Thursday, June 29, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Library of Congress
Blog post - Europe

The New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands of England
The Garman Ryan Collection
Christ in the Carpenters Shop
The Humility of the Savior
Blog post - Carpenter's Shop

Wikipedia Commons
Large Color Printed Drawings
Blog post - Newton

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 100
Blog post - Jerusalem Finale

Post - There Is No Natural Religion

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Glasgow University Library
Copy B, 1794
Probably the best known image created by Blake was the Frontispiece for his illuminated book Europe A Prophecy. He reprinted and recolored the image numerous times to be sold as a separate print. But like most of Blake's work it was susceptible to multiple interpretations. At the two extremes, some see it as a picture of benevolent God providing a protective space for man to enjoy; others see it as hostile God limiting man and dividing him from the glories of Eternity. Depending on perspective, some see Yahweh, some the Elohim, some Urizen, or some the Demiurge. Viewing the image contrarily forces the viewer to penetrate more deeply into the wisdom of creation.

In this account presented by Wisdom, the compass was the instrument used by the Lord in commanding the establishment of the structure in which the sons of man may find a habitation.   

Proverbs 8

Wisdom speaking:
[22] The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
[23] I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
[24] When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
[25] Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
[26] While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
[27] When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
[28] When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
[29] When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
[30] Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
[31] Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

[32] Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
[33] Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
[34] Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
[35] For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.
[36] But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

The passage in Proverbs, by featuring the role of Wisdom (Sophia), points us toward looking at Gnostic thought for the meaning of the image. Milton Klonsky in William Blake: The Seer and His Visions makes this comment relating the picture to an alternative to Hebrew/Christian tradition of interpretation.

"The Passage from Proverbs illustrated by this picture, it should be noted, is a direct address to 'the sons of man' by Wisdom (or Sophia or Ennoia, as she is called in Gnostic theosophy), the first emanation of the true but hidden and nameless God. From the gnostic point of view, therefore, it may be interpreted as a rebuke to the malevolent demiurge, Ialdaboath, Blake's 'Old Nobadaddy,' shown creating the universe. He is shown holding the compass in his left hand, which according to Blake's symbolism, is 'sinister' in both senses [Two definitions: productive of evil, ill omen] of the word." (Page 40)

Although Blake could not have been acquainted with the Gnostic literature which was discovered in the twentieth century, there is little doubt that he read Gnostic material incorporated by early church fathers such a Valentinus.

Here is a sample from the creation myth included in the Nag Hammadi Library and referred to as On the Origins of the World.

"Now, when Pistis Sophia wanted to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and rule over matter and over all its powers,  a ruler first appeared out of the waters, lionlike in appearance, androgynous, with great authority within himself but ignorant of whence he came into being.

When Pistis Sophia saw him moving in the depth of the waters, she said to him, “Youth, pass over here,” which is interpreted as “Yaldabaoth.”  Since that day, the first principle of the word that referred to the gods and angels and people has appeared. And the gods and angels and people constitute that which came into being by means of the word. Moreover, the ruler Yaldabaoth is ignorant of the power of Pistis. He did not see her face, but he saw in the water the likeness that spoke with him. And from that voice he called himself Yaldabaoth. But the perfect ones call him Ariael because he was like a lion.  And after he came to possess authority over matter, Pistis Sophia withdrew up to her light.


When the ruler saw his greatness, he saw only himself; he saw nothing else, except water and darkness. Then he thought that he alone existed. His thought was made complete by means of the word, and it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro over the waters.  And when that spirit appeared, the ruler separated the watery substance to one region and the dry substance to another region. From matter he created a dwelling place for himself and called it heaven. And from matter the ruler created a footstool and called it earth."

By using the same countenance for the Creator and for Urizen, Blake points us toward envisioning two aspects of the process of creation and the impetus which began it. Blake had a name for the sinister God who was hidden, vengeful and distant; Blake called him 'Nobodaddy.'

Blake's Notebook, (E 471)
"To Nobodaddy 

Why art thou silent & invisible
Father of jealousy
Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds
From every searching Eye"

Book of Urizen, Plate 23, (E 81) 
"Why darkness & obscurity     
In all thy words & laws
That none dare eat the fruit but from
The wily serpents jaws
Or is it because Secresy
Gains females loud applause  

3. Most Urizen sicken'd to see
His eternal creations appear
Sons & daughters of sorrow on mountains                 
Weeping! wailing! first Thiriel appear'd
Astonish'd at his own existence
Like a man from a cloud born, & Utha
From the waters emerging, laments!
Grodna rent the deep earth howling                  
Amaz'd! his heavens immense cracks
Like the ground parch'd with heat; then Fuzon
Flam'd out! first begotten, last born
All his eternal sons in like manner
His daughters from green herbs & cattle                  
From monsters, & worms of the pit.

4. He in darkness clos'd, view'd all his race,
And his soul sicken'd! he curs'd
Both sons & daughters; for he saw
That no flesh nor spirit could keep                       
His iron laws one moment.

5. For he saw that life liv'd upon death"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fall & Return

University of Adelaide ebook
Book of Urizen 
Plate 23
This short passage is from Larry's book Ram Horn'd with Gold: The Spiritual Autobiography of William Blake.

Eden is the Eternal Realm before Creation, and Blake's garden is called Beulah, the region all around Eden. Beulah is a place for the Eternals to rest, but a dangerous place (like the Garden in Genesis). One may turn away from Eternity and choose to evaluate life in terms of good and evil (eat the apple, so to speak). The problem with good and evil is that we take as our own what belongs to God, and thereafter what we may acquire is good, and what we lack is evil. In Blake's language we have chosen the Selfhood, to focus on I, me, and mine. Or in Ovid's language like Narcissus we have fallen in love with ourselves and chosen the watery materiality over the inward spiritual truth.  In love with the world of things and thrills we have become ardent materialists.  We fall into Ulro. As was said before, the Fall began when Luvah seized Urizen's chariot of the sun in effect blotting out the sun of Urizen.  For a while (feminine) feeling ruled the world.  Eventually Los, the imagination, became Urizen's chief adversary. So:

       But a strange thing happened; the Spectre of Urthona came to a different plan. Los, empowered by love, found Urizen in his hands.  So ends Night vii:

        (Four Zoas, Night 7a 59-66   Erdman 371)

       In 4Z Blake tried over and over to give an account of the Fall; the one shown here is only one of many.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

Larry posted this to another of his blogs in 2007. Ellie added the picture and quotes.

At the age of six William Blake was sent to school. The first day he observed the
schoolmaster birching one of the students. Without a word he rose gathered his belongings and left. That is the history of his formal education.

Education as we understand it performs two functions:

1. to teach the elements of reading, writing and arithmetic.

2. to 'socialize' the pupil: train him to know and conform to the conventions of his society.

For most people the second function is by far the most significant.

William Blake taught himself the elements, but seems to have remained largely independent (and in fact innocent) of the second function.

Rather than live in the "mind forg'd manacles" as most people do, he examined every value and judged it on its own merits, which meant that he ignored many of society's dictates.

The ultimate rebel, his guidance came from what he (and his wife) called Heaven, or the Visions coming forth from the recesses of his own mind.

He deplored the tabula-rasa teaching of Locke that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. In contrast Blake believed that the child was born with adequate direction from whence he came until he made the fatal choice of 'running with the pack', with more in fact from within than he could ever hope to gain by sensory experience.

Much of Blake's wisdom is esoteric in the extreme; even completely opaque to the conventional mind. In contrast revolutionaries of every type heard it gladly.
"I must create a system or by enslaved by another man's."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 46, (E 26)
"I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet             
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man, 
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse" 
All Religions Are One, (E 1)
 PRINCIPLE 4. As none by traveling over known lands can find out
the unknown.  So from already acquired knowledge Man could not
acquire more. therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists

There is No Natural Religion, (E 3)
  "VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite
& himself Infinite
     Conclusion,   If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat
the same dull round over again
     Application.   He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God.  He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Milton, Plate 15 [17], (E 109)
"Thus is the heaven a vortex passd already, and the earth
A vortex not yet pass'd by the traveller thro' Eternity." 

