Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blake's Gospel

This is a reprise of Blake's Everlasting Gospel.
Jerusalem, plates 60 and 61 each contain the word, idol, but together they represent a central tenet of Blake's gospel; it concerns forgiveness:

From Jerusalem, Plate 60:
"Los sat terrified beholding Albions Spectre .....
within the Furnaces the Divine Vision appeard In Albions hills: often walking from the Furnaces in clouds

(Blake was obviously thinking of the critical chapter 3 of Daniel, where 'one like the son of Man' walks with Daniel's three friends in the furnace, and seemingly unhurt.)

And flames among the Druid Temples & the Starry Wheels
the Divine Vision gatherd Jerusalems Children in his arms & bore them like a shepherd in the night of Albion which overspread all the Earth
I gave thee liberty and life O lovely Jerusalem
And thou hast bound me down upon the Stems of Vegetation
.........Why wilt thou rend thyself apart, Jerusalem?
And build this Babylon & sacrifice in secret Groves, .......
(and on and on Blake goes, sounding like nothing so much as Jeremiah or Isaiah calling to account the erring children of Israel, but then comes the promise:)
I will lead thee thro the Wilderness in shadow of my cloud
And in my love I will lead thee, lovely Shadow of Sleeping
Albion .
(Blake refers to Jerusalem as the lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion.)

This is the Song of the Lamb, sung by Slaves in evening time:
Jerusalem faintly saw him, closd in the Dungeons of Babylon
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.....
altho I sin & blaspheme thy holy name, thou pitiest me;
Because thou knowest I am deluded by the turning mills.

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"
(This last paragraph is filled with the words of Jesus:
"I am with thee always", "only believe in me" , Jesus raised their
brother, Lazarus from death; he also told Mary her brother was
sleeping. Blake has broken into the N.T, gospel, but for him the whole thing focused on forgiveness.

So much for Plate 60; now onward to 61:)
Jerusalem, Plate 61:
"Behold : in the Visions of Elohim Jehovah,
behold Joseph & Mary And be comforted O Jerusalem
in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim
She looked & saw Joseph the Carpenter in Nazareth & Mary
His espoused Wife. And Mary said,
if thou put me away from thee
Dost thou not murder me?"
(Mary of course was thought by the
Romans-- and by many, even until today to have been a harlot.)
Joseph spoke in anger & fury.
Should I Marry a Harlot or an Adulteress?
Mary answerd, Art thou more pure
Than thy Maker who forgiveth Sins & calls again Her that is Lost
Tho She hates. he calls her again in love. I love my dear Joseph
But he driveth me away from his presence. yet I hear the voice of God
In the voice of my Husband. tho he is angry for a moment,
he will not Utterly cast me away.
if I were pure, never could I taste the sweets
Of the Forgive[ne]ss of Sins! if I were holy! I never could behold the tears Of love!
of him who loves me in the midst of his anger in furnace of fire.
Ah my Mary: said Joseph: weeping over & embracing her closely in His arms:
Doth he forgive Jerusalem & not exact Purity from her who is
Polluted. I heard his voice in my sleep O his Angel in my dream:
Saying, Doth Jehovah Forgive a Debt only on condition that it shall Be Payed?
Doth he Forgive Pollution only on conditions of Purity
That Debt is not Forgiven! That Pollution is not Forgiven
Such is the Forgiveness of the Gods, the Moral Virtues of the
Heathen, whose tender Mercies are Cruelty. But Jehovahs
Salvation Is without Money & without Price,
the Continual Forgiveness of Sins
In the Perpetual Mutual Sacrifice in Great Eternity! for behold!
There is none that liveth & Sinneth not! And this is the Covenant
Of Jehovah: If you Forgive one-another, so shall Jehovah Forgive You:
That He Himself may Dwell among You.
Fear not then to take To thee Mary thy Wife,
for she is with Child by the Holy Ghost

Then Mary burst forth into a Song! she flowed like a River of
Many Streams in the arms of Joseph & gave forth her tears of joy
Like many waters, and Emanating into gardens & palaces upon
Euphrates & to forests & floods & animals wild & tame from
Gihon to Hiddekel, & to corn fields & villages & inhabitants
Upon Pison & Arnon & Jordan."

In contrast here's what he thought of the establishment gospel:
"Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briers my joys and desires" (from The Garden
of Love; Erdman 26)

And how like the famous Spectre:
"Seven of my sweet loves
thy knife Has bereaved of their life
Their marble tombs I built with tears
And with cold & shuddering fears
Seven more loves weep night & day
Round the tombs where my loves lay
And seven more loves attend each night
Around my couch with torches bright"

Blake worked with the Everlasting Gospel (Erdman 518-24) for years trying to explain how his gospel differed from the Establishment one; what came forth is (certainly not lucid), ambiguous, tortured English; the Spirit simply doesn't lend itself to our words. Here are the last few lines of The Everlasting Gospel:
"The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my Visions Greatest Enemy
Thine has a great hook nose like thine
Mine has a snub nose like to mine
Thine is the Friend of All Mankind
Mine speaks in parables to the Blind
Thine loves the same world that mine hates
Thy Heaven doors are my Hell Gates
And Caiphas was in his own Mind
A benefactor of Mankind
Both read the Bible day & night
But thou readst black where I read white"

Reading it 'white' is what all true Blakeans strive to do.

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