Friday, July 29, 2011


Yale Center for British Art Jerusalem
Plate 26
Jerusalem, Plate 26
Legend on Plate 26



The image of Hand and Jerusalem which begins the second chapter of Jerusalem - To The Jews - presents a dramatic scene in which Jerusalem resists the invitation of Hand to follow his false religion. Minna Doskow in William Blake's Jerusalem states that:
"Hand's religion of sin and punishment, moral virtue, atonement, and sacrifice of others (described in pl. 9) represents the version of Jewish legalism which chapter 2 exposes as error, while Jerusalem, who is 'named Liberty among the Sons of Albion' according to the inscription below her figure, symbolizes the liberated Jewish prophetic tradition that the chapter offers as an alternative to error." (Page 33)

A clearer picture of the threat of Hand's false religion appears in the text on Plate 9:

Jerusalem, Plate 8-9, (E 151)
"Hand has absorbd all his Brethren in his might
All the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death.
His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:
Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
I [Los] saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion
By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of religion:
Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:
I saw terrified; I took the sighs & tears, & bitter groans:
I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
That lays open the hidden heart: I drew forth the pang
Of sorrow red hot: I workd it on my resolute anvil:"

Hand appearance and position in the image on Plate 26 presents the "parody of inspiration that Hand's religion presents in both its Judaic origins and Christian continuation." (Page 33)

Doskow points out that:
"True religion will not be led astray and inverted by false, although it may temporarily be cast into shadow by it, as Jerusalem is by Hand in the illustration. Hand's attempt 'to destroy Jerusalem, & devour the body of Albion' (9:10) is thus doomed to failure, although he does not realize it. The interchange is dramatized in more detail as false religion tries to destroy Jerusalem and Albion in the chapter itself. (Page 33)

The contrast between false and true religion is presented on plate 53. False: "
many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness To Individuals & not to States". True: "This is Jerusalem in every Man/A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness."

Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 171)
"Thus wept they in Beulah over the Four Regions of Albion
But many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness
To Individuals & not to States, and these Slept in Ulro.
In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings.
And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion

But Albion fell down a Rocky fragment from Eternity hurld
By his own Spectre, who is the Reasoning Power in every Man
Into his own Chaos which is the Memory between Man & Man"


Susan J. said...


Did Blake have anyone to talk to, in his day-to-day life, who understood all the ins and outs of his cosmology? I'm picturing him and his wife over tea in the morning, talking about whatever was happening in the news or on their block -- wondering whether they would bring Los and Albion and Jerusalem into it --

e.g. the way I've seen Larry & Ellie mix Blake's ideas into conversations about just about anything... :-)
Or the way my own dear husband and I mix biblical, engineering, and other shared concepts into our conversations about just about anything...

what I mean is, Blake had a very detailed and complex parallel universe going; was he able to share it in face-to-face discourse with anyone, or did it just remain in his own individual world and in his writings & illustrations?

another example would be science fiction enthusiasts (e.g. "Trekkies") who know all about a parallel universe and live within it conversationally when in one another's company.

or George Fox and early Friends knew all about the Bible and the world situation it describes, and they spoke of their lives and thoughts in biblical terms.

I hope this question makes sense...

ellie said...

William had Catherine.

She couldn't have been his intellectual equal, but I suppose that he abilities complemented his.She was calm to his fire, practicality to his extravagance, reasonableness to his explosiveness, extroversion to his introversion.
She worked beside him, sat with him when his visions would not let him sleep, kept him fed and clothed and sheltered.
As the True Man was incomplete without his Emanation, William was incomplete without Catherine. Connections are in more than words. The are expressed in functioning as one mind

Susan J. said...

"Connections are in more than words. They are expressed in functioning as one mind"

wow! that's beautiful!

soooo... to your knowledge, did any of Blake's other friends and supporters really "get" his interior world?