Monday, June 30, 2014

Sources Boehme-2

Boehme has much to say regarding the Fall:

From Percival p. 79-80 we  read:
"The assumption that man's perceptual powers suffered a declension
with the Fall is found in Origen, Erigena, Boehme, and Swedenborg
....Before the Fall Albion enjoyed the expansiveness of the supernal
 senses...but with the Fall his perceptions shrunk to the organic level."

On p. 163:
Resorting again to Boehme's Threefold Life:
"And that's the heavy fall of Adam, that his eyes and spirit entered
into the outward, into the four elements, into the palpability, fiz.,
into 'death', and there they were blind as to the kingdom of God."
Boehme adapted this as the meaning of the Fall.

Here is the beginning of Jerusalem:
"This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild song.
Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.
In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?I am not a God afar off, 
I am a brother and friend;"
(Jerusalem E 145)

Percival p. 166:
"The danger is the greater because the world of phenomena , is
there, shimmering in spirituality, but tempting man as Boehme
said to 'eat', and so to lose hold of the second principal-the
Son--and fall into the third and and outward principle, the
world if sense and corporeity. And the self--being outward and
feminine and natural--is there to instigate these errors; and
the woman is there to be their instrument.
Blake must have been thinking at this point of Boehme, whose
symbol for the dual unity of God as Father and Son was a flame,
with its dark basis of a consuming fire and its bright top of
The consuming flame is the Father, an angry and jealous God;
the light is the meek and forgiving Son
Now the fire source--the Father--is in Boehme also the first
principal and 'eternal nature'. Should this principal express
itself in the outward and temporal third principal without
passing through the meek and forgiving second principal it
would engender a dark, mortal,corporeal a world of four angry
element..which emerges out of Urizen's regression into selfhood.
In the early prophetic books it is Urizen who initiates the

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Blake became acquainted with Henry Crabb Robinson though John Linnell. Blake was invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Aders with Linnell and met there the journalist and lawyer Robinson, whose hobby was interviewing the Romantic poets among others. The records of conversations Robinson held with Blake late in his life, show Blake to be a feisty and alert man with little tolerance for being misunderstood by someone without spiritual discernment. In spite of his interest in Romanticism, Robinson admitted that the parts of 'Wordworth's ode which he [Blake] most enjoyed were the most obscure and those I the least like and comprehend.' His comprehension of Blake's remarks also was limited which he attributed to Blake's repetition.

Henry Crabb Robinson wrote in February 1826:

"I spoke again of the form of the persons who appear to him. Asked why he did not draw them, 'It is not worth while. There are so many, the labour would be too great. Besides there would be no use. As to Shakespeare, he is exactly like the old engraving—which is called a bad one. I think it very good.'

I enquired about his writings. 'I have written more than Voltaire or Rousseau—six or seven epic poems as long as Homer, and 20 tragedies as long as Macbeth.' He showed me his Vision (for so it may be called) of Genesis—'as understood by a Christian Visionary,' in which in a style resembling the Bible the spirit is given. He read a passage at random. It was striking. He will not print any more. 'I write,' he says, 'when commanded by the spirits, and the moment I have written I see the words fly about the room in all directions. It is then published, and the spirits can read. My MSS. of no further use. I have been tempted to burn my MSS., but my wife won't let me.' She is right, said I—and you have written these, not from yourself, but by a higher order. The MSS. are theirs and your property. You cannot tell what purpose they may answer unforeseen to you. He liked this, and said he would not destroy them. His philosophy he repeated—denying causation, asserting everything to be the work of God or the Devil—that there is a constant falling off from God—angels becoming devils. Every man has a devil in him, and the conflict is eternal between a man's self and God, etc. etc. etc. He told me my copy of his songs would be 5 guineas, and was pleased by my manner of receiving this information. He spoke of his horror of money—of his turning pale when money had been offered him, etc. etc. etc."

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Robinson and Blake were at cross purposes in their conversations: as usual Blake wanted to open the mind of his acquaintance to the perception of the infinite; Robinson, as the type of the natural man, attempted to reduce the higher dimension to something which could be grasped by the lower.