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 152)
"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:"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


In 2011 Larry taught a short enrichment course in Blake at the Senior Learning Institute of the College of Central Florida. He concluded the course with this precis of Blake's Milton.
Wikimedia Commons
British Museum
Copy A, Plate 1


The Mature Works

Milton, Blake's first overtly Christian work, is his testimony of faith. It's also his way of rehabilitating his childhood hero, John Milton. Finally it's a difficult poem; it contains unfathomable depths. This review can do no more than introduce the reader to the poem and call attention to some of the new elements in the mature development of Blake's myth.

Milton is a very autobiographical work. Blake used many of the characters that his readers might be familiar with from earlier works, but in this very personal poem they often assume other (although related) identities. Particularly we understand that Blake was Los, and Hayley was Satan (he had suborned Blake from his true work to hack work: from Eternity to Ulro.)

John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, had been a major force in Blake's life; he had been many things to Blake since his childhood. In Blake's day Milton enjoyed enormous spiritual stature among the English people. Even today the general understanding of Heaven, Hell, God and Satan (among people interested in those concepts) tends to be more often Miltonic than Biblical. All subsequent English poets lived and wrote in Milton's shadow, and the greatest ones aspired to achieve an epic comparable to Paradise Lost. In the first half of his life Blake was very much under the shadow of Milton who was respected as the great epic poet of the English people.

Although Blake had much in common with the puritan poet, he disagreed with Milton about a number of things. For example, as a young man he despised the God of Paradise Lost and admired Milton's Devil. Blake made that clear in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and tried to put Milton in his place by saying that he was of the Devil's party without knowing it. Ten years later the experience of grace empowered Blake to deal with Milton in a better way. He called him back to earth to straighten out his theology, and he identified with him and his spiritual power in a radical way. He recreated Milton as Milton had recreated the Bible.

As Blake's poem begins, Milton has been in Heaven for a hundred years, obedient although not very happy there. The 'Bard's Song' (which takes up the first third of the poem) recreates the war in Heaven of Paradise Lost. The other Eternals find the Bard's song appalling, but Milton embraces the Bard and his song. In a thrilling imaginative triumph he announces his intention of leaving Heaven to complete the work on earth that he had left undone. Although Blake doesn't say this, any Christian should recognize that Milton thus follows in the footsteps of Christ as described in the famous Kenosis passage in Philippians 2: 

Philippians 2
[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
[7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name

Milton, Plate 14 [15], (E 108)
"He took off the robe of the promise and ungirded himself from the oath of God.
And Milton said: "I go to Eternal Death The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam [king of Troy], in pomp of Warlike Selfhood."

Milton: plate 14 reads
"----contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come to deliver the sleeping body From corruptibility?
O when, Lord Jesus, wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer, for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave:
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks:
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death, Lest the Last Judgment come and find me unannihilate
And I be seized and given into the hands of my own Selfhood"

Anyone familiar with the gospel story will see biblical allusions and references here.

In Blake's cottage he sees Milton's shadow, a horrible vision:

Milton Plate 37:
"Miltons Shadow heard & condensing all his Fibres
Into a strength impregnable of majesty & beauty infinite
I saw he was the Covering Cherub & within him Satan
And Rahab, ... in the Selfhood deadly
And he appeard the Wicker Man of Scandinavia in whom
Jerusalems children consume in flames among the Stars
Descending down into my Garden, a Human Wonder of God
Reaching from heaven to earth a Cloud & Human Form
I beheld Milton with astonishment & in him beheld
The Monstrous Churches of Beulah, the Gods of Ulro dark
Twelve monstrous dishumanizd terrors Synagogues of Satan.
All these are seen in Miltons Shadow who is the Covering Cherub
The Spectre of Albion"

An attempt to translate this visionary poetry into "common sense" might suggest that in Milton's shadow Blake suddenly became immediately aware of all the fallen nature of the world (and his own mind) that had consumed most of his poetry to that point. Now he became aware of all these things, but in the light of a person now full of light.

