Saturday, March 31, 2012

Plate 29

Plate 29

"PLATE 43 [29]"

Plate 29
(Erdman 192-2
Then the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appeard above
Albions dark rocks: setting behind the Gardens of Kensington
On Tyburns River, in clouds of blood: where was mild Zion Hills
Most ancient promontory, and in the Sun, a Human Form appeard
And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion

I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy.
The Reactor hath hid himself thro envy. I behold him.
But you cannot behold him till he be reveald in his System    
Albions Reactor must have a Place prepard: Albion must Sleep
The Sleep of Death, till the Man of Sin & Repentance be reveald.
Hidden in Albions Forests he lurks: he admits of no Reply
From Albion: but hath founded his Reaction into a Law
Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man[.]  
He hath compelld Albion to become a Punisher & hath possessd
Himself of Albions Forests & Wilds! and Jerusalem is taken!
The City of the Woods in the Forest of Ephratah is taken!
London is a stone of her ruins; Oxford is the dust of her walls!
Sussex & Kent are her scatterd garments: Ireland her holy place!
And the murderd bodies of her little ones are Scotland and Wales
The Cities of the Nations are the smoke of her consummation
The Nations are her dust! ground by the chariot wheels
Of her lordly conquerors, her palaces levelld with the dust
I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return   
Fear not O little Flock I come! Albion shall rise again.

So saying, the mild Sun inclosd the Human Family.

Forthwith from Albions darkning [r]ocks came two Immortal forms
Saying We alone are escaped. O merciful Lord and Saviour,
We flee from the interiors of Albions hills and mountains!    
From his Valleys Eastward: from Amalek Canaan & Moab:
Beneath his vast ranges of hills surrounding Jerusalem.

Albion walkd on the steps of fire before his Halls
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber.
He looked up & saw the Prince of Light with splendor faded    
Then Albion ascended mourning into the porches of his Palace
Above him rose a Shadow from his wearied intellect:
Of living gold, pure, perfect, holy: in white linen pure he
A sweet entrancing self-delusion a watry vision of Albion
Soft exulting in existence; all the Man absorbing!            

Albion fell upon his face prostrate before the watry Shadow
Saying O Lord whence is this change! thou knowest I am nothing!
And Vala trembled & coverd her face! & her locks were spread on
    the pavement

We heard astonishd at the Vision & our heart trembled within us:
We heard the voice of slumberous Albion, and thus he spake,   
Idolatrous to his own Shadow words of eternity uttering:

O I am nothing when I enter into judgment with thee!
If thou withdraw thy breath I die & vanish into Hades
If thou dost lay thine hand upon me behold I am silent:
If thou withhold thine hand; I perish like a fallen leaf:     
O I am nothing: and to nothing must return again:
If thou withdraw thy breath. Behold I am oblivion.

He ceasd: the shadowy voice was silent: but the cloud hoverd over
    their heads
In golden wreathes, the sorrow of Man; & the balmy drops fell
And lo! that son of Man that Shadowy Spirit of mild Albion:   
Luvah descended from the cloud; in terror Albion rose:
Indignant rose the awful Man, & turnd his back on Vala.

We heard the voice of Albion starting from his sleep:

Whence is this voice crying Enion! that soundeth in my ears?
O cruel pity! O dark deceit! can love seek for dominion?      

And Luvah strove to gain dominion over Albion
They strove together above the Body where Vala was inclosd
And the dark Body of Albion left prostrate upon the crystal
Coverd with boils from head to foot: the terrible smitings of

Then frownd the fallen Man, and put forth Luvah from his presence
Saying. Go and Die the Death of Man, for Vala the sweet wanderer.
I will turn the volutions of your ears outward, and bend your
Downward, and your fluxile eyes englob'd roll round in fear:
Your withring lips and tongue shrink up into a narrow circle,
Till into narrow forms you creep: go take your fiery way:     
And learn what tis to absorb the Man you Spirits of Pity & Love.

They heard the voice and fled swift as the winters setting sun.
And now the human blood foamd high, the Spirits Luvah & Vala,
Went down the Human Heart where Paradise & its joys abounded,
In jealous fears & fury & rage, & flames roll round their fervid
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent playd before them
And as they fled in folding fires & thunders of the deep:
Vala shrunk in like the dark sea that leaves its slimy banks.
And from her bosom Luvah fell far as the east and west.
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent rolld between,     
Whether of Jerusalems or Valas ruins congenerated, we know not:
All is confusion: all is tumult, & we alone are escaped.

So spoke the fugitives; they joind the Divine Family,

PLATE 44 [30]

And the Two that escaped; were the Emanation
(Erdman 192-2)


S. Foster Damon's book A Blake Dictionary, is always an excellent source for acquiring a grasp of Blake's idiosyncratic meanings. On Page 295 we read:
"Nature is an external visualizing of the Individual's emotions. Vala (who is Nature) is the Emanation of Luvah (the Emotions). But Vala is now covered with her Veil of matter, which (in another symbol) is the shell of the Mundane Egg, the starry heavens.
Blake anticipated the cruel world of Darwin: Nature is 'A Creation that groans, living on Death, where Fish & Bird & Beast & Man & Tree & Metal & Stone live by Devouring, going into Eternal Death continually' (J 50:5; cf. Rom viii:22)."

And on page 344:
"The worldly religions were all derived from Nature. The Deists drew their conclusions by logic from the material world, but before that, the poets had drawn theirs by imaginative insight."

Religion for Blake was either true religion, developed through revelation of the Eternal; or false religion, which came from replicating the operation of the observed natural world using data from the senses. Vala, as the projection of the emotions outwardly, became the progenitor of false religions based on Nature or matter. Just as the Eternal Reason externalized became attached to the material world in Urizen, the Eternal Emotions became attached to the material world as Vala. Both Vala and Urizen engaged in activities which sought to control the outer world and shape it to aggrandise their own self-images. The two weapons in Vala's arsenal were sex and cruelty which she combined in various ways to impose her will.

The religion of the law (Jews), the religion of sacrifice (Druids), the religion of nature (Natural Religion), and the religion of rationalism (Deism) were all schemes of Vala to turn outward the consciousness of man which was in Eden open inward to the Eternal dimension.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
" Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart.

This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus. Deism
is the same & ends in the same."

Yale Center for British Art
Jerusalem, Plate 63
Jerusalem, Plate 29 [33], (E 175)
"Vala replied in clouds of tears Albions garment embracing

I was a City & a Temple built by Albions Children.
I was a Garden planted with beauty I allured on hill & valley
The River of Life to flow against my walls & among my trees
Vala was Albions Bride & Wife in great Eternity
The loveliest of the daughters of Eternity when in day-break

I emanated from Luvah over the Towers of Jerusalem
And in her Courts among her little Children offering up
The Sacrifice of fanatic love! why loved I Jerusalem!
Why was I one with her embracing in the Vision of Jesus
Wherefore did I loving create love, which never yet
Immingled God & Man, when thou & I, hid the Divine Vision
In cloud of secret gloom which behold involve me round about
Know me now Albion: look upon me I alone am Beauty
The Imaginative Human Form is but a breathing of Vala
I breathe him forth into the Heaven from my secret Cave
Born of the Woman to obey the Woman O Albion the mighty
For the Divine appearance is Brotherhood, but I am Love"

Four Zoas, Night III. Page 42, (E 328)
"O Urizen why art thou pale at the visions of Ahania
Listen to her who loves thee lest we also are driven away.

They heard the Voice & fled swift as the winters setting sun
And now the Human Blood foamd high, I saw that Luvah & Vala
Went down the Human Heart where Paradise & its joys abounded
In jealous fears in fury & rage, & flames roll'd round their fervid feet
And the vast form of Nature like a Serpent play'd before them
And as they went in folding fires & thunders of the deep
Vala shrunk in like the dark sea that leaves its slimy banks
And from her bosom Luvah fell far as the east & west
And the vast form of Nature like a Serpent roll'd between.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Plates 33 and 34

Add caption

PLATE 33 [37]
And One stood forth from the Divine Family &,said            

I feel my Spectre rising upon me! Albion! arouze thyself!
Why dost thou thunder with frozen Spectrous wrath against us?
The Spectre is, in Giant Man; insane, and most deform'd.
Thou wilt certainly provoke my Spectre against thine in fury!   
He has a Sepulcher hewn out of a Rock ready for thee:
And a Death of Eight thousand years forg'd by thyself, upon
The point of his Spear! if thou persistest to forbid with Laws
Our Emanations, and to attack our secret supreme delights

So Los spoke: But when he saw blue death in Albions feet,       t
Again he join'd the Divine Body, following merciful;
While Albion fled more indignant! revengeful covering

Plate 34:
PLATE 34 [38]
His face and bosom with petrific hardness, and his hands
And feet, lest any should enter his bosom & embrace
His hidden heart; his Emanation wept & trembled within him:
Uttering not his jealousy, but hiding it as with
Iron and steel, dark and opake, with clouds & tempests brooding:
His strong limbs shudderd upon his mountains high and dark.

Turning from Universal Love petrific as he went,
His cold against the warmth of Eden rag'd with loud
Thunders of deadly war (the fever of the human soul)
Fires and clouds of rolling smoke! but mild the Saviour follow'd

Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:

Saying. Albion! Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love,
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought:      
Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing
We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,       
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,
In Eden: in the garden of God: and in heavenly Jerusalem.       
If we have offended, forgive us, take not vengeance against us.

Thus speaking; the Divine Family follow Albion:
I see them in the Vision of God upon my pleasant valleys.

I behold London; a Human awful wonder of God!
He says: Return, Albion, return! I give myself for thee:        
My Streets are my, Ideas of Imagination.
Awake Albion, awake! and let us awake up together.
My Houses are Thoughts: my Inhabitants; Affections,
The children of my thoughts, walking within my blood-vessels,
Shut from my nervous form which sleeps upon the verge of Beulah
In dreams of darkness, while my vegetating blood in veiny pipes,
Rolls dreadful thro' the Furnaces of Los, and the Mills of Satan.
For Albions sake, and for Jerusalem thy Emanation
I give myself, and these my brethren give themselves for Albion.

So spoke London, immortal Guardian! I heard in Lambeths shades:
In Felpham I heard and saw the Visions of Albion
I write in South Molton Street, what I both see and hear
In regions of Humanity, in Londons opening streets.

I see thee awful Parent Land in light, behold I see!
Verulam! Canterbury! venerable parent of men,                   
Generous immortal Guardian golden clad! for Cities
Are Men, fathers of multitudes, and Rivers & Mount[a]ins
Are also Men; every thing is Human, mighty! sublime!
In every bosom a Universe expands, as wings
Let down at will around, and call'd the Universal Tent.         
York, crown'd with loving kindness. Edinburgh, cloth'd
With fortitude as with a garment of immortal texture
Woven in looms of Eden, in spiritual deaths of mighty m
Who give themselves, in Golgotha, Victims to Justice;
Add caption
where There is in Albion a Gate of precious stones and gold           
Seen only by Emanations, by vegetations viewless,
Bending across the road of Oxford Street; it from Hyde Park
To Tyburns deathful shades, admits the wandering souls
Of multitudes who die from Earth: this Gate cannot be found

Plate 55

When those who disregard all Mortal Things, saw a Mighty-One
Among the Flowers of Beulah still retain his awful strength
They wonderd; checking their wild flames & Many gathering
Together into an Assembly; they said, let us go down
And see these changes! Others said, If you do so prepare       
For being drived from our fields, what have we to do with the
To be their inferiors or superiors we equally abhor;
Superior, none we know: inferior none: all equal share
Divine Benevolence & joy, for the Eternal Man
Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers & his Friends:       
Forbidding us that Veil which Satan puts between Eve and Adam
By which the Princes of the Dead enslave their Votaries
Teaching them to form the Serpent of precious stones and gold
To sieze the Sons of Jerusalem & plant them in One Mans Loins
To make One Family of Contraries: that Joseph may be sold      
Into Egypt: for Negation; a Veil the Saviour born and dying rends.

But others said: Let us to him who only Is, and who
Walketh among us, give decision. bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done: in fiery flames
The Universal Conc[l]ave raged, such thunderous sounds as never
Were sounded from a mortal cloud, nor on Mount Sinai old
Plate 55
Nor in Havilah where the Cherub rolld his redounding flame.

Loud! loud! the Mountains lifted up their voices, loud the Forests
Rivers thunderd against their banks, loud Winds furious fought
Cities and Nations contended in fires & clouds and tempests.       
The Seas raisd up their voices and lifted their hands on high
The Stars in their courses fought. the Sun! Moon! Heaven! Earth.
Contending for Albion and for Jerusalem his Emanation
And for Shiloh, the Emanation of France and for lovely Vala.

Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation   
And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God;
Lucifer, Molech, Elohim, Shaddai, Pahad, Jehovah, Jesus.
They namd the Eighth. he came not, he hid in Albions Forests
But first they said: and their Words stood in Chariots in array
Curbing their Tygers with golden bits and bridles of silver and

Let the Human Organs be kept in their perfect Integrity
At will Contracting into Worms, or Expanding into Gods
And then behold! what are these Ulro Visions of Chastity[!]
Then as the moss upon the tree: or dust upon the plow:
Or as the sweat upon the labouring shoulder: or as the chaff
Of the wheat-floor or as the dregs of the sweet wine-press
Such are these Ulro Visions, for tho we sit down within
The plowed furrow, listning to the weeping clods till we
Contract or Expand Space at will: or if we raise ourselves
Upon the chariots of the morning. Contracting or Expanding Time!
Every one knows, we are One Family! One Man blessed for ever

Silence remaind and every one resumd his Human Majesty
And many conversed on these things as they labourd at the furrow
Saying: It is better to prevent misery, than to release from
It is better to prevent error, than to  forgive the criminal:  
Labour well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones:
And those who are in misery cannot remain so long
If we do but our duty: labour well the teeming Earth.

They Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow
And the voices of the Living Creatures were heard in the clouds
    of heaven
Crying: Compell the Reasoner to Demonstrate with unhewn
Let the Indefinite be explored. and let every Man be judged
By his own Works, Let all Indefinites be thrown into
To be pounded to dust and melted in the Furnaces of Affliction:
He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite and flatterer:
For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power.
The Infinite alone resides in Definite and Determinate Identity
Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falshood
On Circumcision: not on Virginity, O Reasoners of Albion

So cried they at the Plow. Albions Rock frowned above
And the Great Voice of Eternity rolled above terrible in clouds
Saying Who will go forth for us! and Who shall we send before our
(Erdman 204-5)
Notes on Plate 55:
This plate begins with an account of activity of ‘those who disregard all mortal things’, in other words the Eternal Ones. They had observed the redemption of Albion and his parts (described in the previous chapter). Some wanted to 'go down’ to Beulah, but others urged caution: 'don’t get mixed up with the dead’, they said, because the Divine Man had forbidden them Satan’s veil (prevalent in mortal life). “a veil the Saviour born and dying rends”. "So saying an eternal deed was done..” Blake proceeds to picture the tumultuous event.  It led to their election “of the Seven Eyes of God” (Night 1 of The Four Zoas dwells on the Seven Eyes, and Milton Percival has a chapter on them; it’s profitable to read both of these interpretations.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012


This is a continuation of the post Blake's Vala.

So Vala, the sinless soul in her Eternal form, comes under the influence of Luvah, the God of love. He constructs a beautiful house in her pleasant world which becomes permanent rather than remaining transitory.

Blake was calling into our minds the myth of Psyche and Cupid. Psyche an unblemished virgin attracted the attention of Cupid. Because of a prediction in an oracle that she would marry a monster, her parents left her to die on a mountaintop. She did not die but awoke in a beautiful hidden valley where she entered a house built for her by Cupid the god of love. She disobeyed the god by lighting a candle that she may see his countenance when he visited her in the darkness of night. Thus began her journey of restitution and redemption.

In Blake's myth it is Albion the giant body of the Eternal Man who is enchanted by the beauty of Vala as she is manifest in Nature's 'net of gold and silver twine.' Albion turned away from Jerusalem and embraced Vala. Spiritual beauty had thus been divided from natural beauty. Jerusalem was withdrawn from the bosom of Albion to be joined with Jesus. Vala became united with Albion. Temporarily the arrangement was felicitous, but Vala divided from Jerusalem and Luvah (whose emanation she was) began a decline which we will follow in a later post.

Jerusalem, PLATE 20, (E 165)
"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

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:

He made me his Bride & Wife: he gave thee to Albion.
Then was a time of love: O why is it passed away!"

Blake first gave the title Vala to the poem now called the Four Zoas. He begins the poem with these words:

Four Zoas , Night I, Page 3, (E 301)
Night the First
The Song of the Aged Mother which shook the heavens with wrath
Hearing the march of long resounding strong heroic Verse
Marshalld in order for the day of Intellectual Battle

Four Mighty Ones are in every Man; a Perfect Unity
Cannot Exist. but from the Universal Brotherhood of Eden
Universal Man. To Whom be Glory Evermore Amen

Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Plate 54

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
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

The silent broodings of deadly revenge springing from the
All powerful parental affection, fills Albion from head to foot  
Seeing his Sons assimilate with Luvah, bound in the bonds
Of spiritual Hate, from which springs Sexual Love as iron chains:
He tosses like a Cloud outstretchd among Jerusalems Ruins
Which overspread all the Earth, he groans among his ruind porches

                 Pity      Wrath
                    This World

But the Spectre like a hoar frost & a Mildew rose over Albion    
Saying, I am God O Sons of Men! I am your Rational Power!
Am I not Bacon & Newton & Locke who teach Humility to Man!
Who teach Doubt & Experiment & my two Wings Voltaire: Rousseau.
Where is that Friend of Sinners! that Rebel against my Laws!

Who teaches Belief to the Nations, & an unknown Eternal Life     
Come hither into the Desart & turn these stones to bread.
Vain foolish Man! wilt thou believe without Experiment?
And build a World of Phantasy upon my Great Abyss!
A World of Shapes in craving Lust & devouring appetite

So spoke the hard cold constrictive Spectre he is named Arthur   
Constricting into Druid Rocks round Canaan Agag & Aram & Pharoh

Then Albion drew England into his bosom in groans & tears
But she stretchd out her starry Night in Spaces against him. like
A long Serpent, in the Abyss of the Spectre which augmented
The Night with Dragon wings coverd with stars & in the Wings     
Jerusalem & Vala appeard: & above between the Wings magnificent
The Divine Vision dimly appeard in clouds of blood weeping.
(Erdman 203-4) 
Notes on Plate 54
The text begins:
“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”

This is a central idea in Blake’s lexicon or vocabulary: Form and Light! We find it frequently mentioned in his poetry.  Form and Light suggest Spirit and Body, Male and Female.

Form and Light are the name of a 1/17/12 post in which Ellie treated an engraving of Death’s Door in Blair’s Grave, (rejected by the publisher). It’s discussed in
Blake's Visionary Forms Dramatic. (It’s very useful to study this post and pursue the links that Ellie posted.)

                 Pity      Wrath
                    This World

The words are a tetrad expressing two pair of 
Contraries: Reason and Desire=Urizen and Luvah 
            Pity=Palambron or Satan 
            Wrath=Rintrah (These terms show up in Milton)
(From Paley's Jerusalem, page 217) 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Four Zoas, Night IX, (E 397)
"So spoke the Sinless Soul & laid her head on the downy fleece
Of a curld Ram who stretchd himself in sleep beside his mistress
And soft sleep fell upon her eyelids in the silent noon of day

Then Luvah passed by & saw the sinless Soul
And said Let a pleasant house arise to be the dwelling place
Of this immortal Spirit growing in lower Paradise

He spoke & pillars were builded & walls as white as ivory
The grass she slept upon was pavd with pavement as of pearl
Beneath her rose a downy bed & a cieling coverd all

Vala awoke. When in the pleasant gates of sleep I enterd
I saw my Luvah like a spirit stand in the bright air
Round him stood spirits like me who reard me a bright house
And here I see thee house remain in my most pleasant world

My Luvah smild I kneeled down he laid his hand on my head
And when he laid his hand upon me from the gates of sleep I came
Into this bodily house to tend my flocks in my pleasant garden

So saying she arose & walked round her beautiful house
And then from her white door she lookd to see her bleating lambs
But her flocks were gone up from beneath the trees into the hills

I see the hand that leadeth me doth also lead my flocks
She went up to her flocks & turned oft to see her shining house
She stopd to drink of the clear spring & eat the grapes & apples

She bore the fruits in her lap she gatherd flowers for her bosom
She called to her flocks saying follow me O my flocks

They followd her to the silent vall[e]y beneath the spreading trees
And on the rivers margin she ungirded her golden girdle
She stood in the river & viewd herself within the watry glass
And her bright hair was wet with the waters She rose up from the river
And as she rose her Eyes were opend to the world of waters
She saw Tharmas sitting upon the rocks beside the wavy sea
He strokd the water from his beard & mournd faint thro the summer vales

And Vala stood on the rocks of Tharmas & heard his mournful voice"

British Museum
Jerusalem, Copy a
Plate 46

Her house is Vala's garment of material nature. She enters it as her eyes are opened to a reflected image of the permanent realities of Eternity. She steps into the water of time and space as she assumes a body. Kathleen Raine relates the Neo-platonic idea that the the soul of Nature desired to contemplate herself and so relinquished a part of of herself to externality. But the substance remains the original Eternal Reality. The shadow is the world of matter in which our bodies live as Vala lives in her house of illusion beside the river while Tharmas mourns .

On Page 36 of Golgonooza: City of Imagination, Raine writes:

"Vala's only reality is as the 'shadow' of Jerusalem, a reflection of Soul cast in the 'Vegetable Glass' of nature."

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 555)
"There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature"

Jerusalem, Plate 11, (E 154)
"Vala is but thy Shadow, O thou loveliest among women!
A shadow animated by thy tears O mournful Jerusalem!
Plate 12
Why wilt thou give to her a Body whose life is but a Shade?.
Her joy and love, a shade: a shade of sweet repose:
But animated and vegetated, she is a devouring worm:
What shall we do for thee O lovely mild Jerusalem?"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Plate 53


             Chap 3.
But Los, who is the Vehicular Form of strong Urthona
Wept vehemently over Albion where Thames currents spring
From the rivers of Beulah; pleasant river! soft, mild, parent
And the roots of Albions Tree enterd the Soul of Los
As he sat before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair       
In gnawing pain dividing him from his Emanation;
Inclosing all the Children of Los time after time.
Their Giant forms condensing into Nations & Peoples & Tongues   
Translucent the Furnaces, of Beryll & Emerald immortal:
And Seven-fold each within other: incomprehensible               
To the Vegetated Mortal Eye's perverted & single vision
The Bellows are the Animal Lungs. the hammers, the Animal Heart
The Furnaces, the Stomach for Digestion; terrible their fury
Like seven burning heavens rang'd from South to North

Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza,   
Outside of the Gates of the Human Heart, beneath Beulah
In the midst of the rocks of the Altars of Albion. In fears
He builded it, in rage & in fury. It is the Spiritual Fourfold
London: continually building & continually decaying desolate!
In eternal labours: loud the Furnaces & loud the Anvils          
Of Death thunder incessant around the flaming Couches of
The Twentyfour Friends of Albion and round the awful Four
For the protection of the Twelve Emanations of Albions Sons
The Mystic Union of the Emanation in the Lord; Because          
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre                 
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow
But she is made receptive of Generation thro' mercy
In the Potters  Furnace, among the Funeral Urns of Beulah
From Surrey hills, thro' Italy and Greece, to Hinnoms vale.
 PLATE 54In Great Eternity......(Erdman 202-3)  
Notes on Plate 53:
The zoa Los/Urthona has a double name (Urthona is the Eternal name and Los the fallen name.  Los was sitting in Beulah, but falling further into Ulro sitting before his furnace. At the furnace the bellows are the animal’s lungs. the hammers the animal’s (beating) heart, and the furnaces the Stomach. (He described these entities otherwise in Milton.)

And there he (the creative zoa) built Golgonooza (which I describe as the worldly replica of the Kingdom of God). He was fearful and full of rage and called it ‘fourfold London’ (a variation of Jerusalem) “continually building and continually decaying desolate!”
“Because Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre [and] an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow”

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Joseph of Arimathea Preaching to the Inhabitants of Britain

John Wesley was an older contemporary of William Blake. Both lived in London although Wesley travelled widely in Britain. Wesley was a public figure for whom
crowds gathered in the open air to hear his sermons.

A book of 15 hymns called Hymns for the National Fast was published by John's brother Charles Wesley in 1782 in response to King George's call for a day of fasting following the loss of the Battle of Yorktown. Hymns from this book were combined later with a 1781 hymnal. The expanded version of the hymnal containing hymns from both brothers, was published by the Wesley brothers with the title Hymns for the Nation. A copy of this book made its way into the hands of William Blake who retained it until his death.

In the Preface of 1780, Wesley defended his own poetry in much the same way that William Blake felt obliged to defend his poetry.

Preface of 1780
"6. May I be permitted to add a few words with regard to the poetry? Then I will speak to those who are judges thereof, with all freedom and unreserve. To these I may say, without offence, 1. In these hymns there is no doggerel; no botches; nothing put in to patch up the rhyme; no feeble expletives. 2. Here is nothing turgid or bombast, on the one hand, or low and creeping, on the other. 3. Here are no cant expressions; no words without meaning. Those who impute this to us know not what they say. We talk common sense, both in prose and verse, and use no word but in a fixed and determinate sense. 4. Here are, allow me to say, both the purity, the strength, and the elegance of the English language; and, at the same time, the utmost simplicity and plainness, suited to every capacity. Lastly, I desire men of taste to judge, (these are the only competent judges) whether there be not in some of the following hymns the true spirit of poetry, such as cannot be acquired by art and labour, but must be the gift of nature. By labour a man may become a tolerable imitator of Spencer, Shakespeare, or Milton; and may heap together pretty compound epithets, as "pale-eyed," "meek-eyed," and the like; but unless he be born a poet, he will never attain the genuine spirit of poetry."

Wesley himself and his fellow evangelist Whitefield appear in Blake's Milton as two servants who suffer the fate of prophets as they witness to Christ.

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 118)
But then I rais'd up Whitefield, Palamabron raisd up Westley,
And these are the cries of the Churches before the two Witnesses[']
Faith in God the dear Saviour who took on the likeness of men:
Becoming obedient to death, even the death of the Cross
The Witnesses lie dead in the Street of the Great City
No Faith is in all the Earth: the Book of God is trodden under Foot:
He sent his two Servants Whitefield & Westley; were they Prophets
Or were they Idiots or Madmen? shew us Miracles!

Plate 23 [25]
Can you have greater Miracles than these? Men who devote

Their lifes whole comfort to intire scorn & injury & death
Awake thou sleeper on the Rock of Eternity Albion awake
The trumpet of Judgment hath twice sounded: all Nations are awake
But thou art still heavy and dull: Awake Albion awake!"

You can learn more about the books Blake read in Blake's Margins: An Interpretive Study of the Annotations by Hazard Adams. Exerts from the book are available at this website.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Boehme III

Extracts from "PREFACE TO THE READER" of 'Signature'
(Bohme wrote this preface in straight prose pointing out the use of the "language of Zion", which he used much more often that William Blake did.  He was able to maintain the common devout language to express the divergences that he (and Blake as well) held regarding orthodoxy.)
THIS book is a true mystical mirror of the highest wisdom. The best treasure that a man can attain unto in this world is true knowledge; even the knowledge of himself: For man is the great mystery of God, the microcosm, or the complete abridgment of the whole universe: He is the mirandum Dei opus, God's masterpiece, a living emblem and hieroglyphic of eternity and time; and therefore to know whence he is, and what his temporal and eternal being and well-being are, must needs be that ONE necessary thing, to which all our chief study should aim, and in comparison of which all the wealth of this world is but dross, and a loss to us.
This is that wisdom which dwells in nothing, and yet possesses all things, and the humble resigned soul is its playfellow; this is the divine alloquy, the inspiration of the Almighty, the breath of God, the holy unction, which sanctifies the soul to be the temple of the Holy Ghost, which instructs it aright in all things, 

This is the precious pearl, whose beauty is more glorious, and whose virtue more sovereign than the sun: It is a never-failing comfort in all afflictions, a balsam for all sores, a panacea for all diseases, a sure antidote against all poison, and death itself; it is that joyful and assured companion and guide, which never forsakes a man, but convoys him through this valley of misery and death into the blessed paradise of perfect bliss.

If you ask, What is the way to attain to this wisdom? Behold! Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, tells you plainly in these words; "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me;" [*2] or as he

[p. 4]
says elsewhere, "Unless you be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of heaven:" or as St. Paul says, "If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise." [*1]

Herein lies that simple childlike way to the highest wisdom, which no sharp reason or worldly learning can reach unto; nay, it is foolishness to reason, and therefore so few go the way to find it: The proud sophisters and wiselings of this world have always trampled it under foot with scorn and contempt, and have called it enthusiasm, madness, melancholy, whimsy, fancy, etc., but wisdom is justified of her children.

This is the true theosophic school wherein this author learned the first rudiments and principles of wisdom, and to which we must go if we would understand his deep writings: For we must know that the sons of Hermes, who have commenced in the high school of true magic and theosophy, have always spoken their hidden wisdom in a mystery; and have so couched it under shadows and figures, parables and similies, that none can understand their obscure, yet clear writings, but those who have had admittance into the same school, and have tasted of the Feast of Pentecost.