When Jesus spoke of the necessity of being born again, he was addressing a similar situation. Unless a man experiences a transformation of his ability to perceive, he is unable to recognize the dimension of the spirit. The natural man is blinded to the spirit by habitually trusting only in his senses and limited reasoning power of his circumscribed brain. The breaking down of the pattern of denying the messages that well up in his own heart and soul, is an expression the death that precedes rebirth. If we like Blake would like: 

"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", 
Auguries of Innocence, (E 490),

we must seek to be born to the higher consciousness of Infinity and Eternity.
John 3
[1] Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews.
[2] This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."
[3] Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
[4] Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
[5] Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
[6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
[7] Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.'
[8] The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sources Boehme

Once again we should remember Blake's letter to Flaxman where he 
"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. terrors appeard 
in the Heavens above."
(Behmen is the British name for Boehme.) 

On pp 19-20 Percival quoted Boehme's Threefold Life as follows:
"122. For the Principle of the outward world passes away again;
for it has a limit, so that it goes into its ether again, and the four
elements into one again, and then God is manifested, and the virtue
and power of God springs up, as a paradise again in the [one,
eternal] only element; and there the multiplicity or variety of things
come into one again; but the figure of everything remains standing
in the [one] only element."

This of course has close proximity to what Jesus said in the 17th
chapter of the Gospel of John.

Blake began the Four Zoas with this:
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
 Daughter of Beulah Sing 
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his 
Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead"

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell we learn that the Jews
identified the 'Poetic Genius' with the 'First Principle'.

Boehme had much also to say about the First Principle
(This from Percival 36)

Speaking of Light and Darkness:
"Now thus the eternal light, and the virtue of the light, or the heavenly paradise, moveth in the eternal darkness; and the darkness cannot comprehend the light; for they are two several Principles; and the darkness longeth after the light, because that the spirit beholdeth itself therein, and because the divine virtue is manifested in it. But though it hath not comprehended the divine virtue and light, yet it hath continually with great lust lifted up itself towards it, till it hath kindled the root of the fire in itself, from the beams of the light of God; and there arose the third Principle: And it hath its original out of the first Principle, out of the dark matrix, by the speculating of the virtue [or power] of God."

This is only on or two of a great many references to Boehme that we find in the Circle of Destiny.

Friday, June 27, 2014


British Museum
Plate 100, Copy A

In 1893 William Butler Yeats published along with Edwin John Ellis The works of William Blake; poetic, symbolic, and critical. They included in their book 'the illustrated Prophetic books, and a memoir and interpretation.' Kathleen Raine wrote in Defending Ancient Springs, published in 1967, a chapter named Yeats's Debt to William Blake. Raine states that Blake 'remained an inexhaustible source' to Yeats 'into his poetic maturity.' On Page 74, Raine tells us of challenges poets face in creating the myths on which their work depends.

"In antiquity no poet invented his own myths; Yates, living, as Blake had already lived, in a society which has, as a whole, broken with tradition, knew how impossible it is to build up, from a series of intuitive flashes, that wholeness of context which great poetry requires. Is not the peculiar relevance of Blake to our own situation the way in which he set about the resolution of this problem? In his early studies of Blake Yeats had already realized that 'even the "Little Black Boy" cannot be understood unless it is taken as part of the general mystical manifesto that run through all the work'. Later we find in his own poetry, as we do in any poem of Blake's, or in any single episode of Dante's Commedia, the whole order of the cosmos implicit. Neither Yeats, Blake, Shelly, nor any other poet of like stature, is at one time writing in symbolic terms and at another descriptive; for as Yeats wrote in another essay, 'True art is expressive and symbolic, and make every form, every sound, a signature of some unanalysable imaginative essence.' Blake too wrote that 'to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself'.


