Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mundane 1

The word 'mundane' occurs 37 times in Blake's poetry:

Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizly deep
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion
(FZ2-24.8; E314)
The 'Bower' is the private heaven we try to build for
youselves in this sorry world ('grizly deep').

This from Blake's God 2:

      The rationalists of Blake's day with their radical materialism had closed themselves off from the eternal. They had imprisoned themselves in what he called the mundane shell (Milton plate 17 line 16ff). They were exclusively this worldly. Blake perceived that they worshipped the God of this World, no matter what they called him. They had most often called him Jehovah or Jesus. As a young man Blake renamed him Urizen . He spent half a lifetime studying this God of the timebound so he could cast him off and replace him with a more authentic image. Eventually he came to realize that this god's truest name is Satan. He also referred to him as the Selfhood (Jerusalem 5:21-23) and the Spectre.

From Milton, Plate 19  (Erdman 112)
Four Universes round the Mundane Egg remain Chaotic
One to the North, named Urthona: One to the South, named Urizen:
One to the East, named Luvah: One to the West, named Tharmas
They are the Four Zoa's that stood around the Throne Divine!

Milton Plate 36
Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E208)

"For the Veil of Vala which Albion cast into the Atlantic Deep
To catch the Souls of the Dead: began to Vegetate & Petrify
Around the Earth of Albion. among the Roots of his Tree
This Los formed into the Gates & mighty Wall, between the Oak

Of Weeping & the Palm of Suffering beneath Albions Tomb,
Thus in process of time it became the beautiful Mundane Shell,
The Habitation of the Spectres of the Dead & the Place
Of Redemption & of awaking again into Eternity"

Monday, September 29, 2014


British Museum Jerusalem
Copy A, Plate 33
If one believes as Blake did that the spirit is the permanent nature of man and that the material is the accident of appearance, one doesn't look for causes in worldly experience. The sequence of moments leads one to interpret experience as cause and effect in the world of time and space. Although we are confined to time and cannot enter Eternity in our physical bodies, we may be given moments when time touches Eternity and allows our minds to expand into timelessness. Through such experiences we can understand that Eternity is impinging on the natural world and shaping our lives according to the eternal order.

In William Blake's Jerusalem, Minna Doskow, explains how the Gate of Los allows for the movement between the temporal world and the eternal. Notice that the Eternal Urthona is transformed into Los to become active in time:

"It is named the 'Gate of Los', for Los is the connection between time and eternity, the crucial door of change through which states may be exchanged and vision altered ... All natural creations have gates to eternity within them, and vice versa, for all natural creation is potentially eternal. Functioning very much like the vortex in Milton, the Gate of Los entered one way, from eternity, allows eternal Urthona to become Los, the twenty-eight unfallen cities to be created by Hammer and Loom in order to save Albion, or Albion to go to death. Entered the other way, however, from time, it enables Albion or the reader to awaken and enter Eternal Life. ... Although 'Satan's watchfiends' are very thorough in their search for Los's gate, numbering every grain of  sand on Earth every night, their scientific and analytic methods that Jerusalem warned Albion about earlier are exclusively material and therefor ineffective." (Page 84)

Milton, Plate 26 [28], (E 124)
"So they are born on Earth, & every Class is determinate 
But not by Natural but by Spiritual power alone, Because         
The Natural power continually seeks & tends to Destruction
Ending in Death: which would of itself be Eternal Death
And all are Class'd by Spiritual, & not by Natural power.

And every Natural Effect has a Spiritual Cause, and Not
A Natural: for a Natural Cause only seems, it is a Delusion      
Of Ulro: & a ratio of the perishing Vegetable Memory." 
Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 180) 
"So spoke London, immortal Guardian! I heard in Lambeths shades:  
In Felpham I heard and saw the Visions of Albion
I write in South Molton Street, what I both see and hear
In regions of Humanity, in Londons opening streets.

