Friday, February 28, 2014


Blake's Sources

Blake's Sources Although he was many other things, Blake might well be considered a "man of books". His reading was omnivorous. He might also be considered a Renaissance man if such a thing were possible in the 19th Century.

In The Sacred Wood T.S.Eliot wrote an essay on Blake. He found him lacking in the poetic traditionKenneth Rexroth wrote more excisively about Eliot's relation to Blake; he referred to Blake's sources as "the tradition of organized heterodoxy." And this from a lecture given by Kathleen Raine:
"Blake's sources and reading proved to be not 'odds and ends' as T.S. Eliot had rather rashly described them. On the contrary, Blake's sources proved to be the mainstream of human wisdom. It was the culture of his age that was provincial, whereas Blake had access to the 'perennial philosophy', an excluded knowledge in the modern West in its pursuit of the natural sciences in the light of a materialist philosophy."

Blake was not 'unlettered'! Quite the contrary he was a modern throwback to medievalism when 'it all' could be known; he knew all of which Eliot knew nothing. Bacon, Newton (and presumably Eliot) cared little for these cultures, but Blake included them in his 'library' of acquaintance. He despised Bacon and Newton as shallow materialists.

in a Letter to Flaxman Blake wrote
"Now my lot in the Heavens is this; Milton lovd me in childhood & shewd me his face, Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand; Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me."

His "nodding acquaintance" was actually much, much broader. Here are some of the disciplines that Blake had at least a nodding acquaintance with:

Some of Blake's Sources

Swedenborg Homer Plato Plotinus Hermes
Paracelsus Boehme Dante Shakespeare
Milton Michaelangelo
Bacon, Newton, and Locke Berkeley The Bible

Swedenborg In the 18th century Emmanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish scientist, philosopher and religionist, had a very high reputation. In London a 'new church' sprang up espousing his values. William Blake's parents were members of the New Church. That probably explains several interesting things about Blake's early life. For example his father appear to be about as permissive as the average modern father in our culture today, but very atypical for his generation. .

Blake was imbued with a great many of the famous man's values, particularly his esoteric religious ones. As a young adult Blake found many of the same ideas among the great thinkers of the ages. He became less dependent on Swedenborg's thought forms. With MHH Plates 21 and 22 he declared his independence of his childhood teacher.

Perhaps the chief objection of the mature Blake was that Swedenborg had a positive demeanour re the established church:
O Swedenborg! strongest of men,
the Samson shorn by the Churches;
Showing the Transgressors in Hell, the proud Warriors in Heaven,
Heaven as a Punisher, and Hell as One under Punishment;
With Laws from Plato and his Greeks to renew the Trojan Gods In Albion,
and to deny the value of the Saviour's blood. The reader no doubt recalls that Samson was shorn of his locks by Delilah, leading to the loss of his unusual strength.

But one of the things that stayed with Blake was Swedenborg's concept of the Divine Humanity .

To Tirzah (K 220) was a concise summary of Swedenborg's teaching (Golgonooza page 96.)
A Vision of the Last Judgment, page 84:
Around the Throne Heaven is opend & the Nature of Eternal Things Displayd All Springing from the Divine Humanity Although Blake owed much to Michaelangelo, his Vision of the Last Judgment was more closely related to Swedenborg's; Michaelangelo' picture had an exoteric orientation, while that of Swedenborg and Blake had a mystical one. To put it otherwise the great Italian painter suggested a material event some time in the future, while the other two concerned spiritual rather than material realities. Swedenborg and Blake, but not Michaelangelo, perceived the Last Judgment as an end and a beginning, or a death and rebirth (of individuals, nations, and the world).

Swedenburg has another very significant contribution to the thought forms of Blake in what they both referred to as states. A state is a condition through which a person travels in his journey through life.

One can also recognize a close correspondence between Swedenborg and Blake relative to an inveterate hostility toward the established church (cfWilliam Blake and the Radical Swedenborgians page 99). Swedenborg taught that there had been 27 churches, those of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Solomon...Paul, Constantine,Charlemayne and Luther. Blake substantially agreed with that:
Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches.
(Milton 32:22-25 Erdman 321) The first ones were Adam, Seth..., and the last one as I recall was Luther. After which the same old round began again to repeat itself in the Great Year, a depressing form of church history. Neither Blake nor Swedenborg thought much of the organized church. The latter thought that it had passed out, to be replaced by a new church in the New Age. He dated it at 1757, the year of Blake's birth as it happened.