At this point it may be of interest to notice what Yeats might well have borrowed from Blake but did not. To most readers Blake's pantheon is more striking than the formal structure of his myth. If myth be dynamic symbol, symbol in transformation, myths must be considered as wholes of which the symbolic and elements are parts. A myth is no more constructed from the elements than a living body from its component organs. Mythological thought is therefore the highest and most complete form of symbolic imagination; as it is also the rarest. Neither Milton, Spencer, Shelley, nor Coleridge equal Blake in the completeness, complexity, and energy of his mythological figures and configurations. Yeats, though he attempted the evocation, by magic and ritual, of such living symbols, is not the equal, in this respect of any of the poets named; he handles single symbols of single figures rather than those complex embodiments of uncurbed energy in which Blake's writings and paintings abound. Whereas Blake's mind was essentially dynamic, and all his myth alive with energy, action, transformation, Yeats tends toward Platonic ideal forms, a sculptural stillness, 'a marble or bronze repose. Yet in his search for a pantheon he did at one time seek to evoke the Zoas, whose life seems independent of their creator, as both poets believed; he tells of Orc appearing as 'a wolf in armour', or his face black instead of burning. Yet he never introduced these figures into his own poetry, feeling perhaps a temperamental difference between himself and his volcanic master; or perhaps simply discovering that he did not possess the gift of visionary imagination to the same degree. For of Blake's myth he wrote (in the essay 'On the Necessity of Symbolism' already quoted),
'The surface is perpetually as it were giving way before me, and revealing another surface below it, and that again dissolves when we try to study it. The making of religions melts into the making of the earth, and that fades away into some allegory of the rising and setting of the sun. It is like a great cloud full of stars and shapes through which the eye seeks a boundary in vain. When we seem to have explored the remotest division some new spirit floats by muttering wisdom.'"

William Butler Yeats, The Statues
"Empty eyeballs knew
That knowledge increases unreality, that
Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the show."

Letters, (E 702)
[To] Revd Dr Trusler, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey

13 Hercules Buildings,.Lambeth, August 23, 1799
[Postmark: 28 August]
"Some See
Nature all Ridicule & Deformity & by these I shall not regulate
my proportions, & Some Scarce see Nature at all But to the Eyes
of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself.  As a man
is So he Sees.  As the Eye is formed such are its Powers You
certainly Mistake when you say that the Visions of Fancy are not
be found in This World."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sources in Alchemy

Heraclitus set in motion a principle that pervades the thought of  philosophers and symbolic poets from that time on.
"All things are in a state of constant flux; the fire of God descends through the air and water to earth, and reascends from water and air to its 'fire-source'".

We may take these to be the four zoas.  In the interaction between the four we have birth and death, or death and birth as you please.  Blake's myth may be stated as going from Eternity to a watery Earth; it may be called the Sea of Time and Space.

Blake related this process to the alchemical one.

The alchemical procedure was to put base metals in the crucible and apply fire, hoping to come out with gold.

(In a corresponding way Blake used the furnace of  Los to form our bodies:

From Urizen, Erdman 75:
"Forgetfulness, dumbness, necessity!
in chains of the mind locked up,
Like fetters of ice shrinking together

Disorganiz'd, rent from Eternity,
Los beat on his fetters of iron;
And heated his furnaces & pour'd
Iron sodor and sodor of brass"
(Hoping to produce gold!)


From Night 2 of The Four Zoas (erdman 317):
"Luvah was cast into the Furnaces of affliction & sealed      
And Vala fed in cruel delight, the furnaces with fire
Stern Urizen beheld urg'd by necessity to keep
The evil day afar, & if perchance with iron power
He might avert his own despair; in woe & fear he saw"
and many others.

Blake broadly spoke of the furnaces of affliction in which
we are all involved. We are said to fall from Heaven to
Beulah, sleeping there we fall to Ulro. In the furnace of
afflictions we're generated and and in course of time
regenerated or reborn.

Death to Blake was a liberation of the reborn into the Heaven from which
we came.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations for Poems of Thomas Gray
The Fatal Sisters
Students of William Blake are familiar with Northrop Frye whose book Fearful Symmetry captures the mind of Blake and reveals it to eager readers. A few years after the publication of Fearful Symmetry Frye edited a compendium of Blake's work titled Selected Poetry and Prose of William Blake for which he wrote an introduction. The concluding paragraphs of that introduction summarize much of Blake's seminal ideas. 

From Selected Poetry and Prose of William Blake,
Northrop Frye,
Introduction, Page xxvii:

"There are thus four Levels of human existence. There is the savage and lonely world of unworked nature, Blake's Ulro or hell, where life is, in Hobbes's phrase, nasty, brutish and short. This world of 'single vision and Newton's sleep' has retreated to the stars, is still watching us, and waiting its chance to return. Above this is ordinary life trying to struggle out of savagery, which Blake calls Generation or experience. Above this again is the life of expanded and released desire which we have glimpses of in inspired moments, but which is most commonly the world of children or lovers. Blake calls this state Beulah or innocence. Finally, there is the 'fourfold vision' of a life in which creation dominates reason, the life of 'Wisdom, Art and Science' which Blake called Eden."