I see thee awful Parent Land in light, behold I see!
Verulam! Canterbury! venerable parent of men,                    
Generous immortal Guardian golden clad! for Cities
Are Men, fathers of multitudes, and Rivers & Mount[a]ins
Are also Men; every thing is Human, mighty! sublime!
In every bosom a Universe expands, as wings
Let down at will around, and call'd the Universal Tent.          
York, crown'd with loving kindness. Edinburgh, cloth'd
With fortitude as with a garment of immortal texture
Woven in looms of Eden, in spiritual deaths of mighty men

Who give themselves, in Golgotha, Victims to Justice; where
There is in Albion a Gate of precious stones and gold            
Seen only by Emanations, by vegetations viewless,
Bending across the road of Oxford Street; it from Hyde Park
To Tyburns deathful shades, admits the wandering souls
Of multitudes who die from Earth: this Gate cannot be found
Plate 35 [39]
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              

For Human beauty knows it not: nor can Mercy find it! But  
In the Fourth region of Humanity, Urthona namd
Mortality begins to roll the billows of Eternal Death
Before the Gate of Los. Urthona here is named Los."
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 Spirit[?]"  
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 122, (E 391)
"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" 
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 544) 
"Acts themselves alone are history, and these are
neither the exclusive property of Hume, Gibbon nor Voltaire,
Echard, Rapin, Plutarch, nor Herodotus.  Tell me the Acts, O
historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away
with your reasoning and your rubbish.  All that is not action is
not worth reading.  Tell me the What; I do not want you to
tell me the Why, and the How; I can find that out myself, as well
as you can, and I will not be fooled by you into opinions, that
you please to impose, to disbelieve what you think improbable or
impossible.  His opinions, who does not see spiritual agency, is
not worth any man's reading; he who rejects a fact because it is
improbable, must reject all History and retain doubts only."

Sunday, September 28, 2014


During the America Revolution, which freed Americans from the taxes and other forms of oppression, William Blake was one of many English referred to as patriots. Many french people understood and applauded. In 1789, shortly after the successful end of the first revolution in America the French Revolution broke out. Blake approved it, and at one time he was known to wear a red cap, worn by the revolution.

From Wipedia:
Blake felt that there was a strong connection between the American and French revolutions and that these revolutions had a universal and historical impact.[1] The French Revolution was intended as a poetic history of these current events in Blake's life and was supposed to be an account of Blake's understanding of the French Revolution described in seven books of poetry first published in 1791.[2] Although Blake was not part of any radical political organizations in England at the time of the French Revolution, his works suggest a connection to revolutionary thought and the poem serves as his involvement in the debate over the merits of the French Revolution.[3]
In reaction to the French Revolution and the support of it in England, there was a series of attacks upon the supporters which led to the imprisonment of Joseph Johnson, the printer of French Revolution. This possibly disrupted the completion of the books, as Johnson was just starting to print the first book, and the project was discontinued. The only pages that survived are the original proofs for the first book, which are now in the collection of the Huntington Library.[4] Although it cannot be known why Johnson stopped printing Blake's poem, he did print other works by Blake including For Children and Songs of Innocence.[5]The poem currently appears in only one proof copy, and there are few references to The French Revolution until the 20th century. One of these is from Samuel Palmer, a follower of Blake, who wrote on 10 October 1827 that he wished to find a copy of the poem. The other is from Alexander Gilchrist, an early biographer of Blake, who wrote on 24 November 1860 to John Linnell, a collector of Blake's works, requesting to see the manuscript of The French Revolution[6]

Romanticism originated in the second half of the 18th century at the same time as the French Revolution.[1]Romanticism continued to grow in reaction to the effects of the social transformation caused by the Revolution. There are many signs of these effects of the French Revolution in various pieces of Romantic literature. By examining the influence of the French Revolution, one can determine that Romanticism arose as a reaction to the French Revolution. Instead of searching for rules governing nature and human beings, the romantics searched for a direct communication with nature and treated humans as unique individuals not subject to scientific rules.

Blake  was an English painter, poet and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language".[2] His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced".[3] In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.[4] Although he lived in London his entire life (except for three years spent in Felpham),[5] he produced a diverse and symbolically rich oeuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God"[6] or "human existence itself".[7]

Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of theRomantic movement and "Pre-Romantic",[8] for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England (indeed, to all forms of organised religion), Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions.[9] Though later he rejected many of these political beliefs, he maintained an amiable relationship with the political activistThomas Paine; he was also influenced by thinkers such asEmanuel Swedenborg.[10] Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary",[11] and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".[12]

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Since Blake does not use the word consciousness to describe the condition of being fully aware, we must look for other ways he refers to consciousness. He does tell us that if the doors of perception were cleansed we would see clearly. He directs his efforts toward awakening man to a more thorough understanding of himself. Simultaneously he tries to force man to perceive the dysfunctional world which he is responsible for creating.

