Thursday, November 29, 2012


The appreciation which Milton Klonsky had for William Blake was for his visionary skills. Klonsky sees that Blake acts as the conduit for the transmission of his visionary experience to his audience through his poetry and graphic images. Blake does not distance himself from the work he produces. He both inserts himself into his poetry and pictures and invites his readers and viewers to participate in the whole artistic, imaginative, visionary process. For Blake it must be so for: "The whole Business of Man Is The Arts & All Things Common." Laocoon, (E 273)
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 560)
"If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy   General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too.  Both in Art & in Life General Masses
are as Much Art as a Pasteboard Man is Human Every Man has Eyes
Nose & Mouth this Every Idiot knows but he who enters into &
discriminates most minutely the Manners & Intentions  the
Characters in all their branches is the
alone Wise or Sensible Man & on this discrimination All Art is
founded.  I intreat then that the Spectator will attend to the
Hands & Feet to the Lineaments of the Countenances they are all
descriptive of Character & not a line is drawn without intention
& that most discriminate & particular  much less an
Insignificant Blur or Mark>" 
Quoting from Minlton Klonsky's William Blake, The Seer and His Visions on page 27:
"Any work of the imagination, such as a poem or a picture, must necessarily be composed of mind-stuff, but Blake saw the larger creation as well, this very world as no different in kind. The acts that made up the world of the prophets, in the Bible and in the world, spoke through them as thoughts, miming the voice of God.

Side by side with his pantheon of 'Giant Forms' in the prophetic books, Blake also introduced a set of historical personae, such as Milton and Newton and Bacon and Locke, and, even under their proper names, a sub-cast of minor characters whose sole importance was that they once played a part in his own life. All of them act and react with one another, unite with or annihilate one another, shift identities and become one another like the phantoms of a dream, yet a dream within a larger dream, his own expanded into the 6,000-year-old dream of Albion. Mundane events in his own life become symbolic of cosmic events in eternity. Blake himself may appear among his own creations, as in Vala, when he and Catherine, apothesized as Los and Enitharmon, are glimpsed in a domestic scene at work together:

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 98 [90],(E 369)
'And first he drew a line upon the walls of shining heaven    
And Enitharmon tincturd it with beams of blushing love'
Or in Milton, when he becomes Palamabron (one of the many sons of the fourfold Los) and resumes his quarrel with a quondam benefactor, William Hayley, there cast as Satan, whom Blake regarded as 'corporeal friend' but 'spiritual enemy':
Milton, Plate 7,(E 100)
"Then Palamabron reddening like the Moon in an eclipse,        
Spoke saying, You know Satans mildness and his self-imposition,
Seeming a brother, being a tyrant, even thinking himself a brother
While he is murdering the just;"
By his envisioning himself in this way, as the blake-smith and poet Los, we can thus see Blake as he saw himself thro' his own eyes."

Library Of Congress

Plate 76 

Continuing on page 28 Klonsky states:
"...Blake as an engraver also combined 'upper and lowers,' relief and intaglio, on copper plates that were etched and then printed in black and white. But which, relief or intaglio, was black, which white? He could, and did engrave them either way, sometimes using black line in relief, etching away the whites, as in the designs for Songs of Innocence, and sometimes using white line on black in the quicksilvery illustrations for Jerusalem. But the choice, in either case, was as much mystical as aesthetic. For Blake not only believed but also lived and enacted his ideas, reaffirming them within and without in each line he engraved."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


June Singer offers us the insights of a Jungian psychoanalyst in her book The Unholy Bible, Blake, Jung and the Collective Unconscious. She recognises Blake's willingness to delve into the darker, more rejected aspects of the relationship of God and man. She explores the dissension man experiences internally as his psychological components struggle to gain dominance within the divided fallen individual. Singer believes that Blake demonstrated methods of bringing unconscious material into consciousness in order to integrate warring aspects into a cohesive whole.

Page 5

"But Blake's entire work might have been forgotten in the years after his death were it not for one poem in Songs of Experience in which the striking image achieved immediate popularity. Almost every English schoolchild knows it by heart, yet its implications stir the most sophisticated to ponder the mystery of the ultimate creative power."

The Tyger

Page 6
"The lasting and overwhelming response to this poem acknowledges the recognition of a central concept in Blake's work. This is the need to become aware of the other side of God, the side not accepted either by social agreement or by orthodox religious practice. Blake says that while he who made the Lamb is worshipped and praised  in all the churches, he who fashioned the Tyger to pierce the darkness of the tangled forest with his perceptive eye, is also God. God of the Lamb is worshipped at prescribed interval, but God of the Tyger is held in fear by day and night, for none may escape him when be pursues. Blake
wrote as though he felt that enough had been said about the symbol of gentleness which is traditionally associated with Jesus. He was more concerned with the fierce and the frightful which threatens innocence and light. And it follows that such a man would address himself boldly also to the darker area of man's life, which is hidden in shadow and must be invaded and explored if man is to approach any degree of self-awareness."   

Yale Center for British Art 
Book of Urizen
Plate 5, copy C
Page 9
 "Always there have been those who could experience these forces as tremendous powers which might threaten to overwhelm them at certain times and at other times infuse them with a creative urge which would drive them to produce original ideas, works of art or new scientific concepts. Blake was fascinated by this extra dimension of psychic life and he felt impelled to write how it manifested in him. Without the detachment of the modern psychologist, he wrote of his own experience more as a participant than as an observer and yet the raw material of the inner drama is all there...Our position enables us to take a step away from Blake and to consider his writing as descriptive of the psychological processes that were going on in him. This is not to imply that those processes are basically different in kind from those which are going on in every man. It is only that, acting on his naive conviction that what he wrote was dictated by an unseen voice and that his paintings were no more the reproductions of what the inner eye had already perceived, Blake threw a brilliant light into a realm that for most men is sheathed in the darkness of disbelief."         

Monday, November 26, 2012

Glad Day

Blake made a drawing of this picture in 1780 and engraved it in 1800. What 
meaning it might have had to Blake requires some understanding of it in 
terms of these two dates. 

In 1780 Blake was 23. The American Revolution was near its conclusion. 

 The Gordon Riots occurred in England; Blake was said to have been 
swept up into the foreground of the assault on Newgate Prison.   He also 
made a drawing which came to be called Glad Day.

Twenty years later, when Blake was 43, he  engraved the drawing that he had
made in 1780:The picture resembles the 
"Vitruvian Man".

Note his spikey 

Immediately behind 
appears to be 
the radiant Sun.

The stance 
suggests triumph and

Blake's mind had 
tremendously in the interim. At 43 
he had seen a lot and learned a lot.

This post is highly dependent upon page 7ff of David Erdmans' Blake Prophet 
Against Empire. (He printed the picture on the facing page of p.182.)

Another source for the post is the big William Blake edited by Robin 

Here it's called Albion Rose:
"When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old"
(The Four Zoas; Erdman 389)

In Blake's myth Albion fell and broke into the four zoas. He lay on 
a Rock while the 4Z's traversed the Circle of Destiny; at the End Point
Albion Rose. Plates 96 and 97 of Jerusalem describe at length Albion's awakening.

Woe and Joy is an earlier post  with an indication that Blake associated this 
image with his emergence back into the light after a long period of obscured 
vision. At the bottom is an inscription:

"Albion rose from where he labourd at the Mill with Slaves  Giving himself 

for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death".

The contrast in  this inscription is between laboring as a slave and giving 

oneself freely to the Nations in this paradoxical life/death of experience.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Michael Bedard in his biography of Blake for young people, sees the cycle of Blake's life following a path begun in the security of a happy childhood, and sustained by his confidence in divine guidance. Blake himself in The School Boy, one of the Songs of Experience, argues that the pleasures of a unrestricted childhood provide the foundation for weathering the storms of later life. The ability to hold on to the truth which is the heritage of the stage Blake called innocence provided the fortitude for him to continue his work through the darkest times.  
From page 144 of William Blake The Gates of Paradise by Michael Bedard:

"As in art, so in life. Blake's heart went out to the poor and the oppressed, those for whom life was an endless struggle. His own life had its share of bitter disappointment and heartbreak. He came to believe that struggle was the very essence of life, and his work is full of it. What separates Blake's story from many others is that he was sustained throughout his struggle by vision, a vision of unity and harmony and joy that he had tasted in his own life and saw in the the lives of children and the is lowly of the earth. If his life may be said to describe a pattern, it is the very pattern he saw operating in and through all things: a state of initial bliss, followed by a fall into darkness and strife, and then finally, a restoration to unity and peace.

It is the refrain of all his poetry and the sustaining vision of his life. In Songs of Innocence, he celebrated the vision of joy. In Songs of Experience and many of the books that followed, he sang of division, constraint, and darkness. Yet even in times of trouble, he kept the divine vision. He had known bliss, known darkness and strife. In the final years of his life, he would experience a return to the world of light, to the joys of friendship and creative fellowship, and the visionary company of children."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 53, (E 31)
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Plate 53
The School Boy 

"I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company. 

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.

Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour.
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learnings bower,
Worn thro' with the dreary shower. 
How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing.
How can a child when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring.

O! father & mother, if buds are nip'd,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip'd
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and cares dismay, 

How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear,
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear." 

Friday, November 23, 2012


Kathleen Raine's studies of William Blake and his sources in the literature of the perennial philosophy were key to unlocking many of the symbols which abound in Blake's work. But her commitment to the thought of Blake did not end with presenting links in Blake to the traditional literature which was excluded by orthodox interpreters, she became with Blake a builder of Golgonnoza. She realised that his message of psychological/spiritual development should not be buried or hidden but was meant to be put to use in transforming individual psyches and the outer world which reflects inner realities.    