Back on earth Milton encounters many of the characters whom we met in The Four Zoas. Tirzah and Rahab tempt him; his contest with Urizen has special interest as a record of the resolution of Blake's life long struggle with the things that Urizen represented to him:

"Silent they met and silent strove among the streams of Arnon 
Even to Mahanaim, when with cold hand Urizen stoop'd down
And took up water from the river Jordan, pouring on
To Milton's brain the icy fluid from his broad cold palm.
But Milton took of the red clay of Succoth, moulding it with care
Between his palms and filling up the furrows of many years,
Beginning at the feet of Urizen, and on the bones
Creating new flesh on the Demon cold and building him
As with new clay, a Human form in the Valley of Beth Peor." 
[Milton, Plate 19 [21], (E 112)]

A Bible dictionary, or even better, Damon's Blake Dictionary, will help to clarify the associations with biblical locations. Here we see the old Urizen still trying to freeze the poet's brain, but instead he finds himself being humanized by an emissary from Heaven. Blake is vividly depicting the battle between the forces of positivism and spirit.

Milton meets other obstacles and temptations on his journey, a journey that begins to bear increasing resemblance to that of Bunyan's Pilgrim or even of Jesus himself. He unites with Los and with Blake. He finally meets Satan, confronts him and overcomes him as Jesus had done. These dramatic events give Blake ample opportunity to describe in detail the eternal and satanic dimensions of life, the conflict between the two and the inevitable victory of the eternal. For the first and perhaps the only time Blake is writing a traditional morality story.

This material is autobiographical and written in the honeymoon phase of his new spiritual life. Blake's full meanings yield only to intensive study, but from the beginning there are thrilling lines to delight and inspire the reader. In his esoteric language Blake describes for us what has happened to him, and nothing could be more engrossing for the reader interested in the life of the spirit and in Blake. The relationship of this story to the myth described above should be obvious. But Milton is more real than the previous material because Blake has lived it and writes (and sketches) with spiritual senses enlarged and tuned by his recent experience of grace.
A digression occurs in the second half of Book One of Milton, a detailed description of the "World of Los"; it contains much of Blake's most delightful poetry. The reader will remember that in 4Z Los had passed through several stages of development. Beginning as the primitive prophetic boy, he became first disciple and later adversary of Urizen. He bound Urizen into fallen forms of life, then 'became what he beheld'. But in Night VII of the Four Zoas we recall that he embraced his Spectre, actually the Urizen within, and thereupon Los became the hero of the epic.

Letters, To Flaxman, (E 707) 
"Now my lot in the Heavens is this; Milton lovd me in childhood & shewd me his face Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me. terrors appeard in the Heavens above And in Hell beneath & a mighty & awful change threatend the Earth The American War began All its dark horrors passed before my face" 

 Milton, Plate 28, [30], (E 126) 
"But others of the Sons of Los build Moments & Minutes & Hours
And Days & Months & Years & Ages & Periods; wondrous buildings   
And every Moment has a Couch of gold for soft repose,
(A Moment equals a pulsation of the artery)    ,
And between every two Moments stands a Daughter of Beulah
To feed the Sleepers on their Couches with maternal care.
And every Minute has an azure Tent with silken Veils.         
And every Hour has a bright golden Gate carved with skill.
And every Day & Night, has Walls of brass & Gates of adamant,
Shining like precious stones & ornamented with appropriate signs:
And every Month, a silver paved Terrace builded high:
And every Year, invulnerable Barriers with high Towers.    
And every Age is Moated deep with Bridges of silver & gold.
And every Seven Ages is Incircled with a Flaming Fire.
Now Seven Ages is amounting to Two Hundred Years
Each has its Guard. each Moment Minute Hour Day Month & Year.
All are the work of Fairy hands of the Four Elements             
The Guard are Angels of Providence on duty evermore
Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period & value to Six Thousand Years.

PLATE 29 [31]
For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery."

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Library of Congress
Plate 32, Copy D
Larry dated his first interest in Blake to 1978, two years after we moved to the house in Arlington. Five years later he had completed his Blake book and was attempting to get it published.

Thurs, Feb 1, 1984

Sitting in little park beside  the Washington Ship Channel. Lovely sunshine, not much wind. Hope for tennis this afternoon. I've put in two hours on the spreadsheet for Hannah House. Its fun. Still a few little refinements, and I can start formatting the monthly report. It's a learning experience.

'War & Hunting' could be translated as struggle and discovery. Those are certainly the things that give meaning to life; hence Blake called them the 'twin fountains of the river of life.' Eternal death, of which our political leaders are archetypes, is characterized by paranoia and deceit.

