Sunday, March 02, 2014


Some notes on Blake

Albion The Eternal Man; the fallen man; due to rise.

God appears, and God is light 
To those poor souls who dwell in night, 
But does a human form display 
To those who dwell in realms of day.
   (End of Auguries of Innocence)

Beulah in the Bible was the name Isaiah gave to the Holy Land, when it was to be redeemed. It means married. Blake used it as the place of rest from the fierce contentions of Eternity.
"Both read the same Bible day and night
But you read black where I read white."
(from The Everlasting Gospel by William Blake)
      We have Blake's Annotations on Bacon's Essays (Erd 620-32), part of which you may read at this review of Bacon's thought.

Blake's God
   Some understanding of Berkeley is a good preliminary to understanding the shape of Blake's mature vision of God, which came to him definitively about 1800.
   You can say nothing other than the products of your mind, which means that an objective God is a complete unknown; Blake would say there's no such thing:
  • Mental Things are alone Real what is Calld Corporeal Nobody Knows of its Dwelling Place it is in Fallacy & its Existence an Imposture Where is the Existence Out of Mind or Thought Where is it but in the Mind of a Fool.
   (From, A Vision of The Last Judgment)
   In Blakean theology Jesus is the only God; not the man named Jesus: he's only a man. No! Blake's Jesus is the indwelling spirit within the psyche- the fount of imagination and forgiveness. Jesus isone.
   Thus, when the two Great Commandments meld together, the neighbor we're exhorted to love is the God within the other. So to love God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength involves loving God in all the particulars-- not just your neighbor, but his animals, insects, sticks and stones. Nature thus becomes what is groaning in travail; to love and care for it is to love God. "God only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men" (MHH plate 16).

   This from Blake's Design of the Last Judgment
Many suppose that before the Creation All was Solitude and Chaos. This is the most pernicious Idea that can enter the Mind as it takes away all sublimity from the Bible and Limits All Existence to Creation and to Chaos-- to the Time and Space fixed by the Corporeal Vegetative Eye, and leaves the Man who entertains such an Idea the habitation of Unbelieving Demons. Eternity Exists and All things in Eternity Independent of Creation which was an act of Mercy. I have represented those who are in Eternity by some in a Cloud within the Rainbow that Surrounds the Throne. They merely appear as in a Cloud when any thing of Creation, Redemption, or Judgment are the Subjects of Contemplation tho their Whole Contemplation is Concerning these things. The Reason they so appear is The Humiliation of the Reasoning and Doubting Selfhood and the Giving all up to Inspiration. By this it will be seen that I do not consider either the Just or the Wicked to be in a Supreme State but to be every one of them States of the Sleep which the Soul may fall into in its Deadly Dreams of Good and Evil when it leaves Paradise following the Serpent.

Daughters of Beulah

In the upper left corner of the Arlington Tempera, behind the sleeping god, nymphs are playing upon musical instruments. To Digby in Symbol and Image in William Blake these were the daughters of Beulah.
The picture here accurately represents their role - to attend the couches (like nurses in ICU); with their music they empower man's perception of the archetypal symbols which address the unconscious more directly than words might. The archetypal symbols are the oxygen, the medicines meant to heal the sufferer in Ulro from the 'mind forg'd manacles' of gross materialism; the unconscious offers us better things.
(The daughters are mentioned 29 times in Blake's poetry.):

Four Zoas Night 1 Page 5 line 33-5:
"On all sides within & without the Universal Man The Daughters of Beulah follow sleepers in all their Dreams Creating Spaces lest they fall into Eternal Death."

Or this one: Four Zoas Night 8 Page 113 line 32-6:
But thou O Universal Humanity who is One Man blessed for Ever
Receivest the Integuments woven Rahab beholds the Lamb of God
She smites with her knife of flint She destroys her own work
Times upon times thinking to destroy the Lamb blessed for Ever
He puts off the clothing of blood he redeems the spectres from their bonds
He awakes the sleepers in Ulro the Daughters of Beulah praise him
They anoint his feet with ointment they wipe them with
the hair of their head."

Or this, Milton plate 34.20-21 E134:
"And the Couches of the Martyrs: & many Daughters of Beulah Accompany them down to the Ulro with soft melodious tears."