Perception in Eternity is not limited or distorted as it is in our present condition of being enclosed in bodies of flesh, bones and blood. The Book of Urizen describes the fearful process of tearing apart the unity, and confining the functions to the operation of our internal organs, and to the senses which provide a restricted ability to allow the outside in. The reversal of this process is contained in Blake's epics Milton and Jerusalem.
Consciousness is won through a struggle which Blake calls the 'severe contentions of friendship.' In the brain of man are the furnaces which burn away the errors of his thought, which melt away the contentions of worldly 'love and jealousy' and which remove the filters which distort his ability to perceive reality. The fourfold nature of man has not been lost in the process, but has been redeemed. To be fully conscious to Blake is to be Human: to reach a point in one's journey when the four divided functions, the heart, mind, soul and body have become one.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)
"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would
appear  to man as it is: infinite.
   For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro'
narrow chinks of his cavern."    
Book of Los, Plate 5, (E 94)
"9: Till his Brain in a rock, & his Heart
In a fleshy slough formed four rivers
Obscuring the immense Orb of fire
Flowing down into night: till a Form 
Was completed, a Human Illusion
In darkness and deep clouds involvd."
Milton, Plate 34 [38], (E 135) 
"Those Visions of Human Life & Shadows of Wisdom & Knowledge      
Plate 35 [39]
Are here frozen to unexpansive deadly destroying terrors[.]
And War & Hunting: the Two Fountains of the River of Life
Are become Fountains of bitter Death & of corroding Hell
Till Brotherhood is changd into a Curse & a Flattery
By Differences between Ideas, that Ideas themselves, (which are  
The Divine Members) may be slain in offerings for sin
O dreadful Loom of Death! "

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 2, (E 47)
" Arise my Theotormon I am pure.
Because the night is gone that clos'd me in its deadly black.
They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;     
They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos'd my infinite brain into a narrow circle,
And sunk my heart into the Abyss, a red round globe hot burning
Till all from life I was obliterated and erased."

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 115)
"But Milton entering my Foot; I saw in the nether
Regions of the Imagination; also all men on Earth,               
And all in Heaven, saw in the nether regions of the Imagination
In Ulro beneath Beulah, the vast breach of Miltons descent.
But I knew not that it was Milton, for man cannot know
What passes in his members till periods of Space & Time
Reveal the secrets of Eternity: for more extensive               
Than any other earthly things, are Mans earthly lineaments.
And all this Vegetable World appeard on my left Foot,
As a bright sandal formd immortal of precious stones & gold:
I stooped down & bound it on to walk forward thro' Eternity.
But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun       
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon.

Saying, Milton goes to Eternal Death! so saying, they groan'd in spirit
And were troubled! and again the Divine Family groaned in spirit!"

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 179)
"Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:

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, recieving, 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.        
If we have offended, forgive us, take not vengeance against us.

Thus speaking; the Divine Family follow Albion:
I see them in the Vision of God upon my pleasant valleys."
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 126, (E 395)
"then in stern repentance
They must renew their brightness & their disorganizd functions
Again reorganize till they resume the image of the human  
Cooperating in the bliss of Man obeying his Will
Servants to the infinite & Eternal of the Human form"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blake Sex 8

Final Discussion of 'Blake's Sex'

The allegoric drama of good and evil in terms of the two females intensifies throughout the epic poem 'Jerusalem' until the final awakening of Albion, when sexes disappear. The first indication of this comes in the dialogue of Los and Enitharmon:Enitharmon answer'd in great terror in Lambeth's Vale:

From Jerusalem Plate 92
"The Poet's Song draws to its period, and Enitharmon is no more;
For if he be that Albion, I can never weave him in my Looms,
But when he touches the first fibrous thread, like filmy dew
My Looms will be no more and I annihilate vanish for ever.

Then thou wilt Create another Female according to thy Will."
Los answer"d swift as the shuttle of gold: "Sexes must vanish &
To be when Albion arises from his dread repose, 0 lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments, their Accusations of Sin,
Ail their Jealousies, Revenges, Murders, hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time,
In the shadows of Possibility, by Mutual Forgiveness for evermore,
And in the Vision and in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment....
(Erdman 252)

Soon comes the last mention of the woman of the world. She is connected with her sexual counterpart and described in the very specific terms which John used in Revelation 17.

If Bacon, Newton, Locke
Deny a Conscience in Man & the Communion of Saints & Angels,
Contemning the Divine Vision & Fruition, Worshiping the Deus
Of the Heathen, the God of This World, & the Goddess Nature,
Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon 61 hidden Harlot,
Is it not that Signal of the Morning which was told us in the
(Erdman 253-4)

Now Blake attempts to visualize the true place of sex in Eternity:

On Plate 97 of Jerusalem:
Awake, Awake, Jerusalem! 0 lovely Emanation of Albion,
Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time;
For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills. Awake, Jerusalem and come away!
...Then Albion stretch'd his hand into Infinitude
And took his Bow....
And the bow is a Male and Female, and the Quiver of the Arrows of
And the Children of this Bow, a bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence, Wars of
And the Hand of Man grasps firm between the Male and Female Loves.
And he Clothed himself in Bow and Arrows, in awful state, Fourfold ....
(Erdman 256)

And after the final chorus of the multiple aspects of Man, Blake tells us that he 

"heard the Name of their Emanation: they are named Jerusalem." And so ends 'Jerusalem'. 

(Erdman 258)



After all this detail We can begin our summary of Blake's theory of sex with Jesus' reply to the Sadducee's mocking question about the woman married to seven husbands: "for when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels which are in heaven."

        Blake begins here, with the assumption that sexual division relates to this world, but not to Eternity. Sex appears in Beulah, a moony rest from the arduous creative activity of Eden. The "Female Will" condemns Man to the loss of Eternity, which Blake calls "the Sleep of Ulro".

Sex signifies fallenness, and the jealous and proudly chaste female symbolizes the active principle of evil, also identified with a materialistic viewpoint whose values are coercion and love of power.

       Blake's vision of Jesus humanized his theory of sex. He began to use the biblical image of Jerusalem as the bride of Christ, named his last and greatest epic 'Jerusalem', and ultimately was able to rationalize the heterodox doctrine of sex with the glorified female as the emanation of the Eternal Man. Blake's female thus joined all the rest of his personal images in traveling the Circle of Destiny, materializing in the Fall and etherealizing in the Return.

       Through all his journey Blake had a characteristically liberal and enlightened view of womankind, an entirely different matter from the sexual symbolism that filled his pages. His true and abiding feelings about the relation between men and women appear early in his works in his "Annotations to Lavater": "Let the men do their duty and the women will be such wonders; the female life lives from the light of the male: see a man's female dependants, you know the man." Admittedly short of the high standards of present day feminism, Blake's vision of womanhood considerably surpassed that of most of his contemporaries-- and perhaps most of ours.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's Paradise Lost, Butts Set
Satan, Sin & Death
The concept of states was introduced by Blake as an aspect of freeing man from the power of sin, death and Satan. When man is accused by Satan of sin, he may accept the label of sinfulness, and fall away from his self-perception of innocence. In order for man to be restored to an awareness of his own integrity or Identity, Blake presented the states as temporary conditions through which man passed to gain experience.

Satan is a master state, the state of error which manifests in multiple ways. Milton and Blake called Sin and Death the children of Satan. Satan is a state, not an individual, an angel or a god. Satan was never allowed to take a human form. His influence comes from manipulating the minds of men. 

Milton Percival in William Blake's Circle of Destiny tells us this about states as means of transformation:
"All those whose hearts are given over to malice, hatred and vengeance traverse the wheel of Ulro. It may be escaped in true Gnostic fashion, by the birth of Christ in the soul. The doctrine of states is witness to such a birth. It is itself nothing less than a changed interpretation of spiritual experience. It is in that sense the immediate avenue of escape, but the real escape is in the regeneration by which a change in outlook is made possible."  

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." 
Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 170)
"For not one sparrow can suffer, & the whole Universe not suffer also,
In all its Regions, & its Father & Saviour not pity and weep.
But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom
Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:
Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals Evermore Amen

Thus wept they in Beulah over the Four Regions of Albion
But many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness       
To Individuals & not to States, and these Slept in Ulro."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches       
And thou O Milton art a State about to be Created
Called Eternal Annihilation that none but the Living shall
Dare to enter: & they shall enter triumphant over Death
And Hell & the Grave! States that are not, but ah! Seem to be.

Judge then of thy Own Self: thy Eternal Lineaments explore       
What is Eternal & what Changeable? & what Annihilable!
The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself
Affection or Love becomes a State, when divided from Imagination
The Memory is a State always, & the Reason is a State
Created to be Annihilated & a new Ratio Created                  
Whatever can be Created can be Annihilated Forms cannot
The Oak is cut down by the Ax, the Lamb falls by the Knife
But their Forms Eternal Exist, For-ever. Amen Halle[l]ujah"

Jerusalem, Plate 20, (E 165)
"Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys.