The struggle of the extrovert may be to change people's values - the 'war for men's minds.' The introvert may pit himself against impersonal problems - like mastering the computer. I'm thoroughly enjoying the struggle to master the computer, and find it glorified by the use for a worthy cause - namely succoring the homeless (by keeping books for Hannah House.) How fortunate and blessed I am.

June 2017

It is ironic that Blake could be so opposed to corporeal war, and use the term war to symbolize the activity of life which is most appropriate to describe one of the life-giving pursuits of Eternity. But the symbol 'war' grew out of Blake own internal struggles between the forces which often raged within his brain. Just as corporeal war produced appalling suffering and destruction, the war within could lead to frightening results. Perhaps 'war' could he harnessed if its energies were applied to constructive endeavors. Paul of Tarsus wrote of the struggle to be free of the grip of his willful disobedience to the best of which he was capable. Larry found that he could use the energy of struggle to pit himself against problems which may be amenable to solutions. In directing his warlike inclinations productively he gained access to war as a 'Fountain of Life.'

The Eternal dimension is available even in this world if we seek the Brotherhood of Mankind.

Romans 7
[17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
[18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
[19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
[20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
[21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
[22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
[23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
[24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 

Milton, Plate 34 [35], (E 134)
"And Ololon looked down into the Heavens of Ulro in fear
They said. How are the Wars of Man which in Great Eternity    
Appear around, in the External Spheres of Visionary Life
Here renderd Deadly within the Life & Interior Vision
How are the Beasts & Birds & Fishes, & Plants & Minerals
Here fixd into a frozen bulk subject to decay & death[?]
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! O piteous Female forms compelld
To weave the Woof of Death,"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 124)
"But the Wine-press of Los is eastward of Golgonooza, before the Seat
Of Satan. Luvah laid the foundation & Urizen finish'd it in howling Woe.
How red the sons & daughters of Luvah! here they tread the grapes.
Laughing & shouting drunk with odours many fall oerwearied
Drownd in the wine is many a youth &  maiden: those around 
Lay them on skins of Tygers & of the spotted Leopard & the Wild Ass
Till they revive, or bury them in cool grots, making lamentation.

This Wine-press is call'd War on Earth, it is the Printing-Press
Of Los; and here he lays his words in order above the mortal brain
As cogs are formd in a wheel to turn the cogs of the adverse wheel."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife      
In Los's Halls continual labouring in the Furnaces of Golgonooza
Orc howls on the Atlantic: Enitharmon trembles: All Beulah weeps"     

Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 185)
"And the soft smile of friendship & the open dawn of benevolence  
Become a net & a trap, & every energy renderd cruel,
Till the existence of friendship & benevolence is denied:
The wine of the Spirit & the vineyards of the Holy-One.
Here: turn into poisonous stupor & deadly intoxication:
That they may be condemnd by Law & the Lamb of God be slain!   
And the two Sources of Life in Eternity, Hunting and War,
Are become the Sources of dark & bitter Death & of corroding Hell:
The open heart is shut up in integuments of frozen silence
That the spear that lights it forth may shatter the ribs & bosom
A pretence of Art, to destroy Art: a pretence of Liberty      
To destroy Liberty. a pretence of Religion to destroy Religion

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 635)
 "Degrade first the Arts if you'd Mankind degrade,
     Hire Idiots to Paint with cold light & hot shade:
     Give high Price for the worst, leave the best in disgrace,
     And with Labours of Ignorance fill every place."

Song of Los, Plate 3, (E 67)
"(Night spoke to the Cloud!
Lo these Human form'd spirits in smiling hipocrisy War
Against one another; so let them War on; slaves to the eternal Elements)"

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Yale Center for British Art
America, Plate 10

Larry's Journal

Thurs Oct 25, 1984
Reading a few verses of Milton, it occurs to me that Blake is the preeminent commentator on scripture. He thought more deeply about scripture than anyone else I know. He inhabited a world of eternity that we in the present age desperately need. Whenever I go back to him he moves me deeply - much more than the Bible. He enriches the Biblical truths.
Praise God.
The tragedy of life stems from our inability to express this truth and meaning in worldly realms. I suppose that's what Blake means in part about the inseparable barrier between Eternity and Ulro. Maybe its what Jesus meant too in his story about Lazarus and Dives.