Entering the Door of Death (Frontspiece of Jerusalem)
The word die is carefully avoided by most of us; when a loved one dies, we say he/she passed away. The question is-- what dies? The Roman Empire died; the British Empire died? But those were not people per se; they were states, conglomerates of materiality. So death is relative-- from what to what? 

Ellie asked a workmate if he considered himself a body or a spirit; "a body", he said; "a spirit", she said. So what dies? A body or a spirit or both? (In mortal life our bodies are said to actually die (cell by cell) and be renewed every 7 years.)

So at the end of mortal life what dies? the body of course, the garment that we acquired when we descended into the Sea of Time and Space and the 'daughters of Enitharmon' began to cut and splice it.

When Odysseus (or Luvah) threw the garment back to the sea goddess, he was on his way back to Eternity, where we all go sooner or later.

In the French Quarter in N.O. a black friend told me about her dead son; he had had an incurable and painful disease; he came to her and asked her permission to die, which she of course granted. In one of Charles Williams' delightful metaphysical thrillers two characters are especially memorable: a saintly lady fully in tune with the life of the Spirit, and a man who generations before had been hanged; his spirit still hanged around that locale, which happened to be outside her window. She met him there and gave him permission to depart in peace.

In the series called William Blake Meets Thomas Paine we witness a conversation that Bill Blake had with his brother, Robert (long deceased), and we're led to believe that this was commonplace in Blake's life.

But when once I did descry
The Immortal Man that cannot die,
Thro' evening shades I haste away
To close the labours of my day."(From Gates of Paradise)

"Every Death is an improvement in the State of the Departed." (Letter 74 - to Linnell; Erdman 774)

By Death Eternal Blake implied descent into mortal life.
By Life Eternal he meant return to our Eternal Origin.
"But what have you and I learned here in our mortal life?

      The Divine Vision represented the radiance of the spiritual realm in its ascendance over the material. In the Christian world its primary appearance of course is Jesus.
   The term appears 48 times in Blake's major poems (The Four Zoas and Jerusalem) according to the   Blake concordance. Here is one instance: "For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision.." (Four Zoas [Nt 2], 33.11; E321.
Blake used the word divine in many other senses, for example:

"For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision" (FZ night ii 33:11).
the Divine Family for the communion of saints, the bride of Christ; close in they are a multitude; from afar they are One, Christ. (For this idea he leaned heavily on John 17.)
      Blake developed a vividly graphic image of the priestly cocoon in his major work called Milton (See plate 33). His poetry here is almost invincibly opaque, but the meaning has extreme significance in regard to his pscyhology, his world view, his religious outlook. The Mundane Shell represents fallen man, and particularly the worship of materiality rather than spirit. And more particularly the encrustation of organized religion (and law) over the spirit of humanity. Viewed individually it represents the psyche of a person whose consciousness has not yet evolved form the purely material. Or to look at this from another viewpoint: a child who has lost his innocence.
      In "Proverbs of Hell" of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake wrote:
"Till a system was formed, which some took
advantage of and enslav'd the vulgar by 
attempting to realize or abstract the mental 
deities from their objects: thus began 
Priesthood; Choosing forms of worship from 
poetic tales. And at length they pronounc'd 
that the Gods had order'd such things. 
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast." 
Enion was the consort of the 4th Zoa, Tharmas. 
He represented the basic physical aspect of Albion. In relation to Carl Jung's four functions 

Tharmas would be sensation (however among scholars there is some disagreement about that, borne out by a passage found in Milton and again in Jerusalem:

"For Four Universes round the Mundane Egg remain Chaotic
One to the North; Urthona: One to the South; Urizen:
One to the East: Luvah: One to the West, Tharmas;
They are the Four Zoas that stood around the Throne Divine".
Tharmas and Enion were the parents of Los and Enitharmon. In his larger mythological works, especially The Four Zoas, Blake gave to Enion some of the most intense poetry that he wrote.
   For an introduction to Tharmas and Enion go to Characters

   The term, Death Eternal, means something far different from the conventional intonation. To Blake it meant captivity to the Material for someone completely oblivious to the realm of Spirit.


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