O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest
At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little
Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin
Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness!"

Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 127)
"But in the Optic vegetative Nerves Sleep was transformed
To Death in old time by Satan the father of Sin & Death
And Satan is the Spectre of Orc & Orc is the generate Luvah

But in the Nerves of the Nostrils, Accident being formed         
Into Substance & Principle, by the cruelties of Demonstration
It became Opake & Indefinite; but the Divine Saviour,
Formed it into a Solid by Los's Mathematic power.
He named the Opake Satan: he named the Solid Adam"

Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"Then the Divine hand found the Two Limits, Satan and Adam,
In Albions bosom: for in every Human bosom those Limits stand.
And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;            
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love.

Albion goes to Eternal Death: In Me all Eternity.
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;
Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again:

And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create           
States: to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blake Sex 7


At the very beginning of Blakes' poem, Jerusalem, he makes us fully aware that the new woman represents something entirely other than the disreputable matter of earlier writing. She is just the opposite; she is Spirit or rather the manifestation of Spirit in this world. The Saviour confronts the sleeping Albion and identifies his disease, "where hast thou hidden thy Emanation, lovely Jerusalem". But the "perturbed Man" denies Christ and denies Jerusalem: "Jerusalem is not! her daughters are indefinite: By demonstration man alone can live, and not by faith. A few lines further the poet announces that Jerusalem is scatter'd abroad like a cloud of smoke thro' nonentity. Moab & Ammon & Amalek & Canaan & Egypt & Aram Receive her little ones for sacrifices and the delights of cruelty.

The place names represent the six heathen nations or the powers of evil that surround the Chosen People. The import of all this in another biblical phrase is that "He who departs from evil makes himself a prey".

Very shortly we meet the Daughters of Albion; they represent the feminine dimension of the materialistic impulses of Man: "Names anciently remember'd, but now contemn'd as fictions. Although in every bosom they controll our Vegetative powers". Eventually a redemptive moment occurs when, Los having subdued and integrated his Spectre, his Sons and Daughters "come forth from the Furnaces". Erin, like America a symbol of redemption, addresses Jerusalem: Vala is but thy Shadow, 0 thou loveliest among women! A shadow animated by thy tears, 0 mournful Jerusalem! Why wilt thou give to her a Body whose life is but a Shade? Her joy and love, a shade, a shade of sweet repose: But animated and vegetated she is a devouring Worm. What shall we do for thee, 0 lovely mild Jerusalem?

The fallen Sons of Albion express the opposite viewpoint. In Plate 18, in a prophetic statement worthy of Isaiah in its irony, the twelve Sons of Albion describe explicitly and in detail their relationship to Jerusalem and to Vala: Cast, Cast ye Jerusalem forth! The Shadow of delusions! The Harlot daughter! Mother of pity and dishonourable forgiveness! Our Father Albion's sin and shame! But father now no more, Nor sons, nor hateful peace & love, nor soft complacencies, With transgressors meeting in brotherhood around the table Or in the porch or garden. No more the sinful delights Of age and youth, and boy and girl, and animal and herb, And river and mountain, and city & village, and house and family, Beneath the Oak and Palm, beneath the Vine and fig tree, In Self-denial!--But War and deadly contention Between Father and Son, and light and love! All bold asperities Of Haters met in deadly strife, rending the house & garden The unforgiving porches, the tables of enmity, and beds And chambers of trembling & suspicion, hatreds of age & youth, And boy & girl, & animal & herb, & river & mountain, And city & village, and house & family, That the Perfect May live in glory, redeem'd by Sacrifice of the Lamb And of his children before sinful Jerusalem. To build Babylon the City of Vala, the Goddess Virgin-Mother. She is our Mother! Nature! Jerusalem is our Harlot-Sister Return'd with Children of pollution to defile our House With Sin and Shame. Cast, Cast her into the Potter's field! Her little ones She must slay upon our Altars, and her aged Parents must be carried into captivity: to redeem her Soul, To be for a Shame & a Curse, and to be our Slaves for ever.

In an extended passage too long to quote here Blake gives a colloquy with the fainting, confused Albion and the two females competing for his heart. It's actually a recreation of the earlier colloquy in VDA, and infinitely richer and fuller. Albion wavers exactly like Theotormon; Vala, like Bromion, is implacably blind, and Jerusalem has the eloquence of the earlier heroine. In this scene, like the earlier one, Blake describes the eternal battle between faith and worldliness.

