her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has shown me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give."

Of the three classes of men, the reprobate is the one Blake associated with Jesus.


Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love."

Here we have Jesus saving the reprobate (sinners) from punishment of the law, and thereby saving the elect (accusers) from administering punishment. The love of Jesus keeps both classes from sin. But a question remained: why were the innocent condemned for the guilty?

Milton, Plate 11 [12], (E 105)
"And it was enquir'd: Why in a Great Solemn Assembly
The Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty? Then an Eternal rose
Saying. If the Guilty should be condemn'd, he must be an Eternal Death
And one must die for another throughout all Eternity.
Satan is fall'n from his station & never can be redeem'd
But must be new created continually moment by moment
And therefore the Class of Satan shall be calld the Elect, & those
Of Rintrah. the Reprobate, & those of Palamabron the Redeem'd
For he is redeem'd from Satans Law, the wrath falling on Rintrah,
And therefore Palamabron dared not to call a solemn Assembly
Till Satan had assum'd Rintrahs wrath in the day of mourning
In a feminine delusion of false pride self-deciev'd."

The guilty in this case was Satan (the Elect) but the guilt fell upon Rintrah (the Reprobate). The representative of the Eternals answers that it is to avoid sending the guilty to Eternal Death.

Milton, Plate 7, (E 101)
"[Palamabron says] prophetic I behold
His future course thro' darkness and despair to eternal death
But we must not be tyrants also! he hath assum'd my place
For one whole day, under pretence of pity and love to me:
My horses hath he maddend! and my fellow servants injur'd:
How should he[,] he[,] know the duties of another? O foolish
Would I had told Los, all my heart! but patience O my friends.
All may be well: silent remain, while I call Los and Satan."

Palamabron is confident that a solution will be found. The solution turns out to be that the Lamb of God take on the sin and guilt among the reprobates.

There Is No Natural Religion, (E 3)
"Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E107)
"For then the Body of Death was perfected in hypocritic holiness,
Around the Lamb, a Female Tabernacle woven in Cathedrons Looms
He died as a Reprobate. he was Punish'd as a Transgressor!
Glory! Glory! Glory! to the Holy Lamb of God
I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord!

The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour.
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live.
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death.
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."

The Body of death forms around the Lamb of God. The Elect and Redeemed are given to see the Savior in the Transgressor.

Milton, 32 [35], (E 132)
"Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches
And thou O Milton art a State about to be Created
Called Eternal Annihilation that none but the Living shall
Dare to enter: & they shall enter triumphant over Death
And Hell & the Grave! States that are not, but ah! Seem to be."

The Elect, Redeemed and Reprobates are not the true identities of man but states which can be terminated. The Individual Identity never dies.

Milton, Plate 14, (E 108)
"I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil One!
He is my Spectre! in my obedience to loose him from my Hells
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death.

And Milton said. I go to Eternal Death! Eternity shudder'd
For he took the outside course, among the graves of the dead
A mournful shade. Eternity shudderd at the image of eternal death"

Recognizing the state as a psychological condition to which we ourselves give reality, we are in a position to forgive and annihilate it.

Milton, PLATE 38 [43],(E 139)
"Satan! my Spectre! I know my power thee to annihilate
And be a greater in thy place, & be thy Tabernacle
A covering for thee to do thy will, till one greater comes
And smites me as I smote thee & becomes my covering.
Such are the Laws of thy false Heavns! but Laws of Eternity
Are not such: know thou: I come to Self Annihilation
Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee".

If the reprobate were not an inner reality in each man, Jesus, the God within, would have no cause to associate with him. If there were no darkness within man, there would not be no need for the light.

Wiki Commons

 The Body of Abel found by Adam and Eve - Cain Fleeing

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Job Picture 17

Job's relation to God is healed; Job and his wife blessed; the friends turn their backs.

Note the difference here between the light side and the dark side.

What does it mean that the three "friends" are hiding their eyes. Recall that the three friends represent Job's shadow side; Blake referred to that variously as the Spectre, the covering cherub, Satan, etc. etc.

Blake scribbled oodles of Bible above and below this picture:

1 Samuel 2:6 "he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up."

Psalm 8:3 When I behold [consider] thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained"

1 John 3:2 "...we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

Job 42:5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear but now mine eye seeth thee.