On page 4 of Golgonooza City of Imagination Raine calls Blake 'a patriot of the inner worlds' who wages the Mental Fight unceasing:

"Uncomprehended though he was, Blake was not, like Yeats, an esotericist. He addressed his prophetic message 'to the Public' and whether he would be understood he did not stop to question - his vision was, to him, clear beyond all doubt. He was a patriot of the inner worlds, of the England of the Imagination whose 'golden builders' he saw at work in the creation of Golgonooza the city within the brain (golgos, skull), 'the spiritual fourfold London Eternal'. He saw his nation 'sunk in deadly sleep', victim of 'deadly dreams' of a materialism whose effects in all aspects of national life were destructive and sorrowful, wars, exploitation of human labour, sexual hypocrisy, a 'cruel' morality of condemnation and punitive laws, the denial and oppression of the soul's winged life."

Yale Center for British Art
Blake's Water-Colours for the  
The Poems of Thomas Gray
Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
    "And did those feet in ancient time,
     Walk upon Englands mountains green:
     And was the holy Lamb of God,
     On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

     And did the Countenance Divine,             
     Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
     And was Jerusalem builded here,
     Among these dark Satanic Mills?

     Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
     Bring me my Arrows of desire:                     
     Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
     Bring me my Chariot of fire!

     I will not cease from Mental Fight,
     Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
     Till we have built Jerusalem,                     
     In Englands green & pleasant Land."
Milton, Plate 12,(E 155) 
"And they builded Golgonooza: terrible eternal labour!

What are those golden builders doing? where was the burying-place
Of soft Ethinthus? near Tyburns fatal Tree? is that
Mild Zions hills most ancient promontory; near mournful
Ever weeping Paddington? is that Calvary and Golgotha?
Becoming a building of pity and compassion? Lo!
The stones are pity, and the bricks, well wrought affections:    
Enameld with love & kindness, & the tiles engraven gold
Labour of merciful hands: the beams & rafters are forgiveness:
The mortar & cement of the work, tears of honesty: the nails,
And the screws & iron braces, are well wrought blandishments,
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,         
Always comforting the remembrance: the floors, humility,
The cielings, devotion: the hearths, thanksgiving:
Prepare the furniture O Lambeth in thy pitying looms!
The curtains, woven tears & sighs, wrought into lovely forms
For comfort. there the secret furniture of Jerusalems chamber    
Is wrought: Lambeth! the Bride the Lambs Wife loveth thee:
Thou art one with her & knowest not of self in thy supreme joy.

Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels."

 Raine's understanding of Blake's efforts to foster the spiritual attributes underlying the city in which imagination dwells is expanded on page 107:
"The sole object of all the labours of Golgonnza, 'ever building ever falling', is to provide an earthly habitation for Jerusalem. It is ever in secrecy and obscurity, in human love, in every sense of that word, that foundations of the city are laid...Blake perfectly and eloquently expresses all he felt about what a human city is, in its inner essence, as a building of human souls each individually, and all collectively labouring to embody a vision whose realization will be only when all is done 'on earth as it is in heaven', according to the archetype of the human Imagination. Blake never presented the building of Jerusalem as the work of a few men or outstanding genius or 'originality', but rather of all the city's inhabitants, the 'golden builders.'"

First Corinthians 3

[9] For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
[10] According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
[11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Video of Kathleen Raine on the imagination.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


British Museum
Small Book of Designs
To George Wingfield Digby, Blake's message is incorporated in the symbolic style of creation which permeates his art and poetry. Without the language of symbols Blake's message could not be communicated because it originates in the depths of man's psyche. Blake intends for his reader to respond in his own imagination to the message generated by Blake's imagination.

Quote from Page 6 of Digby's
Symbol and Image in William Blake:

"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. Here, the meaning lies implicit in the symbol-image, as it does in any true work of art. Moreover, the pictorial image and the poetic image conveyed by the written word are complementary to one another; in different media they make evocative statements indicative of common meaning.

Now the image or symbol is not an inferior means of expression, nor is it largely subjective or arbitrary, as is far too generally regarded by art critics, art historians, and literary critics. On the contrary, the power of apprehending archetypal symbols and images springs from one of man's most precious faculties, his intuitive faculty. It is on this faculty, above all, that he must rely for perceiving the truth about actual living experience; man can never know the truth about himself, nor find in his relationships with the world that truth or reality which transcends them, unless he develops his power of intuition. The intuitive imagination, which works through symbols, is the very essence of art.

But because the image or symbol speaks not only to man's conscious, thinking side, but also to his unconscious, it is a difficult language. Many people shrink from it with misgiving and fear. Others are so attracted and overwhelmed by it that relationships with other forms of cognition are abandoned, and so a vital balance and sense of discrimination is lost. This language of archetypal symbols and images enlists and stirs both sides of man's nature; and because it speaks to the whole man with the many different voices of his complex being, it has to be experienced to be understood.

The implication of this is that we must first and foremost try to see and feel the living principles about which Blake is speaking in his art. This means that the image or symbol must be taken inside oneself and understood intuitively, for it is only in that way it comes to life. The aim of Blake's art is to open the inner world to all those who care to look. He has extraordinary things to show, because he himself saw so far, and so clearly; also because he could bear to look equally on the ugly, the pretty, the deformed and on the free and beautiful." 