According to Raine it was "Swedenburg whose leading doctrine Blake summarized in the Everlasting Gospel". But this is a very difficult poem; not really a poem but intermittent snatches of poetic thought. Very hard to understand because Blake's mood and tone modulates continually, sometimes ironic, sometimes not. It's a source book for whatever gems speak to you. (See also Chapter 7.) It does indicate rather clearly Blake's (and Swedenborg's) view about the organized church and conventional theology.

Homer: The primary source of the Cave of the Nymphs is certainly Homer's Odyssey, while the Myth of Persephone stems of course from the Iliad..
"Then I came upon a marvellous clue in the works of Thomas Taylor the platonist, whose translations of the complete works of Plato, most of Plotinus, Proclus and the other Neoplatonic writings of the third century A.D were appearing contemporaneously with Blake's works."
(from a lecture in India of Kathleen Raine re her initial search for Blake's sources) Taylor and Blake were almost the same age. Taylor, with his translations of Greek philosophy turned Blake's interest in this direction and led to his use of many of them in his search for symbolic material.

Blake also used a great variety of 'spiritual' documents beginning before Plato and stretching down to his own day. Some of the writers were:

Plato's Myth of the Cave can be seen as the locale of Visions of the Daughters of AlbionHere is the poetry. Here is a short introduction to Plato's philosophy; it closely parallels Blake's myth.

Plotinus: Platonism, neoPlatonism- Blake may have been more of the latter than the former. He used Thomas Taylor's translations extensively in his mythmaking.  Blake in particular depended heavily upon Taylor's Dissertation on the Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries.

Hermes Trismegistus: Wikipedia offers a useful introduction to this mythic figure.

Blake included the Hermetic writings in his library and made use of them in his own creations. (Hermes Trismegistus has an introduction to this material.) The Divine Poemander was perhaps the most important of many works. In Jerusalem plate 91 Blake mentioned the Smaragdine Table of Hermes as the baleful influence on one of his failing characters. He endorsed Proposition 2:
"What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the one thing." but felt that Hermes was a magician trying to pass as a mystic. (Magicians try to pull the beyond down to the material, while mystics have visions of the Beyond.)

Paracelsus introduced Blake to the rich symbolic language of astrology.

Boehme's Divine Vision not only figured largely in Blake's works, but expressed most aptly his personal approach to creativity.

Boehme provided one of many sources for Blake's doctrine of the descent (or fall) of Albion (man): "The one only element fell into a division of four.. and that is the heavy fall of Adam...for the principle of the outward world passeth away and goeth into ether and the four elements into one again, and God is manifested. Blake expressed "the division of four" of course with the Four Zoas. (Percival p 19). The divided four represent the principalities against which Paul wrestled (as he wrote in Ephesians 6:12).

Blake illustrated Dante's Divine Comedy (Many of these pictures are online here).

Thursday, February 27, 2014


The place that the picture Newton assumes in the series called the Large Color Prints is to emphasize the dual functions that science might play in the development of man's consciousness. Although Blake spoke of 'single vision' as 'Newton's sleep', he ends the Four Zoas with the beginning of the reign of 'sweet Science.'
Large Color Printed Drawings
Along with Bacon and Locke, Newton became a symbol for Blake of the particular temptations faced by man in his own age. For Blake it was through the philosophies of these three men that the society had transitioned itself from orthodox Christianity to Deism, and from traditional agrarian organization to industrialization. Blake was not against change, but the change he desired was toward the development of the imagination to enable man to become more human. Blake saw changes brought about by the philosophies of Bacon, Locke and Newton chaining man to a materialistic, mechanistic and impoverished worldview.

To Blake who saw the holiness in everything, science, although of infinite value, was in his day being put to the wrong use. Meant to be a servant of man it was becoming his master.

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536) 
"Visions of these eternal principles or characters of human
life appear to poets, in all ages; the Grecian gods were the
ancient Cherubim of Phoenicia; but the Greeks, and since them the
Moderns, have neglected to subdue the gods of Priam.  These Gods
are visions of the eternal attributes, or divine names, which,
when erected into gods, become destructive to humanity.
They ought to be the servants, and not the masters of man, or of
society.  They ought to be made to sacrifice to Man, and not man
compelled to sacrifice to them; for when separated from man or
humanity, who is Jesus the Saviour, the vine of eternity, they
are thieves and rebels, they are destroyers."

