Thursday, May 31, 2012


Paradise Lost
Illustration 10, 1807 

 In an illustration to Milton's Paradise Lost, Blake presented another view of the judgement that fell on Adam and Eve for their disobedience. Following Milton's statement, 'So judg'd he Man, both Judge and Saviour sent,' (Book 10.209), Blake pictured Christ, not Jehovah, as informing Adam and Eve of the consequences of their eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were expelled from Eden and sent into the world which Blake calls generation.

The book of 1John (Chapter 2) in the bible, echoes the gentler attitude toward sin which Christ demonstrates in the picture painted by Blake:

"[ 1] My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"

However the darker side of separating oneself from the Divine Presence is shown in the upper section of the picture. Here we see Sin and Death, who have been given entry into the world through the opening of the Gate of Hell. Death, to the left wearing a crown, and sin to the right with the three headed hound of hell, are in readiness to work their foul deeds in the world walled off from Eden.

Sin & Death: the children of Satan.
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 34)
"And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death" 
The Female is now separate from the Male: the criteria for the generative world.
 Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 133, (E 401)
"The Eternal Man arose he welcomd them to the Feast
The feast was spread in the bright South & the Eternal Man
Sat at the feast rejoicing & the wine of Eternity
Was servd round by the flames of Luvah all day & all the night

And Many Eternal Men sat at the golden feast to see 
The female form now separate They shudderd at the horrible thing
Not born for the sport and amusement of Man but born to drink up all his powers
They wept to see their shadows they said to one another this is Sin  
This is the Generative world"

Benevolent provision which is made for the new world to be inhabited by man: the Divine Vision.
Four Zoas, Night II, Page 32, (E 321)
"On clouds the Sons of Urizen beheld Heaven walled round       
They weighd & orderd all & Urizen comforted saw               
The wondrous work flow forth like visible out of the invisible   
For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision       
Permitted all lest Man should fall into Eternal Death
For when Luvah sunk down himself put on the robes of blood
Lest the state calld Luvah should cease. & the Divine Vision
Walked in robes of blood till he who slept should awake          

Thus were the stars of heaven created like a golden chain
To bind the Body of Man to heaven from falling into the Abyss 
Each took his station, & his course began with sorrow & care"  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Plate 75

PLATE 75   

And Rahab Babylon the Great hath destroyed Jerusalem
Bath stood upon the Severn with Merlin & Bladud & Arthur
The Cup of Rahab in his hand: her Poisons Twenty-sevenfold

And all her Twenty-seven Heavens now hid & now reveal'd
Appear in strong delusive light of Time & Space drawn out
In shadowy pomp by the Eternal Prophet created evermore

For Los in Six Thousand Years walks up & down continually
That not one Moment of Time be lost & every revolution
Of Space he makes permanent in Bowlahoola & Cathedron.

And these the names of the Twenty-seven Heavens & their Churches
Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch,
Methuselah, Lamech; these are the Giants mighty, Hermaphroditic
Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan the Second, Salah, Heber,
Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah: these are the Female Males:
A Male within a Female hid as in an Ark & Curtains.   
Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Paul, Constantine, Charlemaine,
Luther. these Seven are the Male Females: the Dragon Forms
The Female hid within a Male: thus Rahab is reveald
Mystery Babylon the Great: the Abomination of Desolation
Religion hid in War: a Dragon red, & hidden Harlot    
But Jesus breaking thro' the Central Zones of Death & Hell
Opens Eternity in Time & Space; triumphant in Mercy

Thus are the Heavens formd by Los within the Mundane Shell
And where Luther ends Adam begins again in Eternal Circle
To awake the Prisoners of Death; to bring Albion again       
With Luvah into light eternal, in his eternal day.

But now the Starry Heavens are fled from the mighty limbs of
(Erdman 230-3) 


Plate 75
Works will show a better image
Rahab Babylon: Rahab has a long and chequered career. In the Bible she appeared in Deuteronomy as the prostitute who harbored Joshua   when he went to spy out the land prior to the invasion of the Promised Land. (She also appeared in Jesus’ matrilineal line.)

The rest of the Plate is to a large degree the work of Rahab:
She instigated the 27 heavens using Los. They are listed in a couple of groups: what closely resembles the line of generation of the Old Testament, called “a male within a female."
The second list, called the seven male females carry us down to the present, in which Jesus broke through the “Central Zones to Death and Hell”, but to a great extent things have remained the same: the complete list from Abraham to Luther represent what Blake saw as corrupt religion ending with Luther, after which people may perhaps go back to the beginning in the Circle of Destiny.
Blake hoped that this might not happen, that the ‘Kingdom might come’ and ‘his will be done’.  Do we hope and expect that  ourseves?

