Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plate 20

But when they saw Albion fall'n upon mild Lambeths vale:
Astonish'd! Terrified! they hover'd over his Giant limbs.Then thus Jerusalem spoke, while Vala wove the veil of tears:
Weeping in pleadings of Love, in the web of despair.
Wherefore hast thou shut me into the winter of human life
And clos'd up the sweet regions of youth and virgin innocence:
Where we live, forgetting error, not pondering on evil:
Among my lambs & brooks of water, among my warbling birds:
Where we delight in innocence before the face of the Lamb:
Going in and out before him in his love and sweet affection.
Vala replied weeping & trembling, hiding in her veil.
When winter rends the hungry family and the snow falls:
Upon the ways of men hiding the paths of man and beast,
Then mourns the wanderer: then he repents his wanderings & eyes
The distant forest; then the slave groans in the dungeon of
The captive in the mill of the stranger, sold for scanty hire.
They view their former life: they number moments over and over;
Stringing them on their remembrance as on a thread of sorrow.
Thou art my sister and my daughter! thy shame is mine also!
Ask me not of my griefs! thou knowest all my griefs.
Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys.
O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest
At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little
Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin
Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness! O! if I have Sinned
Forgive & pity me! O! unfold thy Veil in mercy & love!
Slay not my little ones, beloved Virgin daughter of Babylon
Slay not my infant loves & graces, beautiful daughter of Moab
I cannot put off the human form I strive but strive in vain
When Albion rent thy beautiful net of gold and silver twine;
Thou hadst woven it with art, thou hadst caught me in the bands
Of love; thou refusedst to let me go: Albion beheld thy beauty
Beautiful thro' our Love's comeliness, beautiful thro' pity.
The Veil shone with thy brightness in the eyes of Albion,
Because it inclosd pity & love; because we lov'd one-another!
Albion lov'd thee! he rent thy Veil! he embrac'd thee! he lov'd
thee!Astonish'd at his beauty & perfection, thou forgavest his furious
I redounded from Albions bosom in my virgin loveliness.
The Lamb of God reciev'd me in his arms he smil'd upon us:
- 165 -
He made me his Bride & Wife: he gave thee to Albion.
Then was a time of love: O why is it passed away!
Then Albion broke silence and with groans reply'd
O Vala! O Jerusalem! do you delight in my groans
You O lovely forms, you have prepared my death-cup:
The disease of Shame covers me from bead to feet: I have no hope
Every boil upon my body is a separate & deadly Sin.


 Looking over the text en toto you may notice that beginning with Vala's statement in Plate 18 there's a continuous sequence in the story to the end of Chapter One (To the Public).

     Plate 20 appears to be primarily a statement that Jerusalem made to Vala: "
Then thus Jerusalem spoke...." Jerusalem is saying that Vala, her material counterpart has robbed Albion of his hold on Eternity.  The consequence (according to the Sacred Story) was the Visit to Earth of the Saviour; his compassion and passion led to universal redemption (such was Blake's faith IMO).


Friday, December 30, 2011


Repost from December 2010

In December 2009 I posted four time on the nativity using Blake's illustrations to Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity. The fifth illustration of the series "The Flight of Molock" faithfully presents these lines from Milton's ode:

And sullen Moloch fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning Idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with Cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue,Moloch, the second of Blake's Seven Eyes of God, called the executioner, required child sacrifice. Blake presents the theme of sacrificing children by showing the infant Jesus emerging from a 'fiery furnace.' Daniel tells of three men who emerged from such a furnace unscathed having met in the furnace a fourth who appeared as the 'Son of God.'

On plate 31 (E 177) of Jerusalem Blake tells us that:

"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."

Two women (cf.1st Kings 3:16ff) are touching the child emerging from the furnace. One appears to be Jerusalem, the other Vala or Rahab. Both turn away from the child as they reach out to touch him. In The Mental Traveller we read of a babe whom none could touch:

The Mental Traveller, (E 484)
"Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring

And she is all of solid fire
And gems & gold that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her Baby form
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band"

Blake and Milton have supplemented the picture of the child who was laid in the manger as provided by Luke.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Imitation of Spencer

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Repost from December 2009

Blake in his characteristic way, sees the birth of Christ as part of a larger picture. The Bible, John Milton, the history of religion, cosmology, and his own myth; each play a role in Blake's response to Jesus' birthday.

"On the Morning of Christ's Nativity"

The Blake Archive provides this in its introduction to "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity:"

"Blake's interest in the 'Nativity Ode' began some years before his execution of these water colors. His illuminated book, Europe a Prophecy (1794), clearly shows the influence of Milton's ode. By 1809, Blake may have taken a renewed interest in the poem because of his increasingly Christocentric theological views. His harsh criticism of classical civilization resonates with two of the 'Nativity' designs, 'The Old Dragon' and 'The Overthrow of Apollo and the Pagan Gods' (objects 3 and 4). Modern critics have been hard pressed to find Blake dissenting from Milton's own iconography and perspectives in the ode."

Milton, Nativity Ode

From Europe a Prohecy (E61,2.12):
"Ah! I am drown'd in shady woe, and visionary joy.

And who shall bind the infinite with an eternal band?
To compass it with swaddling bands? and who shall cherish it
With milk and honey?
I see it smile & I roll inward & my voice is past.

She ceast & rolld her shady clouds
Into the secret place.


The deep of winter came;
What time the secret child,
Descended thro' the orient gates of the eternal day:
War ceas'd, & all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Plate 18

what we have here is a puzzling picture that properly belongs  at this line:
(For Vala produc'd the Bodies. Jerusalem gave the Souls).
Erdman rereferred to it as a complex emblem of division and union.

What I see is a couple (two couples in fact): above
two cherubic figures meeting together in a kiss.
And below much larger figures whose contact is 
confined to their toes. (Heaven is above; earth is below)
That's the essence of the meaning of the text.
The two larger reclining figures are Vala on the left,
clothed in her vale, and naked Jerusalem on the right.
(mortal people have garments; the immortals are

From every-one of the Four Regions of Human Majesty,
There is an Outside spread Without, & an Outside spread Within
Beyond the Outline of Identity both ways, which meet in One:
An orbed Void of doubt, despair, hunger, & thirst & sorrow.
Here the Twelve Sons of Albion, join'd in dark Assembly,

- 162 -

Jealous of Jerusalems children, asham'd of her little-ones
(For Vala produc'd the Bodies. Jerusalem gave the Souls)
Became as Three Immense Wheels, turning upon one-another
Into Non-Entity, and their thunders hoarse appall the Dead
To murder their own Souls, to build a Kingdom among the Dead

Cast! Cast ye Jerusalem forth! The Shadow of delusions!
The Harlot daughter! Mother of pity and dishonourable forgiveness
Our Father Albions sin and shame! But father now no more!
Nor sons! nor hateful peace & love, nor soft complacencies
With transgressors meeting in brotherhood around the table,
Or in the porch or garden. No more the sinful delights
Of age and youth and boy and girl and animal and herb,
And river and mountain, and city & village, and house & family.
Beneath the Oak & Palm, beneath the Vine and Fig-tree.
In self-denial!--But War and deadly contention, Between
Father and Son, and light and love! All bold asperities
Of Haters met in deadly strife, rending the house & garden
The unforgiving porches, the tables of enmity, and beds
And chambers of trembling & suspition, hatreds of age & youth
And boy & girl, & animal & herb, & river & mountain
And city & village, and house & family. That the Perfect,
May live in glory, redeem'd by Sacrifice of the Lamb
And of his children, before sinful Jerusalem. To build
Babylon the City of Vala, the Goddess Virgin-Mother.
She is our Mother! Nature! Jerusalem is our Harlot-Sister
Return'd with Children of pollution, to defile our House,
With Sin and Shame. Cast! Cast her into the Potters field.
Her little-ones, She must slay upon our Altars: and her aged
Parents must be carried into captivity, to redeem her Soul
To be for a Shame & a Curse, and to be our Slaves for ever

So cry Hand & Hyle the eldest of the fathers of Albions
Little-ones; to destroy the Divine Saviour; the Friend of
Building Castles in desolated places, and strong Fortifications.
Soon Hand mightily devour'd & absorb'd Albions Twelve Sons.
Out from his bosom a mighty Polypus, vegetating in darkness,
And Hyle & Coban were his two chosen ones, for Emissaries
In War: forth from his bosom they went and return'd.
Like Wheels from a great Wheel reflected in the Deep.
Hoarse turn'd the Starry Wheels, rending a way in Albions Loins
Beyond the Night of Beulah. In a dark & unknown Night,
Outstretch'd his Giant beauty on the ground in pain & tears:

Monday, December 26, 2011


Repost from December 2009

Chorus of Angels

Since the first image we form of ourselves is that of a body, we may formulate the idea that at some point the spirit enters the body and begins to express itself through the body. But as Blake explains here, it is the bodies which are made for the spirits which pre-exist.

As Albion represents the Universal Man, Jerusalem represents the Universal Woman: the 'vast family wondrous in beauty and love.' Albion is fourfold, Jerusalem is unified: the expression of the Divine Vision within the Universal Man.

In this passage, Blake presents the idea that redemption begins when 'the Lamb of God' becomes visible within the Unified Spiritual Body which is Jerusalem. The song of the angels, sung when the birth of Jesus was announced to the shepherds, is echoed in Blake's verses at this point.

2:8-12 - "There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendour of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David's town, a Saviour has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger.'
2:13-14 - And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, 'Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!'"

Four Zoas: Night the Eighth, Page 103 (E376):

"Enitharmon wove in tears Singing Songs of Lamentations
And pitying comfort as she sighd forth on the wind the spectres
And wove them bodies calling them her belovd sons and daughters

Employing the daughters in her looms & Los employd the Sons
In Golgonoozas Furnaces among the Anvils of time & space
Thus forming a Vast family wondrous in beauty & love
And they appeard a Universal female form created
From those who were dead in Ulro from the Spectres of the dead

And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire

Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body

Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us

2:25-32 - "In Jerusalem was a man by the name of Simeon. He was an upright man, devoted to the service of God, living in expectation of the 'salvation of Israel'. His heart was open to the Holy Spirit, and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ. He had been led by the Spirit to go into the Temple, and when Jesus' parents brought the child in to have done to him what the Law required, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said - 'At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people - a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.'"