Gates of Paradise, Frontispiece, (E 260)
"The Suns Light when he unfolds it
Depends on the Organ that beholds it"

Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)
"Jerusalem is scatterd abroad like a cloud of smoke thro' non-entity:
Moab & Ammon & Amalek & Canaan & Egypt & Aram
Recieve her little-ones for sacrifices and the delights of cruelty   

Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me.
Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination        
O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love:
Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life!
Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages,
While I write of the building of Golgonooza, & of the terrors of Entuthon:
Of Hand & Hyle & Coban, of Kwantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton:
Of the terrible sons & daughters of Albion. and their Generations."  
Thomas Cahill in Sailing the Wine Dark Sea demonstrates his method of using his intuition to gain access to the living past he wants to communicate:
"I tell you these things now because my methods of approaching the past have scarcely changed since childhood and adolescence. I assemble what pieces there are, contrast and compare, and try to remain in their presence till I can begin to see and hear what living men saw and heard and loved, till from these scraps and fragments living men and women begin to emerge and live and move again - and then I try to communicate these sensations to my reader...For me the historian's principle task should be to raise the dead to life."  

The technique of remaining in the presence of Blake's characters and ideas (or taking them into ourselves as Digby says) may yield a wealth of rewards.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Library of Congress
Plate 45
John Middleton Murry emphasises the experience of annihilating the Selfhood through Forgiveness as essential to Blake's message. In his biography William Blake, Murry proposes that Blake's own struggles to forgive taught him the process of annihilating the Selfhood. 

Page 238
"Not therefore to annihilate Satan, but to forgive is the way. And Forgiveness is Self-annihilation. The Selfhood cannot exist in the condition of Forgiveness. Unless we understand that, we can understand nothing of Blake's message - nothing at all. It is the final and self-evident law of the spiritual life, and therefore, since the spiritual life is but a quintessence, the law of Life itself. Self-annihilation and Forgiveness are one. When Milton forgives Satan (who is Milton himself in his Selfhood) he can do it only by annihilating the yet more intimate and secret self that rises in him at the knowledge that Satan is himself. At the motion of Forgiveness, there rises in the Soul the sense that 'I forgive'. The Selfhood has found a new Tabernacle, 'a covering for him to do his will. This is the corruption of Forgiveness. 'I forgive is a lie. 'We are forgiven' is the truth. For Forgiveness is imaginative Love. It enters in and takes possession. It annihilates the Self. The Self cannot annihilate the Self. It is annihilated.  

Page 320
"At every crucial moment Blake faced the grim effort of relegating all that he was into the realm of the Selfhood, of thrusting all that was intimate and precious - soul of his soul - into the furnaces of Self-annihilation, in obedience to the command that 'all that can be annihilated must be annihilated'. And what he found unannihilable was the condition of Forgiveness, the experience of Eternity. No matter what he endured, in inward struggle or in disappointment at the hands of men, the Divine Humanity was renewed in him, and he in it. To him the Imagination was existence itself. This alone was real and unconsumable, the experience which gave to all other experiences their reality, and brought to him again and again confirmation of his simple unshakable knowledge that Time was the mercy of Eternity."

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

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 121)
"Los is by mortals nam'd Time Enitharmon is nam'd Space
But they depict him bald & aged who is in eternal youth
All powerful and his locks flourish like the brows of morning    
He is the Spirit of Prophecy the ever apparent Elias
Time is the mercy of Eternity; without Times swiftness
Which is the swiftest of all things: all were eternal torment:
All the Gods of the Kingdoms of Earth labour in Los's Halls.
Every one is a fallen Son of the Spirit of Prophecy             
He is the Fourth Zoa, that stood arou[n]d the Throne Divine." 
Songs and Ballads, (E 476)
"Till I turn from Female Love  
And root up the Infernal Grove 
I shall never worthy be   
To Step into Eternity
And to end thy cruel mocks
Annihilate thee on the rocks
And another form create
To be subservient to my Fate

Let us agree to give up Love
And root up the infernal grove                                 
Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity

& Throughout all Eternity 
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said                                   
This the Wine & this the Bread"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sexuality Summary

     Summary after Church 1-7

After all this detail We can begin our summary of Blake's theory of sex with Jesus' reply to the Sadducee's mocking question about the woman married to seven husbands: "for when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven. (Mark 12:23 and 25)"

        Blake begins here, with the assumption that sexual division relates to this world, but not to Eternity. Sex appears in Beulah, a 'moony rest' from the arduous creative activity of Eden. The "Female Will" condemns Man to the loss of Eternity, which Blake calls "the Sleep of Ulro".

Sex, at its worst, signifies fallenness, and the jealous and proudly chaste female symbolizes the active principle of evil, also identified with a materialistic viewpoint whose values are coercion and love of power.

       Blake's vision of Jesus humanized his theory of sex. He began to use the biblical image of Jerusalem as the bride of Christ; he  named his last and greatest epic 'Jerusalem'; he was ultimately able to rationalize the heterodox doctrine of sex with the glorified female as the emanation of the Eternal Man. Blake's female thus joined all the rest of his personal images; traveling the Circle of Destiny, materializing in the Fall and etherealizing in the Return.

