Friday, May 31, 2013


Songs of Innocence was originally printed by Blake in 1789, the first of his illuminated texts following his experiments in 1788 with combining text and images in All Religions are One and There is No Natural Religion. Blake issued five other illuminated books before producing in 1794 the companion to Songs of Innocence: Songs of Experience. The title page of the combined book was the subject of a previous post. Today we look at the frontispieces of the two books as a means of beginning to compare various plates in 'Innocence' and 'Experience.' The British Museum Copy A , which was once owned by Britain's prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, will provide the images.
British Museum
Songs of Experience
Copy A
British Museum
Songs of Innocence
Copy A

Blake has created similar images for the two plates to lead us to noting the meaning of both similarities and differences we observe. Perhaps most obvious of the similarities is that the central figures are both 'setting forth' as are the figures on the frontispieces of Milton and of Jerusalem. As usual Blake invites us to undertake a spiritual journey as we enter an unfamiliar world which has the potential for transforming our thinking.

The differences in the two images may best be addressed by asking questions:
Why is the child airborne in a cloud or sitting on the man's head?
Why is the landscape enclosed or open?
Why does one man gaze at the child, one at the reader?
Why does one man carry a musical instrument? 

We are looking for our own answers in the pictures and in the poetry. Blake intended to open the minds of his readers into the world of imagination not to introduce him to a rigid system for interpreting life.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Job 10

Plate 10
The Vision of Eliphaz

The Peak is over; the peak of devilty and punishment. What remains is creative, forgiveness, growth, development and final Fulfullment.

Plare 8
from Adelaide Univ 

The Engraving

For God speaketh once yea twice
& Man percieveth it not
in a Dream in a Vision of the Night
in deep Slumberings upon the bed
Then he openeth the ears of Men & sealeth their instruction
That he may withdraw Man from his purpose
& hide Pride from Man
(Job  33:14-17)
For his eyes are upon
the says of Man & he observeth
all his goings
(Job 34:21)
I am young & ye are very Old wherefore I was afraid
(Job 40:6)
Lo all these things worketh God oftentimes with Man to bring
back his Soul from the pit to be enlightened
with the light of the living
(Job 33:29-30)

Look unto the heavens & behold the clouds
which are higher than thou
If thou sinnest, what
doest thou against him?...If thou be
righteous, what givest thou him?
(Job 35:5-7)

The context of this scene:
The words of Elihu take up Job 32-37; Blake has extracted  various verses in his plate; but here is a salient passage from the Bible:

Job 32:
[4] Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he.
[5] When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.
[6] And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.
[7] I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
[8] But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
[9] Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.
[10] Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.
[11] Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say.
[12] Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:
[13] Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.
[14] Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.
[15] They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.

Summarizing: the colloquium among Job and his three friends which take up roughly Chapters 4 through 31.  At that point Elihu comes in to more or less finish the colloquium.  Blake's later posts will address the later chaptersl

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


What does Blake announce in his title and subtitle for his best known poetry? He tells us elsewhere that:

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 145)
"Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit
place: the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific
parts--the mild & gentle, for the mild & gentle parts, and the
prosaic, for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other. 
Poetry Fetter'd, Fetters the Human Race!" 
His title is carefully selected:


    Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul"

British Museum
Combined Title Page 

  Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Copy B, Plate 1

The first word 'Songs' tells us that we will be reading poetry not prose. He will not speak to the reasoning mind but to the mind that processes emotion, images, and suggestions of meaning dispersed throughout a body of work. The subject of this little volume of poetry is twofold: Innocence and Experience. We may have mental definitions of these two words, but he intends to expand our understanding by showing us concretely how these concepts are revealed in outer expressions.

He selects additional words - 'Contrary', 'States', 'Human', and 'Soul' - for his subtitle. He will begin to attach meaning to these words in these songs, and will continue to expand the meaning as he continues to write prophecies, epics and prose. Of the word 'Contrary' he says in Milton:

Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 142) 
"There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries 
The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man 
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal 
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway 
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination."

In Jerusalem we see examples of how Blake uses the terms 'States', 'Human', and 'Soul.'

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 170) 
"Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 27. (E 173)
 "He witherd up the Human Form,
By laws of sacrifice for sin:
  Till it became a Mortal Worm:    
But O! translucent all within.

