Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Image from Blake's Watercolours for
the Poems of Thomas Gray
View in Blake Archive

One of the final poetic images of Jerusalem is that of the bow and the arrows. The activity of being sent into the Eternal dimension can be seen in the bow with its 'murmuring' string. 'Arrows of Love, Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness' sent forth as a continuation of the activity of the bow which propels them.

Blake's Visionary Forms Dramatic edited by David V Erdman and John E Grant, includes an article by Edward J Rose. On Page 460 in a note Rose states:

"The 'Arrows of Intellect' that the fourfold bowstring 'breathes with ardour' are the armaments that he employs in the intellectual battles that are waged in the 'Mental Fight' of visionary art. Visionary arrows penetrate the opacity of man and 'Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence, Wars of Love'".

On these three plates of Jerusalem, Blake develops his multifaceted image to propel his reader into a visionary experience of being a 'murmuring bow-string' and a 'flaming arrow'.

Jerusalem , Plate 95, (E 254)
"Her voice pierc'd Albions clay cold ear. he moved upon the Rock
The Breath Divine went forth upon the morning hills, Albion mov'd
Upon the Rock, he opend his eyelids in pain; in pain he mov'd
His stony members, he saw England. Ah! shall the Dead live again

The Breath Divine went forth over the morning hills Albion rose
In anger: the wrath of God breaking bright flaming on all sides around
His awful limbs: into the Heavens he walked clothed in flames
Loud thundring, with broad flashes of flaming lightning & pillars
Of fire, speaking the Words of Eternity in Human Forms, in direful
Revolutions of Action & Passion, thro the Four Elements on all sides
Surrounding his awful Members. Thou seest the Sun in heavy clouds
Struggling to rise above the Mountains. in his burning hand
He takes his Bow, then chooses out his arrows of flaming gold
Murmuring the Bowstring breathes with ardor! clouds roll around the
Horns of the wide Bow, loud sounding winds sport on the mountain brows
Compelling Urizen to his Furrow; & Tharmas to his Sheepfold;
And Luvah to his Loom: Urthona he beheld mighty labouring at
His Anvil, in the Great Spectre Los unwearied labouring & weeping
Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion
Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time
For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away

So spake the Vision of Albion & in him so spake in my hearing
The Universal Father. Then Albion stretchd his hand into Infinitude.
And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen
Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold
Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright shining
Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought
Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering.

And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love,
Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love
And the Hand of Man grasps firm between the Male & Female Loves
And he Clothed himself in Bow & Arrows in awful state Fourfold
In the midst of his Twenty-eight Cities each with his Bow breathing
Then each an Arrow flaming from his Quiver fitted carefully
They drew fourfold the unreprovable String, bending thro the wide Heavens
The horned Bow Fourfold, loud sounding flew the flaming Arrow fourfold

Murmuring the Bow-string breathes with ardor. Clouds roll round the horns
Of the wide Bow, loud sounding Winds sport on the Mountains brows:
The Druid Spectre was Annihilate loud thundring rejoicing terrific vanishing"

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