[Luke 16:26
Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.']

Fri Oct 26
Life seems very good this morning. It's wonderful to be well rested.
Europe, Plate 3, 'the crystal house' - the illusive human dream of heaven. Oh, I've been in many of its rooms - Rayne Memorial, the churches I served, the alcoholism programs, CofS, Hannah House, Cutting Edge, Gateway, 2nd Step - all rooms of the crystal house - as well as other things - also earthen vessels of the eternal Spirit.
Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
                    "A PROPHECY
     The deep of winter came;                                    
     What time the secret child,
Descended thro' the orient gates of the eternal day:
War ceas'd, & all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes.

Then Enitharmon saw her sons & daughters rise around.            
Like pearly clouds they meet together in the crystal house:
And Los, possessor of the moon, joy'd in the peaceful night:
Thus speaking while his num'rous sons shook their bright fiery wings

Again the night is come               
That strong Urthona takes his rest,                              
And Urizen unloos'd from chains                                  
Glows like a meteor in the distant north
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep."

Milton, Plate 27 [28], (E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions
Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery:

That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men.
And Science is divided into Bowlahoola & Allamanda.
Plate 28 [30]
Some Sons of Los surround the Passions with porches of iron & silver
Creating form & beauty around the dark regions of sorrow,
Giving to airy nothing a name and a habitation
Delightful! with bounds to the Infinite putting off the Indefinite
Into most holy forms of Thought: (such is the power of inspiration)
They labour incessant; with many tears & afflictions:
Creating the beautiful House for the piteous sufferer.

Others; Cabinets richly fabricate of gold & ivory;
For Doubts & fears unform'd & wretched & melancholy
The little weeping Spectre stands on the threshold of Death      
Eternal; and sometimes two Spectres like lamps quivering
And often malignant they combat (heart-breaking sorrowful & piteous)
Antamon takes them into his beautiful flexible hands,
As the Sower takes the seed, or as the Artist his clay
Or fine wax, to mould artful a model for golden ornaments,      
The soft hands of Antamon draw the indelible line:
Form immortal with golden pen; such as the Spectre admiring
Puts on the sweet form; then smiles Antamon bright thro his windows
The Daughters of beauty look up from their Loom & prepare.
The integument soft for its clothing with joy & delight."

Songs and Ballads, (E 488)
 "The Crystal Cabinet

The Maiden caught me in the Wild
Where I was dancing merrily
She put me into her Cabinet
And Lockd me up with a golden Key

This Cabinet is formd of Gold 
And Pearl & Crystal shining bright
And within it opens into a World
And a little lovely Moony Night  

Another England there I saw
Another London with its Tower 
Another Thames & other Hills
And another pleasant Surrey Bower

Another Maiden like herself
Translucent lovely shining clear
Threefold each in the other closd 
O what a pleasant trembling fear

O what a smile a threefold Smile
Filld me that like a flame I burnd
I bent to Kiss the lovely Maid
And found a Threefold Kiss returnd 

I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

A weeping Babe upon the wild 
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind"
June 2017

What might have been Blake's Crystal Houses - social acceptance, the Royal Academy, publishing independently, Hayley's patronage? They all proved to be 'illusive human dreams of heaven' which were unnecessary when he focused only on his Art as the expression of the Holy Spirit through him.

In Milton, Blake does have his hero bridge the gap between the man who has accepted a lessor vision, and the one who 'sells all he has' to pursue a vision that comes from his internal awareness of the Truth. Blake's Milton descended from heaven, naked and unprotected by the constructs of his intellect, to experience the immediate, essential confrontation with the numinous that awakens the Soul which may have remained asleep.

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"Shall Albion arise? I know he shall arise at the Last Day!
I know that in my flesh I shall see God: but Emanations
Are weak. they know not whence they are, nor whither tend.

Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception. Luvah must be Created                  
And Vala; for I cannot leave them in the gnawing Grave.
But will prepare a way for my banished-ones to return"

Matthew 6
[28] And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
[29] And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
[30] Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
[31] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
[32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
[33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Monday, June 05, 2017


British Museum
Pan teaching a boy to play on the pipes

The satyr Pan is not an innocent character. The pipe which bears his name was contrived in a moment of anger when the Nymph he hoped to possess was turned into a reed. He repented of his wrath at having broken the reed into segments by constructing the pieces into a pipe for making music. The young Blake's picture, however, captured the innocent side of Pan, the patron of shepherds, instructing a boy in the art of playing the Pan Pipe by blowing over the openings of the reeds.
Blake began the Songs of Innocence by adopting the role of the shepherd teaching a song to a child and preparing to write his songs with a makeshift reed pen. 

Songs of Innocence, Plate 4, (E 7)
"Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child.
And he laughing said to me.

Pipe a song about a Lamb;    
So I piped with merry chear,
Piper pipe that song again--
So I piped, he wept to hear.

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe
Sing thy songs of happy chear,        
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear

Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read--
So he vanish'd from my sight.
And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear       

Plate 5  
The Shepherd. 
How sweet is the Shepherds sweet lot,
Yale Center for British Art
Plate 7
From the morn to the evening he strays:
He shall follow his sheep all the day
And his tongue shall be filled with praise. 
For he hears the lambs innocent call,
And he hears the ewes tender reply,
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh."

Near the end of Four Zoas the peace of innocence was returned. Mankind had learned through experience to re-assimilate the broken pieces of his psyche and live in harmony recognizing that everything that lives is holy.
Four Zoas, Night IX,Page ( E 403)  
"The song arose to the Golden feast the 
Eternal Man rejoicd 
Then the Eternal Man said Luvah the Vintage 
is ripe arise 
The sons of Urizen shall gather the vintage 
with sharp hooks 
And all thy sons O Luvah bear away the 
families of Earth 
I hear the flail of Urizen his barns are full 
no room 
Remains & in the Vineyards stand 
the abounding sheaves beneath 
The falling Grapes that odorous burst upon the winds. 
Arise My flocks & herds trample the Corn my cattle browze upon 
The ripe Clusters The shepherds shout for Luvah prince of Love 
Let the Bulls of Luvah tread the Corn & draw the loaded waggon 
Into the Barn while children glean the Ears around the door 
Then shall they lift their innocent hands & stroke his furious nose 
And he shall lick the little girls white neck & on her head
Scatter the perfume of his breath while from his mountains high
The lion of terror shall come down & bending his bright mane
And couching at their side shall eat from the curld boys white lap
His golden food and in the evening sleep before the Door"

Friday, June 02, 2017


Wikimedia Commons
Detail from Jerusalem Plate 59

Northrop Frey's Fearful Symmetry never fails to yield insight into the intricacies of Blake complex imagery. On Page 381, he states:

"Most of the references to clothing in the Bible represent the transparent 'net' which the fallen world flings around us, woven by Vala, who also weaves armor of conflict, shells of stupidity, or coverings of concealment and shame like the fig-leaves of Adam and Eve. 
On the other hand, the 'seamless garment' of the cross and the linen clothes abandoned by Jesus in his tomb represent the imagination's escape from this through another power, of which Blake gives us a glimpse in his remarkable picture of the solicitous Fates in Plate 59. This is the power of seeing the physical appearance as the covering of the mental reality, yet not so much concealing its shape so much as revealing it in a fallen aspect, and so not the clothing but the body or form of the mental world, through a physical and therefore fallen body or form. If we try to visualize this development of the 'clothing' symbol, we get something more like a mirror, a surface which reveals reality in fewer dimensions that it actually has.
The world in which we live therefore contains a 'heaven' or imaginative world in which all natural objects have a mental significance, and a 'hell' or Ulro in which the same natural objects have an opposite significance. The latter is thus a parody or mirror-image, a Vegetable Glass as Blake calls it, of the world of mental reality."

Larry's annotation on this passage - "For now we look through a glass darkly."

First Corinthians 13
[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
[9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
[10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
[11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
[12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
[13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Hebrews 4
JB Phillips Translation
For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man's being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man's heart. No creature has any cover from the sight of God; everything lies naked and exposed before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Methodist Communion Liturgy

“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Library of Congress
Plate 16
The interior world of Imagination displays reality as it really is. However for those confined to the lower worlds it is possible to see a reflected image of the mental visions of the Eternal. In contemporary terminology the natural world may be thought of as a virtual image of the everlasting dimension. If an individual can learn to see through the virtual image to the content of the permanent originals he will drink of the waters of life and be satisfied.