Look also at the passage on Plates 32-34 and remember that Albion, Vala and Los each speaks from his own viewpoint. To understand Blake's vision the reader must imaginatively enter the psychic state of each of the three characters. Los most often speaks from the poet's true standpoint, and the following lines put his position about as plainly as it can be put:What may Man be? who can tell! but what may Woman be To have power over Man from Cradle to corruptible Grave? There is a Throne in every Man, it is the Throne of God: This, Woman has claim'd as her own, and Man is no more! Albion is the Tabernacle of Vala and her Temple, And not the Tabernacle and Temple of the Most High. 0 Albion, why wilt thou Create a Female Will?

A few lines along he adds further meaning to his term: Is this the Female Will, 0 ye lovely Daughters of Albion, To Converse concerning Weight & Distance in the Wilds of Newton & Locke?

As the epic progresses, Blake continues to define the two women: Man is adjoin'd 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.

The idea of building Jerusalem gains prominence in Blake's poetry after the Moment of Grace. Jerusalem, "a city, yet a woman", is builded in the heart of every man by acts of love and kindness, and this is the work of the imagination.

As the third chapter of 'Jerusalem' begins, Blake describes Jerusalem for us once more:In Great Eternity every particular Form gives forth or Emanates Its own peculiar Light, and 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 and Female Clothings. And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion.

Blake's ethics of sexual love, his symbolism, and his Christian faith all fit together and reach a climax in a sketch virtually guaranteed to astound and provoke the reader (and no doubt dismay and disgust some). This passage, Plates 61 and 62, is called "Visions of Elohim Jehovah". Here once again forgiveness is the key, and to Blake forgiveness was everything. Vala, the soul of materialism, knows nothing of forgiveness. Jerusalem's liberty is expressed most fully in forgiveness. In this passage Mary, the mother of Jesus, merges with the other Mary, who was forgiven because "she loved much".

"Visions of Elohim Jehovah" could only have been written by a poet who despised the social value placed upon virginity. In an earlier work he had called it "pale religious letchery that wishes but acts not". Blake hated the ideal of chastity, which meant to him a virtuous withholding of woman's body as an exercise of power over the deprived male, and he struck directly at the archetype of the chaste woman. "Visions of Elohim Jehovah" is not a theological statement, but an imaginative vision about meaning and value. The love of Blake will always be confined to people who discriminate between those two things and whose theological perspective is neither glassy eyed nor otherwise rigid.

Blake's Mary has perfect trust in the forgiveness of sin, and her relationship with Joseph becomes a type for the relationship of Jerusalem with Jesus:Jerusalem fainted over the Cross and Sepulcher. She heard the voice: "Wilt thou make Rome thy Patriarch Druid & the Kings of Europe his "horsemen? Man in the Resurrection changes his Sexual Garments at will. "Every harlot was once a Virgin: every Criminal an Infant Love. "Repose on me till the Morning of the Grave. I am thy Life." Jerusalem replied: "I am an outcast: Albion is dead: "I am left to the trampling foot is. the spurning heel: "A Harlot I am call'd: I am sold from street to street: "I am defaced with blows in with the dirt of the Prison, "And wilt thou become my Husband, 0 my Lord & Saviour?"

As Jerusalem progressively gains our sympathy, Vala moves farther and farther in the opposite direction: Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los, even Vala And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howlings Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach in a devouring Tongue. Her Hand is a Court of Justice: her Feet two Armies in Battle: Storms & Pestilence in her Locks, and in her Loins Earthquake And Fire & the Ruin of Cities & Nations and Families and Tongues.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


British Museum

Copy A, Plate 76
Blake was of the opinion that the church had taught man that God is distant from him; that his home is in the sky, far removed from our home on earth. Even Jesus taught people to pray to 'Our Father which art in Heaven.' The distance between God and man was further increased when in the Age of Reason man was taught that God did not intervene in the activities of man. God became the observer who let the universe run itself according to the laws of physics. 

This idea of God was totally contrary to the God that Blake knew and loved. From the time that Blake was a child he had known God as a presence who visited him. Blake is reported to have seen God's face at his nursery window, later he saw a tree full of angels on Peckham Rye. Blake's mother was sympathetic to these direct experiences of God because through the Moravian Church she was familiar with acknowledging and following the guidance of the spirit. This accessible presence was the God whom Blake wanted to share with his readers.