We cannot, by ourselves, get outside nature. However splendid our natural cities and gardens, they will only be little hollowings on the surface of the earth. But suppose we could think away the external or nonhuman world: what would the shape of things be then? Clearly the whole universe would have the shape of a single human body. Everything that we call 'real' in nature would be inside the body and mind of the human being, just as in the dream of the world of suppressed desire is all inside the mind of the dreamer. There would no longer be any difference, except one of perspective, between the group and the individual, as all individuals would be members of one human body. Everything in the world, including the sun, moon and the stars, would be part of this human body, and everything would be identical with everything else. This does not mean that all things would be separate and similar like peas in a pod or 'identical' twins: it means identical in the sense that a grown man feels identical with himself at the age of seven, though he is identifying himself with another human being, quite different in time, space, matter, form and personality.

For Blake, Christianity is the religion which teaches that this is in fact the real shape of things, that the only God is universal and perfect Man, the risen Jesus. It is man, not of course natural man, but man as a creator, struggling to achieve his real human form, that God is interested in. The Bible speaks of an apocalypse or revelation of a world transformed into an infinite city, garden, and human body, as the state from which man fell, and to which he will again be restored. The Bible calls this redeemed man Adam or Israel; Blake, being an Englishman, calls him Albion. What Albion is looking for is Jerusalem, 'a City, yet a woman, ' the human form that is at once his bride and his own home. The world of the apocalypse is not a future ideal, like the natural stars, always out of reach. It is a real presence, the authentic form of what exists here and now, and is not something to be promised to the dead, but something to be manifested to the living.

Everything that Blake means by 'art' is the attempt of the trained and disciplined human mind to present this concrete, simple outrageously anthropomorphic view of reality. 'Jesus & his Apostles & Disciples were all Artists,' Blake says. Such a statement may seem nonsense as long a we think of art in conventional terms, according to which Reynolds and Blake were eighteenth-century English painters. Blake means that reason alone, no matter how rarefied a way it may be conceived, cannot comprehend the human shape of reality, for reason sooner of later will come to terms with persisting presence of subhuman nature, and start suppressing desire. The desire which rebels against reason cannot comprehend it either, as, whether it take the form of a lusting individual or a revolutionary society, it is looking for something in the external world to gratify it. Only the effort of a mind which intelligence and love are equally awake, a mind in the creative state that Blake calls imagination, can know what it means to

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 146)
"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! Nations are Destroy'd,
or Flourish, in proportion as Their Poetry Painting and Music,
are Destroy'd or Flourish! The Primeval State of Man, was Wisdom,
Art, and Science."  
Songs and Ballads, (E 490)
"    Auguries of Innocence            
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"

Laocoon, (E 273)
"The whole Business of Man Is The Arts & All Things Common

Christianity is Art & not Money 
Money is its Curse

The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art

Jesus & his Apostles & Disciples were all Artists
Their Works were destroyd by the Seven Angels of the Seven
    Churches in Asia.  Antichrist Science

SCIENCE is the Tree of DEATH
ART is the Tree of LIFE GOD is JESUS"

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thel 5

Rosenwald LC
Thel V

Continuing with wikipedia:

Thel is the allegory of the unborn spirit who has gathered experience from her own discoveries and has decided to remain forever innocent.
In The Book of Thel, the Vales of Har are depicted as an edenic paradise that lived in harmony; a world where the rain feeds the flowers and the clod of clay feeds the infantile worm.[15] The common belief in this world among the characters is that “everything that lives Lives not alone nor for itself.” Thel wishes to enter the world of experience and leave behind her innocent paradise. However, once Thel enters the world of experience, she cowers in terror at the thought of mortality and the uselessness of human beings if every action leads toward the grave. This can also be interpreted as Thel’s fear of losing innocence and virginity upon entering the world of adult sexuality. In other words, Thel’s fear of growing up is what keeps her from actually living. When she flees from the experienced world because it appears as her tombstone, she unwittingly flees life itself.[15] William Blake has put a microscope on the conflict between innocence and experience and he has found that innocence must take on a more elevated meaning, one found through suffering, that Thel can never reach so long as she is gripped by her fear of opening herself up to risk.[16] The idea that Thel’s future life was one of despair and death can be read as another example of Thel’s skewed perspective. Thel is surprised by her brilliance and says that the world of experience looks like a “chamber of horrors.” It has also been suggested that the Worm has a part in the conflict between innocence and experience. The Worm is speaking as a messenger for the world of experience, and his words are inaudible to Thel because the Worm is not a part of her realm.[17] The Worm speaks of phallic sexuality and the guaranteed death of mortality. This creates a mediator when she gives the voice to the Clod of Clay. Now the Clod of Clay acts as an interface between innocence and experience.[17]
"The Book of Thel is an allegory of the unborn spirit visiting the world of generation. Thel rejects the self-sacrificing aspects of experience and flies back to eternity. The symbols of Lily-of-the-Valley, the Cloud, the Worm and the Clod of Clay represent idealistic fancy, youth, adolescence and motherhood." —Geoffrey Keynes[citation needed]
  • "The Book of Thel is best understood as a rewriting of Milton's Comus. ... Blake tells the same 
  • story, but in biological terms, not moral ones." —S. Foster Damon[18]

Monday, June 23, 2014


To fully appreciate the impact of the four paintings which Blake painted for Thomas Butts in 1810 we would need to be in Butts' home and see them hanging together on a wall. Although many of Blake's pictures are small, these are large with dimensions of approximately 30 inches by 25 inches . They were executed in a tempera technique on fine linen. Blake inscribed them with the date, his name and the word 'Fresco', his term for tempera. The paintings now reside in three museums, the Adam and Eve images in the Glasgow Museum, the Virgin and Child in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Christ image in the Fogg Museum   

The four images are shown together here to compare and contrast. The unifying style signifies that the group is to be interpreted as a whole. The details of the focus of the eyes, the positions of the hands, the representative trees, and the backgrounds distinguish characteristics of each stage of development. 
Eve Naming Birds
Adam Naming Beasts

Harvard Art Museums
Fogg Museum
Christ Blessing
Virgin and Child in Egypt

Blake executed these images during the period of his life in which he was most interested in reaching the public through exhibiting his watercolor work (including tempera or fresco) at the Royal Academy and promoting the use of art in his native land.

Advertisement of Exhibition, (E 527)
 "Fresco Painting, as it is now practised, is like
most other things, the contrary of what it pretends to be.
  The execution of my Designs, being all in Water-colours,
(that is in Fresco) are regularly refused to be exhibited by the
Royal Academy, and the British Institution has, 
this year, followed its example, and has effectually excluded me 
by this Resolution; I therefore invite those Noblemen and 
Gentlem[e]n, who are its Subscribers, to inspect what they have 
excluded: and those who have been told that my Works are
but an unscientific and irregular Eccentricity, a Madman's
Scrawls, I demand of them to do me the justice to examine before
they decide.
  There cannot be more than two or three great Painters or
Poets in any Age or Country; and these, in a corrupt state of
Society, are easily excluded, but not so easily obstructed.  They
have ex[c]luded Watercolours; it is therefore become necessary
that I should exhibit to the Public, in an Exhibition of my own,
my Designs, Painted in Watercolours.  If Italy is enriched and
made great by RAPHAEL, if MICHAEL ANGELO is its supreme glory, if
Art is the glory of a Nation, if Genius and Inspiration are the
great Origin and Bond of Society, the distinction my Works have
obtained from those who best understand such things, calls for my
Exhibition as the greatest of Duties to my Country.  
                                             WILLIAM BLAKE"

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 531)
"All Frescos are as high finished as miniatures or enamels,
and they are known to be unchangeable; but oil being a body
itself, will drink or absorb very little colour, and changing
yellow, and at length brown, destroys every colour it is mixed
with, especially every delicate colour.  It turns every permanent
white to a yellow and brown putty, and has compelled the use of
that destroyer of colour, white lead; which, when its protecting
oil is evaporated, will become lead again.  This is an awful
things to say to oil Painters; they may call it madness, but it
is true.  All the genuine old little Pictures, called Cabinet
Pictures, are in fresco and not in oil, Oil was not used except
by blundering ignorance, till after Vandyke's time, but the art
of fresco painting [P 7] being lost, oil became a fetter to
genius, and a dungeon to art.  But one convincing proof among
many others, that these assertions are true is, that real gold
and silver cannot be used with oil, as they are in all the old
pictures and in Mr. B.'s frescos."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thel 4