Plate 5

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Plate 17

His Spectre divides & Los in fury compells it to divide:
To labour in the fire, in the water, in the earth, in the air,
To follow the Daughters of Albion as the hound follows the scent
Of the wild inhabitant of the forest, to drive them from his own:
To make a way for the Children of Los to come from the Furnaces
But Los himself against Albions Sons his fury bends, for he
Dare not approach the Daughters openly lest he be consumed
In the fires of their beauty & perfection & be Vegetated beneath
Their Looms, in a Generation of death & resurrection to
They wooe Los continually to subdue his strength: he continually
Shews them his Spectre: sending him abroad over the four points
of heaven
In the fierce desires of beauty & in the tortures of repulse! He
The Spectre of the Living pursuing the Emanations of the Dead.
Shuddring they flee: they hide in the Druid Temples in cold
Subdued by the Spectre of the Living & terrified by undisguisd

For Los said: Tho my Spectre is divided: as I am a Living Man
I must compell him to obey me wholly: that Enitharmon may not
Be lost: & lest he should devour Enitharmon: Ah me!
Piteous image of my soft desires & loves: O Enitharmon!
I will compell my Spectre to obey: I will restore to thee thy
No one bruises or starves himself to make himself fit for

Tormented with sweet desire for these beauties of Albion
They would never love my power if they did not seek to destroy
Enitharmon: Vala would never have sought & loved Albion
If she had not sought to destroy Jerusalem; such is that false
And Generating Love: a pretence of love to destroy love:
Cruel hipocrisy unlike the lovely delusions of Beulah:
And cruel forms, unlike the merciful forms of Beulahs Night

They know not why they love nor wherefore they sicken & die
Calling that Holy Love: which is Envy Revenge & Cruelty
Which separated the stars from the mountains: the mountains from
And left Man, a little grovelling Root, outside of Himself.
Negations are not Contraries: Contraries mutually Exist:
But Negations Exist Not: Exceptions & Objections & Unbeliefs
Exist not: nor shall they ever be Organized for ever & ever:
If thou separate from me, thou art a Negation: a meer
Reasoning & Derogation from Me, an Objecting & cruel Spite
And Malice & Envy: but my Emanation, Alas! will become
My Contrary: O thou Negation, I will continually compell
Thee to be invisible to any but whom I please, & when
And where & how I please, and never! never! shalt thou be
But as a distorted & reversed Reflexion in the Darkness
And in the Non Entity: nor shall that which is above
Ever descend into thee: but thou shalt be a Non Entity for ever
And if any enter into thee, thou shalt be an Unquenchable Fire
And he shall be a never dying Worm, mutually tormented by
Those that thou tormentest, a Hell & Despair for ever & ever.

So Los in secret with himself communed & Enitharmon heard
In her darkness & was comforted: yet still she divided away
In gnawing pain from Los's bosom in the deadly Night;
First as a red Globe of blood trembling beneath his bosom[.]
Suspended over her he hung: he infolded her in his garments
Of wool: he hid her from the Spectre, in shame & confusion of
Face; in terrors & pains of Hell & Eternal Death, the
Trembling Globe shot forth Self-living & Los howld over it:
Feeding it with his groans & tears day & night without ceasing:
And the Spectrous Darkness from his back divided in temptations,
And in grinding agonies in threats! stiflings! & direful

Go thou to Skofield: ask him if he is Bath or if he is Canterbury
Tell him to be no more dubious: demand explicit words
Tell him: I will dash him into shivers, where & at what time
I please: tell Hand & Skofield they are my ministers of evil
To those I hate: for I can hate also as well as they!
Los obviously now has control of his Spectre (something all of us
should endeavor to do). What does that mean?  To me it means that
your Errors of thought, word, and deed are replaced by the
Creative Dimension of your life.

The Hound of line 3 reminds me of the Hound of Heaven, by Francis Thompson
"Vala would never have sought & loved Albion
If she had not sought to destroy Jerusalem; such is that false
And Generating Love: a pretence of love to destroy love:"
 Here Blake refers to the Fall, the terrible power of the uronic Vala.

The Plate closes with Blake's defiance of Skofield and Hand, two of
Blake's deadly enemies. (Scofield, you may remember, was the drunk
soldier who tried to get Blake hung for sedition.)

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Repost from December 2009

Returning to "The Morning of Christ's Nativity" by John Milton, for which Blake made two sets of five watercolor illustrations, there is a lot more to observe. Blake's pictures like Milton's poetry did not focus only on the supplanting of Apollo and heathen gods. The first and last pictures, like the beginning and ending of Milton's poetry present a more conventional portrait of the birth of the child based on accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

Here is Blake's first illustration for On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.

Blake of course, added distinctive features to his illustrations. In her book Blake's Vision of the Poetry of Milton, Bette Charlene Werner, on page 119 and following, points out some things that speak of Blake's own philosophy. Quoting from her book:

> "With the angelic figure of Peace and the recumbent form of Nature the artist suggests the union of heaven and earth in the Word made flesh.
> the Huntington version of the design emphasizes the divinity, not only of Christ, but also by implication of man.
> The Child is pictured springing forth in unfettered freedom. The figure suggests at once the "Heav'n-born-childe" of Milton's ode and the preexistent soul whose material birth Blake describes in "Infant Sorrow" (E27, SoE48):
"My mother groand! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I lept."
The Blessed Infant, ablaze with the radiance of spiritual existence, is the light that puts the inferior flame of the sun to shame.
> According to Blake "everything that lives is holy for the source of life / Descends to be a weeping babe." (E323) That understanding may explain his portrayal of Nature here, not as one whose ugliness requires a covering, but as a figure whose naked beauty is still apparent beneath the translucent covering of snow. The veiled form of Nature in this illustration is, like the Vala of Blake's own mythology, an embodiment of the vale of tears and the veil of materiality.
> Like Milton, Blake sees in the Incarnation not only the humility of Christ, emptying himself of his Godhead, but the glorification of man. He identifies Jesus, the Divine Humanity, with Imagination and insists: "Man is All Imagination God is Man & exists in us & we in him." (E664) This understanding makes the Nativity not only the fulfillment of God's becoming man, but a promise of salvation through the spiritual union of all men in in the One Man who is Jesus, the Savior."
End of Quotes

Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity

Friday, December 23, 2011

Plate 16


Hampstead Highgate Finchley Hendon Muswell hill: rage loud
Before Bromions iron Tongs & glowing Poker
Hertfordshire glows with fierce Vegetation! in the Forests
The Oak frowns terrible, the Beech & Ash & Elm enroot
Among the Spiritual fires; loud the Corn fields thunder along
The Soldiers fife; the Harlots shriek; the Virgins dismal groan
The Parents fear: the Brothers jealousy: the Sisters curse
Beneath the Storms of Theotormon & the thundring Bellows
Heaves in the hand of Palamabron
who in Londons darkness
Before the Anvil, watches the bellowing flames: thundering
The Hammer loud rages in Rintrahs strong grasp swinging loud

Round from heaven to earth down falling with heavy blow
Dead on the Anvil, where the red hot wedge groans in pain
He quenches it in the black trough of his Forge; Londons River
Feeds the dread Forge, trembling & shuddering along the Valleys

Humber & Trent roll dreadful before the Seventh Furnace
And Tweed & Tyne anxious give up their Souls for Albions sake
Lincolnshire Derbyshire Nottinghamshire Leicestershire
From Oxfordshire to Norfolk on the Lake of Udan Adan
Labour within the Furnaces, walking among the Fires
With Ladles huge & iron Pokers over the Island white.

Scotland pours out his Sons to labour at the Furnaces
Wales gives his Daughters to the Looms; England: nursing Mothers
Gives to the Children of Albion & to the Children of Jerusalem
From the blue Mundane Shell even to the Earth of Vegetation
Throughout the whole Creation which groans to be deliverd.
Albion groans in the deep slumbers of Death upon his Rock.

Here Los fixd down the Fifty-two Counties of England & Wales
The Thirty-six of Scotland, & the Thirty-four of Ireland
With mighty power, when they fled out at Jerusalems Gates
Away from the Conflict of Luvah & Urizen, fixing the Gates
In the Twelve Counties of Wales & thence Gates looking every way
To the Four Points: conduct to England & Scotland & Ireland
And thence to all the Kingdoms & Nations & Families of the Earth
The Gate of Reuben in Carmarthenshire: the Gate of Simeon in
Cardiganshire: & the Gate of Levi in Montgomeryshire
The Gate of Judah Merionethshire: the Gate of Dan Flintshire
The Gate of Napthali, Radnorshire: the Gate of Gad Pembrokeshire
The Gate of Asher, Carnarvonshire the Gate of Issachar
The Gate of Zebulun, in Anglesea & Sodor. so is Wales divided.
The Gate of Joseph, Denbighshire: the Gate of Benjamin
For the protection of the Twelve Emanations of Albions Sons

And the Forty Counties of England are thus divided in the Gates
Of Reuben Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex. Simeon Lincoln, York
Levi. Middlesex Kent Surrey. Judah Somerset Glouster Wiltshire.
Dan. Cornwal Devon Dorset, Napthali, Warwick Leicester Worcester
Gad. Oxford Bucks Harford. Asher, Sussex Hampshire Berkshire
Issachar, Northampton Rutland Nottgham. Zebulun Bedford Huntgn
Joseph Stafford Shrops Heref. Benjamin, Derby Cheshire Monmouth
And Cumberland Northumberland Westmoreland & Durham are
Divided in the Gates of Reuben, Judah Dan & Joseph

And the Thirty-six Counties of Scotland, divided in the Gates
Of Reuben Kincard Haddntn Forfar, Simeon Ayr Argyll Banff

Levi Edinburh Roxbro Ross. Judah, Abrdeen Berwik Dumfries
Dan Bute Caitnes Clakmanan. Napthali Nairn Invernes Linlithgo
Gad Peebles Perth Renfru. Asher Sutherlan Sterling Wigtoun
Issachar Selkirk Dumbartn Glasgo. Zebulun Orkney Shetland Skye
Joseph Elgin Lanerk Kinros. Benjamin Kromarty Murra Kirkubriht
Governing all by the sweet delights of secret amorous glances
In Enitharmons Halls builded by Los & his mighty Children

All things acted on Earth are seen in the bright Sculptures of
Los's Halls & every Age renews its powers from these Works
With every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or
Wayward Love & every sorrow & distress is carved here
Every Affinity of Parents Marriages & Friendships are here
In all their various combinations wrought with wondrous Art
All that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years
Such is the Divine Written Law of Horeb & Sinai:
And such the Holy Gospel of Mount Olivet & Calvary:
(Erdman 167-8)

In the first paragraph I've highlighted Bromion, Theotormon, Palamabron, and Rintrah. These 
four characters are the sons of Los and Enitharmon.  Los, you recall, was a blacksmith, and here
we find his four sons are employed with him in his smithy. (Of course the oldest son was Orc.)

Look now at a series of the shires of England. Bewildering? Look at a wide selection of
'Blake's Geography", and study the subject to your hearts content. Our interest here is what
did he mean with this list of British physical geography?

The plate ends with a much more significant geography: "Such is the Divine Written Law of Horeb
and Sinai: And such the Holy Gospel of Mount Olivet & Calvary; he has closed with some holy places. If you want to know more Bible and more Blake, track down those places. Does the closing sentence pretty much summarize what he was writing about?

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Repost from December 2009

Generation to Blake was a gift from God to prevent the part of eternity that separated from the whole, from falling into nonentity. Each birth is a reenactment of that mercy which gives a new opportunity for a return to the wholeness of eternity.

The entry into the physical world of the immortal spirit, is what the images of nativity attempt to portray. Incorporation of the spiritual in the physical is a movement that sets off a process of evolving awareness of incarnation: the unity of body and spirit.

In Blake's words, the Nativity is concerned with the 'mortal birth.' Blake's primary interest was in the birth to immortality. Blake added TO TIRZAH to Songs of Experience in later copies of songs as his affirmation of the raising of the spiritual body. But just as 'generation is the image of regeneration', birth is the image of rebirth, and the child is the image of the new man.

Here is a passage from Jung in which consciousness itself is the child which is born daily, or moment by moment out of the inner depths.

"Consciousness does not create itself-it wells up from unknown depths. In childhood it awakens gradually, and all through life it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep from an unconscious condition. It is like a child that is born daily out of the primordial womb of the unconscious. . . . It is not only influenced by the unconscious but continually emerges out of it in the form of numberless spontaneous ideas and sudden flashes of thought." ["The Psychology of Eastern Meditation," CW 11, par. 935.]

The consciousness that Blake tried to convey was that of being a part of the one body; and being open to a direct connection to the world which is unseen but always present: Eternity.

Songs of Innocence and Experience, Song 52 (E30)


"Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free;
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blow'd in the morn: in evening died
But Mercy changd Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart.
And with false self-decieving tears,
Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears.

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free,
Then what have I to do with thee?"

[text on illustration: It is Raised a Spiritual Body]

Jerusalem, Plate 7 (E149)

"And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the
Of Jerusalem, become her covering, till the time of the End.
O holy Generation! [Image] of regeneration!
O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies!
Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!"

Monday, December 19, 2011


John Milton's poem Ode On the Morning of Christ's Nativity was illustrated twice by Blake: once in 1809 for Rev Thomas and once in 1815 for Thomas Butts. The third plate in the series, the old dragon, shows marked variation between the two series. Two of the passages in Milton's poem which are illustrated by Blake's pictures are from Book XVII and XVIII:

"With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang
While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
The aged Earth agast [ 160 ]
With terrour of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the center shake,
When at the worlds last session,
The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne."

"And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
Th' old Dragon under ground,
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
And wrath to see his Kingdom fail,
Swindges the scaly Horrour of his foulded tail."

In the picture for Butts, Blake seems to have used motifs from his own mythology to illustrate the underground dragon of Milton. The seven headed man holding the scepter and the sword is more clearly the seven Eyes of God through which humanity passes in the progression through history. Satan is portrayed in a transitional form between man and serpent. Going clockwise in the underground group (excluding Satan), upper left appears Enion/Tharmas, Urizen/Ahania follows, then Luvah/Vala, lower left would be Urthona/Los/Enitharmon. The transition from the underground serpent to the stars overhead is apparent.

The dominant theme of the picture is the contrast between the scene of peace and promise portrayed in the nativity scene above and the disorder and struggle represented by the characters underground.

As Milton says: "And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins"

The Thomas picture is also available in Wikimedia. For the most detail of both pictures visit the Blake Archive

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plate 15

And Hand & Hyle rooted into Jerusalem by a fibre
Of strong revenge & Skofeld Vegetated by Reubens 

In every Nation of the Earth till the Twelve Sons 
of Albion
Enrooted into every Nation: a mighty Polypus 
From Albion over the whole Earth: such is my awful 

I see the Four-fold Man. The Humanity in deadly 
And its fallen Emanation. The Spectre & its cruel 
I see the Past, Present & Future, existing all at once
Before me; O Divine Spirit sustain me on thy wings!
That I may awake Albion from His long & cold repose.             
For Bacon & Newton sheathd in dismal steel, their 
terrors hang
Like iron scourges over Albion, Reasonings like vast Serpents
Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations

I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages 
Washd by the Water-wheels of Newton. black the cloth
In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works
Of many Wheels I View, wheel without wheel, with cogs 
Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: 
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & 

I see in deadly fear in London Los raging round his Anvil
Of death: forming an Ax of gold: the Four Sons of Los
Stand round him cutting the Fibres from Albions hills
That Albions Sons may roll apart over the Nations
While Reuben enroots his brethren in the narrow Canaanite    
From the Limit Noah to the Limit Abram in whose Loins
Reuben in his Twelve-fold majesty & beauty shall take refuge
As Abraham flees from Chaldea shaking his goary locks
But first Albion must sleep, divided from the Nations

I see Albion sitting upon his Rock in the first Winter           
And thence I see the Chaos of Satan & the World of Adam
When the Divine Hand went forth on Albion in the mid Winter
And at the place of Death when Albion sat in Eternal Death
Among the Furnaces of Los in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom

The picture could be seen as 'Albion sitting upon his Rock' (near the end of the text).
The polypus is somewhere between a jellyfish and a polyp (typical of Blake to use a term with multiple connotations.
Hand, Hyle and Skofeld represent three scurrilous characters.
One would need to be a serious Bible scholar to be familiar with Reuben's Gate . Blake referred to Reuben 42 times.