Blake was not timid about expressing his conviction that God has descended to man and resides in humanity and in each individual. Blake had the confidence to write about God as the Holy Spirit who dwells in man because he was familiar with the theme which permeates the writings of the New Testament. He confirmed the experience in his own life and testified to it in his works of imagination.

Jerusalem, Plate 4, (E 146)
"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;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!      
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!

But the perturbed Man away turns down the valleys dark;
[Saying. We are not One: we are Many, thou most
Phantom of the over heated brain! shadow of immortality!
Seeking to keep my soul a victim to thy Love! which binds
Man the enemy of man into deceitful friendships:
Jerusalem is not! her daughters are indefinite:
By demonstration, man alone can live, and not by faith.
My mountains are my own, and I will keep them to myself!
Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 184)
"O God of Albion descend! deliver Jerusalem from the Oaken Groves!

Then Los grew furious raging: Why stand we here trembling around
Calling on God for help; and not ourselves in whom God dwells
Stretching a hand to save the falling Man: are we not Four
Beholding Albion upon the Precipice ready to fall into

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blake and Frye

Although Northrup Frye was not primarily a Blake scholar, he is considered by many 
people the father of modern Blake scholars.
Frye was primarily famous, not for Fearful Symmetry, but for Anatomy of Criticism

Born in Quebec in 1912, he studied at University of Toronto, presumably English Literature. 
After graduation he then studied theology at Emmanuel College, and in due course was ordained as a minister of the United Church of Canada

He went to Oxford and studied at Merton College.

Merton College

 Returning to Victoria College he spent the remainder of his professional career.
Frye's first book, a thesis, Fearful Symmetry was published by Princeton Press in 1947.
The second, that made him famous, named Analysis of Criticism, was published at
Princeton in 1957.

He wrote and published voluminously including much about Blake.
In the ten years before his death he wrote a two volume masterpiece, 'The Bible and Literature;
close study of these two books ('The Great Code' and 'Words with Power') has been
enormously important in my attempt to understand the myth, the words, and the meaning of William Blake.
To understand a large piece of  literature it's important to organize it in some way;
one organizing principle that I learned from Frye's 'Great Code' was 'types':
The first occurrence is the type and later ones are antitypes:
Abraham was a type; Jesus could be considered an antitype....and so forth;
a type may have an antitype; and an antitype may have its own antitype, etc.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Forgiveness to Blake is a characteristic of Eternity. Not this world's forgiveness of taking offense, or offending, apologizing and returning to the same behavior. Eternal forgiveness is dwelling in a condition of Mercy where this is no offending, accusation, or imputing of sin; where disagreement are allowed and respected. In the Eternal condition there is no hindering of one another or feeling of being hindered by others.

When men in this world are able to forgive one another from the depths of their hearts, they partake of Eternal forgiveness. Forgiveness becomes mutual. The awareness of the need to be forgiven becomes as  powerful as the need to forgive. Forgiveness itself becomes a messenger from heaven, the food which feeds the soul, and the fire which burns away the unforgiving shell of pain and resentment.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
"Friendship cannot exist without Forgiveness
of Sins continually.  The Book written by Rousseau calld his
Confessions is an apology & cloke for his sin & not a confession.
  But you also charge the poor Monks & Religious with being the
causes of War: while you acquit & flatter the Alexanders &
Caesars, the Lewis's & Fredericks: who alone are its causes & its
actors.  But the Religion of Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, can never
be the cause of a War nor of a single Martyrdom.
  Those who Martyr others or who cause War are Deists, but never
can be Forgivers of Sin.  The Glory of Christianity is, To
Conquer by Forgiveness.  All the Destruction therefore, in
Christian Europe has arisen from Deism, which is Natural
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"  
Jerusalem, Plate 61, (E 212)
"Saying, Doth Jehovah Forgive a Debt only on condition that it shall
Be Payed? Doth he Forgive Pollution only on conditions of Purity
That Debt is not Forgiven! That Pollution is not Forgiven
Such is the Forgiveness of the Gods, the Moral Virtues of the    
Heathen, whose tender Mercies are Cruelty. But Jehovahs Salvation
Is without Money & without Price, in the Continual Forgiveness of Sins
In the Perpetual Mutual Sacrifice in Great Eternity! for behold!
There is none that liveth & Sinneth not! And this is the Covenant
Of Jehovah: If you Forgive one-another, so shall Jehovah Forgive You:    
That He Himself may Dwell among You."   