  The Divine Vision still was seen
Still was the Human Form, Divine  
  Weeping in weak & mortal clay
O Jesus still the Form was thine."

Jerusalem, Plate 41 [46], (E 188)
"Thou art in Error Albion, the Land of Ulro:               
One Error not remov'd, will destroy a human Soul
Repose in Beulahs night, till the Error is remov'd
Reason not on both sides. Repose upon our bosoms
Till the Plow of Jehovah, and the Harrow of Shaddai
Have passed over the Dead, to awake the Dead to Judgment.     
But Albion turn'd away refusing comfort."

At the bottom of the plate are images of Adam and Eve, male and female, active and passive. Their loins are covered with leaves following their expulsion from the garden of Eden whose gates are now guarded by fire. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Job 9

Bad Dreams

My bones are pierced in me in the night season & my
sinews take no rest
 My skin is black upon me, and
my bones are burned with heat
The triumphing of the wicked
is short, the joy of the hypocrite is
but for a moment
Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light & his Ministers into Ministers of Righteousness

(Job 30:17):
My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest

Job 30:30)
My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat

(Job 20:5).
the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment 
(II Corinthians 11:14-15).
..for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light...his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness 
(Job 7:14)
Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions 
(Job 19:22-27)
Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me 
(II Thessalonians 2:4)
Who opposeth & exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped 

Re this plate Kathleen Raines on page 133 wrote as follows:
"Job is alone, as we are each alone in the darkest hour (his wife cannot share this ordeal) ....instead of his three friends three fiends seek to drag him down with chains into hell....over him hovers the figure of Satan with cloven foot and entwined by the serpent" (Job is prostrate on his bed and over him is Satan, the Accuser, the God of this World).

Satan, the Selfhood: Blake spent his whole life fighting it, and so do we.

And on page 134 "this plate is a turning point in the story of Job as told by Blake, and in the remaining ten plates" we see a different picture with a focus on forgiveness.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Copy A, Plate 4
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Percival feels that Blake reenacted the reconciliation of his own disparate psychological divisions in his myth of division and reunion. Because he overcame a fractured psyche, he had insight to share on repairing the broken unity.  

Here is a quote from Page 96 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny  by Milton O Percival:
"Blake's private and personal experience had bred him to his task. The strife that he depicts in the myth of an historical and cosmic stage had often been enacted on the microscopic stage within himself. A born mystic, he was haunted by the demon of rationalism. A hater of systems, he could not rest without one of his own. He was now Los, the inspired Prophet, and now Urizen, the doubting Spectre. One set of voices said: 'Follow the gleam.' Another set urged: 'Paint like Rembrandt. Engrave like Bartolozzi. Win recognition at any cost.' Nor did his struggle end with artistic indecisions. There were other on less severe contentions between his inner principle, energetic and masculine, and his outer principle, passive and feminine. The delusive beauty of outward nature and the delusive pleasure of intellectual revery often threatened the integrity of his mind. Psychological dissociation was an ever present danger. Hence the reality, the comprehension, the marvelous fairness, in the depiction of the contending figures. The personages of his cosmic myth were familiar denizens of his own breast. His own triumphant struggle against disorganization within himself gave him the insight to depict a disorganized but finally triumphant world."

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 116)
"Tho driven away with the Seven Starry Ones into the Ulro
Yet the Divine Vision remains Every-where For-ever. Amen.
And Ololon lamented for Milton with a great lamentation.

While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals
On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me:         
And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close
Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold.
Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also  stoop'd down
And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood
Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale             
Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health.
And I became One  Man  with  him  arising in my strength:
Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul:
His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Job 8

The engraving

Here we have a world of data.
The picture

Both of these are taken from The Book of Job  at the University of Adelaide.

The engraving has this legend:
'What shall we recieve Good at the hand of God and shall we 
not also recieve Evil': Blake wrote this in the upper border.

In the lower border:

"And when they lifted up their eyes afar off and knew him not
they lifted up their voice and wept & they rent every Man his
mantle & sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven"

And a bit lower:

 "ye have heard of the Patience of Job and have seen the 
end of the Lord"

The Blake Archive gives a detailed description of this Plate.

