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.

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