Four Zoas, Night III, Page 38, (E 326)
"O Prince the Eternal One hath set thee leader of his hosts
Page 39 
Leave all futurity to him Resume thy fields of Light  
Why didst thou listen to the voice of Luvah that dread morn
To give the immortal steeds of light to his deceitful hands
No longer now obedient to thy will thou art compell'd
To forge the curbs of iron & brass to build the iron mangers
To feed them with intoxication from the wine presses of Luvah
Till the Divine Vision & Fruition is quite obliterated
They call thy lions to the fields of blood, they rowze thy tygers
Out of the halls of justice, till these dens thy wisdom framd
Golden & beautiful but O how unlike those sweet fields of bliss  
Where liberty was justice & eternal science was mercy
Then O my dear lord listen to Ahania, listen to the vision
The vision of Ahania in the slumbers of Urizen
When Urizen slept in the porch & the Ancient Man was smitten 

The Darkning Man walkd on the steps of fire before his halls 
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber" 

Song of Los, Plate 4, (E 68)
"Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave
Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more
And more to Earth: closing and restraining:                      
Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete
Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions
Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery: 
That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men.
And Science is divided into Bowlahoola & Allamanda."

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 139, (E 407) 
"The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los                
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns           

                  End of The Dream"                

Reading this passage from Norhtrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry we can see that in the image Blake created of Newton, he intended to keep open the possibility that man's consciousness might evolve to the level of vision.
Fearful Symmetry, Page 259-60:
"Man stands at the level of conscious life: immediately in front of him is the power to visualize the eternal city and garden he is trying to regain; immediately behind him is an unconscious, involuntary and cyclic energy, much of which still goes on inside his own body. Man is therefor a Luvah or form of life subject to two impulses, one the prophetic impulse leading him forward to vision, the other the natural impulse which drags him back to unconsciousness and finally to death.
The imagination says that man is not chain-bound but muscle-bound; that he is born alive, and is everywhere dying in sleep; and that when the conscious imagination in man perfects the vision of the world of consciousness, at that point man's eyes will necessarily be open.
Every advance of truth forces error to consolidate itself in a  more obviously erroneous form, and every advance of freedom has the same effect on tyranny...The evolution comes in the fact that the opposition grows sharper each time, and will one day present a clear-cut alternative of eternal life or extermination." 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dylan 3

Much as Dylan loved and used  Blake's poetry, he loved and used the Bible.  You might say that the Bible was the chief source of both men. Look at the Wicked Messenger:  "one day he just appeared with a note in his hand" and other lines relate strongly to the 1st Chapter of Luke where Zacharias was struck mute for refusing to believe the good news the Angel Gabriel sent him; he presumably had to write it out.

This is only one of a multitude of stories in the Bible that Dylan used freely.

He was not exactly a "Bible Soaked Protestant" (as Northrup Frye said of Blake), but maybe the nearest thing to it among modern artists. Dylan, the secular artist was credited with the monumental achievement of lifting the popular musical taste to the level of real art, rather than the trivialities so common to popular music then and now.  More than that he addressed the awesome task of raising the popular spiritual level to the Christian faith with some intellect.

Wicked Messenger is comparable to Blake's Wheel of Religion:
"I stood among my valleys of the south
And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel
Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went
From west to cast against the current of
Creation and devourd all things in its loud
Fury & thundering course round heaven & earth 
By it the Sun was rolld into an orb:
By it the Moon faded into a globe,
Travelling thro the night: for from its dire 
And restless fury, Man himself shrunk up
Into a little root a fathom long.
 And I asked a Watcher & a Holy-One
Its Name? he answerd. It is the Wheel of Religion
I wept & said. Is this the law of Jesus 
This terrible devouring sword turning every way"
(Erdman 232; Plate 77 of Jerusalem)

But I saw a glow-worm near:
Who replied. What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night"

Dylan wrote a song called All Along the Watchtower that echoes Isaiah:

5] Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
[6] For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
[7] And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:
[8] And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
[9] And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
[10] O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.
[11] The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
[12] The watchman said The morning cometh, and also the night:
(Isaiah 21)
Watchman also appears in six other books of the Bible including

Ezekiel 3
[17] Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 
[18] When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Plate 169 Jerusalem:
"O Human Imagination O Divine Body I have Crucified
I have turned my back upon thee into the Wastes of Moral Law:
There Babylon is builded in the Waste, founded in Human desolation.
O Babylon thy Watchman stands over thee in the night
Thy severe judge all the day long proves thee O Babylon
With provings of destruction, with giving thee thy hearts desire.
But Albion is cast forth to the Potter his Children to the Builders
To build Babylon because they have forsaken Jerusalem          
The Walls of Babylon are Souls of Men: her Gates the Groans
Of Nations: her Towers are the Miseries of once happy Families."