And this does not seem at all strange to the children of divine Mercury; for the mysteries of philosophy, divinity, and theosophy must not be profaned, and laid open to the view of the outward astral reason, which turns all to its selfish pride, covetousness, envy, wrath, and cunning hypocrisy; and therefore a parabolical or magical phrase or dialect is the best and plainest habit and dress that mysteries can have to travel in up and down this wicked world: And thus parable have a double and different respect and use; for as they conceal and hide secrets from the rude and vulgar sort, 

We see here a mixture of New Testament wisdom and esoteric wisdom, such as "the sons of Hermes" and "children of divine Mercury"; this indicates that (like Blake) Bohme did not consider the Bible to be the sole Word of God.
[p. 5]
patient to bear anything but what suits with their common conceits and opinions, so likewise they sweetly lead the mind of the true searcher into the depths of wisdom's council. They are as the cloudy pillar of Moses; they have a dark part, and they have a light part; they are dark to the Egyptians, the pharisaical sons of sophistry, but light to the true Israel, the children of the mystery.

(This also shows the unorthodox way with which Bohme used Scripture; it also gives evidence that he, too was widely read.)
And therefore whoever will be nurtured and trained up by Sophia, and learn to understand and speak the language of wisdom, must be born again of and in the Word of Wisdom, Christ Jesus, the Immortal Seed: The divine essence which God breathed into his paradisical soul must be revived, and he must become one again with that which he was in God before he was a creature, and then his Eternal Spirit may enter into that which is within the veil, and see not only the literal, but the moral, allegorical, and anagogical meaning of the wise and their dark sayings: He then will be fit to enter, not only into Solomon's porch, the outer court of natural philosophy, sense and reason, but likewise into the inward court of holy and spiritual exercises, in divine understanding and knowledge; and so he may step into the most inward and holiest place of theosophical mysteries, into which none are admitted to come, but those who have received the high and holy unction.

(Blake said:

    "Ive a wife I love and that loves me.
    Ive all but Riches Bodily"
Paul, the apostle wrote in Philippians 3:
"What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ"


I will now endeavour briefly to hint to the reader what this book contains, though in it the spirit of wisdom cannot be delineated with pen and ink, no more than a sound can be painted, or the wind grasped in the hollow of the hand: But know, that in it he deciphers and represents in a lively manner the Signature of all Things, and gives you the contents of eternity and time, and glances at all mysteries.
In a word, his intent is to let you know the inward power and property by the outward sign;
But the proud scorner that will take no warning is of Lucifer's regiment, who saw the mystery of God's kingdom to stand in meekness, simplicity, and deep humility, and therefore out of his pride would aspire to be above the divine love, and harmony
[p. 7]
of obedience to God's will, and so fell into the abyss of the dark world, into the outmost darkness of the first principle, which we call Hell, where he and his legions are captives; from which the Almighty God of Love deliver us.

I will end with the words of the author at the conclusion of the book, where he says thus; "I have faithfully, with all true admonition, represented to the reader what the Lord of all beings has given me; he may behold himself in this looking-glass [*1] within and without, and so he shall find what and who he is: Every reader, be he good or bad, will find his profit and benefit therein: It is a very clear gate of the great mystery of all beings: By glosses, commentaries, curiosity and self-wit, none shall be able to reach or apprehend it in his own ground; but it may very well meet and embrace the true seeker, and create him much profit and joy; yea be helpful to him in all natural things, provided he applies himself to it aright, and seeks in the fear of God, seeing it is now a time of seeking; for a lily blossoms upon the mountains and valleys in all the ends of the earth: 'He that seeketh findeth.'" And so I commend the reader to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.


^3:1 Cor. ii. 10.

^3:2 Luke ix. 23.

^4:1 1 Cor. iii. 13.

Friday, March 23, 2012


In the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son the younger son arrives at the point of despair after having separated himself from his family and exhausted his resources:

Luke 15
[13] And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
[14] And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
[15] And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
[16] And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
[17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Job reached a similar point of hopelessness and darkness which Blake picture in Plate 8 of his Illustrations to the Book of Job.

Illustrations to the Book of Job
Plate 8, Linnell Set
Job 3
[1] After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
[2] And Job spake, and said,
[3] Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
[4] Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
[5] Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
[6] As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
[7] Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.

The term that Blake used for the real or authentic humanity which resides within each individual is the Identity. This is the part of us that is connected to the Eternal and is Eternal itself. When an individual ascribes to false ideas or acts in inauthentic ways the Identity may be obscured or may enter a state like sleep. The Selfhood occupies the position vacated by the Identity and the connection with the Eternal is broken. If the individual could 'come to himself' as did the Prodigal son, the Identity would be released from its bondage and he would cast out the inauthentic behaviours which were being expressed.