Blake lived into this picture and identified closely with it. The rhapsodic scripture he wrote below it was a tribute to the Bible, which he loved and a witness to his creative relationship with the O.T. God. He was thinking about that First Vision of Light where God called him "thou ramhorn'd with Gold":
"In his bosom sun bright I remaind.
Soft he smild And I heard his voice
Mild Saying This is My FoldO thou Ram hornd with gold
Who awakest from sleep"

Friday, July 09, 2010


This passage from Jerusalem is particularly rich in Biblical references. Jesus speaks to Jerusalem to support her in her time of troubles. Blake uses the experiences of Jesus from the New Testament and the experiences from the exodus in the Old Testament to intimate the journey that must be undertaken to arrive at what may be described as the 'Promised Land.' Biblical scholars point out the parallels between what was achieved in the Israelites release from slavery in Egypt, through their sojourn in the wilderness and their arrival in the promised land; and what Jesus achieved through his incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. The alteration in consciousness achieved through each of these examples of 'exodus' made possible new beginnings in mankind's psychic and spiritual development.

Here is an article linking Jesus and the Exodus: "The Exodus in the New Testament", by R.E. Nixon, M.A.

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
John 11: 25

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception. Luvah must be Created
And Vala; for I cannot leave them in the gnawing Grave.
John 11
[17] Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
[31] The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
[43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
[44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

But will prepare a way for my banished-ones to return
John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Come now with me into the villages. walk thro all the cities.
Tho thou art taken to prison & judgment, starved in the streets
I will command the cloud to give thee food & the hard rock
To flow with milk & wine,
Deuteronomy 8
[15] Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
[16] Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
tho thou seest me not a season
John 16:16
A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
Even a long season & a hard journey & a howling wilderness!
Numbers 32
[13] And the LORD's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.
Tho Valas cloud hide thee & Luvahs fires follow thee!
Exodus 13
[21] And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
[22] He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Only believe & trust in me,
Mark 5
[36] As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
Lo. I am always with thee!
Matthew 28
[20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


Blake, through his prophetic writings, was proposing that man once again go on a journey of exodus out of the slavery of the limitations produced by our own inability to perceive the infinite world of the spirit which we can access through imagination. The world we live in reflects the minds which we choose to limit through being blind, deaf, and insensitive to the infinite, perfect and ever changing Eternal world. Jesus taught the same lessons that Blake taught, and demonstrated the path of death and rebirth, which leads to Eternal Life. Blake invites us to put aside selfhood in forgiveness, jealousy in brotherhood, sensation in vision, outward development in inward development, and Eternal Death in Eternal Life.

Larry reminds us to read this passage in Luke which speaks of the exodus Jesus was about to accomplish: Luke 9: 28-36. (Note verse 31.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Job Picture 16

Picture 16 is not about Job per-se, but celebrates a statement made by Jesus in Luke 10:18, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (incidentally leading to Paradise Lost in a nutshell). In the legends he continued with a proliferation of Bible verses, some in Job and then moving on to the New Testament.

"Hell is naked before him and Destruction has nocovering" (Job 26:6). It has the usual three layered Universe and on the left border Blake wrote, "Canst thou by searching find out God -- canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection" (Job 11:7) and below that "the Accuser of our Brethen is Cast down".

And on the right border: "It is higher than Heaven what canst thou do" "it is deeper than Hell what canst thou know" (Job 11:8) "the Prince of this world shall be cast out" (John 12:31)

Below the picture he wrote:
"Thou hast fulfilled the Judgment of the Wicked" (Job 36:17) and "even the Devils are Subject to Us through thy Name" (Luke 10:17) and I saw Satan" etc.

Then "God hath chosen the foolish things of the World to confound the wise and God hath chosen the weak things of the World to confound the things that are mighty"
(I Corinthians 1:27)

Blow this picture up with ctrl + several times and look carefully at the figure of God--with several babies? (cherubs?) around him. (You may find a child about to be born to your favorite mother.) Now compare this picture with Picture 2. The difference indicates a change in Job's evaluation of God (reflecting a more personal change in Blake's attitude toward the O.T. God.)

Let your imagination run wild (Like Blake's?) and you may see the new children God had prepared for Job.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Erdman, in The Illuminated Blake
says: "Phaeton-like, down hurdle a naked man and sword and a horse with saddle cloth and broken chariot wheel...The man's spread hands are braced to hit the ground, but it is already in flames. Reason must have forgotten to let the horse do the pulling; a sword is not a bridle. But Energy must have restraint. Between them they have let the sun fall, connoting universal ruin."

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell was written in 1791 when Blake was a young man; he might be called an angry young man.

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 5, (E 34)
"Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs
is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or
reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.
And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive
till it is only the shadow of desire.
The history of this is written in Paradise Lost. & the
Governor or Reason is call'd Messiah.
And the original Archangel or possessor of the com-
mand of the heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan
and his children are call'd Sin & Death
But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd
Satan. For this history has been adopted by both parties
It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was
cast out. but the Devils account is, that the Messiah
fell. & formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss
This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the
Father to send the comforter or Desire that Reason
may have Ideas to build on, the Jehovah of the Bible
being no other than he, who dwells in flaming fire.
Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah.
But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a
Ratio of the five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum!
Note. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when
he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of
Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and
of the Devils party without knowing it"

Blake was continually striving to free his imagination from constraints. The internal constraints of which he was most aware (excluding the selfhood) were misguided reason and emotion. In Plate 5 of Marriage of Heaven and Hell he expresses the concern that reason will succeed in restraining the emotions to the point that the imagination is bound. Emotion or desire is the source of energy which is required for the creative process.

As a poet, Blake identifies with Milton whose Paradise Lost was of consuming interest to Blake. In this Plate Blake deals with the poet's work (his own and Milton's), Biblical characters who becomes fictional characters for both the poets, and the abstract ideas of reason and emotion.

Blake became so interested in correcting the misconceptions of his friend (his spiritual, intellectual but not corporeal friend), that he addressed the issue in his poem Milton. Since Milton died 83 years before Blake was born, this was a friendship on the level of Eternity; time was not of the essence.

The crux of Milton's error in Blake's system is stated concisely as:
"But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the
five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum!"

In Blake the Father is the Divine Humanity, in whose Image man is created; the Son is the Divine Vision, God in Man, the Incarnation; and the Holy Spirit is the Divine Body, the Human Imagination, the activity of expressing the Divine.

Or in other terms for Blake:
Father = Urizen = reason
Son = Luvah = emotions
Holy Spirit = Los = intuition or imagination
Unified man = Tharmas = body

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Job 15

(These Plates for from The Book of Job in Alelaide University.)

In this Plate Job is together with his wife and friends under (Job's image of) God and the two heavenly angels who accompany him.

Above the engraving of the picture:

Can any understand the spreadings of the Clouds the noise of his Tabernacle.

At the left border an angel is writing:

Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud
He scattereth the bright cloud also it is turned about by his counsels

The angel on the right border:
Of Behemoth he saith, He is the chief of the ways of God
(Job 40:15–24 describes Behemoth, and then the sea-monster Leviathan, to demonstrate to Job the futility of questioning God, who alone has created these beings and who alone can capture them.[2] Both beasts are chaos monsters destroyed by the deity at the time of creation, although such a conflict is not found in the creation account.[3])

Of Leviathan he saith, He is King over all the Children of Pride

At the bottom:
Behold now Behemoth which I made with thee

    Behemoth and Leviathan
Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? (Job 36:29)
Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels (Job 37:11-12)
Behold now behemoth...He is the chief of the ways of God (Job 40:15, 19)
...he is a king over all the children of pride (Job 41: 34)
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee (Job 40:15)

Behemoth appears only in Job 40:

[15] Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
[16] Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
[17] He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
[18] His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
[19] He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
[20] Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
[21] He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
[22] The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
[23] Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
[24] He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

It sounds like a fearful beast.

Leviathan appears at Job.41:

[1] Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
[2] Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

It also appears in Pss.74 [14]: 

Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. 

And in Pss.104 [26]: 

There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

And in Isa.27:
  1. [1] In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even
  2. leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.     
From Wikipedia:
Job 40:15–24 describes Behemoth, and then the sea-monster Leviathan, to demonstrate to Job the futility of questioning God, who alone has created these beings and who alone can capture them.[2] Both beasts are chaos monsters destroyed by the deity at the time of creation, although such a conflict is not found in the creation account.[3]
Leviathan is identified figuratively with both the primeval sea (Job 3:8Psalms 74:13) and in apocalyptic literature – describing the end-time – as that adversary, the Devil, from before creation who will finally be defeated. In the divine speeches in Job, Behemoth and Leviathan may both be seen as composite and mythical creatures with enormous strength, which humans like Job could not hope to control. But both are reduced to the status of divine pets, with rings through their noses and Leviathan on a leash.[4]