"I see the Four-fold Man", this passage is exceedingly meaningful; the rest of the text summarizes Blake's value structure, his myth, system, many, many of his Visions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


John 1
[14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 115)
"There is in Eden a sweet River, of milk & liquid pearl,
Namd Ololon; on whose mild banks dwelt those who Milton drove
Down into Ulro: and they wept in long resounding song
For seven days of eternity, and the rivers living banks
The mountains wailld! & every plant that grew, in solemn sighs lamented.

When Luvahs bulls each morning drag the sulphur Sun out of the Deep
Harnessd with starry harness black & shining kept by black slaves
That work all night at the starry harness. Strong and vigorous
They drag the unwilling Orb: at this time all the Family
Of Eden heard the lamentation, and Providence began.
But when the clarions of day sounded they drownd the lamentations

And when night came all was silent in Ololon: & all refusd to lament
In the still night fearing lest they should others molest.

Seven mornings Los heard them, as the poor bird within the shell
Hears its impatient parent bird; and Enitharmon heard them:
But saw them not, for the blue Mundane Shell inclosd them in.

And they lamented that they had in wrath & fury & fire
Driven Milton into the Ulro; for now they knew too late
That it was Milton the Awakener: they had not heard the Bard,
Whose song calld Milton to the attempt; and Los heard these laments.
He heard them call in prayer all the Divine Family;
And he beheld the Cloud of Milton stretching over Europe.

But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon.

Saying, Milton goes to Eternal Death! so saying, they groan'd in spirit
And were troubled! and again the Divine Family groaned in spirit!

And Ololon said, Let us descend also, and let us give
Ourselves to death in Ulro among the Transgressors.
Is Virtue a Punisher? O no! how is this wondrous thing?
This World beneath, unseen before: this refuge from the wars
Of Great Eternity! unnatural refuge! unknown by us till now!
Or are these the pangs of repentance? let us enter into them"

Milton, Plate 43 [50]
New York Public Library
'To go forth to the Great Harvest'

Friday, December 16, 2011

plate 14

One hair nor particle of dust, not one can pass away.

He views the Cherub at the Tree of Life, also the Serpent,
Orc the first born coild in the south: the Dragon Urizen:
Tharmas the Vegetated Tongue even the Devouring Tongue:
A threefold region, a false brain: a false heart:
And false bowels: altogether composing the False Tongue,
Beneath Beulah: as a watry flame revolving every way
And as dark roots and stems: a Forest of affliction, growing
In seas of sorrow. Los also views the Four Females:
Ahania, and Enion, and Vala, and Enitharmon lovely.
And from them all the lovely beaming Daughters of Albion,
Ahania & Enion & Vala, are three evanescent shades:
Enitharmon is a vegetated mortal Wife of Los:
His Emanation, yet his Wife till the sleep of death is past.

Such are the Buildings of Los! & such are the Woofs of

And Los beheld his Sons, and he beheld his Daughters:
Every one a translucent Wonder: a Universe within,
Increasing inwards, into length and breadth, and heighth:
Starry & glorious: and they every one in their bright loins:
Have a beautiful golden gate which opens into the vegetative
And every one a gate of rubies & all sorts of precious stones
In their translucent hearts, which opens into the vegetative
And every one a gate of iron dreadful and wonderful,
In their translucent heads, which opens into the vegetative world
And every one has the three regions Childhood: Manhood: & Age:
But the gate of the tongue: the western gate in them is clos'd,
Having a wall builded against it: and thereby the gates
Eastward & Southward & Northward, are incircled with flaming
And the North is Breadth, the South is Heighth & Depth:
The East is Inwards: & the West is Outwards every way.

And Los beheld the mild Emanation Jerusalem eastward bending
Her revolutions toward the Starry Wheels in maternal anguish
Like a pale cloud arising from the arms of Beulahs Daughters:
In Entuthon Benythons deep Vales beneath Golgonooza. 

Cherub at the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24:)
 24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Los also viewed the threefold region: Orc, Urizen and Tharmas (Los of course makes the fourth), also the four emanations, and his sons and daughters, all the materialist shades of Eternity. And he has set out to build the environs of Golgonooza, a mortals attempt to 'build the kingdom', a kind of shadowy approximation  of Jerusalem (the City of God).

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The Deity from Whom Proceed the Nine

Illustration 100 for Dante's Divine Comedy
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK

William Blake: poet and mystic, Pierre Berger

"It is to the world of the invisible that we now find ourselves transported, a world which existed before our material world, and which will exist always; the only one whose existence is real, though we are not aware of it, seeing only its shadow projected in time and space, and taking that shadow for substance. This world is organized like ours : it has its circles, its cosmography, its hierarchy of powers. Blake could have given an exact description of it, as the visionaries and the Gnostics did of theirs. Perhaps he did so. But in what remains of the Prophetical Books, we find only fragments of description, ' Here a little and there a little.' It is only by joining the fragments, by comparing them, by interpreting or by explaining some through others, that any definite idea of his conception of this universe and its inhabitants is reached. Even then, the description is not complete. There are many blanks to be filled, many contradictions and doubtful interpretations."