Erdman 362 The Four Zoas
".......And must not I obey the God thou Shadow of Jealousy
I cry the watchman heareth not I pour my voice in roarings
Watchman the night is thick & darkness cheats my rayie sight
Lift up Lift up O Los awake my watchman for he sleepeth
Lift up Lift up Shine forth O Light watchman thy light is out
O Los unless thou keep my tower the Watchman will be slain

So Enitharmon cried upon her terrible Earthy bed"
Plate 39
Satan's Watch-fiends never find the Gate of Los

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


National Gallery of Scotland
Large Color Printed Drawings 
Night of Enitharmon's Joy

Although the return journey had begun with this image of the Night of Enitharmon's Joy, progress would be slow. The eighteen Christian centuries from the birth of Christ to Blake's day were ruled by the outward feminine will. When the message of Jesus was subverted by organized religious institutions, Enitharmon began her reign. It is she who spread the doctrines that 'Woman's love is Sin' and that the return to Eternity takes place only after death.
The error that Enitharmon represented could not be ended until man had experienced it to the degree that he was convinced of its futility. Blake tells us that the imagination, man's ability to perceive intuitively, had taken 'his rest.' His power had been transferred to the 'Eternal Female' who exercised her intuition to please herself and control men. Until man was able to behold the truth of his own intuitive abilities he would subject himself to control by the female will.

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Error is Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round 
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it." 
Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
"Again the night is come  
That strong Urthona takes his rest,                              
And Urizen unloos'd from chains                                  
Glows like a meteor in the distant north
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep."

Europe, Plate 4, (E 62)
"Arise O Orc from thy deep den,                                   
First born of Enitharmon rise!
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine;
For now thou art bound;
And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest born.

The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire,
Whirling about in furious circles round the immortal fiend.

Then Enitharmon down descended into his red light,
And thus her voice rose to her children, the distant heavens reply.
Plate 5
Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!                          
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?
That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion?
Arise O Rintrah thee I call! & Palamabron thee!
Go! tell the human race that Womans love is Sin!                 
That an Eternal life awaits the worms of sixty winters
In an allegorical abode where existence hath never come:
Forbid all joy, & from her childhood shall the little female
Spread nets in every secret path.

My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but

Jerusalem, Plate 87, (E 246)    
"Enitharmon answerd [Los]. No! I will sieze thy Fibres & weave
Them: not as thou wilt but as I will, for I will Create
A round Womb beneath my bosom lest I also be overwoven
With Love; be thou assured I never will be thy slave          
Let Mans delight be Love; but Womans delight be Pride
In Eden our loves were the same here they are opposite
I have Loves of my own I will weave them in Albions Spectre
Cast thou in Jerusalems shadows thy Loves! silk of liquid
Rubies Jacinths Crysolites: issuing from thy Furnaces. While   
Jerusalem divides thy care: while thou carest for Jerusalem
Know that I never will be thine:"
 John 4
[24] "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

Monday, February 24, 2014


While Blake had been a strict monogamist, Dylan appears to have adopted 
a rather promiscous sexual perspective  (which of course was rampant
among his 'flower-children' contemporaries).  Dylan's experience gave
him a relaxed stance in his early years from which he struck a decisive
blow at some of the unreal sex attitudes of the American, corrupted by
greedy advertisers and other sickies.

Dylan and his associates may sound the death knell to 'machismo', at
least to the North American manifestation of it, the sick masculine
attitude that trivializes sexual relationships and makes of 'woman' a
plaything.  Dylan allowed Playboy to interview him, but his sexual
values undercut the Playboy philosophy, and very likely undercut
Playboy sales as well, more than the anti-pornographers had ever

Dylan disparaged possessiveness and jealousy as much as Blake had
done two centuries before with Visions of the Daughters of Albion;
(See Chapter 8)
The Argument

"I loved Theotormon
And I was not ashamed
I trembled in my virgin fears
And I hid in Leutha's Vale!
I plucked Leutha's flower,
And I rose up from the vale;
But the terrible thunders tore
My virgin mantle in twain."
The 'terrible thunders' was the Rape by Bromion.
Among the things that Blake is trying to say here is a blanket condemnation of British marriage 
customs that were considered commercial affairs rather than those based on love.  Love meant
little to Dylan; the slogan 'make love not war' involved what came to be known as 'free love'.
Between Dylan and the other youth of the sixties, they put an end to the Vietnam War and
perhaps unfortunately marriage as well.  The serial marriage of movie stars and such took the
place of true monogamy.  