Unfortunately mankind seems to see the turmoil around him as real, and the world of peace, joy, faith, love and hope as an illusion beyond his grasp. One of Blake's great gifts to us is his images, visual and verbal, of a world more sharp, well defined and inviting than the blurry world mediated to us by our five senses.

In this image we see Milton removing the garment which obscures his ability to see in order that he may enter the world of Vision.      

Jerusalem, Plate 16, (E 161)
"In Enitharmons Halls builded by Los & his mighty Children        

All things acted on Earth are seen in the bright Sculptures of
Los's Halls & every Age renews its powers from these Works
With every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or
Wayward Love & every sorrow & distress is carved here
Every Affinity of Parents Marriages & Friendships are here       
In all their various combinations wrought with wondrous Art
All that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years
Such is the Divine Written Law of Horeb & Sinai:
And such the Holy Gospel of Mount Olivet & Calvary:" 
Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 209) 
"in the midst of these              
Is Built eternally the sublime Universe of Los & Enitharmon

And in the North Gate, in the West of the North. toward Beulah
Cathedrons Looms are builded. and Los's Furnaces in the South
A wondrous golden Building immense with ornaments sublime
Is bright Cathedrons golden Hall, its Courts Towers & Pinnacles  

And one Daughter of Los sat at the fiery Reel & another
Sat at the shining Loom with her Sisters attending round
Terrible their distress & their sorrow cannot be utterd
And another Daughter of Los sat at the Spinning Wheel
Endless their labour, with bitter food. void of sleep,           
Tho hungry they labour: they rouze themselves anxious
Hour after hour labouring at the whirling Wheel
Many Wheels & as many lovely Daughters sit weeping

Yet the intoxicating delight that they take in their work
Obliterates every other evil; none pities their tears            
Yet they regard not pity & they expect no one to pity
For they labour for life & love, regardless of any one
But the poor Spectres that they work for, always incessantly

They are mockd, by every one that passes by. they regard not
They labour; & when their Wheels are broken by scorn & malice    
They mend them sorrowing with many tears & afflictions.

Other Daughters Weave on the Cushion & Pillow, Network fine
That Rahab & Tirzah may exist & live & breathe & love
Ah, that it could be as the Daughters of Beulah wish!

Other Daughters of Los, labouring at Looms less fine             
Create the Silk-worm & the Spider & the Catterpiller
To assist in their most grievous work of pity & compassion
And others Create the wooly Lamb & the downy Fowl
To assist in the work: the Lamb bleats: the Sea-fowl cries
Men understand not the distress & the labour & sorrow            
That in the Interior Worlds is carried on in fear & trembling
Weaving the shuddring fears & loves of Albions Families
Thunderous rage the Spindles of iron. & the iron Distaff
Maddens in the fury of their hands, Weaving in bitter tears
The Veil of Goats-hair & Purple & Scarlet & fine twined Linen"
Blake also provided images of the self-destructive world, enamored with its own Selfhood, opposed to receiving Imaginative Vision, it sees with astonishment the consequences of the failures of consciousness in which it engages.

Visions of Last Judgment, (E 558)
"beneath these is the Seat of the Harlot namd
Mystery in the Revelations.  She is [bound] siezed by
Two Beings each with three heads they Represent Vegetative
Existence. as it is written in Revelations they strip her naked
& burn her with fire it represents the Eternal Consummation of
Vegetable Life & Death with its Lusts The wreathed Torches in
their hands represents Eternal Fire which is the fire of
Generation or Vegetation it is an Eternal Consummation Those who
are blessed with Imaginative Vision see This Eternal Female &
tremble at what others fear not  while they laugh at
what others fear Her Kings & Councellors & Warriors descend in
Flames Lamenting & looking upon her in astonishment & Terror. &
Hell is opend beneath her Seat on the Left hand. beneath her
feet is a flaming Cavern in which is seen the Great Red Dragon
with Seven heads & ten Horns   he has Satans book
of Accusations lying on the rock open before him"