On the right we see a naked Job lying on a bed of straw. 

Instead of facing ahead he seems to be turned to the side, as 
you or I might do suffering extreme pain.

You might imagine the middle distance to show a decayed 
The mountains in the top might suggest the setting sun.

The lower border has a human figure at each end, each with 

an animal of some sort at this feet.

Behind Job is his wife, arms stretch up with palms out- 
expressing dismay.  Here come his three friends, arms up in 
horror at the man they had admired and looked up to ('oh-
my-gosh', what's happened to Job). on the left is Eliphaz the 
Temanite (see plate 9), then Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar 
the Naamathite.

The biblical source for this:
Job 2:
[11] Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that 
was come upon him, they came every one from his own 
place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and 
Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment 
together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
[12] And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him 
not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every 
one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward 
[13] So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days 
and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they 
saw that his grief was very great.

Then In Chapters 4 and 5  Eliphaz made an eloquent speech 
explaining to Job the root of his problems.  The Book of Job 
reported three speeches: beginning at Chapters 4, 15 and 
The Bible reported speeches of Bildad in Chapters 8, 18 and 
It reported speeches of  Zophar the Naamathite at Chapters 
11 and 20.
The speeches of these three men and Job's response to 
them take up most of the Book of Job.

From the Bible we learn that Job's friends tell him that he's 
suffering because he has sinned (that's an old superstition 
that is still very much alive; Blake's Book of Job in effect 
disproves that theory).

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Illustrations to Poems of Thomas Gray
# 54, The Bard

Disintegration precedes integration; destruction precedes reconstruction. The new world which Blake wished to see made manifest, would be built from the remnants of the world which it replaced. In America Blake introduced Orc as revolution, or the violent removal of the established constraints whose power controlled the lives of men. Avoiding direct accusations against the King and the British Government, Blake used the term Guardian for the political forces who opposed Orc. Urizen was introduced as the controlling force who made it possible for the oppression of the many by the few to be sustained.

America, Plate 14, (E 56)
"Then had America been lost, o'erwhelm'd by the Atlantic,
And Earth had lost another portion of the infinite,
But all rush together in the night in wrath and raging fire
The red fires rag'd! the plagues recoil'd! then rolld they back with fury 
Plate 15
On Albions Angels; then the Pestilence began in streaks of red
Across the limbs of Albions Guardian, the spotted plague smote Bristols
And the Leprosy Londons Spirit, sickening all their bands:
The millions sent up a howl of anguish and threw off their hammerd mail,
And cast their swords & spears to earth, & stood a naked multitude.      
Albions Guardian writhed in torment on the eastern sky
Pale quivring toward the brain his glimmering eyes, teeth chattering
Howling & shuddering his legs quivering; convuls'd each muscle & sinew
Sick'ning lay Londons Guardian, and the ancient miter'd York
Their heads on snowy hills, their ensigns sick'ning in the sky   

The plagues creep on the burning winds driven by flames of Orc,
And by the fierce Americans rushing together in the night
Driven o'er the Guardians of Ireland and Scotland and Wales
They spotted with plagues forsook the frontiers & their banners seard
With fires of hell, deform their ancient heavens with shame & woe.       
Hid in his eaves the Bard of Albion felt the enormous plagues.
And a cowl of flesh grew o'er his head & scales on his back & ribs;
And rough with black scales all his Angels fright their ancient heavens
The doors of marriage are open, and the Priests in rustling scales
Rush into reptile coverts, hiding from the fires of Orc,         
That play around the golden roofs in wreaths of fierce desire,
Leaving the females naked and glowing with the lusts of youth

For the female spirits of the dead pining in bonds of religion;
Run from their fetters reddening, & in long drawn arches sitting:
They feel the nerves of youth renew, and desires of ancient times,      
Over their pale limbs as a vine when the tender grape appears

Over the hills, the vales, the cities, rage the red flames fierce;
The Heavens melted from north to south; and Urizen who sat
Above all heavens in thunders wrap'd, emerg'd his leprous head
From out his holy shrine, his tears in deluge piteous
Falling into the deep sublime! flag'd with grey-brow'd snows     
And thunderous visages, his jealous wings wav'd over the deep;
Weeping in dismal howling woe he dark descended howling
Around the smitten bands, clothed in tears & trembling shudd'ring cold.
His stored snows he poured forth, and his icy magazines
He open'd on the deep, and on the Atlantic sea white shiv'ring.  
Leprous his limbs, all over white, and hoary was his visage.
Weeping in dismal howlings before the stern Americans
Hiding the Demon red with clouds &  cold mists from the earth;
Till Angels & weak men twelve years should govern o'er the strong:
And then their end should come, when France reciev'd the Demons light.

Stiff shudderings shook the heav'nly thrones! France Spain & Italy,
In terror view'd the bands of Albion, and the ancient Guardians
Fainting upon the elements, smitten with their own plagues 

They slow advance to shut the five gates of their law-built heaven
Filled with blasting fancies and with mildews of despair         
With fierce disease and lust, unable to stem the fires of Orc;
But the five gates were consum'd, & their bolts and hinges melted
And the fierce flames burnt round the heavens, & round the abodes of men


Friday, May 24, 2013

Job 7

The great thing about the Univ Adelaide Book of Job is that both the engraving and the picture are presented.   Notice the two images here: the picture is more vivid, but the engraving contains borders with text that has been added by Blake; it contains of course biblical material from the Book of Job that relate to the image.

The left image is the engraving.

.                                                The right image is the picture.

Job 2:
[7] So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote 
Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

[8] And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat 

down among the ashes.

The sun is going down, which in Blake's terminology means we are leaving Eternity to sojourn in this dark dirty world.

Job lies there covered with boils while his wife bows at his feet and 
gives him this awful advice in verses 9:
[9] Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

[10] But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish 
women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

What did Blake think of this passage?:

(Jerusalem Plate 21-2; Erdman 166):
"The disease of Shame covers me from head to feet: I have no hope
Every boil upon my body is a separate & deadly Sin.
Doubt first assaild me, then Shame took possession of me     
Shame divides Families. Shame hath divided Albion in sunder!
First fled my Sons, & then my Daughters, then my Wild Animations
My Cattle next, last ev'n the Dog of my Gate. the Forests fled
The Corn-fields, & the breathing Gardens outside separated
The Sea; the Stars: the Sun: the Moon: drivn forth by my disease 
All is Eternal Death unless you can weave a chaste
Body over an unchaste Mind! Vala! O that thou wert pure!"

The disease he speaks of (boils?) is the false religion that 
Job has been afflicted with, a legalism instead of love and 
forgiveness. (He's actually not talking about Job; he's talking 
about himself, about you and me!)

Blake's Job realizes his self-righteousness, perhaps the only 
unforgiveable sin.
(cf Golgonooza 130-31)

And from Edward Edinger (28-31):

The broken pitcher in the bottom border of the engraving 
suggests that the ego as a container may break if more is 
poured into it than it can stand.

Cf. a broken shepherd's crook at the bottom left suggests that Jehovah is not a very good shepherd- a facet of disillusionment with the conventional church.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Likewise, I will no longer have pity on the people of the 
land,” says the Lord. “I will let them fall into each other’s 
hands and into the hands of their king. They will turn the land 
into a wilderness, and I will not rescue them.”

So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter—the flock 
that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and 
named one Favor and the other Union. 

I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month.
But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, 

So I told them, “I won’t be your shepherd any longer. If you 
die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And let those 
who remain devour each other!”

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and cut it in two, showing 
that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the 

A sad picture of Job--and the world.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Plate 7, Copy C
Blake understood that a vortex is capable of drawing into itself whatever comes within the perimeter of its control. It sucks matter into the ever increasing rotational motion under its dominion. As the rotation tightens, the movement becomes downward, into the depths from which escape seems impossible.

Blake found this an appropriate image of the situation endured by Urizen. Having attempted unsuccessfully to acquire the functionality of Urthona, Urizen had lost the integrating and relational skills which would have allowed him to function. Around him had formed a body of assumptions and expectations which served his unrealistic self-image. He was trapped in thought patterns which drew him inward and downward away from any corrective measures which would have allowed him to escape.