Four Zoas, Night II, (E 323)
"Night passd & Enitharmon eer the dawn returnd in bliss
She sang Oer Los reviving him to Life his groans were terrible
But thus she sang. I sieze the sphery harp I strike the strings

At the first Sound the Golden sun arises from the Deep
And shakes his awful hair
The Eccho wakes the moon to unbind her silver locks
The golden sun bears on my song
And nine bright spheres of harmony rise round the fiery King

The joy of woman is the Death of her most best beloved
Who dies for Love of her
In torments of fierce jealousy & pangs of adoration.
The Lovers night bears on my song
And the nine Spheres rejoice beneath my powerful controll

They sing unceasing to the notes of my immortal hand
The solemn silent moon
Reverberates the living harmony upon my limbs
The birds & beasts rejoice & play
And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy

Furious & terrible they sport & rend the nether deeps
The deep lifts up his rugged head
And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry
The fading cry is ever dying
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy

Arise you little glancing wings & sing your infant joy
Arise & drink your bliss
For every thing that lives is holy for the source of life
Descends to be a weeping babe"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Plate Thirteen

Plate 13 is  continuous  word for word from Plate12, and
continues without a break in Plate 14; it left little room
for the pictorial.
Repeating the end of Plate 13 (for consistency):
Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold,      
The great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north
And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west
Each within other toward the four points: that toward
Eden, and that toward the World of Generation,
And that toward Beulah, and that toward Ulro:                  
Ulro is the space of the terrible starry wheels of Albions sons:
But that toward Eden is walled up, till time of renovation:
Yet it is perfect in its building, ornaments & perfection.

And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North,              
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever.
These are the four Faces towards the Four Worlds of Humanity
In every Man. Ezekiel saw them by Chebars flood.
And the Eyes are the South, and the Nostrils are the East.
And the Tongue is the West, and the Ear is the North.          

And the North Gate of Golgonooza toward Generation;
Has four sculpturd Bulls terrible before the Gate of iron.
And iron, the Bulls: and that which looks toward Ulro,
Clay bak'd & enamel'd, eternal glowing as four furnaces:
Turning upon the Wheels of Albions sons with enormous power.    
And that toward Beulah four, gold, silver, brass, & iron:

And that toward Eden, four, form'd of gold, silver, brass, &

The South, a golden Gate, has four Lions terrible, living!
That toward Generation, four, of iron carv'd wondrous:
That toward Ulro, four, clay bak'd, laborious workmanship
That toward Eden, four; immortal gold, silver, brass & iron.    

The Western Gate fourfold, is closd: having four Cherubim
Its guards, living, the work of elemental hands, laborious task!
Like Men, hermaphroditic, each winged with eight wings
That towards Generation, iron; that toward Beulah, stone;
That toward  Ulro, clay: that toward Eden, metals.              
But all clos'd up till the last day, when the graves shall yield
    their dead

The Eastern Gate, fourfold: terrible & deadly its ornaments:
Taking their forms from the Wheels of Albions sons; as cogs
Are formd in a wheel, to fit the cogs of the adverse wheel.

That toward Eden, eternal ice, frozen in seven folds            
Of forms of death: and that toward Beulah, stone:
The seven diseases of the earth are carved terrible.
And that toward Ulro, forms of war: seven enormities:
And that toward Generation, seven generative forms.

And every part of the City is fourfold; & every inhabitant,
And every pot & vessel & garment & utensil of the houses,
And every house, fourfold; but the third Gate in every one
Is closd as with a threefold curtain of ivory & fine linen &
And Luban stands in middle of the City. a moat of fire,
Surrounds Luban, Los's Palace & the golden Looms of Cathedron.  

And sixty-four thousand Genii, guard the Eastern Gate:
And sixty-four thousand Gnomes, guard the Northern Gate:
And sixty-four thousand Nymphs, guard the Western Gate:
And sixty-four thousand Fairies, guard the Southern Gate:

Around Golgonooza lies the land of death eternal; a Land        
Of pain and misery and despair and ever brooding melancholy:
In all the Twenty-seven Heavens, numberd from Adam to Luther;
From the blue Mundane Shell, reaching to the Vegetative Earth.

The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell  
And there it meets Eternity again, both within and without,
And the abstract Voids between the Stars are the Satanic Wheels.

There is the Cave; the Rock; the Tree; the Lake of Udan Adan;
The Forest, and the Marsh, and the Pits of bitumen deadly:
The Rocks of solid fire: the Ice valleys: the Plains            
Of burning sand: the rivers, cataract & Lakes of Fire:
The Islands of the fiery Lakes: the Trees of Malice: Revenge:
And black Anxiety; and the Cities of the Salamandrine men:
(But whatever is visible to the Generated Man,
Is a Creation of mercy & love, from the Satanic Void.)          
The land of darkness flamed but no light, & no repose:
The land of snows of trembling, & of iron hail incessant:
The land of earthquakes: and the land of woven labyrinths:
The land of snares & traps & wheels & pit-falls & dire mills:
The Voids, the Solids, & the land of clouds & regions of waters:
With their inhabitants: in the Twenty-seven Heavens beneath
Self-righteousnesses conglomerating against the Divine Vision:
A Concave Earth wondrous, Chasmal, Abyssal, Incoherent!
Forming the Mundane Shell: above; beneath: on all sides
Golgonooza: Los walks round the walls night and day.            