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin: 
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore 
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment."      

For The Sexes THE GATES of PARADISE, Prologue, (E 259)         
"Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice
Such are the Gates of Paradise" 
Songs & Ballads, My Spectre, (E 477)
"Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity

& Throughout all Eternity        
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said                       
This the Wine & this the Bread"
Mark 11
[25] And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

Luke 6
[37] "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

Matthew 26
[27] And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you;
[28] for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blake Sex 6

The Two Women

       When Blake began to work on his epic myth, he intended to focus upon the wicked career of Vala, but as time went by, he became more interested in the Zoas, which no doubt helped to relieve the anti-feminine bent of his metaphysics. Vala temporarily sank to the level of a minor character, and Blake laid most of the guilt for man's sorry state upon Urizen. The Moment of Grace brought another significant change: Vala fumed into two females, Rahab and Jerusalem, both of whom issue from Enitharmon.
       When Blake gave Rahab the alternate name of Babylon, he came into conformance with the basic symbology of the Bible. Throughout the scripture we read about these two women/cities. Jerusalem is at least potentially the city of God, while Babylon always represents the seat of the God of this World. In his last epic Blake's Vala has become virtually interchangeable with Babylon.
       We have already noted the biblical sources of Blake's two symbolic women in the 12th and 17th chapters ot Revelation. In the first of these John sees a woman "clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet". In the second he described "the great whore that sitteth upon many waters". These two women in the Bible aptly prefigure Blake's Jerusalem and Vala, and a careful study of the two chapters will help the reader to shape in his own mind the identity of Blake's two characters.
       John and Blake both drew their paired women from earlier sources. Frye calls them "royal metaphors" for the twin totalities of good and evil, of redemption and damnation that fill the pages of the Bible. The Tower of Babel, the first city of sin, led to the confusion of tongues. Following God's command Abraham, the father of the Hebrews, left Ur, a few miles from Babylon and eventually settled in the Promised Land. The first Captivity occured in Egypt, which later biblical literature often treats as synonymous with Babylon. The second Captivity took place at Babylon. A later captivity was to Rome, which John the Apocalyptist called Babylon: in Revelation he celebrated the burning of the Whore of Babylon.
       Meanwhile Melchizidek, King of Salem and priest of the Most High God, had blessed Abraham. Some centuries later David established Jerusalem as his capital. The Song of Solomon is a poem and love song about a king and his bride. This theme became a primary symbol of the relation between Jerusalem, representing the Chosen People, and God. The prophets constantly referred to Jerusalem as a woman, married to God, but too often faithless, whoring after other gods. Hosea's stories about the love of the betrayed husband for his faithless wife, Gomer, poetically express the highest level of the Hebrew consciousness of God. On occasion the prophets became so enraged that they identified Jerusalem with Babylon. For example John spoke of "the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified".
       This biblical background prepares us to cope with the woman found in Blake's poem, 'Jerusalem' . As we have seen, in the poetry of the first half of Blake's life the woman is sinister. She represents the material; the material is unworthy, reprehensible, satanic. This is the typical Gnostic position and to a lesser extent the Neo-platonic position. Blake stated it very explicitly and with his usual hyperbole in 'Visions of the Last Judgment' (See also the image): "I assert for My Self that I do not behold the outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance and not Action; it is as the Dirt upon my feet. No part of Me."
       He wrote that as late as 1810. Nevertheless after the Moment of Grace Blake's perspective on matter (and Woman!) softened. At first there had been only the sinister woman, but now the Woman of Grace appeared as well.
       In the poem, Jerusalem, we find a discourse and a conflict between these two women. Vala speaks for the kingdom of Satan, and Jerusalem speaks for the kingdom of Heaven. Their interaction dominates the poem and must fascinate anyone interested in those two subjects. The epic is a straightforward conflict between light and darkness as Blake understood those two realities. Vala wins most of the battles, but we always know who must win the war.

       Blake describes reality imaginatively and dramatically in terms of ultimate value; this is basically an expression of faith. If one believes in the higher values: in spirit, in truth, in justice and love, then one imagines these things ultimately victorious. Blake did, and he concluded the passage from VLJ quoted above: "What, it will be Question'd, 'When the Sun rises, do you not see a round disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?' 0 no, no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying 'Holy, holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.'" In Blake's final epic Vala represents the guinea sun and Jerusalem the "innumerable company of the Heavenly host". Needless to say those who see only the guinea sun will not be attracted to the poem.