Two pictures: the upper one consists of circles of angels;
in the lower one we see Rahab in the arms of a seven headed serpent like dragon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Genesis 3
[17] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
[18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
[19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
[20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
[21] Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
[22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
[23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
[24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
God Judging Adam
ca. 1795
A comment from Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye:
"The Fall began by the separation of Eve from Adam and once that had taken place Eve became allied with the reasoning serpent. This closely approximates Blake's account of the fall of Albion and his surrender to Vala, while 'the vast form of Nature, like a Serpent, roll'd between.'" Page 352

Jerusalem, Plate 43 [29], (E 192)
"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 nostrils
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 feet:   
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, trembling"                                          

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 86, (E 369)
 "Then Los plucked the fruit & Eat & sat down in Despair
And must have given himself to death Eternal But
Urthonas spectre in part mingling with him comforted him  
Being a medium between him & Enitharmon   But This Union
Was not to be Effected without Cares & Sorrows & Troubles
Of six thousand Years of self denial and of bitter Contrition"  
Jerusalem, Plate 42,  (E 189)
 "There is a limit of Opakeness, and a limit of Contraction;
In every Individual Man, and the limit of Opakeness,             
Is named Satan: and the limit of Contraction is named Adam.
But when Man sleeps in Beulah, the Saviour in mercy takes
Contractions Limit, and of the Limit he forms Woman: That
Himself may in process of time be born Man to redeem
But there is no Limit of Expansion! there is no Limit of Translucence.   
In the bosom of Man for ever from eternity to eternity."
Laocoon, (E 273)
 "Adam is only The Natural Man & not the Soul or Imagination"

Monday, May 28, 2012


In Setting Forth we drew heavily on  Minna Doskow’s book (Chapter 1) re the structure of Jerusalem.  Research on that subject revealed a welter of scholars with widely disparate views.

In Setting Forth II I have found the matter much discussed in Sublime Allegory, especially on page 335 in a file by Stuart Curran:

Jerusalem of course is divided into four chapters:

To the Public,

To the Jews,

To the Deists, and

To the Christians, but the various scholars have uniformly disregarded that as Blake’s Structure (Blake of course had a universal dislike of any form of systemisation, but in Blake research we are condemned to systemizing in some way).

Curran poses a six part structure:

Plates 1-17 "outlines the the basic themes.....of the poem".

Plates 18-35 focuses on “Albion’s assertion of moral law” and the dire consequences.

In Plates 36- we watch a “concerted attempt to save Albion collapse in successive failures”.

In the fourth division (Plates -67  the general fallenness “culminates in the sacrifice of Luvah”.

In the fifth division (Plates 68-83) we see “the internecine warfare of the Sons and Daughters of Albion" (the Sons focused on war and violence in general while the Daughters enticed a kind of female love.

Plates 84-100 set forth the transfiguration “of univeral destruction and fear into apocalypse".

Curran cautioned us not to expect to perceive this in an initial reading, which in all likelihood would be entirely different, but only as an aid in a systematized study.
In another sense that I’ve noticed in studying the first 75 of the Plates they’re all the same: pages of Fallenness and usually at least a hint of Redemption at the end.

Jerusalem Plate 1

Plate 1 Notes:
A sturdy looking man whom we may call Los is going into a dark room carrying a radiant globe. 

We see Los, the imaginative  Albion entering the Door of Death, not mortal Death but the door or gate going from Eternity to the dark Sea of Time and Space.

That’s what Jerusalem is about or at least the first step in a sequential (but simultaneous) series of Moments. You might also call it the Door of Creation when those in Eternity fall down into mortality.  

A picture like this lends itself to ‘whomever you are’, to your level of consciousness: from Sleep to Innocence to Experience to regenerated awareness and practice of Love.

Look also at the Post for Plate 1 .

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Two of the worst offences against the religion of Jesus in Blake's opinion were war 
and chastity. War in Eternity is an intellectual activity.  

Jerusalem, Plate 33 [37], (E 180)
"...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;"

War on earth comes from jealousy, vengeance and the desire to control and dominate. 
The religion of chastity has its roots in the same emotions. 
Enforced chastity is a tool of oppression growing out of revenge, hate, deceit and 
fear as Blake intimates.