       Through all his journey Blake had a characteristically liberal and enlightened view of womankind, an entirely different matter from the sexual symbolism that filled his pages. His true and abiding feelings about the relation between men and women appear early in his works in his "Annotations to Lavater": 

 "Let the men do their duty and the women will be such wonders; the female life lives from the light of the male: see a man's female dependants, you know the man." Admittedly short of the high standards of present day feminism, Blake's vision of womanhood considerably surpassed that of most of his contemporaries-- and perhaps most of ours.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Milton Percival sees the high value Blake places on the imagination as crucial to his message. Through using the imagination as the essential ingredient of his writing, artistic productions and living,  Blake wove inner and outer, mental and physical, spirit and body into a single production of Eternity. 

On page 286 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny we read:

"When will this mortal world put on immortality? Only when the selfhood puts on imagination.

Meanwhile, the world being what it is, Blake adopted a way of life which many seekers of the good life in a bad world have adopted - the life of art. In this field of activity there is less selfish interference with another, more indulgence of the creative impulse and of the individuality than in any other. And in this way of life what Blake called 'mortal contingencies' can be disregarded, as Mrs Blake well knew. In the Laocoon inscriptions art is put forward as the one and only good way of life; all other ways and all hindrances to that way are disparaged. But the term 'art' is used in its esoteric sense, for Blake declares that Christ and his disciples were all artists. The logical justification of this assertion, if there is one, is that they directed their energies to imaginative ends. But it will not do to overemphasize a group of aphorisms inscribed upon a single plate. Blake is not an esthete. Los, the hero of the prophetic books, who is the real Blake, is not an artist except in the esoteric Blakean sense. He is the very center of the fray, hammering upon his anvil with the energy of Thor himself, breaking down the sterile forms which represent every phase of human activity, breaking them down in the hope of bringing the separated principles together in a fruitful union. He is Blake's dramatization of the good life, lived from within, lived energetically, devoted in all its variety to imaginative ends." 

Milton, Plate 25 [27], (E 121)
"Loud shout the Sons of Luvah, at the Wine-presses as Los descended
With Rintrah & Palamabron in his fires of resistless fury.

The Wine-press on the Rhine groans loud, but all its central beams
Act more terrific in the central Cities of the Nations
Where Human Thought is crushd beneath the iron hand of Power.    
There Los puts all into the Press, the Opressor & the Opressed
Together, ripe for the Harvest & Vintage & ready for the Loom.

They sang at the Vintage. This is the Last Vintage! & Seed
Shall no more be sown upon Earth, till all the Vintage is over
And all gatherd in, till the Plow has passd over the Nations     
And the Harrow & heavy thundering Roller upon the mountains

And loud the Souls howl round the Porches of Golgonooza
Crying O God deliver us to the Heavens or to the Earths,
That we may preach righteousness & punish the sinner with death
But Los refused, till all the Vintage of Earth was gatherd in.  

And Los stood & cried to the Labourers of the Vintage in voice of awe.

Fellow Labourers! The Great Vintage & Harvest is now upon Earth
The whole extent of the Globe is explored: Every scatterd Atom
Of Human Intellect now is flocking to the sound of the Trumpet
All the Wisdom which was hidden in caves & dens, from ancient    
Time; is now sought out from Animal & Vegetable & Mineral

The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe! the Vision of God is fulfilled
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,"
British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
When Blake says 'The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe! the Vision of God is fulfilled' he indicates an accomplishment not in the past or in the future but in the ever present now; the moment when the 'poets work is done'. Becoming a labourer in the Vintage means exercising ones imagination to link oneself with the eternal, invisible world which intersects with our world of time and space between two beats of the artery.

Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 127) 
"For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all 
the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a 
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery."
Percival views Blake's message optimistically:
"It is Blake's faith as a mystic that Los must eventually triumph. It is not man's destiny to remain forever as he is. Out of endless folly, wisdom must at last be born. Out of the long succession of generative froms, regeneration must a last emerge."  Page 289

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Wikimedia Commons
Ezekiel's Vision
Bloom puts Blake's prophetic message in the context of the Old Testament prophets, whose imagery is repeated in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Bloom sees Blake recreating for his own time and in his own terms the message delivered by Isaiah, Ezekiel and the prophetic voice passed down through John of Patmos and Milton.

The prophet presents the eternal choice between turning toward God or continuing to follow the enemies of God. Blake utilises a multitude of images in an attempt to communicate with men in whatever state they were to be found. Blake was following the lead of Paul in First Corinthians:

First Corinthians 9
[19] For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
[20] And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
[21] To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
[22] To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
[23] And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Harold Bloom, speaking of
Jerusalem, states in Blake's Apocalypse on Page 366:

"From this opposition there emerges, in the fourth and last chapter, a clarifying confrontation of error and truth, which causes a Last Judgment to begin.

As a general principle of organization, a series of gradually sharpening antitheses leading to a necessity for moral choice, this resembles the pattern of the major prophetic books of the Bible...The books of Ezekiel and the other prophets are essentially collections of public oratory, poems of admonition delivered to a wavering people. The poems are interspersed in chronicles that deliberately mix history and vision, the way events were and the way the prophet fears they will turn out to be if they continue as they are going, or hopes they will emerge if the people will realize that they are at the turning and can control events by a change of spirit.