Dylan had several children, but we know little about their fate.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Each of the images in the Large Color Printed Drawings includes paradox. In the House of Death we confront the sorrows of disease and torture and despair as described in Milton's Paradise Lost which this image is said to represent.
Paradise Lost
, Book XI, Line 477
"Immediately a place
Before his eyes appeard, sad, noysom, dark,
A Lazar-house it seemd, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies
Of gastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualmes
Of heart-sick Agonie, all feavorous kinds,
Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs,
Intestin Stone and Ulcer, Colic pangs,
Daemoniac Phrenzie, moaping  Melancholie
And Moon-struck madness, pining Atrophie
Marasnus and wide-wasting Pestilence,
Dropsies, and Asthma's, and Joint-racking Rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair
Tended the sick busiest from Couch to Couch;
And over them triumphant Death his Dart
Shook, but delaid to strike, though oft invokt
With vows, as thir chief good, and final hope."
British Museum
Large Color Printed Drawings
House of Death
But Blake tells us that these afflictions are of the mortal body which passes away when man is born is his spiritual body.

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)
"Many Persons such as Paine & Voltaire with some
of the Ancient Greeks say we will not Converse concerning Good
& Evil we will live in Paradise & Liberty   You may do so in
Spirit but not in the Mortal Body as you pretend till after the
Last Judgment for in Paradise they have no Corporeal & Mortal
Body that originated with the Fall & was calld Death & cannot be
removed but by a Last judgment while we are in the world of
Mortality we Must Suffer   The Whole Creation Groans to be
deliverd there will always be as many Hypocrites born as Honest
Men & they will always have superior Power in Mortal Things   You
cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral
Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that
half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue" 
Blake used the image of Nebuchadnezza when he had fallen into the form of a beast to represent man when he had fallen to the limit of his descent from Eden. This I take to be a statement about the Limit of Contraction. Man has been given the form of Adam, a human form. Taking the form of a beast was a turning point allowing him to reverse directions and recover a vision of Eternity.
When nature, the outer world, competes its descent it takes the form of death. Blake speaks of this as the Limit of Contraction or Satan. It is the natural or physical body which is susceptible to death. When man recognizes himself as a spirit which is immortal, he transcends the Limit of Contraction and frees himself from the power of Satan and his offspring death.

From William Blake's Circle of Destiny by Milton O Percival, Page 233:
"Satan and Adam have not been 'fixed,' Christ has not taken on the body of death, to make permanent the limitations of fallen man. The sexual religion will not permanently replace the Divine Vision. Such a hypothesis is the assumption of the unbeliever.

'Voltaire insinuates that these Limits are the cruel work of God
Mocking the Remover of Limits & the Resurrection of the Dead'  (E 228)
On the contrary the limits, like other fixations under Los's hammer, have their ultimate end the removal of all limitations. Christ appears in the mortal form of man that man may take on the immortal form of Christ."

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 189) 
"There is a limit of Opakeness, and a limit of Contraction;
In every Individual Man, and the limit of Opakeness,             
Is named Satan: and the limit of Contraction is named Adam.
But when Man sleeps in Beulah, the Saviour in mercy takes
Contractions Limit, and of the Limit he forms Woman: That
Himself may in process of time be born Man to redeem
But there is no Limit of Expansion! there is no Limit of Translucence.   
In the bosom of Man for ever from eternity to eternity.
Therefore I break thy bonds of righteousness; I crush thy messengers!
That they may not crush me and mine: do thou be righteous,
And I will return it; otherwise I defy thy worst revenge:
Consider me as thine enemy: on me turn all thy fury              
But destroy not these little ones, nor mock the Lords anointed:
Destroy not by Moral Virtue, the little ones whom he hath chosen!" 
Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 56, (E 337)
"Such were the words of Beulah of the Feminine Emanation 
The Empyrean groand throughout All Eden was darkend
The Corse of Albion lay on the Rock the sea of Time & Space
Beat round the Rock in mighty waves & as a Polypus
That vegetates beneath the Sea the limbs of Man vegetated      
In monstrous forms of Death a Human polypus of Death