Why should the mistress of the vales of Har, utter a sigh.
She ceasd & smild in tears, then sat down in her silver shrine.Thel answerd. 
O thou little virgin of the peaceful valley.
Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o'ertired.
Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy milky
He crops thy flowers. while thou sittest smiling in his face,
Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints.
Thy wine doth purify the golden honey, thy perfume,
Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of grass that
Revives the milked cow, & tames the fire-breathing steed.
But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising sun:
I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my place.
Queen of the vales the Lilly answerd, ask the tender cloud,
And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky,
And why it scatters its bright beauty thro' the humid air.
Descend O little cloud & hover before the eyes of Thel.
The Cloud descended, and the Lilly bowd her modest head:
And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant grass.
We meet Har in a previously written Blake poem called Tiriel.

This from wikipedia:
.[5] Various interpretations of the character have been proposed, including the idea that she is an unborn soul who refuses to live as a mortal in the material world[6] or that Thel is an immature human virgin who shies away from the life of mature sexuality.[6] Another popular interpretation sees Thel as emblematic not only of the surface of female frailty, but of the feminine frailty of humankind in general.[7]

  • The Lily of the Valley - The Lily is the first character that Thel encounters in the Vales of Har.
  • She is an adult female who, like Thel, views herself as playing a transient and insignificant part in the larger world. Nevertheless, the Lily informs Thel that even she, a "wat'ry weed" is valued and cared for by God. Scholar Steven Clark interprets the Lily's value in God's eyes as a commentary on patriarchal society. In Clark's view, the Lily has been taught to think of herself as a little weed instead of something inherently beautiful.[8] 

  • Each morning, God comes down with the rising sun to remind the Lily that she is meek and a dweller of lowly places. She is reassured only by God’s promises of life after death in heaven.[8] The Lily is a female character who advocates fulfillment though serving others. Her advice is intended to quell Thel's anxiety and convince that she need not worry. However, the Lily’s advice fails.
  • The Cloud:
  • Having failed to convince Thel, the Lily summons the Cloud after Thel compares 
  • herself to a fleeting cloud, which vanishes into the air as it ends its existence.[9] Unlike Thel’s comparison, the Cloud that appears is more than a conventional symbol of mutability and mortality.[10] The Cloud, as the only explicitly male figure in the poem, makes a valid suggestion of courtship and marriage with Thel.[5]
  • The Worm - The Worm is a double symbol, acting as an infant and also as a penis. Thel reacts to each symbol in a specific way. When the Worm is acting as an infant, Thel feels sorry for the helpless Worm, but still refuses to assist it. When the Worm appears as a penis to Thel, she immediately rejects it and mocks it, calling it an image of weakness.[11]

  • The Clod of Clay is depicted as the maternal figure for the infant worm.[12] 
  • The Clod has accepted the hypocritical male philosophy that teaches that we do not live for ourselves. The Clod is incapable of self-confidence and she is incapable of change because she lacks the ability to question her condition.[12] The Clod cannot tell right from wrong because she has been a victim of abuse by the oppression of a male dominated realm. What the Clod does have is the capacity to love, as she shows the reader through her interactions with the infant Worm.[13] Even though the Clod preaches to Thel about the troubles of marriage, Thel retains her benign image of marriage.[14

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Harvard Art Museums
Fogg Museum

Christ Blessing
The four images which Blake painted for Thomas Butts in 1810 are not meant to be portraits, or illustrations, but symbolic representations of the stages through which men or civilizations pass as they develop toward fruition. Creation was represented as Adam, the Fall was represented as Eve, Generation was represented by Mary and her child, Regeneration was represented by Christ. The details in each picture reinforce the symbolic meaning. The four trees are the oak, the apple, the palm and the olive. The hand gestures are meant to be read as expressing attitudes characteristic of the period of development being represented.