Jerusalem, Plate 69,(E 223)
"And now the Spectres of the Dead awake in Beulah: all
The Jealousies become Murderous: uniting together in Rahab
A Religion of Chastity, forming a Commerce to sell Loves
With Moral Law, an Equal Balance, not going down with decision   
Therefore the Male severe & cruel filld with stern Revenge:
Mutual Hate returns & mutual Deceit & mutual Fear." 
Yale Center for British Art
Young's Night Thoughts, Page 75 
The Everlasting Gospel, (E 521)
"Was Jesus Chaste or did he
Give any Lessons of Chastity
The morning blushd fiery red
Mary was found in Adulterous bed
Earth groand beneath & Heaven above   
Trembled at discovery of Love
Jesus was sitting in Moses Chair
They brought the trembling Woman There
Moses commands she be stoned to Death
What was the sound of Jesus breath              
He laid his hand on Moses Law
The Ancient Heavens in Silent Awe
Writ with Curses from Pole to Pole
All away began to roll
The Earth trembling & Naked lay    
In secret bed of Mortal Clay
On Sinai felt the hand Divine
Putting back the bloody shrine
And she heard the breath of God
As she heard by Edens flood     
Good & Evil are no more                         
Sinais trumpets cease to roar
Cease finger of God to Write
The Heavens are not clean in thy Sight
Thou art Good & thou Alone     
Nor may the sinner cast one stone
To be Good only is to be
A Devil or else a Pharisee                      
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine
That didst create this Body of Mine   
Wherefore has[t] thou writ these Laws
And Created Hells dark jaws
My Presence I will take from thee
A Cold Leper thou shalt be
Tho thou wast so pure & bright    
That Heaven was Impure in thy Sight       
Tho thy Oath turnd Heaven Pale
Tho thy Covenant built Hells Jail
Tho thou didst all to Chaos roll
With the Serpent for its soul     
Still the breath Divine does move
And the breath Divine is Love
Mary Fear Not Let me see
The Seven Devils that torment thee
Hide not from my Sight thy Sin       
That forgiveness thou maist win
Has no Man Condemned thee
No Man Lord! then what is he
Who shall Accuse thee. Come Ye forth
Fallen Fiends of Heavnly birth       
That have forgot your Ancient love
And driven away my trembling Dove
You shall bow before her feet
You shall lick the dust for Meat
And tho you cannot Love but Hate      
Shall be beggars at Loves Gate
What was thy love Let me see it               
Was it love or Dark Deceit
Love too long from Me has fled.
Twas dark deceit to Earn my bread      
Twas Covet or twas Custom or
Some trifle not worth caring for              
That they may call a shame & Sin              
Loves Temple that God dwelleth in             
And hide in secret hidden Shrine      
The Naked Human form divine
.And render that a Lawless thing
On which the Soul Expands its wing
But this O Lord this was my Sin
When first I let these Devils in      
In dark pretence to Chastity
Blaspheming Love blaspheming thee
Thence Rose Secret Adulteries
And thence did Covet also rise
My Sin thou hast forgiven me        
Canst thou forgive my Blasphemy
Canst thou return to this dark Hell
And in my burning bosom dwell
And canst thou Die that I may live
And canst thou Pity & forgive"       

Love and forgiveness restore the balance between male and female. 
The heart is opened to the indwelling spirit.

Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256)
"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"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Setting Forth in Jerusalem

Minna Doskow has written an interesting book entitled William Blake’s Jerusalem
Structure and Meaning in Poetry and Picture.  I haven’t gotten very far with it yet, but the Chapter entitled Setting Forth has some material that seems well worth passing on to our estimable readers:

Doskow mentioned among many other themes that of Northrop Frye, who likened Blake’s structure to what he calls the Myth of the Bible with four themes, namely Creation, Fall, Recovery, and Apocalypse. (However in Blake’s system Creation comes after the Fall.)

For Doskow Blake’s Jerusalem begins with words setting forth the purpose: “Of the Sleep of Ulro and of the passage through Eternal Death and of the awaking to Eternal Life”
(This should help us to grasp the truth that Eternal Death is nothing like what we may have supposed it to be.)

Blake described Albion’s fall and redemption as taking place in a single moment, the moment of Albion’s choice (to sleep or to awake), and the entire Book of Jerusalem addresses that pervasive Moment.

The moment that Albion denies unity with the Saviour (“We are not one; we are Many”; Plate 4 Line 23 of Chapter 1).  
In Chapter 2 it establishes “fallen religion and purely natural man”. 
In Chapter 3 he deifies his own rational powers. Finally in Chapter 4 he establishes “the reign of Gwendolen’s delusive love (which he elsewhere calls female love).

Blake had the uniquely happy faculty of being able to express his thought in simultaneous words and images.  We can illustrate this with the six plates of Jerusalem that mark the beinning and ending of the book and the introduction of each of the four chapters.

Here are the links of all six of them:

Plate 100 

All these pictures need careful study and research to perceive the meanings.

This material is taken from Chapter 1 (Setting Forth) of Doskow's book.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Blake frequently uses the word 'behold' to indicate an intense sort of seeing in which the attention is fixed upon the object. Biblical scholars note that 'behold' is used in this way in the Old and New Testaments. Blake's statement that 'If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite', refers to the same ability to see as he means by 'behold'.

John 1
[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
[36] And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

To invest oneself in the object of perception opens one to the possibility of transformation. Perception becomes a reciprocal relationship in which object and perceiver each influence the other.
Los is transformed as he beholds Urizen becoming a separate entity as the sensory organs developed. Los responds as the 'red Round Globe' separates into a female and the male form follows. In this instance the negative activity which is beheld leads to further splitting and deconstruction.

Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Plate 17 

Milton, Plate 3, (E 97) 
"Enraged & stifled without & within: in terror & woe, he threw his
Right Arm to the north, his left Arm to the south, & his Feet  
Stampd the nether Abyss in trembling & howling & dismay
And a seventh Age passed over & a State of dismal woe

Terrified Los stood in the Abyss & his immortal limbs
Grew deadly pale; he became what he beheld: for a red
Round Globe sunk down from his Bosom into the Deep in pangs  
He hoverd over it trembling & weeping. suspended it shook
The nether Abyss in temblings. he wept over it, he cherish'd it
In deadly sickening pain: till separated into a Female pale
As the cloud that brings the snow: all the while from his Back
A blue fluid exuded in Sinews hardening in the Abyss       
Till it separated into a Male Form howling in Jealousy"

In Jerusalem we learn that beholding the Eternal Vision is what maintains the continued existence of the human. 

  Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 179) 
"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 him,   
Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:
The divided man is incompatible with the Eternal Vision and becomes screened off in the
darkness of the void. The Eternals protect themselves from viewing the divisions by erecting curtains to avoid beholding the distorted universe created by Urizen.  

Urizen, Plate 18,(E 78)
"9. All Eternity shudderd at sight
Of the first female now separate                       
Pale as a cloud of snow
Waving before the face of Los

10. Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,
Petrify the eternal myriads;
At the first female form now separate                  

They call'd her Pity, and fled

11. "Spread a Tent, with strong curtains around them
"Let cords & stakes bind in the Void
That Eternals may no more behold them"

12. They began to weave curtains of darkness           
They erected large pillars round the Void
With golden hooks fastend in the pillars
With infinite labour the Eternals
A woof wove, and called it Science"
 The opposite movement is produced by beholding 'the good, the true and the beautiful' as Paul advises us to do in Philippians: 

Philippians 4 
[8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Milton, PLATE 13 [14], (E 106)
"For then the Body of Death was perfected in hypocritic holiness, 

Around the Lamb, a Female Tabernacle woven in Cathedrons Looms
He died as a Reprobate. he was Punish'd as a Transgressor!
Glory! Glory! Glory! to the Holy Lamb of God
I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord!

The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet      
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour.
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live.
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death.
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."            

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 179)
"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 him,   

Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends
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:"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Among Blake's works is a little book of only 16 plates which he produced early in his career - in 1793. It is titled For Children: Gates of Paradise. In 1818 he re-engraved the same images, added a frontispiece, tailpiece, and explanatory couplets for each picture. The new book was titled For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise.

The children to whom the first book was addressed may be the innocents, those who had not travelled far along the journey. Gates of Paradise is not presented as an account of violent activities such as those portrayed in The Book of Urizen. Instead it's a roadmap to psychic development. Blake is trying to lead us through the process of psychological evolution, but he does not express himself in clear rational language in either the first or second version. The reader is asked to use his intuition to retrieve from his unconscious, archetypal content to associate with the images supplied. The second version addressed To the Sexes seems to recognise that it is those who are in the stage of 'generation' who will benefit from these insights.

In his book Symbol and Image in William Blake, George Wingfield Digby, presents a thorough psychological commentary plate by plate. On page 6, Digby says: "But the purpose of this form of communication is not to make explicit statements. It is to evoke and direct attention to psychological events and states of consciousness by means other than that of the intellectual concept, which is rooted in dualism."

So the first plate pictures a caterpillar on a leaf and a chrysalis with the face of a baby; the caption is 'What is man!'; and the associated couplet is 'The Sun's Light when he unfolds it / Depends on the Organ that beholds it.' So we are at the beginning; we want to find out what man is; we may go in one direction or another; to develop psychologically man must begin to see things differently; not just what one sees, but the way in which one sees things must be altered.

British Museum
Gates of Paradise

The frontispiece captures two stages in the life cycle of the insect. The infant is emerging from the dormant stage of the chrysalis; he is entering the world of outward activity in which his potential may be realised.  The larval stage is represented too; it is feeding on the leaf, assimilating the outer world for its growth. Implied is the butterfly stage of development which Blake uses to represent the achievement of the spiritual level of development.
This image from the British Museum was photographed showing the gage with the measurement of the image. Blake packed all these ideas into an image only 2 1/2 inches in height. There are five known copies of For Children: The Gates of Paradise, including the one in the British Museum and one in the Library of Congress. 

To view all of the pages of For Children: The Gates of Paradise go to the Library of Congress website, page down to Rosenwald 1813, For children: The gates of Paradise. La MBeth, W. Burke, 1793. [1], select PDF, and download it to your computer.  

This post was first published Nov 26, 2009.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blake's Furnaces

Blake’s Furnaces
Daniel 1-3, especially 3:25:
“ He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Blake learned a lot in his earliest reading in the Book of Daniel:  the cost of faithfulness in the face of worldly gods is very high, but in the midst of the time that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo spent in the fiery furnace a fourth “like the Son of God” appeared with them. That idea pervades Blake’s myth.

In the Book of Los Blake described the creation of humans, and then:
“Los astonish'd and terrified, built            
Furnaces; he formed an Anvil
A  Hammer of adamant then began
The binding of Urizen day and night” 
(Erdman 94)

His purpose was to ‘bind Urizen’ and his laws, which have bound Man in a restrictive, fearful existence.