The Saviour mild & gentle bent over the corse of Death
Saying If ye will Believe your Brother shall rise again   
And first he found the Limit of Opacity & namd it Satan
In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand     
And next he found the Limit of Contraction & namd it Adam
While yet those beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil

Then wondrously the Starry Wheels felt the divine hand. Limit
Was put to Eternal Death Los felt the Limit & saw
The Finger of God touch the Seventh furnace in terror            
And Los beheld the hand of God over his furnaces
Beneath the Deeps in dismal Darkness beneath immensity" 

Romans 8 
18] I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
[19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 
[20] for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 
[21] because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 
[22] We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 
[23] and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 

First Corinthians 15
[21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 
[22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  
[23] But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 
[24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 
[25] For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 
[26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The most Blakean mind of the 20th Century may belong to the folk singer, Bob Dylan. He drank deeply from the Blakean Springs; he had obviously known and loved Blake for many years before he surrendered to the Christian Gospel.

 Blake had written poetry and composed pictures long before he fell in love with Jesus; much the same thing happened with Dylan. But Dylan had loved Blake much longer.

 Blake was the most radical poetic dissenter of his generation, and so was Dylan. Prophets, they focused on the fallacies of their cultures. Dylan scorned organized religion and established morals; likewise Blake. Following Blake's cue the sixties generation questioned the moral and political leadership of the country in ways that had never happened before in America. The two prophets both knew that power rightfully resides in the people, and they aimed to encourage the people to take full responsibility for themselves. In that aim Dylan suceeded more than Blake could have: In one of his songs he wrote "you don't need a weatherman".

A revolutionary underground emerged called the Weathermen.  They sought a violent revolution, but Dylan, like Blake and also Jesus wanted a more fundamental revolution in the hearts of men and women.

It makes a lot of sense to compare the sixties with Blake's in the nineties of his century: the end of each decade witnessed a meeting with the Lord.  This shows that each decade encompassed a spitirual journey.

Dylan always was at one level a very private person.  Nevertheless  the outline of his spiritual journey for those with insight belongs to the public and is sufficiently clear to relate to the Blakean Circle of Destiny.

In Blake and in Dylan we see two men who "call no man father" (Matthew 23:9) and fundamentally reject all forms of outward authority.  Each communes with his own spirit, and his communion leads to the same end, to the encounter with Christ, the King.

The passage of 200 years has obscured the drama in Blake's case, so much so that his secular interpreters almost completely lost sight of it.  But Dylan's conversion was too new to be anything less than a collective drama.  His devotees gloried in his lack of religion, until they were knocked over by his conversion.  His secular fans were sheerly appalled; they were confronted with a reality which they had systematically ignored.

Blake had always been aware of the failure of organized religion, but with Dylan's conversion he found it bit by bit.  They were all inadequate.

In the history of Christianity Dylan's conversion bears comparison with Paul's 'Damascus Road' (Book of Acts:9 or to the strange warming of John Wesley's heart.

Any number of pages could be devoted to relating Blake and Dylan, but one significant point deserves special emphasis: both men spent their pre-Christian decade celebrating fallennes. This should be readily apparent to readers of this blog as far as Blake is concerned; examples of this motif in Dylan's are too numerous to do more than sample.

 Look at A_Hard_Rain's_a-Gonna_Fall. 

Speaking in general the celebration of fallenness is the acme of the prophet's function: he points out to us what's wrong with our society and he does this with a kind of language designed to raise things forcibly into our consciousness. Ezekiel had told Blake that his bizarre pantomimes  were aimed at 'raising other men into a perception of the Infinite."  Blake became pretty bizarre in his language at times and so did Dylan, both for the purpose stated by Ezekiel.

By 1966 Dylan was acknowledged chief prophet of the American counter culture; his corrosive judgments filled the minds of of the young and nurtured their spirits, while their adulation poisoned his. "Blonde on Blonde" is his sad, infected St. Virus Dance, chaotic and nihilistic, a paean of fallenness, and Dylan projected himself as more personally involved than Blake ever did in his most lurid passages.  Dylan is Los after binding Urizen and he proceeds to chain his creative energy to Hell just as Los had done.