Like Isaiah and Ezekiel, Blake believed that he had the decisive power of the eternal moment of human choice as a direct gift and trust from the Divine, and he seems to have imitated the organization of their books even as he believed his election as a prophet was in direct succession of their own. Isaiah and Ezekiel, like Amos before them renewed the vision of Elijah. Blake himself had see himself as renewing the vision of the English Elijah or Rintrah, Milton. With Milton firmly within him, Blake turns in
Jerusalem to the re-creation in English terms of the work of Hebraic prophecy...The principles which form and guide Blake, which he develops with enormous skill, are the literary principles implicit in Ezekiel and the other prophetic books of the Bible. Jerusalem will seem much less of a poetic sport if read in their company."

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 12,  (E 39)
 "Then Ezekiel said. The philosophy of the east taught the first 
principles of human perception     some nations held one
principle for  the origin & some another, we of Israel taught
that the Poetic Genius (as  you now call it) was the first
principle and all the others merely  derivative, which was the
cause of our despising the Priests & Philosophers  of other
countries, and prophecying that all Gods would at last be
proved. to originate in ours & to be the tributaries of the
Poetic  Genius, it was this. that our great poet King David
desired so fervently  & invokes so patheticly, saying by this he
conquers enemies & governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God.
that we cursed in his name all  the deities of surrounding
nations, and asserted that they had rebelled; from these opinions
the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be
subject to the jews.
   This said he, like all firm perswasions, is come to pass, for all 
nations believe the jews code and worship the jews god, and what
greater subjection can be"

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North,               
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever.
These are the four Faces towards the Four Worlds of Humanity
In every Man. Ezekiel saw them by Chebars flood.
And the Eyes are the South, and the Nostrils are the East.
And the Tongue is the West, and the Ear is the North."    

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 558)
"Hell is opend beneath her Seat on the Left hand. beneath her
feet is a flaming Cavern in which is seen the Great Red Dragon
with Seven heads & ten Horns [who] he has Satans book
of Accusations lying on the rock open before him  he is bound
in chains by Two strong demons they are Gog & Magog who have
been compelld to subdue their Master Ezekiel XXXVIIIc 8v with
their Hammer & Tongs about to new Create the Seven Headed

Ezekiel 38
[8] After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.   

Ezekiel 38

[2] Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
[3] And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
[14] Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
[16] And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
[18] And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.

 Revelation 20
[8] And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 

  "Ezekiel's Gog from Magog was a symbol of the evil darkness of the north and the powers hostile to God, but in Revelation, Gog and Magog have no geographic location, and instead represent the nations of the world, banded together for the final assault on Christ and those who follow him."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Oothoon appears often in Blake's poetry in VDA, Europe, Song of Los, 
Milton, and Jerusalem.  Here are some of its occurrences:

Visions of the Daughters of Albion:
The story of Oothoon, engaged to Theotormon
raped by Bromion and lamenting her engaged husband's refusal to follow through.
It was bigger, perhaps in Blake's day than in ours, where
virginity does not have the coinage that it had then.
However Blake also used the name, Oothoon, in Europe, Song of Los, Milton and
In Europe:
I hear the soft Oothoon in Enitharmons tents:
Why wilt thou give up womans secrecy my melancholy child?
Between two moments bliss is ripe:
O Theotormon robb'd of joy, I see thy salt tears flow
Down the steps of my crystal house.                  
(Plate 14; Erdman 65)

Here Blake pretty much repeats the ideas and thoughts of VDA.
In The Song of Los:
Plate 3
Palambron gave an abstract Law:
To Pythagoras Socrates & Plato.
Times rolled on o'er all the sons of Har, time after time
Orc on Mount Atlas howld, chain'd down with the Chain of Jealousy
Then Oothoon hoverd over Judah & Jerusalem
And Jesus heard her voice (a man of sorrows) he recievd
A Gospel from wretched Theotormon.

Palambron is associated here with laws, of which Blake extremely disapproved.
In the Song of Los Jesus is presented as one of the conventional concepts of Jesus, 
far from the vision of Jesus that Blake came to have.


In Milton:

Plate 13 (Erdman 107)
But Elynittria met Leutha in the place where she was hidden.
And threw aside her arrows, and laid down her sounding Bow;
She sooth'd her with soft words & brought her to Palamabrons bed
In moments new created for delusion, interwoven round about,
In dreams she bore the shadowy Spectre of Sleep, & namd him
In dreams she bore Rahab the mother of Tirzah & her sisters
In Lambeths vales; in Cambridge & in Oxford, places of Thought
Intricate labyrinths of Times and Spaces unknown, that Leutha
In Palamabrons Tent, and
Oothoon was her charming guard.