Unfortunately, as Tharmas did in this passage, mankind often flees from his Identity in pursuit of the Vain Shadow of Hope because his eyes are on Urizen:

Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 122 [108], (E 383)
"Tharmas on high rode furious thro the afflicted worlds
Pursuing the Vain Shadow of Hope fleeing from identity
In abstract false Expanses that he may not hear the Voice
Of Ahania wailing on the winds in vain he flies for still
The voice incessant calls on all the children of Men
For she spoke of all in heaven & all upon the Earth
Saw not as yet the Divine vision her Eyes are Toward Urizen"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More on Bohme

This material is taken largely from Wikipedia:

"Böhme had a number of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 as one day he focused his attention onto the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family.

"Twelve years after the vision in 1600, Böhme began to write his first book, Die Morgenroete im Aufgang. The book was given the name Aurora by a friend; however, Böhme originally wrote the book for himself and it was never completed.[6] A manuscript copy was loaned to Karl von Ender, a nobleman, who had copies made and began to circulate the manuscript. A copy fell into the hands of Gregorius Richter, the chief pastor of Görlitz, who considered it heretical and threatened Böhme with exile if he did not stop writing. As a result, Böhme did not write anything for several years; however, at the insistence of friends who had read Aurora, he started writing again in 1618.

Boehme's first book was given the name Aurora.

In the six years before his death in 1624 he wrote an enormous number of books.  The two most significant perhaps were: De Signatura Rerum and Mysterium Magnum. He also developed a following throughout Europe, where his followers were known as Behmenists.

His total corpus is (presumably) listed here:


  • Aurora: Die Morgenröte im Aufgang (unfinished) (1612)
  • The Three Principles of the Divine Essence (1618-1919)
  • The Threefold Life of Man (1620)
  • Answers to Forty Questions Concerning the Soul (1620)
  • The Treatise of the Incarnations: (1620)
    • I. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
    • II. Of the Suffering, Dying, Death and Resurrection of Christ
    • III. Of the Tree of Faith
  • The Great Six Points (1620)
  • Of the Earthly and of the Heavenly Mystery (1620)
  • Of the Last Times (1620)
  • De Signatura Rerum (1621)
  • The Four Complexions (1621)
  • Of True Repentance (1622)
  • Of True Resignation (1622)
  • Of Regeneration (1622)
  • Of Predestination (1623)
  • A Short Compendium of Repentance (1623)
  • The Mysterium Magnum (1623)
  • A Table of the Divine Manifestation, or an Exposition of the Threefold World (1623)
  • The Supersensual Life (1624)
  • Of Divine Contemplation or Vision (unfinished) (1624)
  • Of Christ's Testaments (1624)
    • I. Baptism
    • II. The Supper
  • Of Illumination (1624)
  • 177 Theosophic Questions, with Answers to Thirteen of Them (unfinished) (1624)
  • An Epitome of the Mysterium Magnum (1624)
  • The Holy Week or a Prayer Book (unfinished) (1624)
  • A Table of the Three Principles (1624)
  • Of the Last Judgement (lost) (1624)
  • The Clavis (1624)
  • Sixty-two Theosophic Epistles (1618–1624)
  Said by Wikipedia to be in print:
  • The Way to Christ (inc. True Repentance, True Resignation, Regeneration or the New Birth, The Supersensual Life, Of Heaven & Hell, The Way from Darkness to True Illumination) edited by William Law, Diggory Press ISBN 978-1-84685-791-1
  • Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, translated from the German by John Rolleston Earle, London, Constable and Company LTD, 1934.



Aurora, like the Four Zoas, was an unfinished manuscript, but for his ideas in that work we're directed to "Three Principles of the Divine Presence and Threefold Life of Man" The three principles are the Eternal Dark Light and Temporary World.  In Blake's system it might be Ulro, Eternity, and Nature (or Generation), or how Adam was: before the Fall, during the Fall and after the Fall.

In Wikipedia's basic approach to 'Bohme' this was said:
Böhme's departure from accepted theology (though this was open to question due to his somewhat obscure, oracular style) was in his description of the Fall as a necessary stage in the evolution of the Universe. A difficulty with his theology is the fact that he had a mystical vision, which he reinterpreted and reformulated. According to F. von Ingen, to Böhme, in order to reach God, man has to go through hell first. God exists without time or space and regenerates himself through Eternity;  Böhme,  restates the Trinity as truly existing but with a novel interpretation: God, the Father is fire, which gives birth to his son, whom Böhme calls light. The Holy Spirit is the living principle, or the Divine Life.

In another section of wikipedia we read:


In one interpretation of Böhme's cosmology, it was necessary for humanity to depart from God, and for all original unities to undergo differentiation, desire and conflict -—as in the rebellion of Satan, the separation of Eve from Adam and their acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil — in order for creation to evolve to a new state of redeemed harmony that would be more perfect than the original state of innocence, allowing God to achieve a new self-awareness by interacting with a creation that was both part of, and distinct from, Himself. Free will becomes the most important gift God gives to humanity, allowing us to seek divine grace as a deliberate choice while still allowing us to remain individuals.
Böhme saw the incarnation of Christ not as a sacrificial offering to cancel out human sins, but as an offering of love for humanity, showing God's willingness to bear the suffering that had been a necessary aspect of creation. He also believed the incarnation of Christ conveyed the message that a new state of harmony is possible.