Being multitudes of tyrant Men in union blasphemous
Against the divine image. Congregated Assemblies of wicked men

Los said to Enitbarmon Pitying I saw
Pitying the Lamb of God Descended thro Jerusalems gates
To put off Mystery time after time & as a Man
Is born on Earth so was he born of Fair Jerusalem
In mysterys woven mantle & in the Robes of Luvah

He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body            
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body may be Reveald
 (Erdman 378; the 8th Night of The Four Zoas)

As well as biblical sources Blake used images from the Industrial Revolution:

Plate 6

The Surrey hills glow like the clinkers of the furnace: Lambeths
Where Jerusalems foundations began; where they were laid in ruins

Where they were laid in ruins from every Nation & Oak Groves

Dark gleams before the Furnace-mouth a heap of burning ashes
When shall Jerusalem return & overspread all the Nations
Return: return to Lambeths Vale O building of human souls
Thence stony Druid Temples overspread the Island white      
And thence from Jerusalems ruins.. from her walls of salvation

(Erdman  99-100)

The picture shows Los holding his hammer leaning on the anvil and staring up into the furnace, which is presided over by the Spectre.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


John Middleton Murry, on page 247 of his book William Blake, calls our attention to the transition between 'states' in the world of generation and in the Eternal World.

"The States are everlasting in the world of Generation. In that world always are, and always will be, Love divided from the Imagination, Memory divided from Forgiveness, Reason divided from Vision. Roughly, they correspond to Luvah, and Tharmas, and Urizen, in the Fallen Man: The Sexual Threefold. When they are united, or re-united with Urthona, the Fourfold Human comes to be. But in the consummation they are not annihilated. They are simply changed. They become 'Servants of Humanity, not Gods or Lords'. We may remember the Spectre's words concerning 'the mild fields of happy Eternity'.

Four Zoas,  Page 84, (E 359)

"Mutual there we dwelt in one anothers joy revolving
Days of Eternity with Tharmas mild & Luvah sweet melodious
Upon our waters. This thou well rememberest listen I will tell
What thou forgettest. They in us & we in them alternate Livd 
Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood."
Murry continues: "That which thus unites them is the Imagination, wherein each may live and move and have his being, without seeking tyranny: and this condition of mutual forgiveness, of Mental instead of Sexual warfare, is the condition on the Eternal Man."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)

"Calling the Human Imagination: which is the Divine Vision & Fruition
In which Man liveth eternally: madness & blasphemy, against      
Its own Qualities, which are Servants of Humanity, not Gods or Lords[.]
Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die."


[28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

New York Public Library
Milton, Plate 14

Blake calls upon his reader to distinguish between ones true identity and the states through which he passes. In his Imagination man lives Eternally; identifying with the states through which he passes, he lives in the world of generation. The image in which Milton removes his robes presents the idea that the states, the traps which ensnare man, can be discarded. Beneath the coverings are revealed the human in his fourfold nature. The Senses, the Emotions, the Reason and the Intuition serve man and do not rule him. They live in man and he in them 'Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood.' 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Plate 74

The Four Zoa's clouded rage; Urizen stood by Albion
With Rintrah and Palamabron and Theotormon and Bromion
These Four are Verulam & London & York & Edinburgh
And the Four Zoa's are Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona

Plate 74

The Faithful four sons of Los are identified with the primary centers of learning and religion in the days of Roman occupation.
Verulamium was the third-largest city in Roman Britain, near modern-day St Albans.
Once again Blake recites the Fall with the poisonous wheels turned against each other, “they became Spectres, and the Daughters of Beulah joined in the work providing bodies for these fallen creatures. (In a paragraph Blake gives a reasoned definition and description of the Spectre )

In opposition deadly, and their Wheels in poisonous     
And deadly stupor turn'd against each other loud & fierce
Entering into the Reasoning Power, forsaking Imagination
They became Spectres; & their Human Bodies were reposed
In Beulah, by the Daughters of Beulah with tears & lamentations

The Spectre is the Reasoning Power in Man; & when separated
From Imagination, and closing itself as in steel, in a Ratio
Of the Things of Memory. It thence frames Laws & Moralities
To destroy Imagination! the Divine Body, by Martyrdoms & Wars
There follows a prayer that Blake may see the visions of the World’s lamentable history, walking up and down in “Six Thousand Years.
Teach me O Holy Spirit the Testimony of Jesus! let me
Comprehend wonderous things out of the Divine Law       
I behold Babylon in the opening Street of London, I behold
Jerusalem in ruins wandering about from house to house
This I behold the shudderings of death attend my steps
I walk up and down in Six Thousand Years: their Events are
    present before me
To tell how Los in grief & anger, whirling round his Hammer on
Drave the Sons & Daughters of Albion from their ancient mountains
They became the Twelve Gods of Asia Opposing the Divine Vision

The Sons of Albion are corrupted to the nth degree:

The Sons of Albion are Twelve: the Sons of Jerusalem Sixteen
I tell how Albions Sons by Harmonies of Concords & Discords
Opposed to Melody, and by Lights & Shades, opposed to Outline
And by Abstraction opposed to the Visions of Imagination
By cruel Laws divided Sixteen into Twelve Divisions
How Hyle roofd Los in Albions Cliffs by the Affections rent
Asunder & opposed to Thought, to draw Jerusalems Sons
Into the Vortex of his Wheels. therefore Hyle is called Gog
Age after age drawing them away towards Babylon
Babylon, the Rational Morality deluding to death the little ones
In strong temptations of stolen beauty; I tell how Reuben slept
On London Stone & the Daughters of Albion ran around admiring
His awful beauty: with Moral Virtue the fair deciever; offspring
Of Good & Evil, they divided him in love upon the Thames & sent
Him over Europe in streams of gore out of Cathedrons Looms
How Los drave them from Albion & they became Daughters of Canaan
Hence Albion was calld the Canaanite & all his Giant Sons.
Hence is my Theme. O Lord my Saviour open thou the Gates
And I will lead forth thy Words, telling how the Daughters
Cut the Fibres of Reuben, how he rolld apart & took Root
In Bashan, terror-struck Albions Sons look toward Bashan
They have divided Simeon he also rolld apart in blood
Over the Nations till he took Root beneath the shining Looms
Of Albions Daughters in Philistea by the side of Amalek
They have divided Levi: he bath shot out into Forty eight Roots
Over the Land of Canaan: they have divided Judah
He hath took Root in Hebron, in the Land of Hand & Hyle
Dan: Napthali: Gad: Asher: Issachar: Zebulun: roll apart
From all the Nations of the Earth to dissipate into Non Entity

I see a Feminine Form arise from the Four terrible Zoas
Beautiful but terrible struggling to take a form of beauty
Rooted in Shechem: this is Dinah, the youthful form of Erin
The Wound I see in South Molton S[t]reet & Stratford place
Whence Joseph & Benjamin rolld apart away from the Nations
In vain they rolld apart; they are fixd into the Land of Cabul
(Erdman 229-30)
(Don’t ask me who Dinah is; consult Paley's Jerusalem; page 255 and/or Genesis 34.)

Friday, May 18, 2012


British Museum
Pastoral Scene

S. Foster Damon, on Page 344 of The Blake Dictionary, tells us that:  "Blake's religion became really all-inclusive when he decided that 'everything that lives is holy.' This was a natural conclusion from the ancient belief that all things were created from the divine substance."

Blake became convinced that all life partakes of the immortal, infinite, eternal characteristics which are associated with the Divine. The potential within man is to realize his Divine nature. As Paul says in Romans the spirit dwelling within gives us life and sustains us through his love. 

Romans 8
[11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
[38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
[39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 8, (E 50)
"does not that mild beam blot
The bat, the owl, the glowing tyger, and the king of night.      
The sea fowl takes the wintry blast. for a cov'ring to her limbs:
And the wild snake, the pestilence to adorn him with gems & gold.
And trees. & birds. & beasts. & men. behold their eternal joy.
Arise you little glancing wings, and sing your infant joy!
Arise and drink your bliss, for every thing that lives is holy! 

America, Plate 8, (E 54)
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity,                 
May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil'd tho' ravish'd in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;      
Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,
His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like gold.

Jerusalem, Plate 69, (E 223)
"Hence the Infernal Veil grows in the disobedient Female:
Which Jesus rends & the whole Druid Law removes away
From the Inner Sanctuary: a False Holiness hid within the Center,
For the Sanctuary of Eden. is in the Camp: in the Outline,
In the Circumference: & every Minute Particular is Holy:
Embraces are Cominglings: from the Head even to the Feet;
And not a pompous High Priest entering by a Secret Place."

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 34, (E 324)
"The birds & beasts rejoice & play
And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy

Furious & terrible they sport & rend the nether deeps
The deep lifts up his rugged head
And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry         
The fading cry is ever dying
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy

Arise you little glancing wings & sing your infant joy
Arise & drink your bliss
For every thing that lives is holy for the source of life        
Descends to be a weeping babe
For the Earthworm renews the moisture of the sandy plain

Now my left hand I stretch to earth beneath
And strike the terrible string
I wake sweet joy in dens of sorrow & I plant a smile             
In forests of affliction
And wake the bubbling springs of life in regions of dark death"

All life is created as a receptacle for spirit. There is a mutually enriching relationship between the receptive body and the inflowing spirit.    

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Plate 73

Plate 73

Such are Cathedrons golden Halls: in the City of Golgonooza

The City of Golgonooza is Man’s attempt to build the Kingdom of God, but that can’t be done by people; only God can build the Eternal Kingdom.
Los’s Furnaces: In Plate 9 of Jerusalem, (E 152) we read these words:
"I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
That lays open the hidden heart:"

And Los's Furnaces howl loud; living: self-moving: lamenting
With fury & despair, & they stretch from South to North
Thro all the Four Points: Lo! the Labourers at the Furnaces
Rintrah & Palamabron, Theotormon & Bromion, loud labring
With the innumerable multitudes of Golgonooza, round the Anvils
Of Death. But how they came forth from the Furnaces & how long
Vast & severe the anguish ere they knew their Father; were
Long to tell & of the iron rollers, golden axle-trees & yokes
Of brass, iron chains & braces & the gold, silver & brass
Mingled or separate: for swords; arrows; cannons; mortars
The terrible ball: the wedge: the loud sounding hammer of
The sounding flail to thresh: the winnow: to winnow kingdoms
The water wheel & mill of many innumerable wheels resistless
Over the Four fold Monarchy from Earth to the Mundane Shell.