Wikipedia Commons
Los and Spectre
Jerusalem Plate 6

Friday, February 21, 2014


Daniel 4
[29] At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,
[30] and the king said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?"
[31] While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnez'zar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,
[32] and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; and you shall be made to eat grass like an ox; and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will."
[33] Immediately the word was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnez'zar. He was driven from among men, and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.
[34] At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnez'zar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives for ever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

Nebuchadnezzar stood at the pinnacle of success and power as the ruler of an empire. He attributed to his own strength and wisdom all that belonged to him. But he was unaware of things in his life to which he had not given attention. There were unclaimed aspects of his psyche which needed to be acknowledged. When we read the quote from the Book of Daniel we realize that when his conscious mind laid claim to all of his achievements, another part of his mind, his unconscious, drove him into a dark and terrifying place. That surface patina of ego-consciousness was overwhelmed by the behavior of a beast of the field. His condition became that of one suffering from what we now call mental illness.
Wikipedia Commons
Large Color Prints
Blake's image of Nebuchadnezzar shows him deprived of human characteristics. In the sequence of the Large Color Prints which we have been following this represents a further descent from man's state in Eden. He had lost the ability to perceive the Divine Image and therefore appears as less than human. Blake used the term Ulro for the level of existence at which all memory of Eternity had been eradicated.  

Notice in the passage from Daniel that after seven times passed over Nebuchadnezzar three things happened: he lifted his eyes to heaven, his reason returned, and he blessed the Most High. Lifting his eyes to heaven is recognition of God as the source of all things. His reason returns when he has learned to process and put into order the content of both the conscious and unconscious levels of his mind. He reorders his life since he now knows what comes from himself and what comes from God and he is grateful.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 135, (E 403)
"Attempting to be more than Man We become less said Luvah
As he arose from the bright feast drunk with the wine of ages
His crown of thorns fell from his head he hung his living Lyre
Behind the seat of the Eternal Man & took his way
Sounding the Song of Los descending to the Vineyards bright      
His sons arising from the feast with golden baskets follow
A fiery train as when the Sun sings in the ripe vineyards
Then Luvah stood before the wine press all his fiery sons
Brought up the loaded Waggons with shoutings ramping tygers play
In the jingling traces furious lions sound the song of joy       
To the golden wheels circling upon the pavement of heaven & all
The Villages of Luvah ring the golden tiles of the villages
Reply to violins & tabors to the pipe flute lyre & cymbal
Then fell the Legions of Mystery in maddning confusion
Down Down thro the immense with outcry fury & despair            
Into the wine presses of Luvah howling fell the Clusters
Of human families thro the deep. the wine presses were filld
The blood of life flowd plentiful Odors of life arose
All round the heavenly arches & the Odors rose singing this song
Page 136 
O terrible wine presses of Luvah O caverns of the Grave
How lovely the delights of those risen again from death
O trembling joy excess of joy is like Excess of grief

So sang the Human Odors round the wine presses of Luvah"

When man associates the contents of his conscious mind with good, and of the unconscious mind with evil he is in danger of an eruption of his buried or shadow side. The rejected content may surface as uncontrolled outbursts, moods of depression, or feelings of worthlessness. But when he retrieves from his shadow side discarded remnants from a totality which needs both darkness and light to define its outlines, he may indeed feel he is 'risen again from death.'
The following quote is from Meeting the Shadow, The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams:

"British Jungian analyst and astrologer Liz Greene points to the paradoxical nature of the shadow as both the container of darkness and the beacon pointing toward the light: “It is the suffering, crippled side of the personality which is both the dark shadow that won't change and also the redeemer that transforms one's life and alters one's values. The redeemer can get hidden treasure or win the princess or slay the dragon because he's marked in some way –he's abnormal. The shadow is both the awful thing that needs redemption, and suffering redeemer who can provide it."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Grain of Sand

An illustration extracted from page 61 of William Blake, painter 
and poet by Richard Garnett Publisher: London, Seeley.
The work is captioned as The Resurrection of the Dead. 
From a water-colour drawing by W. Blake. British Museum.'
published 1895
copy held by University of Toronto, made available at
williamblakepain00garnuoft Converted to PNG and greyscale:
nudge slider for black and white only. The original was obtained from
an online viewer's jpg, not supplied because there are larger files at the
source for a more studied restoration. Scan of original would be even
better. This version is adequate for its purpose.
This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, 
public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public 
A plaintive song of Bob Dylan's which was evidently written under the influence of William Blake is titled EVERY GRAIN OF SAND. It was written during what is know as Dylan's Christian period. I see in the song echoes of "Auguries of Innocence" and what may be called the "Jerusalem Hymn" from the beginning of Blake's Milton. Dylan writes of the faith and fears experienced as one travels on the spiritual journey in a world of danger and temptation. Blake's images provide an affirmative note of comfort.