The final image known as Christ Blessing symbolizes the reunification and reorientation of the psyche of man. The regenerated man will live in God, the one body in which all things 'live and move and have their being'. Conversely God will dwell in every breast, his thoughts will fill every mind, every body will express his will, and every imagination will be filled with the Divine Vision.

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 122, (E 391)
"Then bright Ahania shall awake from death
A glorious Vision to thine Eyes a Self renewing Vision 
The spring. the summer to be thine then Sleep the wintry days
In silken garments spun by her own hands against her funeral
The winter thou shalt plow & lay thy stores into thy barns       
Expecting to recieve Ahania in the spring with joy
Immortal thou. Regenerate She & all the lovely Sex
From her shall learn obedience & prepare for a wintry grave
That spring may see them rise in tenfold joy & sweet delight
Thus shall the male & female live the life of Eternity           
Because the Lamb of God Creates himself a bride & wife
That we his Children evermore may live in Jerusalem
Which now descendeth out of heaven a City yet a Woman
Mother of myriads redeemd & born in her spiritual palaces
By a New Spiritual birth Regenerated from Death"  

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 138, (E 406)
"The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning     
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night   
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all consumd
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy
Calling the Plowman to his Labour & the Shepherd to his rest
He walks upon the Eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice   
Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day
That risen from the Sea of fire renewd walk oer the Earth"
Acts 17
[24] The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man,
[25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.
[26] And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation,
[27] that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us,
[28] for `In him we live and move and have our being';
as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crystal Cabinet

On page 51 of Kathleen Raine's Blake and Antiquity we're informed that Blake considered Paracelsis as great as Shakespeare. But of course the Bible is prior to Shakespeare or Paracelsis.

Paul in his letter to the Romans" 
"[18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
[19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
[20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
[21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
[22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
[23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
[24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
[25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."


[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
[2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
[3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
[4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
[5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
[6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
[7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
[8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
[9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. "

In symbolism the physical body is the garment, the envelope, the cabinet, the flesh:

John Locke referred to the tabla raza as an empty cabinet.

The Crystal Cabinet is about flesh and spirit:
The Maiden caught me in the wild,         (Blake's Woman)
Where I was dancing merrily;                 (the young man)
She put me into her Cabinet,                  (fallenness)
And lock'd me up with a golden key.       (could not get back to Eden)

(An immortal spirit is ensared in a mortal body.)

This cabinet is form'd of gold
And pearl and crystal shining bright,
And within it opens into a world
And a little lovely moony night.

(For those ensared material reality(?) is beautiful.)

Another England there I saw              Blake had envisioned England as a part of Eternity. 
Another London with its Tower,          But this is a material England.
Another Thames and other hills,
And another pleasant Surrey bower.

Another Maiden like herself,
Translucent, lovely, shining clear,
Threefold each in the other clos'd
O, what a pleasant trembling fear!

O, what a smile! a threefold smile
Fill'd me, that like a flame I burn'd;
I bent to kiss the lovely Maid,
And found a threefold kiss return'd.

I strove to seize the inmost form
With ardor fierce and hands of flame,
But burst the Crystal Cabinet,
And like a weeping Babe became--

A weeping Babe upon the wild,
And weeping Woman pale reclin'd,
And in the outward air again,
I fill'd with woes the passing wind.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The third of the group of four paintings Blake created for Thomas Butts in 1810 is called Virgin and Child in Egypt. In Blake's system the third stage is Generation: participation in the sexual world in which man lives in Time and Space and has a physical body. The mother and child represent procreation, the characteristic of the natural world which, along with death, typifies the stage of generation. The other prominent features of the picture are the symbols of the location in Egypt: the palm tree, the pyramids and the palace. For the Hebrews the significance of Egypt is the bondage from which they were released under the leadership of Moses. Blake is suggesting that the stage of generation is a bondage from which man seeks release.

Christians consider that the ministry of Jesus represented a second Exodus providing release from the bondage to sin and death. Jesus came to introduce the stage of development where each man knows his own spiritual nature and learns to give expression to the God within his own heart, and mind, and soul, and body. 

Songs of Innocence and of Experience
, Plate 52, (E 30)

"To Tirzah              

Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free;
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blow'd in the morn: in evening died
But Mercy changd Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart. 
And with false self-decieving tears,
Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears.

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free, 
Then what have I to do with thee?