The laborers, Los’s four faithful sons, and the multitude take anguished pains with this (rickety City). The work of creation goes on:

Perusing Albions Tomb in the starry characters of Og & Anak:
To Create the lion & wolf the bear: the tyger & ounce:
To Create the wooly lamb & downy fowl & sealy serpent
The summer & winter: day & night: the sun & moon & stars
The tree: the plant: the flower: the rock: the stone: the metal:
Of Vegetative Nature: by their hard restricting condensations.

Where Luvahs World of Opakeness grew to a period: It
Became a Limit, a Rocky hardness without form & void
Accumulating without end: here Los. who is of the Elohim
Opens the Furnaces of affliction in the Emanation          
Fixing The Sexual into an ever-prolific Generation
Naming the Limit of Opakeness Satan & the Limit of Contraction
, who is Peleg & Joktan: & Esau & Jacob: & Saul & David

Voltaire insinuates that these Limits are the cruel work of God
Mocking the Remover of Limits & the Resurrection of the Dead
Setting up Kings in wrath: in holiness of Natural Religion
Which Los with his mighty Hammer demolishes time on time
In miracles & wonders in the Four-fold Desart of Albion
Permanently Creating to be in Time Reveald & Demolishd
Satan Cain Tubal Nimrod Pharoh Priam Bladud Belin          
Arthur Alfred the Norman Conqueror Richard John
[Edward Henry Elizabeth James Charles William George]  t
And all the Kings & Nobles of the Earth & all their Glories
These are Created by Rahab & Tirzah in Ulro: but around
These, to preserve them from Eternal Death Los Creates     
Adam Noah Abraham Moses Samuel David Ezekiel
[Pythagoras Socrates Euripedes Virgil Dante Milton]

That list of distinguished creative people is sort of like a thumbnail history of western civilization.

Dissipating the rocky forms of Death, by his thunderous Hammer
As the Pilgrim passes while the Country permanent remains
So Men pass on: but States remain permanent for ever       

The thunderous Hammer of Los appears in the middle of the Plate.

The Spectres of the Dead bowl round the porches of Los
In the terrible Family feuds of Albions cities & villages
To devour the Body of Albion, hungring & thirsting & ravning
The Sons of Los clothe them & feed, & provide houses & gardens
And every Human Vegetated Form in its inward recesses      
Is a house of ple[as]antness & a garden of delight Built by the
Sons & Daughters of Los in Bowlahoola & in Cathedron

That "house of ple[as]antness", was he thinking about a bordello. 
Blake's irony can be so cruel!

From London to York & Edinburgh the Furnaces rage terrible
Primrose Hill is the mouth of the Furnace & the Iron Door;
(Erdman 228 -29)

"When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine"

 a verse of How Firm a Foundation

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy D
It seems that Blake not only spoke through his images but learned through his images. When Blake created the image for Plate 24 of the Book of Urizen he pictured prototypes of the four classical elements: fire, air, earth and water. These elements would grow into  the Four Zoas of whom he would later have much to say. Creating the picture stimulated Blake's thought about each individual element and the relationships among them. We have seen how he singled out water who became associated with Tharmas for an individual picture of the emergence of life from the great flood of water (matter, sensation).

In his mind Blake found that there was more that he could represent by selecting from the original image. By blotting out the two elements fire and earth before he engraved the plate, Blake made a picture of only water and air: Tharmas and Urizen. So now the image can be seen as the emergence of consciousness. From Thamas,  the development of the senses, evolved reason: the ability to process and relate sensory data. The rising sun tells of the arrival of reason which will lift man from the unconscious to the conscious state.    

A visit to the beach is an opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the functioning of the four elements in microcosm. The sand is earth, the waves are water, the heat and light of the sun are fire, and the wind is air. The constant interplay of the elements in their naked forms fascinates the alert viewer. The sand is moved by the water and wind, heat dries the sand and alters its properties, the waves are tossed or soothed by the wind, the light creates ever changing shadows and reflections on the sand and water. What is external is internal; what is internal is external.

Letter to Trusler,(E 702)
"Some See
Nature all Ridicule & Deformity & by these I shall not regulate
my proportions, & Some Scarce see Nature at all But to the Eyes
of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself.  As a man
is So he Sees.  As the Eye is formed such are its Powers You
certainly Mistake when you say that the Visions of Fancy are not
be found in This World.  To Me This World is all One continued
Vision of Fancy or Imagination & I feel Flatterd when I am told
So.  What is it sets Homer Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of
Art.  Why is the Bible more
Entertaining & Instructive than any other book.  Is it not
because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual
Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason Such is
True Painting and such  alone valued by the Greeks & the
best modern Artists.  Consider what Lord Bacon says "Sense sends
over to Imagination before Reason have judged & Reason sends over
to Imagination before the Decree can be acted." 

