Thursday, January 12, 2012

plate 24

In this Plate Albion continues the discourse:
What  have I said? What have I done?
O all-powerful Human Words!
You recoil back upon me in the blood of the Lamb slain in his Children.
Two bleeding Contraries equally true, are his Witnesses against me
We reared mighty Stones: we danced naked around them:
Thinking to bring Love into light of day, to Jerusalems shame:
Displaying our Giant limbs to all the winds of heaven! Sudden
Shame siezd us, we could not look on one-another for abhorrence:
    the Blue
Of our immortal Veins & all their Hosts fled from our Limbs,
And wanderd distant in a dismal Night clouded & dark:
The Sun fled from the Britons forebead: the Moon from his mighty
Scandinavia fled with all his mountains filld with groans, 
O what is Life & 
what is Man. O what is Death? Wherefore
Are you my Children, natives in the Grave to where I go
Or are you born to feed the hungry ravenings of Destruction
To be the sport of Accident! to waste in Wrath & Love, a weary
Life, in brooding cares & anxious labours, that prove but chaff.
O Jerusalem Jerusalem I have forsaken thy Courts
Thy Pillars of ivory & gold: thy Curtains of silk & fine
Linen: thy Pavements of precious stones: thy Walls of pearl
And gold, thy Gates of Thanksgiving thy Windows of Praise:
Thy Clouds of Blessing; thy Cherubims of Tender-mercy
Stretching their Wings sublime over the Little-ones of Albion
O Human Imagination O Divine Body I have Crucified
I have turned my back upon thee into the Wastes of Moral Law:
There Babylon is builded in the Waste, founded in Human
O Babylon thy Watchman stands over thee in the night
Thy severe judge all the day long proves thee O Babylon
With provings of destruction, with giving thee thy hearts desire.
But Albion is cast forth to the Potter his Children to the
To build Babylon because they have forsaken Jerusalem
The Walls of Babylon are Souls of Men: her Gates the Groans
Of Nations: her Towers are the Miseries of once happy Families.
Her Streets are paved with Destruction, her Houses built with
Her Palaces with Hell & the Grave; her Synagogues with Torments
Of ever-hardening Despair squard & polishd with cruel skill

- 169 -Yet thou wast lovely as the summer cloud upon my hills
When Jerusalem was thy hearts desire in times of youth & love.
Thy Sons came to Jerusalem with gifts, she sent them away
With blessings on their hands & on their feet, blessings of gold,
And pearl & diamond: thy Daughters sang in her Courts:
They came up to Jerusalem; they walked before Albion
In the Exchanges of London every Nation walkd
And London walkd in every Nation mutual in love & harmony
Albion coverd the whole Earth, England encompassd the Nations,
Mutual each within others bosom in Visions of Regeneration;
Jerusalem coverd the Atlantic Mountains & the Erythrean,
From bright Japan & China to Hesperia France & England.
Mount Zion lifted his head in every Nation under heaven:
And the Mount of Olives was beheld over the whole Earth:
The footsteps of the Lamb of God were there: but now no more
No more shall I behold him, he is closd in Luvahs Sepulcher.
Yet why these smitings of Luvah, the gentlest mildest Zoa?
If God was Merciful this could not be: O Lamb of God
Thou art a delusion and Jerusalem is my Sin! O my Children
I have educated you in the crucifying cruelties of Demonstration
Till you have assum'd the Providence of God & slain your Father
Dost thou appear before me who liest dead in Luvahs Sepulcher
Dost thou forgive me! thou who wast Dead & art Alive?
Look not so Merciful upon me O thou Slain Lamb of God
I die! I die in thy arms tho Hope is banishd from me.

Thundring the Veil rushes from his hand Vegetating Knot by
Knot, Day by Day, Night by Night; loud roll the indignant
Waves & the Erythrean, turning up the bottoms of the Deeps
(Erdman 169-70)
In the first line, "O all-powerful Human Words!" 
What might that ? the Word of God?  I think, yes.
"His witnesses"? We've met that before. 
Blake named Wesley and Whitefield.
"Mighty Stones" no doubt referring to the stones
of Stonehenge.
"Scandinavia fled" suggests the wicker man, a Druidic custom leading to the burning of children.,
In the next paragraph Albion asks the age old questions: 'what is Life?' and "what is Death?'
Simply put the only real life is the Eternal one, and the only real death is the denial of Eternity ('to waste in Wrath and Love, a weary Life in brooding cares and anxious labours, that prove but chaff').
At that point he addresses Jerusalem again, giving this list of the many wonderful things to be found in 'Jerusalem's courts'. Here we see a vivid contrast between the 'earthy' and eternal lives, which is close to Blake's purpose, not just in Jerusalem but in all the rest of his work.

The Picture:
(This discussion comes from Erdman p 303.)

At the top is what Erdman  calls a 'moon ark' and rain, reminiscent of the Genesis story of the Flood.  Within the moon is a dove with wings spread (See Genesis 6:7). A few lines down, across the plate and down the right border you may see a long row of female figures, which illustrates,
"Thundring the Veil rushes from his hand Vegetating Knot by
Knot, Day by Day, Night by Night;" the first one on the border enlarged as a seductive Vala. (It looks much like the figure in Milton, Plate 26).

Here is material from other authors:

Jerusalem Explained

Paley's Jerusalem

Re line 59: Perhaps an allusion to "Marlowe's despairing Faustus, "My God, my God, look not so fierce on me"

Erdmans Illuminated Blake
Page 303:
The picture at the top of the Plate (24) has rain, an inverted 'moon ark' with a dove within it; all these elements strongly suggest the biblical story of the Flood (Genesis 7-8).

                                To be continued.

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