If you majored in Blake Studies, your advanced project might well be Jerusalem. Few
Blake scholars have more than a superficial understanding of Jerusalem. Blake had an
inborn hostility of systematizing his work, but with Jerusalem he unbended to the
point of structuring it into four chapters.
This post attempts to interpret the addresses and meanings of the four chapters of
1. Chapter One: To the Public
Blake had little to offer the man in the street. He wasn't any 'man in the street', and the general public largely considered him mad. What he wrote, what he said meant zilch to most of them. That was true in Blake's day and in ours. Believe it or not, that is considered to be the vulgar understanding.
Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life.
This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild
Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land."
2. In the second Chapter of Jerusalem Blake addressed the Jews. Jerusalem of course was their home, and his magnificent poem bore that name. He was actually writing about the New Jerusalem. (Look at Ezekiel 40-48 and Revelation 21)
To the Jews.
Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion! Can it be? Is it a
Truth that the Learned have explored? Was Britain the Primitive
Seat of the Patriarchal Religion? If it is true: my title-page is
also True, that Jerusalem was & is the Emanation of the Giant
Albion. It is True, and cannot be controverted. Ye are united O
ye Inhabitants of Earth in One Religion. The Religion of Jesus:
the most Ancient, the Eternal: & the Everlasting Gospel--The
Wicked will turn it to Wickedness,
the Righteous to Righteousness. Amen! Huzza! Selah!
"All things Begin & End in Albions Ancient Druid Rocky Shore."
Your Ancestors derived their origin from Abraham, Heber, Shem,
and Noah, who were Druids: as the Druid Temples (which are the
Patriarchal Pillars & Oak Groves) over the whole Earth witness to
3. In Chapter Three he addressed the Deists. Deism was espoused by literate people in England; it was probably the religious viewpoint of the majority upper class people. Deism implies that the supreme being does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the natural laws of the universe. Blake answered that assertion with one of his first poems:
"THERE is NO NATURAL RELIGION
The Author & Printer W Blake
The Argument Man has no notion of moral fitness but from
Education. Naturally he is only a natural organ subject to
I Man cannot naturally Percieve, but through his natural or
II Man by his reasoning power. can only compare & judge of
what he has already perciev'd.
III From a perception of only 3 senses or 3 elements none
could deduce a fourth or fifth
IV None could have other than natural or organic thoughts if
he had none but organic perceptions
V Mans desires are limited by his perceptions. none can desire
what he has not perciev'd
VI The desires & perceptions of man untaught by any thing but
organs of sense, must be limited to objects of sense.
THERE is NO NATURAL RELIGION
I Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he
percieves more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover.
II Reason or the ratio of all we have already known. is not
the same that it shall be when we know more.
IV The bounded is loathed by its possessor. The same dull
round even of a univer[s]e would soon become a mill with
V If the many become the same as the few, when possess'd,
More! More! is the cry of a mistaken soul, less than All cannot
VI If any could desire what he is incapable of possessing,
despair must be his eternal lot.
VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite
& himself Infinite
Conclusion, If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat
the same dull round over again
Application. He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.
Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"
(Erdman 2-3) See also from Wikipedia: "St Irenaeus explained this doctrine in Against Heresies, Book 5, in the Preface, "the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."
" End of Chap. 2d.
|The Spiritual States of
|the Soul are all Eternal
Rahab is an | To the Deists. |Distinguish between the
Eternal State | |Man, & his present State
He never can be a Friend to the Human Race who is the Preacher
of Natural Morality or Natural Religion. he is a flatterer who
means to betray, to perpetuate Tyrant Pride & the Laws of that
Babylon which he foresees shall shortly be destroyed, with the
Spiritual and not the Natural Sword: He is in the State named
Rahab: which State must be put off before he can be the Friend of
You O Deists profess yourselves the Enemies of Christianity:
and you are so: you are also the Enemies of the Human Race & of
Universal Nature. Man is born a Spectre or Satan & is altogether
an Evil, & requires a New Selfhood continually & must continually
be changed into his direct Contrary. But your Greek Philosophy
(which is a remnant of Druidism) teaches that Man is Righteous in
his Vegetated Spectre: an Opinion of fatal & accursed consequence
4. The Christians: here Blake meant real Christians,
the reprobates and the redeemed. A Deist was by no stretch of Blake's imagination a Christian, in the sense he uses it here. He made a fine distinction:
(Milton; Plate 6-7; Erdman 99)
"The Web of Life is woven: & the tender sinews of life created
And the Three Classes of Men regulated by Los's hammer.
The first, The Elect from before the foundation of the World:
The second, The Redeem'd. The Third, The Reprobate & form'd
To destruction from the mothers womb: follow with me my plow!
Of the first class was Satan: with incomparable mildness;"
Blake's Elect of course are those who faithfully follow the "Prince
of this World"; the second and third classes were those whom Blake
chose to call Christians.
PLATE 96 of Jerusalem (Erdman 254):
"As the Sun & Moon lead forward the Visions of Heaven & Earth
England who is Brittannia entered Albions bosom rejoicing
Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd
By the lost Sheep that he hath found & Albion knew that it
Was the Lord the Universal Humanity, & Albion saw his Form
A Man. & they conversed as Man with Man, in Ages of Eternity
And the Divine Appearance was the likeness & similitude of Los
Albion said. O Lord what can I do! my Selfhood cruel
Marches against thee deceitful from Sinai & from Edom
Into the Wilderness of Judah to meet thee in his pride
I behold the Visions of my deadly Sleep of Six Thousand Years
Dazling around thy skirts like a Serpent of precious stones &
I know it is my Self. O my Divine Creator & Redeemer
Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not"
To the Christians.
Devils are I give you the end of a golden string,
False Religions Only wind it into a ball:
"Saul Saul" It will lead you in at Heavens gate,
"Why persecutest thou me." Built in Jerusalems wall.
We are told to abstain from fleshly desires that we may lose no
time from the Work of the Lord. Every moment lost, is a moment
that cannot be redeemed every pleasure that intermingles with the
duty of our station is a folly unredeemable & is planted like the
seed of a wild flower among our wheat. All the tortures of
repentance. are tortures of self-reproach on account of our
leaving the Divine Harvest to the Enemy, the struggles of
intanglement with incoherent roots. I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.
Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more. The Apostles knew of no other Gospel. What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in
Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing