Thursday, July 31, 2014


British Museum
Illustrations to Blair's The Grave
Death's Door
Thoughts are nobody's property. The are among the archetypal realities that exist in the realm of Eternity. They may be passed from mind to mind, or spirit to spirit. Or they may enter the mind directly through a gate that has been opened in a receptive mind.

The idea that death and life are intertwined in a complex matrix through which both feed and are fed was first recorded by Heraclitus. The idea was seminal and reached the minds of a string of thinkers.  

Blake found it somewhere and used it as an ingredient in the poetic expression he was creating. But with the content of the thought, he found also the paradigm for thinking in a non-rational, non-linear way which he recognized as reflecting the greater mind to which he was related.

Edwin Ellis wrote an early book containing Blake's poetry and background information together with William Butler Yeats who was a major poet in his own right. We pick up here the thread of thought from Heraclitus which had illuminated Blake, and then became an 'obsession' to Yates.

The website of the Charles Williams Society provides information on the influence of Heraclitus on Yeats and on Williams: "Yeats came across Heraclitus in 1909, when he recorded the third and fourth of those above in his Journal" 
[These are the two aphorisms of Heraclitus which Yeats wrote in his journal]:
"War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some
men, some bound and some free.

The immortals are mortal, the mortals immortal, each living in the others’ death
and dying in the others’ life. "

Continuing quoting from the website:
"Yeats did not publish this Journal, but the final phrase of the fragment, in the form
‘dying the other’s life, living the other’s death’, became an obsession with him in his
middle years."

"A Vision is Yeats’s book of occult wisdom. It was first published in 1925, in an
edition of 600 signed copies ‘privately printed for subscribers only’. It was therefore not
an easy book to find, and it is a testimony to [Charles] Williams’s interest in Yeats that he did obtain it, and praised it in his 1930 essay on Yeats as ‘that learned and profound work’"

"The phrase which interested him [Williams] occurs first in one of Yeats’s characteristic
discussions of gyres, those interpenetrating cones which occur only in discussions of
Yeats, but there turn up all the time. After a particularly tangled and abstruse passage we
come across:
It is as though the first act of being, after creating limit, was to divide itself into male and female, each dying the other’s life living the other’s death."

Charles Williams uses the same phrases from Heraclitus in describing a central formulation of his thought: that humans, like Christ, are called to bear one another's burdens through 'substitution' in the following poem:

Taliessin Through Logres, The Region on the Summer Stars, Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis, Page 154: 

The Region of the Summer Stars 
The Founding of the Company
"The Company's second mode bore farhter
the labour and fruition; it exchanged the proper self
and whatever need was drew daily breath
in another's place, according to the grace of the Spirit
'dying each other's life, living each other's death'.
Terrible and lovely is the general substitution of souls
the Flesh-taking ordained for its mortal images 
in its first creation, and now Its sublime self
shows, since deigned to be dead in the sted of each man." 

Turning now to Blake's poetry we find ways he found that man and man, and man and God are related through the interplay of living and dying.

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 27, (E 16)  
"On Anothers Sorrow

Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear--
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be."

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 7, (E 36)
"The most sublime act is to set another before you."

Milton, Plate 11 [12], (E 105)
"And it was enquir'd: Why in a Great Solemn Assembly           
The Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty? Then an Eternal rose

Saying. If the Guilty should be condemn'd, he must be an Eternal Death
And one must die for another throughout all Eternity."

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 155)
"Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me            
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not

So Jesus spoke! the Covering Cherub coming on in darkness
Overshadowd them & Jesus said Thus do Men in Eternity
One for another to put off by forgiveness, every sin

Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious          
Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood
I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend

Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee
And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself           
Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love:
As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death
In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood"
The French Revolution, Prophetic Works Unegraved, (E 294) 
"But go, merciless man! enter into the infinite labyrinth of another's brain 
Ere thou measure the circle that he shall run. Go, thou cold recluse, into the fires 
Of another's high flaming rich bosom, and return unconsum'd, and write laws. 
If thou canst not do this, doubt thy theories, learn to consider all men as thy equals, 
Thy brethren, and not as thy foot or thy hand, unless thou first fearest to hurt them."

Charles Williams (Arthurian Poets) by Charles Williams and David L. Dodds (Aug 1991)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life and Death

Heraclitus was so old that hundreds of quotes from other people have been attributed to him. Perhaps the outstanding one was Plato:
"Everything changes and nothing stands still."
As quoted by Plato in Cratylos, 402a
  • You could not step twice into the same river.

As quoted in Plato, Cratylus, 402a:
"Soc. Heracleitus is supposed to say that all things are  in motion and nothing at rest; he compares them to the stream of a river,  and says that you cannot go into the same water twice.” 

From Heraclitus, Plato, and many other ancient writers Blake got his fundamental principle of opposites.

Matter is composed of dualities

"Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine;
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine …"

Ability (to something) - inability
Abnormal - normal
Absence of sympathy - sympathy
Absolute - relative      (especially pertinent to Blake)
Abstract - specific      (especially pertinent to Blake) 

"1. This is true Christian philosophy far above all abstraction 
                                                                 AnnLav1; E584
2. enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the 
                                                                 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 11; E38
3. With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude, 
                                                                 VISIONS of the Daughters of Albion, 5.19; E49
4. The Human Abstract.  
                                                                 Songs of Experience, Title; E27)

Acceptable - unacceptable

Active - passive
All - nothing
Altruism - egoism
Always - never
An observer - an observed
Analysis - synthesis

Some of Blake's Uses:
Songs of Innocence and Experience
Eden and Beulah
Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The point is that in 'this world' we are dualistic.
In Eternity we are whole.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Milton Percival traces in Blake's work some of the influences of Heraclitus, the 5th century BC Greek philosopher. 

William Blake's Circle of Destiny, Page 48
"_ the quickening period of spring and the fallow autumn. In these two seasons are the energy and repose of the spiritual world. They bear witness to Heraclitus's doctrine of the continual alternation of the contraries. Blake expressed this in the Marriage of Heaven & Hell. 'Without contraries ,' he writes 'is no progression. 
Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.' This fundamental antimony which underlies all life and gives it its cyclic character corresponds to the sexual duality already noted in Albion and the Zoas. The energy and repose of the spiritual world are masculine and feminine. Eden, the world of energy is masculine; Beulah, the world of repose, is feminine. Together they constitute the heavenly and earthly paradise."

Page 90-91 
"Possibly Heraclitus, the reputed father of the doctrine of contraries, cannot be called a mystic. Nevertheless the mystical tradition is steeped in this doctrine. Swedenborg. Boehme, Hermes, the Gnostics, Philo, the Kabbalah - the list reads like the line of Blake's spiritual ancestry - all recognize but reconcile life's apparent duality by a mystical union of contraries.
Blake's philosophy rests squarely on this tradition." 

Page 198
"When Heraclitus declared that all thing are in a state of constant flux, and that the original fire descends from the ethereal plane through air and water to earth, and reascends, cycle-wise, through water and air to join the fire-source, he laid, without knowing it, one of the foundation stones of alchemy."

Perhaps the greatest debt that Blake owed to Heraclitus related to the interplay of death and life. The statement: 'We live their death, we die their life,' is attributed to Heraclitus. To Blake entry into earthly life was a death because it entailed forgetting the much richer Eternal Life that it replaced. The return to Eternity, although a return to life, required that man undergo a death to the limitations of life in time and space.    
Wikimedia Commons
Soul Hovering Over the Body
Illustrations to Blair's The Grave
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
 "Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more.  The Apostles knew of no other Gospel.  What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in
Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing
to Man? O ye Religious discountenance every one among
you who shall pretend to despise Art & Science! I call upon you
in the Name of Jesus! What is the Life of Man but Art & Science?
is it Meat & Drink? is not the Body more than Raiment? What is
Mortality but the things relating to the Body, which Dies? What
is Immortality but the things relating to the Spirit, which Lives
Eternally! What is the joy of Heaven but Improvement in the
things of the Spirit? What are the Pains of Hell but Ignorance,
Bodily Lust, Idleness & devastation of the things of the

Letters, 7 June 1825, (E 774)
"but perhaps & I
verily believe it Every Death is an improvement of the State of
the Departed."

Monday, July 28, 2014


Art today is a fiercely competitive business. A successful artist must subordinate his own interests and values to those which are 'commercial', that is to say those that sell. Many young men and women abandon the field, unwilling to serve the interests of people with means and no taste!

That was Blake's dilemma from ages 23 to 43. For 20 years he struggled to make a living for Catherine and himself while remaining true to his Visions of Life. From that dilemma he was hopefully delivered in 1800.

An affluent man commonly referred to as a poetaster named William Hayley invited William Blake to occupy a cottage on his property at Felpham, a seaside town in Sussex. William and Catherine moved there with much enthusiasm hoping to get away from the 'dog eat dog' commercial milieu of London. But their enthusiasm was short lived.

Hayley proposed to engage Blake in 'profitable' art work such as painting miniatures, and he uniformly discouraged Blake from pursuing his Eternal (non-material!) interests.

Blake endured this travail --an internal one-- for three years; Hayley was kind, trying to be helpful (Blake decided that corporeal friends are spiritual enemies.) (Milton 4.26 Erdman 98).

In 1803 the travail ended; read the letter to Hayley (Erdman 756). It appears that he was miraculously delivered from the stress of 'serving two masters'; he was soon back in London. A truer friend named Thomas Butts bought whatever Blake chose to paint. The Shoreham Ancients (Use the browser to see this article.) gradually gathered around his house to discuss his work, and to support Blake in other ways.

We are basically indebted to Butts and the Shoreham Ancients for the tremendous inheritance that our poet left for us.

(From an earlier post)

Sunday, July 27, 2014


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts 
Blake gives us a key to understanding ourselves through following the development of man as he is seen from different perspectives. We are inclined to view ourselves as individuals with particular characteristics and abilities. But this is only part of the story for we get involved in routines or behaviors which thwart our movement along the path we would like to follow. Neither the particular individual, or the state through which he travels tells the complete story. There is an archetypal level of existence in which exist the eternal patterns which manifest in the lives of individuals.

Life is so constructed that man is given guidance so that he can identify himself as an individual; he can learn to recognize the states for the transitory experiences they are; and he can perceive that ordinary experience is a reflection of the eternal, invisible, infinite world which is beyond rational knowledge.

The individual - peculiar wisdom - individuality

Milton, Plate 4, (E 97)   
"Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty
In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan
Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell
Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven
The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold 
If you account it Wisdom when you are angry to be silent, and
Not to shew it: I do not account that Wisdom but Folly.
Every Mans Wisdom is peculiar to his own Individ[u]ality
O Satan my youngest born, art thou not Prince of the Starry Hosts
And of the Wheels of Heaven, to turn the Mills day & night?  
Art thou not Newtons Pantocrator weaving the Woof of Locke
To Mortals thy Mills seem every thing & the Harrow of Shaddai
A scheme of Human conduct invisible & incomprehensible
Get to thy Labours at the Mills & leave me to my wrath,"

Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203)
"In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings.
And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion 

But Albion fell down a Rocky fragment from Eternity hurld
By his own Spectre, who is the Reasoning Power in every Man
Into his own Chaos which is the Memory between Man & Man"

"No man can think write or speak from his heart,
but he must intend truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from
the Poetic Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every

The states he passes through

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 210)
"Why wilt thou deface thy beauty & the beauty of thy little-ones
To please thy Idols, in the pretended chastities of Uncircumcision[?]    
Thy Sons are lovelier than Egypt or Assyria; wherefore
Dost thou blacken their beauty by a Secluded place of rest.
And a peculiar Tabernacle, to cut the integuments of beauty
Into veils of tears and sorrows O lovely Jerusalem!
They have perswaded thee to this, therefore their end shall come 
And I will lead thee thro the Wilderness in shadow of my cloud
And in my love I will lead thee, lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion.

This is the Song of the Lamb, sung by Slaves in evening time."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 131)
"And thus the Seven Angels instructed him & thus they converse.

We are not Individuals but States: Combinations of Individuals   
We were Angels of the Divine Presence: & were Druids in Annandale
Compelld to combine into Form by Satan, the Spectre of Albion,
Who made himself a God &, destroyed the Human Form Divine."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die."

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

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 171)
"But many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness       
To Individuals & not to States, and these Slept in Ulro."

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 189)
"here 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"

The eternal archetypes which are permanent - universality

Jerusalem, Plate 90, (E 250)
"When the Individual appropriates Universality
He divides into Male & Female: & when the Male & Female,
Appropriate Individuality, they become an Eternal Death.
Hermaphroditic worshippers of a God of cruelty & law!"   

Annotations to Watson, (E 615)
"The Bible or  Word of God, Exclusive of Conscience
or the Word of God Universal, is that Abomination which like the
Jewish ceremonies is for ever removed & henceforth every man may
converse with God & be a King & Priest in his own house" 

Jerusalem, Plate 40 [45], (E 187)
"Man is adjoind to Man by his Emanative portion:
Who is Jerusalem in every individual Man: and her
Shadow is Vala, builded by the Reasoning power in Man        
O search & see: turn your eyes inward: open O thou World
Of Love & Harmony in Man: expand thy ever lovely Gates." 

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 555)
  "The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just [as]  the Imaginative Image
returns [according to]  the seed of Contemplative
Thought the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556)
"it ought to be understood that the Persons
Moses & Abraham are not here meant but the States Signified by
those Names the Individuals being representatives or Visions of
those States as they were reveald to Mortal Man in the Series of
Divine Revelations. as they are written in the Bible these
various States I have seen in my Imagination when distant they
appear as One Man but as you approach they appear
Multitudes of Nations." 
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536)
"Thus the reader will observe, that
Chaucer makes every one of his characters perfect in his kind,
every one is an Antique Statue; the image of a class, and not of
an imperfect individual."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556) 
"Eternal Identity is one thing & Corporeal
Vegetation is another thing Changing Water into Wine by Jesus &
into Blood by Moses relates to Vegetable Nature also" 


Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376)
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire

Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said 
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us
Is aught but death In individual weakness sorrow & pain"   

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More on Frye

Northrup Frye was a very famous literary critic,

and a great deal can be found about him on the
web. A Canadian, Frye went to seminary and became
a parish minister; then he went to Oxford and got
an M.A. in English Literature. He wrote his
thesis on William Blake.

A great many books came from his pen; the first
one was Fearful Symmetry (1944). Frye opens the
door to a depth understanding of Blake's poetry (and
pictures). It took five readings of Fearful Symetry
(30 years ago) to open my mind to William Blake.

In the eighties, near the end of his life, Frye
published two monumental volumes of "The Bible as
Literature"; they speak directly to the depth
understanding of our poet.

Some of the statements in 'The Word with the Word'
(chapter five of Fearful Symmetry) may sound
enigmatic; just stay with them, and light will come.
This chapter is a lucid description of Frye's primary
gift to literature, to meaning and religion.

All words are metaphors; the meanings they convey
depend upon the author's mind - and frame of mind
when he writes them; and upon the reader's (or
hearer's) mind when he reads or hears them. (Most
of the purposeless arguments over virtually anything
stem from failure to understand this basic fact.)

For Western culture the Bible is the Great Code of
Art; it embodies the Universal Myth, basically
fourfold: Creation, The Fall, Redemption,
Apocalypse. Blake believed that it was the
guiding myth undergirding virtually all discourse.

"Blake's poetry is all related to a central myth...
and the primary basis of this myth is the Bible.
The Bible is therefore the archetype of Western
culture, and the Bible...provides the basis for most
of our major art" (Fearful Symmetry, p. 109).

The word of God was Jesus (cf John 1). Anything
that you say or write may be the Word of God-- the
Jesus in you (Paul).

In Plate 3 of Jerusalem (Erdman p. 145) we can read:
"I also hope the Reader will be with me, wholly One in Jesus our Lord, 
who is the God [of Fire] and Lord [of Love] to whom the Ancients look'd and saw 
his day afar off, with trembling & amazement. The Spirit of Jesus is continual
forgiveness of sin"

This is the Word in Blake's consciousness.
Jerusalem, (Erdman p. 180):
"Saying. Albion! Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love,
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought:
Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing
We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, receiving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,
In Eden: in the garden of God: and in heavenly Jerusalem."

(This is taken from 'The Word within the Word'
Wednesday, December 30, 2009)

Friday, July 25, 2014


The familiar lines of Blake's best known poem continue to yield stimulation to our imaginations.
Milton Plate 1,(E 95)
     "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."