Gates of Paradise, (E 261)
Thou Waterest him with Tears   
He struggles into Life
On Cloudy Doubts & Reasoning Cares
That end in endless Strife
At length for hatching ripe he breaks the shell

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Plate 72

And the Thirty-two Counties of the Four Provinces of Ireland
Are thus divided: The Four Counties are in the Four Camps
Munster South in Reubens Gate, Connaut West in Josephs Gate
Ulster North in Dans Gate, Leinster East in Judahs Gate

Plate 72
It would help immensely in understanding this paragraph to study the
link on the four provinces of Ireland.  It would also help to be familiar
with the 12 tribes of Israel of which Blake picked out Reuben, Dan,
Joseph and Judah, for reasons best discenible by Bible scholars.  Blake
Plate 72 of course was familiar with both subjects.

For Albion in Eternity has Sixteen Gates among his Pillars    
But the Four towards the West were Walled up & the Twelve
That front the Four other Points were turned Four Square
By Los for Jerusalems sake & called the Gates of Jerusalem
Because Twelve Sons of Jerusalem fled successive thro the Gates
But the Four Sons of Jerusalem who fled not but remaind     
Are Rintrah & Palamabron & Theotormon & Bromion

"The Four that remain with Los to guard the Western Wall"
I haven't been able to find out exactly who the twelve Sons of Jerusalem
were; in addition to this reference the Concordance shows 'Sons of
Jerusalem successively in Plates 55, 58, 71, 72, and 74;
Rintrah, Theotormon, Bromion, and Palambron can be found in the  
beginning of Milton: the Bard's Song (especially Plate 6).
Jerusalem has four walls; the Western one signifiying the body,
materiality, Tharmas.  It's this Western Wall that cannot get into
Jerusalem. One cannot get into Jerusalem through the Western Wall.

"The Four that remain with Los to guard the Western Wall"
And these Four remain to guard the Four Walls of Jerusalem
Whose foundations remain in the Thirty-two Counties of Ireland
And in Twelve Counties of Wales, & in the Forty Counties      
Of England & in the Thirty-six Counties of Scotland
And the names of the Thirty-two Counties of Ireland are these
Under Judah & Issachar & Zebulun are Lowth Longford
Eastmeath Westmeath Dublin Kildare Kings County
Queens County Wicklow Catherloh Wexford Kilkenny                 
And those under Reuben & Simeon & Levi are these
Waterford Tipperary Cork Limerick Kerry Clare
And those under Ephraim Manasseh & Benjamin are these
Galway Roscommon Mayo Sligo Leitrim
And those under Dan Asher & Napthali are these         
Donnegal Antrim Tyrone Fermanagh Armagh Londonderry
Down Managhan Cavan. These are the Land of Erin
(Erdman 226-7)
All these Center in London & in Golgonooza. from whence
They are Created continually East & West & North & South
And from them are Created all the Nations of the Earth           
Europe & Asia & Africa & America, in fury Fourfold!
[Continually Building. Continually Decaying because of
Love & JealousyWomen the comforters of Men become the
Tormentors & Punishers]

This pungent sentence is perhaps the key to the above
confusing images in Blake's mind.  It's certainly a key to
'female love' which was the central facet of his use of
sexes in his thought and his myth.

And Thirty-two the Nations: to dwell in Jerusalems Gates
O Come ye Nations Come ye People Come up to Jerusalem
Return Jerusalem & dwell together as of old! Return
Return! O Albion let Jerusalem overspread all Nations            
As in the times of old! O Albion awake! Reuben wanders
The Nations wait for Jerusalem. they look up for the Bride
France Spain Italy Germany Poland Russia Sweden Turkey
Arabia Palestine Persia Hindostan China Tartary Siberia
Egypt Lybia Ethiopia Guinea Caffraria Negroland Morocco          
Congo Zaara Canada Greenland Carolina Mexico
Peru Patagonia Amazonia Brazil. Thirty-two Nations
And under these Thirty-two Classes of Islands in the Ocean
All the Nations Peoples & Tongues throughout all the Earth
And the Four Gates of Los surround the Universe Within and       
Without; & whatever is visible in the Vegetable Earth, the same
Is visible in the Mundane Shell; reversd in mountain & vale
And a Son of Eden was set over each Daughter of Beulah to guard
In Albions Tomb the wondrous Creation: & the Four-fold Gate
Towards Beulah is to the South[.] Fenelon, Guion, Teresa,    
Whitefield & Hervey, guard that Gate; with all the gentle Souls
Who guide the great Wine-press of Love; Four precious stones that
[Women the comforters of Men become the
Tormentors & Punishers]  (Erdman 226-8)
So looking at this Plate in general might we suppose he's intimating 
that 'female love' has driven him to this horrendous distraction.