Saturday, May 05, 2012


Jerusalem Plate 32
The human body is the veil of the spirit. Blake used the veil of Vala as an indication of her fallenness.  In contrast Jerusalem is usually pictured as naked.

A naked figure is pure; the veil is a kind of deceit.

When Blake began working on his (first) magnum opus he called it Vala, but as he wrote he gradually found a more hopeful subject, namely The Four Zoas.

We may envision  (I) biblical and (II) blakean veils

Nakedness meant nothing to Adam and Eve in the Garden, but when they chose to disobey God’s prohibition re the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they immediately covered themselves in fig leaves and hid from God:
Gen 3:6-20
[6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
[7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

[8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
[9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
[10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
[11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
[12] And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
[13] And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
[14] And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
[15] And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
[16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
[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.

Exodus 34:
[33] And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
[34] But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
[35] And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

                                                  Matthew 27:
[50] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
[51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
[52] And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
[53] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city,


When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away
And so become invisible to those who still remain
Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave 
PAGE 114 [110]
The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery soon to return
In Clouds & Fires around the rock & the Mysterious tree
(Erdman 385)(The Four Zoas: Night 8)
(Here of course is an obvious reference to the substance of Matthew 27:50ff.)

As the seed waits Eagerly watching for its flower & fruit
PLATE 20 Jerusalem addresses Vala:
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:
Then Vala answerd spreading her scarlet Veil over Albion

Albion thy fear has made me tremble; thy terrors have surrounded

(Above three quotes from Jeruslam plates 20 and 22)
Here is a compendium of Ellie’s Vala posts.

 The Picture reveals a naked Jerusalem in the center and a veiled Vala on the left.
  Blake used two pet symbols in the bottom: on the left is a (crude) reproduction of St. Paul, which to Blake meant the corruptions of the established church.  The lower right has a representation of Westminster which meant for Blake pure Christianity.

In the biblical story of the Fall "
they immediately covered themselves in fig leaves and hid from God."  Fig leaves was the first garment, the primitive body.

"she gave me of the tree, and I did eat", like we so often do in the throes of guilt we try to put the blame on the wife or someone else.  

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." This is the penalty we received: from playing in the Garden we were reduced to Work. (This must be one of Blake's contraries: we play in Heaven and work on Earth.)

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