Focusing on 'my Chariot of fire' we can have a look at Blake's use of the term in another context.

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 560)
 "If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy   General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too.  Both in Art & in Life General Masses
are as Much Art as a Pasteboard Man is Human Every Man has Eyes
Nose & Mouth this Every Idiot knows but he who enters into &
discriminates most minutely the Manners & Intentions [P 83] the
[Expression] Characters in all their branches is the
alone Wise or Sensible Man & on this discrimination All Art is
founded.  I intreat then that the Spectator will attend to the
Hands & Feet to the Lineaments of the Countenances they are all 
descriptive of Character & not a line is drawn without intention
& that most discriminate & particular  much less an
Insignificant Blur or Mark> 
    By the side of Seth is Elijah he comprehends all the
Prophetic Characters he is seen on his fiery Chariot bowing
before the throne of the Saviour." 
Blake has derived his image of the chariot of fire from the character of Elijah in the Old Testament. Blake considers Elijah to be the prophet who best represents the prophetic character. The prophets acted as intermediaries between God and man. Through their intuitive visionary connection, the word of God was perceived through contemplation. The imagination of Blake was inspired by the account in the book of Second Kings of Elijah ascending to heaven in the whirlwind riding his chariot of fire.

2nd Kings 2
[7] Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.
[8] Then Eli'jah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.
[9] When they had crossed, Eli'jah said to Eli'sha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you." And Eli'sha said, "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit."
[10] And he said, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so."
[11] And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli'jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
[12] And Eli'sha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more.Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.
[13] And he took up the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
[14] Then he took the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Eli'jah?" And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli'sha went over.

Image from the Blake Society
Jesus, too, experienced Elijah as representative of the prophetic character when he was joined by Moses (who brought the law) and Elijah (the prophet) on the mount of transfiguration. The continuity of the prophetic function, of listening to the inner voice through which God speaks and delivering the message to those with ears to hear, is passed down through the generations. Blake accepted the function of a prophet and echoed the desire of Moses that 'all the Lord's people were Prophets'.

Milton, Plate 1, (E 96) 
"Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets. Numbers XI. ch 29 v." 

Numbers 11 
[29] But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!"

Matthew 17
[1] And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.
[2] And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.
[3] And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him.
[4] And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."
[5] He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
[6] When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.   

Blake's appeal to the Lord was 'Bring me my Chariot of fire!'

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More Golgonooza

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Metropolitan Museum
Angel of the Divine Presence Bringing Eve to Adam
Blake didn't intend to be pinned down to a single interpretation of his images. He developed the image Golgonooza from scratch and added layers of meaning as his imagination enriched an expanding panoramic vision.

Analytically we can say that Golgoonoza is:

the city of art
 & Manufacture,
spiritual Four-fold London eternal,
the place where souls of the dead are given bodies,
the internal organs of the human body,
the printing house in Lambeth where William and Catherine produced books,
the location of the furnaces of Los and the looms of Enitharmon,
our own spiritual activities which contribute to the building the Kingdom of God.     

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
 "I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.   
  Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more." 

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 120)
"But Golgonooza is namd Art & Manufacture by mortal men.          

In Bowlahoola Los's Anvils stand & his Furnaces rage;
Thundering the Hammers beat & the Bellows blow loud
Living self moving mourning lamenting & howling incessantly
Bowlahoola thro all its porches feels tho' too fast founded
Its pillars & porticoes to tremble at the force                  

Of mortal or immortal arm: and softly lilling flutes
Accordant with the horrid labours make sweet melody
The Bellows are the Animal Lungs: the hammers the Animal Heart
 The Furnaces the Stomach for digestion. terrible their fury" 
Milton, Plate 26 [28], (E 123)
"And every Generated Body in its inward form,
Is a garden of delight & a building of magnificence,
Built by the Sons of Los in Bowlahoola & Allamanda
And the herbs & flowers & furniture & beds & chambers
Continually woven in the Looms of Enitharmons Daughters          
In bright Cathedrons golden Dome with care & love & tears
For the various Classes of Men are all markd out determinate"

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 153)
"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

So Los, in fury & strength: in indignation & burning wrath
Shuddring the Spectre howls. his howlings terrify the night
He stamps around the Anvil, beating blows of stern despair
He curses Heaven & Earth, Day & Night & Sun & Moon               
He curses Forest Spring & River, Desart & sandy Waste
Cities & Nations, Families & Peoples, Tongues & Laws
Driven to desperation by Los's terrors & threatning fears

Los cries, Obey my voice & never deviate from my will
And I will be merciful to thee"

Commentary from Northrop Frye in Fearful Symmetry:

Page 252
"Los is the builder of the eternal form of human civilization, and is therefore a smith, a worker in metal and fire, the two great instruments of civilized life.
Page 253
"If we combine the fact that Los is a blacksmith with the fact that Orc is his medium, we get the furnace as a symbol of the natural body. On the level of a conscious will to live the hammer is the heart-beat, the bellows the lungs and the furnace the whole metabolism of a warm-blooded animal. The same is true of the risen or spiritual body, but that body is part of Golgonooza, which is conceived a huge machine shop or foundry, a vast cubicle into which the whole physical world has to be thrown before the refined gold of the New Jerusalem can emerge from it. There are seven furnaces in Los's smithy, corresponding to the Seven Eyes, and they are associated with wheels in a way which we shall explain more fully later. In them are to be found Ezekiel's 'wheels within wheels,' imaginative energy as opposed to the interlocking compulsions of nature which we see represented in physical machinery. The allusions of the finger of God touching the seventh furnace refer of course to the coming of Jesus."

Earlier posts with the label Golgonooza

Thursday, July 01, 2010


I am indebted to Milton O Percival's William Blake's Circle of Destiny for the understanding I have of this subject. Quotations are from his book. This book is rarely for sale at a modest price but is available in many libraries. To find a library near you from which it is available If your local library doesn't have the book, you can ask them to obtain it on interlibrary loan.

Blake sees the status of man in terms of levels of existence. At each level man is capable of living according to certain principles which represent his level of consciousness. In ascending order the worlds through man may progress are Ulro, Generation, Beulah and Eden. Each level is characterized by the ability of man to perceive at that level, and the structure which results from that level of perception.


So we have in Ulro the ability to perceive at only the level of single or literal visionMeaning beyond the superficial material level escapes single vision. Looking for information about the relationship between William and Catherine Blake in the prophetic books is confining oneself to Ulro thought, since it is looking for outward sensory data about outward sensory events. The most striking facet of perception in Ulro is the inability to see spiritual significance in anything that comes to us. Perception is turned outward only; the inner world is thought to be non-existent. Seeing only an outward existence creates the world of matter, rigid and passive.

Page 87: "This void in the empty East is Ulro, the Hell of Blake's myth. In this void the selfish emotions are activated by rational doubts and fears. ..Everything in this world is 'without internal light.' The souls which inhabit it have 'neither lineament nor form.'"

Ulro is the bottom of man's fall from eternity. If the fall had continued man would have fallen into the abyss of non-entity. The limits of Adam and Satan were set to prevent that from happening. When the limits were defined, man could start the rebuilding and return.


The agent for the the process of rising or returning is Los who gives form or concrete expression to the abstractions of Urizen in Ulro. In this way error is revealed for what it is and can be repudiated. This is our world where ideas and emotions are expressed in behaviors and personalities.

This is man's condition in the generative world: he is confined to the world of time and space, he is vegetated in a body whose limitations he cannot escape, he is receiving his information from shrunken senses. But there is more going on in generation; it is the world of transition from the outward and corporeal to the inward and spiritual. Los in the role of the holy Spirit is the agent of transformation.

Los's job is breaking down and building up. Breaking down by revealing error for what it is. Building up by creating Golgonooza in which man may exercise imagination. Spiritual vision becomes possible through the development of symbolic thinking. The object seen outwardly and corporeally becomes capable of carrying meaning which is inward and spiritual. 'The world of generation might indeed be thought of as a training school in vision.' (Page 272)

Page 273: "When the struggle is over, and the world and all that is therein can be seen, calm and assuredly, as the manifestation of spirit - then the soul has arrived at threefold vision and softBeulah's light."

'To Be Continued' in my next post.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Northrup Frye has a good bit to say that adds to the picture of Golgoonoza which we have been developing. Here is a paragraph which clarifies the purpose and the eventual outcome for Blake's City of Imagination. Notice that he emphasizes that Golgonooza as it becomes the New Jerusalem, 'the total form of all culture and civilization', will make permanent (but not static) all the imaginative work which has been contributed to its building. It reminds me of a phrase which I picked up somewhere along the way: nothing lost, nothing wasted.

This is from page 91 of Fearful Symmetry:

"Inspiration is the artist's empirical proof of the divinity of his imagination; and all inspiration is divine in origin whether used, perverted, hidden or frittered away in reverie. All imaginative and creative arts, being eternal, go to build up a permanent structure, which Blake called Golgonooza, above time, and, when this structure is finished, nature, its scaffolding, will be knocked away and man will live in it. Golgonooza will be the city of God, the New Jerusalem which is the total form of all culture and civilization. Nothing that the heroes, martyrs, prophets and poets of the past have done for it has been wasted; no anonymous and unrecognized contribution to it has been overlooked. In it is conserved all the good man has done, and in it is completed all he hoped and intended to do. And the artist who uses the same energy and genius that Homer and Isaiah had will find that he not only lives in the same palace of art as Homer and Isaiah, but lives at the same time." 
Perhaps Blake is even more inclusive in this passage about Los' work:

Jerusalem, Plate 13,(E 157)
"Golgonooza: Los walks round the walls night and day.    

He views the City of Golgonooza, & its smaller Cities:
The Looms & Mills & Prisons & Work-houses of Og & Anak:
The Amalekite: the Canaanite: the Moabite: the Egyptian:
And all that has existed in the space of six thousand years:
Permanent, & not lost not lost nor vanishd, & every little act,
Word, work, & wish, that has existed, all remaining still
In those Churches ever consuming & ever building by the Spectres
Of all the inhabitants of Earth wailing to be Created:
Shadowy to those who dwell not in them, meer possibilities:
But to those who enter into them they seem the only substances
For every thing exists & not one sigh nor smile nor tear,
Plate 14
One hair nor particle of dust, not one can pass away." 
Satan's Watch-fiends Never Find the Gate of Los 

Jerusalem, Plate 35 [39], (E 181)
"this gate cannot be found
By Satans Watch-fiends tho' they search numbering every grain
Of sand on Earth every night, they never find this Gate.
It is the Gate of Los.
Withoutside is the Mill, intricate,  dreadful
And fill'd with cruel tortures; but no mortal man can find the Mill
Of Satan, in his mortal pilgrimage of seventy years" 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


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"
'Thy golden wings are my delight'

Eternity as we have said before is not distant in time or space; it can be experienced whenever we are able to be open and receptive to it. The tiniest, most humble things may act as the catalyst for opening or cleansing the doors of perception.

We as humans are made to receive Eternity, because God is within us. And yet we are barred from entering the gates which are provided. Blake tells us that the 'dread Og and Anak guard the gates.'
Anak, says Damon in A Blake Dictionary is one of an Old Testament race of giants. He is one of four - Anak, Og, Sihon and Satan - who are designated to 'oppose Man's progress towards Eternity.' Og and Anak are the guards of the gates which open into Golgonooza (the city of Imagination). 'They are also responsible for the looms, mills, prisons and workhouses which prevent man from leading a spiritual life.'

On the level of the psyche there are blockages (Og and Anak) which lock us out of the ability to perceive things as they are. These barriers are different for each person. By looking within and facing the 'giants' these gates may be opened.

Blake also names the 'manacles' which bind man in the outward world, the oppressive institutions (Og and Anak) which destroy bodies and deaden minds. In this world limits are set which constrict the downtrodden from seeing that 'world in a grain of sand' or 'heaven in a wild flower'.

Milton, Plate 20, (E 114)
"Seest thou the little winged fly, smaller than a grain of sand?
It has a heart like thee; a brain open to heaven & hell,
Withinside wondrous & expansive; its gates are not clos'd,
I hope thine are not: hence it clothes itself in rich array;
Hence thou art cloth'd with human beauty O thou mortal man.
Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies:
There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old:
For every human heart has gates of brass & bars of adamant,
Which few dare unbar because dread Og & Anak guard the gates
Terrific! and each mortal brain is walld and moated round
Within: and Og & Anak watch here; here is the Seat
Of Satan in its Webs; for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion"


Monday, April 26, 2010


We've posted on each of Blake's four major cities: London, Galgoonoza, Babylon and Jerusalem but there is more to be said. London was Blake's outward experience, with all its errors and contradictions; Golgonooza, the city within London (which through imagination may correct errors through vision, forgiveness and spiritual gifts), was created to provide an escape from the merely physical; Babylon was the expression of the soulless, self-centered, mercenary city which grows when man fails to develop his inner riches; and Jerusalem was the spiritual city, the potential for the inner and outer realization of Eternal values. 

Although we have already posted four time on subjects related to Golgonooza, more needs to be said.

Blake speaks frequently of Golgonooza:

Milton, PLATE 6, (E 99)
"From Golgonooza the spiritual Four-fold London eternal
In immense labours & sorrows, ever building, ever falling,
Thro Albions four Forests which overspread all the Earth,"
Milton, Plate 17,(E 111)
"For travellers from Eternity. pass outward to Satans seat,
But travellers to Eternity. pass inward to Golgonooza." 
Milton, Plate 20, (E 113)
"for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion" 
Milton, Plate 24, E( 119)
"I the Fourth Zoa am also set
The Watchman of Eternity, the Three are not! & I am preserved
Still my four mighty ones are left to me in Golgonooza 
Still Rintrah fierce, and Palamabron mild & piteous
Theotormon filld with care, Bromion loving Science"

You O my Sons still guard round Los. O wander not & leave me
Milton, Plate 24, (E 120)
"But Golgonooza is namd Art & Manufacture by mortal men." 
Milton, Plate 29, (E 128)
"Then Los conducts the Spirits to be Vegetated, into
Great Golgonooza, free from the four iron pillars of Satans
(Temperance, Prudence, justice, Fortitude, the four pillars of
That Satans Watch-Fiends, touch them not before they Vegetate." 
Milton, Plate 35, (E 135)
"So spake Ololon in reminiscence astonishd, but they
Could not behold Golgonooza without passing the Polypus
A wondrous journey not passable by Immortal feet, & none 
But the Divine Saviour can pass it without annihilation.
For Golgonooza cannot be seen till having passd the Polypus
It is viewed on all sides round by a Four-fold Vision
Or till you become Mortal & Vegetable in Sexuality
Then you behold its mighty Spires & Domes of ivory & gold" 
Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 153)
"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"
Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels.

Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold, 
The great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north
And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west
Each within other toward the four points: that toward
Eden, and that toward the World of Generation,
And that toward Beulah, and that toward Ulro: 
Ulro is the space of the terrible starry wheels of Albions sons:
But that toward Eden is walled up, till time of renovation:
Yet it is perfect in its building, ornaments & perfection.

And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North, 
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever."
Jerusalem, Plate 14, (E 157)
"Around Golgonooza lies the land of death eternal; a Land 
Of pain and misery and despair and ever brooding melancholy:"
Jerusalem, Page 87, (E 368)
"Los performd Wonders of labour 
They Builded Golgonooza Los labouring builded pillars high
And Domes terrific in the nether heavens for beneath
Was opend new heavens & a new Earth beneath & within
Threefold within the brain within the heart within the loins
A Threefold Atmosphere Sublime continuous from Urthonas world 
But yet having a Limit Twofold named Satan & Adam"
Jerusalem, Page 100, (E 372)
"And upon Enitharmon & the Divine Countenance shone
In Golgonooza Looking down the Daughters of Beulah saw
With joy the bright Light & in it a Human form
And knew he was the Saviour Even Jesus & they worshipped 

Astonishd Comforted Delighted in notes of Rapturous Extacy
All Beulah stood astonishd Looking down to Eternal Death
They saw the Saviour beyond the Pit of death & destruction
For whether they lookd upward they saw the Divine Vision
Or whether they lookd downward still they saw the Divine Vision 
Surrounding them on all sides beyond sin & death & hell"
Four Zoas, Page 103, (E 376)
"In Golgonoozas Furnaces among the Anvils of time & space
Thus forming a Vast family wondrous in beauty & love
And they appeard a Universal female form created
From those who were dead in Ulro from the in Spectres of the dead"

In Golgoonooza: City of Imagination, Kathleen Raine sees Golgonooza as an attempt to make visible the archetypal city of Eternity by those who remember Eternal things. Lovers of wisdom, poets, painters, architects - those with imagination - are the agents (Los and his sons) for building Golgonooza. Within London the the spiritual Four-fold eternal city is to take form as multiple pathways or gates into Great Eternity.