Four Zoas, Night VI, Page 71, (E 348)
"But still his books he bore in his strong hands & his iron pen   
For when he died they lay beside his grave & when he rose  
He siezd them with a gloomy smile for wrapd in his death clothes        
He hid them when he slept in death when he revivd the clothes
Were rotted by the winds the books remaind still unconsumd
Still to be written & interleavd with brass & iron & gold 
Time after time for such a journey none but iron pens           
Can write And adamantine leaves recieve nor can the man who goes
PAGE 72 
The journey obstinate refuse to write time after time

Endless had been his travel but the Divine hand him led 
For infinite the distance & obscurd by Combustions dire
By rocky masses frowning in the abysses revolving erratic
Round Lakes of fire in the dark deep the ruins of Urizens world  
Oft would he sit in a dark rift & regulate his books
Or sleep such sleep as spirits eternal wearied in his dark
Tearful & sorrowful state. then rise look out & ponder
His dismal voyage eyeing the next sphere tho far remote
Then darting into the Abyss of night his venturous limbs         
Thro lightnings thunders earthquakes & concussions fires & floods
Stemming his downward fall labouring up against futurity
Creating many a Vortex fixing many a Science in the deep
And thence throwing his venturous limbs into the Vast unknown
Swift Swift from Chaos to chaos from void to void a road immense 

For when he came to where a Vortex ceasd to operate
Nor down nor up remaind then if he turnd & lookd back
From whence he came twas upward all. & if he turnd and viewd
The unpassd void upward was still his mighty wandring
The midst between an Equilibrium grey of air serene            
Where he might live in peace & where his life might meet repose

But Urizen said Can I not leave this world of Cumbrous wheels
Circle oer Circle nor on high attain a void
Where self sustaining I may view all things beneath my feet
Or sinking thro these Elemental wonders swift to fall           
I thought perhaps to find an End a world beneath of voidness
Whence I might travel round the outside of this Dark confusion
When I bend downward bending my head downward into the deep
Tis upward all which way soever I my course begin
But when A Vortex formd on high by labour & sorrow & care        
And weariness begins on all my limbs then sleep revives
My wearied spirits waking then tis downward all which way
So ever I my spirits turn no end I find of all
O what a world is here unlike those climes of bliss
Where my sons gatherd round my knees   O thou poor ruind world   
Thou horrible ruin once like me thou wast all glorious
And now like me partaking desolate thy masters lot
Art thou O ruin the once glorious heaven are these thy rocks
Where joy sang in the trees & pleasure sported on the rivers

Page 73
And if Eternal falling I repose on the dark bosom              
Of winds & waters or thence fall into a Void where air
Is not down falling thro immensity ever & ever
I lose my powers weakend every revolution till a death
Shuts up my powers then a seed in the vast womb of darkness
I dwell in dim oblivion."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Job 6

Blake's Book of Job can be found in many websites:
Blake Archive  the, wikipedia, and many others, no doubt.  Adelaide University (Australia) provides a picture and an engraving as well.

Job Plate 5 on

The biblical text that Blake included in the engraving:

Job 2:6-10: 

6] And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
[7] So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
[8] And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
[9] Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
[10] But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

James 5:11  Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; 

In the image:

Job is despondent, as is his 'God' above.  Here he depends on the Letter of the Law, giving alms to 'the poor'.  But Satan is full of energy.

This like all the Job pics is represented as the contrast between the inner and outer, between the mundane and the eternal.  There is little of the eternal in this picture. We get very little from Blakes Book of Job, or anything else for that matter if we confine ourselves to the literal interpretation.

Here's the picture:
picture 5
We see here the Stonehenge monuments, Blake's continuous symbol for the Druid barbarity that infests Job's religion. The monuments speak of blood as do the two angels: 

Here's part of A War Song to Englishmen (Poetic Sketches Erdman 440):

The arrows of Almighty God are drawn! Angels of Death stand in the louring heavens! Thousands of souls must seek the realms of light, And walk together on the clouds of heaven !Prepare, prepare!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


New York Public Library
 Milton, Plate 15 [17], (E 109) 
"But to himself he seemd a wanderer lost in dreary night.

Onwards his Shadow kept its course among the Spectres; call'd
Satan, but swift as lightning passing them, startled the shades
Of Hell beheld him in a trail of light as of a comet
That travels into Chaos: so Milton went guarded within.          

