It was much closer to compassion than it is in our day.
According to the Blake Concordance the word is mentioned 178 times in
Blake's Complete Works. But the poem that best defines the meaning that
pity had for him is The Divine Image from Songs of Innocence.
In Plate 7 of Blake's Milton we read about the "three classes of mortal men":
the elect (self-righteous), the redeemed (saved sinners), and the reprobate
(prophets harried from place to place).
Tirzah is one of Blake's bad women; for a short poem where Blake vividly
describes his use of the word look at To Tirzah.
The word 'unbelief", used by Blake was much like what Jesus railed about,
while using the positive mode. Neither of them meant by unbelief failure to
adhere to the intellectual propositions which are supposed to define the
Christian faith. For both men belief meant commitment to the reality of a
Ulro: this material world; also called the 'seat of Satan' as in 'the ruler of this
present world". This world (in the same sense the term is used in the New
Testament); also this vale of tears; also the seat of Satan, and a dread sleep
(many such usages in 4Z).
Urizen The Zoa who represented Reason. In Blake's thought he became
closely related to Nobodaddy, the unforgiving and cruel Old Testament God.
In 'Milton' Blake describes the contest between the old god, Urizen and 'Milton'
(a surrogate here for Christ). It's a vivid description of the humanizing of God
that came to us with the words of Jesus, about the loving heavenly father.
Vala: the original name of the Four Zoas was Vala. In Blake's mythology she
was the consort of Luvah (the god of love). Vala represents woman in general;
she is also called Tirzah (purely earthly woman) and Jerusalem (heavenly
In Jerusalem, after the Moment of Grace, Blake wrote "The Wheel of Religion".
In it he showed once again the difference between false and true Christianity,
using almost entirely biblical figures:
"Both read the same Bible day and night But you read black where I read white."
(from The Everlasting Gospel by William Blake)
The Covering Cherub for Blake sums up [indicated] the 27 Christian heavens
which shut man out from Eternity (Damon 93)
In the Everlasting gospel we read " Was Jesus Born of a Virgin pure..." To
appreciate these verses look at The Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
Blake developed a vividly graphic image of the priestly cocoon in his major work
called Milton (See plate 33). His poetry here is almost invincibly opaque, but the
meaning has extreme significance in regard to his pscyhology, his world view, his
religious outlook. The Mundane Shell represents fallen man, and particularly the
worship of materiality rather than spirit. And more particularly the encrustation of
organized religion (and law) over the spirit of humanity. Viewed individually it
represents the psyche of a person whose consciousness has not yet evolved form
the purely material. Or to look at this from another viewpoint: a child who has lost
Science, like everything else fell and then ascended. In the fallen 80% of Blake's
myth purely material science, ignoring any spiritual content, was denoted by Bacon,
Newton and Locke. However it will be redeemed in the 'Last Judgment'.