Once again, as in Song of Los, Oothoon and Palamabron are shown
together.  We also see Leutha with Oothoon at the very beginning
of VDA:

"For the soft soul of America, Oothoon wanderd in woe,
Along the vales of Leutha seeking flowers to comfort her;
And thus she spoke to the bright Marygold of Leutha's vale
  Art thou a flower! art thou a nymph! I see thee now a flower;
  Now a nymph! I dare not pluck thee from thy dewy bed!

  The Golden nymph replied; pluck thou my flower Oothoon the
  Another flower shall spring, because the soul of sweet delight
  Can never pass away. she ceas'd & closd her golden shrine.

Oothoon pluck'd the flower saying, I pluck thee from thy bed
Sweet flower."
(Erdman 45-6)
Plate 14 (Erdman 66):
I hear the soft Oothoon in Enitharmons tents:
Why wilt thou give up womans secrecy my melancholy child?
Between two moments bliss is ripe:
O Theotormon robb'd of joy, I see thy salt tears flow
Down the steps of my crystal house.
Blake obviously drew on VDA for this plate in Milton. Oothoon and
Theotormon had become a symbol.
In Jerusalem:
Plate 16 (Erdman 112):
Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely
Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey.
So spoke Orc when
Oothoon & Leutha hoverd over his Couch
Of fire in interchange of Beauty & Perfection in the darkness
Opening interiorly into Jerusalem & Babylon shining glorious
In the Shadowy Females bosom.  
Plate 42 (Erdman 143):
And Los & Enitharmon rose over the Hills of Surrey
Their clouds roll over London with a south wind, soft
Pants in the Vales of Lambeth weeping oer her Human Harvest
Plate 37 (Erdman 183)
There is a Grain of Sand in Lambeth that Satan cannot find     
Nor can his Watch Fiends find it: tis translucent & has many
But he who finds it will find
Oothoons palace, for within
Opening into Beulah every angle is a lovely heaven
But should the Watch Fiends find it, they would call it Sin
And lay its Heavens & their inhabitants in blood of punishment
Here Jerusalem & Vala were hid in soft slumberous repose
Hid from the terrible East, shut up in the South & West.
(Jerusalem Plate 37; Erdman 183)
Plate 82 (Erdman 241)
I know I am Urthona keeper of the Gates of Heaven,
And that I can at will expatiate in the Gardens of bliss;
But pangs of love draw me down to my loins which are
Become a fountain of veiny pipes: O Albion! my brother!

(erdman 241)
Corruptibility appears upon thy limbs, and never more
Can I arise and leave thy side, but labour here incessant
Till thy awaking! yet alas I shall forget Eternity!
O when shall the Lamb of God descend among the Reprobate!
Surrey and Sussex are Enitharmons Chamber.
Where I will build her a Couch of repose & my pillars
Shall surround her in beautiful labyrinths:
Where hides my child? in Oxford hidest thou with Antamon?
In graceful hidings of error: in merciful deceit

This is the voice of "Urthona keeper of the Gates of Heaven", and
this: "So Antamon call'd up Leutha from her valleys of delight",  from the Song of Los.
Antamon is commonly thought of as the masculine seed. So we see Antamon, Leutha,
and Oothoon, all associated. Good for a post on Blake's Sexuality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Roger and Kay Easson, writing in Milton A Poem by William Blake, view Blake's message as a reflection of the prophetic role he assumed. Blake quotes the Book of Numbers in saying "Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets." Underlying Blake's writing is his response to the Lord's call for prophets. 

Page 18
is a prophetic narrative since with it Blake exposes perceptual errors and renovates perception by teaching visionary truth. This prophetic narrative is conveyed both by words and by designs; Blake weaves together the linear orientation of words and the spatial dimensions of the graphic arts. However, in neither words nor designs does Blake adhere 
  to orthodox sequences or patterns. that is we cannot read Milton 'in time,' from a first event to a final event. Nor can we read Milton 'in space,' from a first place to a final place. Blake structures his words and designs in intricate patterns of parallelism and inversion that lead toward the unity of all word and designs within his prophetic vision. For Blake, prophecy teaches that spiritual travel must renovate each moment of each day. The narrative in Milton asserts that a spiritual journey is made in time and space, but that it simultaneously renovates our perceptions of time and space. The journey that the character Milton undertakes is necessarily individual, but since it shares in the archetypal pattern of such paths, it is, as Blake confirms, mutual. Moreover, for Blake, all spiritual journeys begin and end in the love and mercy of Jesus, the Saviour, and the Saviour's love and mercy are present not at one time and place or in one miraculous event, as a time-bound Natural Religion would have it, but present for all times and in all places as the ever-present potential for regeneration."  

Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Copy C, Plate 2 

Page 170
"The prophet, therefore, may sing songs, tell stories, and write poems. He presents the divine vision, but he must always defend it, explain it, and teach his audience how to perceive it. Los, Milton and the Starry Eight are the teachers within the Brotherhood of Prophets. Ultimately, it is William Blake who unites both the 'Divine Revelation' of the Bard and the 'Litteral expression' of prophecy within his poem Milton, that all his readers may become prophets."  

Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)
 "Come into my hand    
By your mild power; descending down the Nerves of my right arm
From out the Portals of my Brain, where by your ministry
The Eternal Great Humanity Divine. planted his Paradise,
And in it caus'd the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms
In likeness of himself. Tell also of the False Tongue! vegetated
Beneath your land of shadows: of its sacrifices. and
Its offerings; even till Jesus, the image of the Invisible God
Became its prey; a curec, an offering, and an atonement,
For Death Eternal in the heavens of Albion, & before the Gates
Of Jerusalem his Emanation, in the heavens beneath Beulah        

Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence
Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent
Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep
In torment! To go into the deep her to redeem & himself perish?  
What cause at length mov'd Milton to this unexampled deed[?]   
A Bards prophetic Song!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sexuality 7

Blake's ethics of sexual love, his symbolism, and his Christian faith all fit together and reach a climax in a sketch virtually guaranteed to astound and provoke the reader (and no doubt dismay and disgust some). 

This passage, Jerusalem Plates 61 and 62, is called "Visions of Elohim Jehovah". Here once again forgiveness is the key, and to Blake forgiveness was everything. Vala, the soul of naterialism, knows nothing of forgiveness. Jerusalem's liberty is expressed most fully in forgiveness. 

In this passage Mary, the mother of Jesus, merges with the other Mary, who was forgiven because "she loved much".

"Visions of Elohim Jehovah" could only have been written by a 
poet who despised the social value placed upon virginity. In an 
earlier work he had called it "pale religious letchery that 
wishes but acts not". Blake hated the ideal of chastity, which 
meant to him a virtuous withholding of woman's body as an 
exercise of power over the deprived male, and he struck directly 
at the archetype of the chaste woman. "Visions of Elohim Jehovah"
is not a theological statement, but an imaginative vision about 
meaning and value. The love of Blake will always be confined to 
people who discriminate between those two things and whose 
theological perspective is neither glassy eyed nor otherwise 

Blake's Mary has perfect trust in the forgiveness of sin, and her relationship with Joseph becomes a type for the relationship of Jerusalem with Jesus: Jerusalem fainted over the Cross and Sepulcher. She heard the voice:

"...........................Wilt thou make Rome thy Patriarch 
Druid & the Kings of Europe his horsemen? Man in the 
Resurrection changes his Sexual Garment sat will.
"Every harlot was once a Virgin: every Criminal an Infant Love.
"Repose on me till the Morning of the Grave. I am thy Life. 
Jerusalem replied: "I am an outcast: Albion is dead:
I am left to the trampling foot is. the spurning heel:
"A Harlot I am call'd: I am sold from street to 
street: I am defaced with blows in with the dirt of the 
Prison,And wilt thou become my Husband, 0 my Lord & Saviour?"
As Jerusalem progressively gains our sympathy, Vala moves 
farther and farther in the opposite direction:

"Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los, even Vala
And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howling
Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach in a devouring 
Tongue.Her Hand is a Court of Justice: her Feet two Armies in 
Battle:Storms & Pestilence in her Locks, and in her Loins 
Earthquake And Fire & the Ruin of Cities & Nations and Families and Tongues."

The allegoric drama of good and evil in terms of the two 

females continues and intensifies throughout the epic poem 
until the final awakening of Albion, when sexes disappear. 
The first indication of this appears in the dialogue of Los 
and Enitharmon:

"Enitharmon answer'd in great terror in Lambeth's Vale:
The Poet's Song draws to its period, and Enitharmon is no 
For if he be that Albion, I can never weave him in my Looms,
But when he touches the first fibrous thread,like filmy dew
My Looms will be no more and I annihilate vanish for ever.
Then thou wilt Create another Female according to thy Will.

Los answer"d swift as the shuttle of gold: Sexes must vanish & cease
To be when Albion arises from his dread repose, 0 lovely 
When all their Crimes, their Punishments, their Accusations of Sin,
All their Jealousies, Revenges, Murders,hidings of Cruelty in 
Deceit Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary 
Space and Time,In the shadows of Possibility, by Mutual 
Forgiveness for evermore,
And in the Vision and in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & 
Avoid The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment...."

Soon comes the last mention of the woman of the world. She is 
connected with her sexual counterpart and described in the 
very specific terms which John used in Revelation 17:

Jerusalem, Plate 93:
"If Bacon, Newton, Locke Deny a Conscience in Man & the 
Communion of Saints & Angels,Contemning the Divine Vision & 
Fruition, Worshiping the Deus
Of the Heathen, the God of This World, & the Goddess 
Nature, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon, hidden 
Is it not that Signal of the Morning which was told us in the

In Plate 97 Blake attempts to visualize the true place of sex in 

"Awake, Awake, Jerusalem! 0 lovely Emanation of Albion,
Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time;
For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills. Awake, Jerusalem and come away!...
Then Albion stretch'd his hand into Infinitude
And took his Bow....And the bow is a Male and Female, and the 
Quiver of the Arrows of Love 
And 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 and Female Loves.
And he Clothed himself in Bow and Arrows, in awful state, Fourfold ...."

And after the final chorus of the multiple aspects of Man, 

Blake tells us that he "heard the Name of their Emanation: 
they are named Jerusalem."

And so ends 'Jerusalem'.