The nature of infinity is this: That every thing has its
Own Vortex; and when once a traveller thro Eternity.
Has passd that Vortex, he percieves it roll backward behind
His path, into a globe itself infolding; like a sun:
Or like a moon, or like a universe of starry majesty,            
While he keeps onwards in his wondrous journey on the earth
Or like a human form, a friend with whom he livd benevolent.
As the eye of man views both the east & west encompassing
Its vortex; and the north & south, with all their starry host;
Also the rising sun & setting moon he views surrounding    
His corn-fields and his valleys of five hundred acres square.
Thus is the earth one infinite plane, and not as apparent
To the weak traveller confin'd beneath the moony shade.
Thus is the heaven a vortex passd already, and the earth
A vortex not yet pass'd by the traveller thro' Eternity."         
 Kay Parke Easson and Roger Easson view Blake's Milton as a paradigm for engaging in a spiritual journey. On Plate 15 Blake uses the terms infinity and eternity to introduce the idea of spiritual travel. Blake then presents the image of the vortex which he will be using to modify his readers perspectives as they consider their journeys through experience. The Eassons assist us in recognizing the visual forms in which Blake presents the vortex. Quoting from Page 151 of Milton A Poem by William Blake:    

"Blake's image of spiritual Travel is the vortex. Since Blake insists that 'every thing has its / Own Vortex,' his poetry and designs abound with a variety of figures which invoke the vortex. The essential image beneath these figures is the tunnel, [Plate 8] and given the position from which the tunnel is seen, it may seem to assume all these parallel figures. When the observer is standing within the vortex looking directly into its whirling center, it assumes a circular appearance as if it were a broad disc...[Plate 16]...When the vortex is delivering the traveler into the chaos, then it is dark, and we see only a whirling cloud...[Frontispiece]...standing slightly to the side...the vortex as the new or old moon is seen...[Jerusalem Plate 8]...If the vortex is dark, and light is seen only in points, then it assumes the appearance of a constellation in a starry universe...[Plate 4]...If the observer is outside the vortex and observing its passage, it may look like a comet, [Plate 29] its fiery tail indicating the path of the traveler. If the vortex contains a man, it may take the appearance of a five pointed star [Plate 33], one point marking each of the man' appendages...wedges of streaming light [Plate 1] (mark) the cone of the vortex."

The links to plates from Milton are all from Copy C in the New York Public Library. Plate 8 from Jerusalem is from Copy E in the Yale Center for British Art courtesy of wikimedia.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Job 5

  1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
1:13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: 1:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 1:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
1:16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
1:17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
1:18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: 1:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

or writing from the above engraving:

And there came a Messenger unto Job & said 
The Oxen were plowing & the Sabeans came down & 
they have slain the Young Men with the Sword
Going to & fro in the Earth walking up & down in it
And I only am escaped alone to tell thee
While he was yet speaking there came also another & said 
The fire of God is fallen from heaven & hath burned up the flocks & the 
Young Men & consumed then; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee

Translate this story from the literal to the Blakean poetry and reflect that the perpetrator of all this misery is nothing less than the  selfhood. "It is the human ego who rebels against the divine order, offering the natural man autonomy--freedom"    Raines  p 128.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Illustration to Poems of Thomas Gray
The unity which may be achieved by attaining brotherhood on earth is a reflection of the Universal Brotherhood of Eden or Eternity. The multitude of Eternity can think and feel and act as one while maintaining infinite individualities. Perspective determines appearances: what seems to be multitude when seen from afar is beheld as one in greater proximity. This a reversal of earthly perspective which views things in its proximity as made of many parts, and distant things as without differentiation. What appears as the Brotherhood in Eden appears as Jesus to the individual man.

The Universal Brotherhood of Eden is both a Perfect Unity and a multitude. It exits through offering self to others. It, though multitude, takes on the appearance of a Man in Jesus. Our existence depends on this Universal Brotherhood which gives itself in love for Man. The work of Ololon, Los and Jesus are examples of the descent of the Brotherhood to redeem man.

Milton, Plate 23 [25], (E 119)
We were plac'd here by the Universal Brotherhood & Mercy
With powers fitted to circumscribe this dark Satanic death
And that the Seven Eyes of God may have space for Redemption.