[text on illustration: It is Raised a Spiritual Body]

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 120)
"And Palamabron thou rememberest when Joseph an infant;
Stolen from his nurses cradle wrapd in needle-work
Of emblematic texture, was sold to the Amalekite,
Who carried him down into Egypt where Ephraim & Menassheh        
Gatherd my Sons together in the Sands of Midian
And if you also flee away and leave your Fathers side,
Following Milton into Ulro, altho your power is great
Surely you also shall become poor mortal vegetations
Beneath the Moon of Ulro: pity then your Fathers tears"   

[1] Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to Abim'elech king of the Philistines.
[2] And the LORD appeared to him, and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.
[3] Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
[4] I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give to your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves:
[5] because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."
[6] So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.

Genesis 37
[23] So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore;
[24] and they took him and cast him into a pit. The pit was empty, there was no water in it.
[25] Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ish'maelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.
[26] Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?
[27] Come, let us sell him to the Ish'maelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers heeded him.
[28] Then Mid'ianite traders passed by; and they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ish'maelites for twenty shekels of silver; and they took Joseph to Egypt.

Exodus 29
[45] And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God.
[46] And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God.

Matthew 2
[12] And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
[13] Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
[14] And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt,
[15] and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thel 3

No script appears to be associated with this (Title page).
Using the 'Works compare' various things may be seen in various copies.

All of them show Thel, beside the trunk of a bending tree, looking at an embrace of a naked man and a clothed woman. Erdman tells us they are in two blossoms of the anemone pulsatilla, opened by the wind.

Another anemone bud, unopened, stands at Thel's feet.

The three buds (two opened represent Desire, while the unopened one represents Restraint.

in microcosm that's the story of Thel; she observed Experience, but thought better of it and returned to Har.

There's a figure within the second O; Erdman says it's a shepherd with a crook like Thel's.
There are many other objects that need to be analyzed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


In 1810 Blake painted a series of four pictures for Thomas Butts. The first of the group was shown in the post Giving Names. While the first picture showed Adam naming the animals, the second is said to be Eve naming the birds. However there is no Biblical precedent for Eve naming the birds. Blake was using Eve and the birds to point us in the direction of separation of the female from the male which initiated the sexuality of Generation. 
Eve is the figure who transitions Eden to generation. Kathleen Raine, on page 41 of Blake and Antiquity, tells us that the birds with Eve are the 'lureing birds of love.'

We can see in Adam the undivided man whose straightforward gaze engages our own gaze, or he looks past us to the infinite, eternal world beyond. Eve's eyes are focused not on the viewer, or on heaven above, or on eternity, but on something in her own world which has attracted her attention. If in this set of pictures Blake used Adam as a symbol for Creation he used Eve as a symbol for the Fall. 

Book of Urizen, Plate 18, (E 78)
"9. All Eternity shudderd at sight
Of the first female now separate                       
Pale as a cloud of snow
Waving before the face of Los

10. Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,
Petrify the eternal myriads;
At the first female form now separate                  

Plate 19
They call'd her Pity, and fled"

Jerusalem, Plate 86, (E 245)
"And Enitharmon like a faint rainbow waved before him         
Filling with Fibres from his loins which reddend with desire
Into a Globe of blood beneath his bosom trembling in darkness
Of Albions clouds. he fed it, with his tears & bitter groans
Hiding his Spectre in invisibility from the timorous Shade
Till it became a separated cloud of beauty grace & love       
Among the darkness of his Furnaces dividing asunder till
She separated stood before him a lovely Female weeping
Even Enitharmon separated outside, & his Loins closed
And heal'd after the separation: his pains he soon forgot:
Lured by her beauty outside of himself in shadowy grief.      
Two Wills they had; Two Intellects: & not as in times of old.

Silent they wanderd hand in hand like two Infants wandring
From Enion in the desarts, terrified at each others beauty
Envying each other yet desiring, in all devouring Love,"
The primary characteristic of the fall of man to Blake was not disobedience or sin but the loss of the awareness of Eternity with its attendant inability to perceive that one is known by God and knows God intuitively. Paul's book of Romans says something of the same when he speaks of man losing the power of seeing the 'invisible nature' of the created world, and worshiping the images rather than the creator. 

Romans 1
[19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
[20] Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
[21] for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
[22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
[23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
[24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
[25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.