He views the City of Golgonooza, & its smaller Cities:
The Looms & Mills & Prisons & Work-houses of Og & Anak:
The Amalekite: the Canaanite: the Moabite: the Egyptian:
And all that has existed in the space of six thousand years:
Permanent, & not lost not lost nor vanishd, & every little act, 

Word, work, & wish, that has existed, all remaining still
In those Churches ever consuming & ever building by the Spectres
Of all the inhabitants of Earth wailing to be Created:
Shadowy to those who dwell not in them, meer possibilities:
But to those who enter into them they seem the only substances  
For every thing exists & not one sigh nor smile nor tear,
Here is Plate 13, the text and the picture.
This is Plate 13:
Blake always leaned toward Fourfold:

This from 'Blake's City of Golgonooza
in Jerusalem: Metaphor and Mandala'
Jerusalem is organized around four principal cities; they are
Gogonooza, and
Three of them are familiar enough, but the
arcane city of Golgonooza is likely to seem, to an unsuspecting reader,
as unapproachable as some legendary Forbidden City. Access to the
luminous spaces of Blake's unique, yet traditional, city can be facili-
tated in two ways: First, the nature of Golgonooza will be clarified by
comparison to the other major cities of the poem; and second, a guided
tour into the city will be given in a detailed reading of the mandala-map
left by Blake on plates 12 and 13 of Jerusalem.
When Blake encounters what Kenneth Johnston calls the effects of "a
religion based on mystery, an economy based on militarism, in short the
British Empire, as he saw it,"2 the poet is in Babylon. Babylon, for
Blake, is enslavement by material necessity. It is the world of ex-
perience, cut off from the insight of innocence. Anyone in Babylon is
in captivity, like the Jews under Nebuchadnezzar. While they were
exiled from their home and temple, those in Blake's Babylon are exiled
from inspiration and the forgiveness of sin. In Revelation a long list of
the "merchandise of Babylon" concludes with: "slaves, and souls of
men" (18:12-13). This condition of slavery characterizes Babylon......
In contrast to the death-centered world of Babylon is the life-sustain-
ing city of Golgonooza. Notice the difference in its furnishings:
"The stones [of Golgonooza] are pity, and the bricks well-
wrought affections
Enamel'd with love & kindness, & the tiles graven gold,
Labour of merciful hands: the beams and rafters are forgiveness:
The mortar & cement of the work tears of honesty: the nails
And screws & iron braces are well wrought blandishments
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten.
Always comforting the remembrance: the floors humility:
The cielings, devotion: the hearths thanksgiving." (J 12)
Golgonooza, an antidote to Babylon, is a human habitation. It is home-
ly. While it is often referred to as the "City of Art,"4 it should be re-
membered that its foundation is consciously deployed human warmth
and love. It is a spiritual place that exists in London surrounded by the
miseries of Babylon.
Jerusalem is "a City, yet a Woman" in Blake's epics (FZ ix: 222. See
fig. 3). Etymologically, Jerusalem means the "height of peace," and it
is in the root of the word, more than any coordinates on a map, where it
is to be found.
Golgonooza is a place within Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the
Eternal City whereas Golgonooza is within Time, being built by Los
towards Eternity. The positive qualities of Golgonooza are congruent
with those of Jerusalem. The style of metaphor used to describe Gol-
gonooza is continued with Jerusalem. "Gates of Thanksgiving . . .
Windows of Praise . . . Clouds of Blessing, Cherubims of Tender-
mercy" (J 24) are the means by which Blake recognizes "the city of the
living God, heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22).
Structurally Blake wrote Jerusalem in four chapters: to the public,
to the Jews, to the Deists, and to the Christians. There were four kinds
of vision, etc.
He thought fourly.  If we study the four gates, we will undoubtedly
profit. (This note came more or less in toto from Bogan's article,
which appears at Colby Library Quarterly, June 1981; it's very
worthwhile reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Blake's familiar hymn from plate 1 of Milton uses the symbols of Jerusalem to represent the ideal spiritual condition, and England to represent the fallen, material condition.

Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
"And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land."

In Galatians Paul uses the symbols of Abraham's two sons to represent the same dichotomy of spirit and flesh: one by a freewoman and one by a bondwoman. Paul presents this as allegory of the two covenants; the one of bondage the other of freedom. He calls the condition of freedom Jerusalem but specifies that he speaks of the Jerusalem which is above: the mother of all.

The same desire that Blake has for building Jerusalem in England is expressed as Paul's desire that Christ be formed in those he addresses as little children. Paul calls the children of the freewoman the children of promise.

Galations 4
[ 19] My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
[20] I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
[21] Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
[22] For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
[23] But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
[24] Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
[25] For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
[26] But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
[27] For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
[28] Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
[29] But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
[30] Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
[31] So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Blake on plate 77 of Jerusalem seems to have written a continuation of the poem in Milton. In it Blake has Jerusalem call to her sister England to awake. He again recalls the ancient time of joy and love which can return if the Lamb of God but be received.

Jerusalem, PLATE 77, (E 231)
"England! awake! awake! awake!
Jerusalem thy Sister calls!
Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death?
And close her from thy ancient walls.

Thy hills & valleys felt her feet,
Gently upon their bosoms move:
Thy gates beheld sweet Zions ways;
Then was a time of joy and love.

And now the time returns again:
Our souls exult & Londons towers,
Recieve the Lamb of God to dwell
In Englands green & pleasant bowers.

Image from Blake's illustrations for Milton's Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity
Painted for Thomas Butts in 1815