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."

[Pickering Manuscript], Blake's Notebook, (E 490)
"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A Dove house filld with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State"
This poem continues for 132 lines. The final lines were used prominently in the movie "Dead Man".

 by Bob Dylan 

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Genesis 4
[19] And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
[20] Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle.
[21] His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.
[22] Zillah bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Na'amah.
[23] Lamech said to his wives: "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.

Museum Syndicate
Large Color Printed Drawings
Lamech and his Two Wives
Having left Eden, man set forth as a divided psyche. But the divisions and threats he encountered were experienced as external not internal. Man had programed himself to misunderstand what was going on within and around himself. 

In the outer world Lamech had killed men for striking or wounding him. He resorted to murder when reconciliation may have sufficed. Blake's Four Zoas operate within the psyche of man as the four functions operate in the psyche described by Jung. The passage from Jerusalem, Plate 37 starts with the Zoas 'in terrible combustion clouded rage'. The Spectre has control of the mind removing all possibility of respect and cooperation among the Zoas. The Spectre turns virtues into vices and redefines holiness as every destructive tendency.   

Lameck has fallen under the dominion of the Spectre in killing fellow human beings. Although he regrets his violence he feels trapped in the cycle of vengeance which started with the jealousy of Abel by Cain.

In the previous image Adam and God were both seen to be wounded by the separation between them. Lameck and God are both pulled down by involvement in vengeful behaviors. Blake traces vengeance among the Zoas as they fall further away from their original attitudes of faith, reason, love and imagination.

Jerusalem, Plate 37 [41], (E 183)
"The Four Zoa's in terrible combustion clouded rage
Drinking the shuddering fears & loves of Albions Families
Destroying by selfish affections the things that they most admire
Drinking & eating, & pitying & weeping, as at a trajic scene.
The soul drinks murder & revenge, & applauds its own holiness   

They saw Albion endeavouring to destroy their Emanations.  

[inscription in reversed writing] 
'Each Man is in
his Spectre's power
Until the arrival
of that hour,
When his Humanity
And cast his Spectre
into the Lake'
Plate 38 [43]
They saw their Wheels rising up poisonous against Albion
Urizen, cold & scientific: Luvah, pitying & weeping
Tharmas, indolent & sullen: Urthona, doubting & despairing
Victims to one another & dreadfully plotting against each other
To prevent Albion walking about in the Four Complexions."      

Jerusalem, 47, (E 196)
"And the Veil of Vala, is composed of the Spectres of the Dead

Hark! the mingling cries of Luvah with the Sons of Albion
Hark! & Record the terrible wonder! that the Punisher
Mingles with his Victims Spectre, enslaved and tormented         
To him whom he has murderd, bound in vengeance & enmity
Shudder not, but Write, & the hand of God will assist you!
Therefore I write Albions last words. Hope is banish'd from me.
Plate 48
These were his last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages. Then, surrounded with a Cloud:
In silence the Divine Lord builded with immortal labour,         
Of gold & jewels a sublime Ornament, a Couch of repose,
With Sixteen pillars: canopied with emblems & written verse.
Spiritual Verse, order'd & measur'd, from whence, time shall reveal.
The Five books of the Decologue, the books of Joshua & Judges,
Samuel, a double book & Kings, a double book, the Psalms & Prophets 
The Four-fold Gospel, and the Revelations everlasting
Eternity groan'd. & was troubled, at the image of Eternal Death!" 
Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 152)
"And this is the manner of the Sons of Albion in their strength
They take the Two Contraries which are calld Qualities, with which

Every Substance is clothed, they name them Good & Evil
From them they make an Abstract, which is a Negation             
Not only of the Substance from which it is derived
A murderer of its own Body: but also a murderer
Of every Divine Member: it is the Reasoning Power
An Abstract objecting power, that Negatives every thing
This is the Spectre of Man: the Holy Reasoning Power             
And in its Holiness is closed the Abomination of Desolation

Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza
Compelling his Spectre to labours mighty; trembling in fear
The Spectre weeps, but Los unmovd by tears or threats remains

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans           
I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create"