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 3, (E 300) 
"a Perfect Unity    
Cannot Exist. but from the Universal                             
Brotherhood of Eden    
The Universal Man. To Whom be
Glory Evermore Amen" 

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 135)
"O how the Starry Eight rejoic'd to see Ololon descended!
And now that a wide road was open to Eternity,                   

By Ololons descent thro Beulah to Los & Enitharmon,

For mighty were the multitudes of Ololon, vast the extent
Of their great sway, reaching from Ulro to Eternity"

Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;            
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love.

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 110 [106], (E 380)
"He answerd her with tenderness & love not uninspird      
Los sat upon his anvil stock they sat beside the forge 
Los wipd the sweat from his red brow & thus began
To the delusive female forms shining among his furnaces

I am that shadowy Prophet who six thousand years ago
Fell from my station in the Eternal bosom. I divided
To multitude & my multitudes are children of Care & Labour 
O Rahab I behold thee I was once like thee a Son
Of Pride and I also have piercd the Lamb of God in pride & wrath
Hear me repeat my Generations that thou mayst also repent"

Letters, To Thomas Butts, (E 712)
    "Each grain of Sand
     Every Stone on the Land
     Each rock & each hill
     Each fountain & rill
     Each herb & each tree
     Mountain hill Earth & Sea
     Cloud Meteor & Star
     Are Men Seen Afar"

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 21, (E 310) 
"Then those in Great Eternity met in the Council of God
As one Man for contracting their Exalted Senses
They behold Multitude or Expanding they behold as one
As One Man all the Universal family & that one Man  
They call Jesus the Christ & they in him & he in them            
Live in Perfect harmony in Eden the land of life
Consulting as One Man above the Mountain of Snowdon Sublime"

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious          
Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood
I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend

Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee
And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself           
Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love:
As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death
In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood"

Matthew 12
[49] And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
[50] For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Job 4

Here's wiki common:
                              For the above see Job 1:18-20.

Kathleen Raine, in her Golgonooza (p.127) said about this Plate:
"things have gone from bad to worse; the black winged figure of Satan scatters 
fire and destruction as the house collapses about Job's sons and daughters."

But it means more than the literal meaning: sons and daughters are often 
mentioned in Blake's poetry. In Plate 11 of Jerusalem (Erdman 154):
"And the Sons and Daughters of Los came forth in perfection lovely!"
out of the furnaces like the travail Job suffered in the loss (and recovery) of
his children.

But this was the material recovery; the spiritual recovery was to come later, as 
illustrated in one of the last plates (of Job and also of Jerusalem)
Jerusalem and Job both tell the same story: of living by the law, total loss and through
God's grace being reborn into the Eternal realm.  This post is of course the graphic 
description of the 'total loss' , referred to in Blake's poetry as Ulro.

Milton 19 (Erdman 113) recites the struggle that Milton had with the demon, 
his adversary (two common terms for Satan):
"The Man and Demon strove many periods. Rahab beheld
Standing on Carmel; Rahab and Tirzah trembled to behold
The enormous strife. one giving life, the other giving death
To his adversary. and they sent forth all their sons & daughters 
In all their beauty to entice Milton across the river"

Raine identified Job with Albion: "indeed .. the figure of Albion is to a 
great extent derived from the book of Job.."...and of Blake and of you and me.

Plate 19 of Jerusalem gives a vivid description of what happened substantially
in this Job picture:
PLATE 19 (Erdman 163)
His Children exil'd from his breast pass to and fro before him
His birds are silent on his hills, flocks die beneath his
His tents are fall'n! his trumpets, and the sweet sound of his
Are silent on his clouded hills, that belch forth storms & fire.
His milk of Cows, & honey of Bees, & fruit of golden harvest,    
Is gather'd in the scorching heat, & in the driving rain:
Where once he sat he weary walks in misery and pain:
His Giant beauty and perfection fallen into dust:
Till from within his witherd breast grown narrow with his woes:
The corn is turn'd to thistles & the apples into poison:         
The birds of song to murderous crows, his joys to bitter groans!
The voices of children in his tents, to cries of helpless infants!