Kathleen Raine: "Jerusalem can never, in the very nature of time and change be fully realized on earth , yet Jerusalem has in Golgoonoza, her refugees, her 'secret chambers' in the houses of London's inhabitants, and among these Blake's own house in 'lovely Lambeth', where he and Catherine lived in the early years of their
 marriage, where a vine grew unpruned in their small garden." 

Image from the British Museum
Milton, Plate 1, (E 95) 
"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."

Footnote: Field of Dreams; "Is this heaven?", "No, it's Iowa".

Monday, April 12, 2010


THE SLEEP OF ALBION is a chapter in Kathleen Raine's book, Golgoonoza: City of Imagination. In it Raine explores the relationship between King Arthur and Albion (the oldest name for Great Britain) in the mind of the British. She shows how Blake's Albion partakes of the legends surrounding King Arthur. As the legends of King Arthur end, he is entombed but not dead, sleeping until he is called to return to 'restore just rule to his kingdom and repel its enemies'.

Blake writes:
(Descriptive Catalogue, Number V, (E 543)):
"The giant Albion, was Patriarch of the Atlantic, he is
the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks
called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of
Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who
conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world
in the dark age, which the Romans never again

In Jerusalem, it is the Giant Albion who is "imagined in the similitude of Arthur". Albion's sleep is the sleep of Arthur. Raine says, "in recounting the 'acts of Albion' [Blake] considered himself to be recounting the sacred history - the inner history of the British nation from ancient times, with prophetic foresight of that future when Albion, like Arthur, is to wake from sleep."

To Raine the 'sleep' of Albion "is conceived by Blake not as the mere passage of time but as a state of apathy, of lowering of consciousness, of forgetfulness of higher things...Blake tells the story of how the nation has come to lapse into spiritual ignorance and forgetfulness...

"Blake is quite specific in his diagnosis of England's national disease: it is precisely that secular materialism ... upon which modern Western civilization is founded...

"Our society is forever thinking in terms of changing our circumstances; Blake's revolution will come when we change ourselves. From inner awakenings outer changes will follow...

"When Albion awakens he will find himself in his lost kingdom restored to its former glory; for the kingdom is ourselves...

"Paradise is not a place but a state of being, the lost kingdom to which the sleepers of Albion must someday awake."

Descriptive Catalogue, NUMBER V, (E 542)

The Ancient Britons:

"In the last Battle of King Arthur only Three Britons
 these were the Strongest Man, the
Beautifullest Man, and the 
Ugliest Man; these three
marched through the field unsubdued, as 
and the Sun of Britain s[e]t, but shall arise again with 

tenfold splendor when Arthur shall awake from sleep,
and resume 
his dominion over earth and ocean."

Jerusalem, Plate19, Albion 'in pain & tears'

Thursday, January 28, 2010


This account of the building of Golgonooza demonstrates the nature of its structure. Here Golgonooza is described as the elements of the life lived according to the Eternal principles of brotherhood and integrity.
Those who build their lives as expressions of the 13th Chapter of First Corinthians are the 'golden builders'; they are 'becoming a building' - carefully built just as Blake's illuminated poetry was produced with 'well wrought blandishments' and 'well contrived words.' The structure of Golgonooza is the principles and attitudes through which we build our character, the furnishings are the way we behave to one another: 'curtains woven tears and sighs, woven into lovely forms.' The outcome is the 'joy' of losing the 'self'' by knowing the love in which we abide, and which abides in us.

Jerusalem, Plate 59
'For they labor for life & love'

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 154)
"What are those golden builders doing?...

Becoming a building of pity and compassion? Lo!
The stones are pity, and the bricks, well wrought affections:
Enameld with love & kindness, & the tiles engraven gold
Labour of merciful hands: the beams & rafters are forgiveness:
The mortar & cement of the work, tears of honesty: the nails,
And the screws & iron braces, are well wrought blandishments,
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,
Always comforting the remembrance: the floors, humility,
The cielings, devotion: the hearths, thanksgiving:
Prepare the furniture O Lambeth in thy pitying looms!
The curtains, woven tears & sighs, wrought into lovely forms
For comfort. there the secret furniture of Jerusalems chamber
Is wrought: Lambeth! the Bride the Lambs Wife loveth thee:
Thou art one with her & knowest not of self in thy supreme joy.
Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels."

Thursday, November 12, 2009


At the end of the First Book of Milton, Blake sums up the
work of Los by explaining how spirits are vegetated. It is
a clear explanation except much of the terminology is
peculiar to Blake. So I have consulted Damon's A Blake
Dictionary for definitions.

Milton Plate 29, (E127):

"Then Los conducts the Spirits to be Vegetated, into
Great Golgonooza, free from the four iron pillars of Satans
(Temperance, Prudence, justice, Fortitude, the four pillars
of tyranny)
That Satans Watch-Fiends touch them not before they

But Enitharmon and her Daughters take the pleasant charge.
To give them to their lovely heavens till the Great
Judgment Day
Such is their lovely charge. But Rahab & Tirzah pervert
Their mild influences, therefore the Seven Eyes of God walk
The Three Heavens of Ulro, where Tirzah & her Sisters
Weave the black Woof of Death upon Entuthon Benython
In the Vale of Surrey where Horeb terminates in Rephaim
The stamping feet of Zelophehads Daughters are coverd with
Human gore
Upon the treddles of the Loom, they sing to the winged
The River rises above his banks to wash the Woof:    
He takes it in his arms: be passes it in strength thro his
The veil of human miseries is woven over the Ocean
From the Atlantic to the Great South Sea, the Erythrean.

Such is the World of Los the labour of six thousand years.
Thus Nature is a Vision of the Science of the Elohim."

     End of the First Book.
Golgoonza - Los's city of "art and manufacture." (M24:50)
Enitharmon's looms are in the golden hall of Cathedron. Its gates
open into Eden, Beulah, Generation, and Ulro.
(Damon, Page 162-5)
Enitharmon - with her daughters, she weaves beautiful, spiritual
bodies (the web of life) for the Spectres about to be born.
(Damon, Page 124-5)
Entuthon Benython - a land of Urizen east of Galgonooza: "a dark
and unknown night, indefinite, unmeasurable, without end. Abstract
Philosophy warring in enmity against Imagination" (J5:56)
(Damon, Page 126)
Horeb - where Moses saw the burning bush, Blake associates with
rock. (Damon, Page 189)
Rephaim - "Miltonic limbo of amorphous decaying superstitions"
(Damon, Page 346)
Rahab - harlot of Babylon, symbolizes false church of this world, the
opponent of Jerusalem. She imputes sin and righteousness to
individuals. (Damon, Page 338-9)
Tirzah - daughter of Rahab; Tirzah weaves natural, physical bodies;
she represents sex; she is the mother of death; she is a temptress of
men. (Damon, Page 407)
Ulro - the material world, the world of death, the world of spectres who
are dead to Eternity. (Damon, Page 416)
Zelophehads - five independent Female Wills who restrict the senses
of man, Tirzah is the fifth. (Damon, Page 457)
Seven Eyes of God - "the path of Experience fixed for the Individual
by the Divine Mercy, so that proceeding through his errors he may
eventually reach the true God." (Damon, Page 134)
Science - "True Science is eternal and essential, but it turns bad
when it cuts loose from Humanity". "Science can assimilate its
material and communicate it, but cannot create."
(Damon, Page 359-60)
Los has provided a way that the Spectres not fall into non-existence, but it requires that they take on a physical body in a world of illusionary material existence under the dominance of mistaken morality and religion. Los parallels John the Baptist, he can prepare the way, but he cannot initiate the coming of the Kingdom. 

The Arlington Tempera, which has been mentioned in other posts, can be viewed in the light of this passage.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


BLAKE'S SUBLIME ALLEGORY, Edited by Stuart Curran
and Joseph Anthony Wittreich, Jr.

This book is a useful addition to the Blake shelf in our
library. It is easier to understand than some and more
thorough than others.

In addition to the helpful essay 'On Reading the Four Zoas'
by Mary Lynn Johnson and Brian Wilkie, are several others
including 'The Aim of Blake's Prophecies' by Jerome
McGann, which I particularly like.

From page 16, I quote:
"...The demand is that we set the poem's terms into
successively different types of relations to each other.
Blake's art is a sort of Glass Bead Game. (Hermann
Hesse, The Glass Bead GameTo "make sense" of his
works we establish in and for them different forms of
order, based on shifting sets of dissociations and
associations, contrasts and analogies. To cease the
act of creating these relations, or ironically, unbuilding
them again, is to lapse into single vision."

page 17 "Every line ought to be an opportunity for
outwitting Satan's watch fiends, while every poem as a
whole is designed as a spiritual exercise for the
encouragement of universal prophecy."

page 20 "Golgonooza is the house whose windows of the
morning open out to the worlds of eternity, where Jesus
dwells. We were never meant to live in, or with it but
through it."

page 21 "...artists must approach the world not with
creations which will trap men but with visions that will
encourage imaginative activity."

Trapped in the Cave of the Mind
The point to me is that Blake did not write poetry whose
meaning is discernible in static images, methods, or rules.
He wrote to encourage the kind of discernment or
perception which characterizes intuitive, imaginative,
immediate response to the image which presents itself.
The way he wrote, what he wrote, and why he wrote are
all one piece: imagination permeates all. He didn't want us
to exit by the same door we entered, so he closed that
one door and left all the others open.

Monday, December 31, 2007


This is a response to friend Clint Stevens' post to the Yahoo Blake group.

It really doesn't respond to Clint's architectural questions, but the general question of Golgonnza in Blake's vision. However re spatial concepts: you may understand that the culmination of Gol is in Beulah, where space is completely evanescent. In that light Blake may be expected to use spatial (and temporal) terms playfully.

Blake was a highly spiritual (religious) man and Golgonooza can be best seen in that light.
In my simplistic understanding of Golgonooza it is the work of "art" and "artists", or perhaps the imaginative work of creative people in the world, or in Albion if you prefer, or in your own psyche-- of a period of 6000 years.

These works have a ambiguous history or nature, continually building and destroying like Jeremiah was called to do. You might also call it the work of angels in a demonic world (truth forever on the scaffold). The best work of the artisans of Golgonooza is chequered or flawed with many vestiges of Ulro, but consciously or hopefully moving toward Beulah. There of course it becomes Jerusalem.

The Church, which purports to be about growing into or building the kingdom of God can only be one of the lesser dimensions of Gol's inhabitants. As the master said,
"A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian"
(LAOCOON prose; Erdman 274).