Saturday, September 30, 2017


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 37, Detail 
Rest and Labor are contraries. They perform different but necessary roles in the scheme of things. Although it might be said that rest follows labor because energy has been depleted by exertion, rest also precedes labor as a means of preparation. If rest from physical activity allows mental activity to take place, the rest is the most important labor which can be performed. Rest and Labor may comprise a cycle in which they perform alternatively, however they may take place simultaneously.  

Rest is an opportunity for replenishment and renewal. For Blake rest is active engagement of the Imagination in the arts and sciences which rejuvenate the spirit.

When Blake used the phrase 'Rest before Labor' at the beginning of the Four Zoas he thought of the preparation which preceded his first attempt to write an epic poem. He thought of the effort which would go into the composition on such a large theme. He thought of the challenge which his readers would face in digesting such a quantity of ideas. He thought of the rewards for himself and his reader for engaging in the mental battles required. And if the writing and reading were the labor required, they would introduce another period of productive rest when ideas would germinate before the labors continued. 

On Plate 37 of Jerusalem Albion's emanation Jerusalem sleeps in perfect rest as the struggle around her is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) 

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 1, (E 300)
"                 THE FOUR ZOAS

          The torments of Love & Jealousy in 
                The Death and Judgement
               of Albion the Ancient Man

                 by William Blake 1797
                 Rest before Labour
<4 12="" 6:="" ephesians="" greek="" lines="" of="" text="">

<[For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
places. (King James version)]>" 
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 21 [19], (312) 
"The Family Divine drew up the Universal tent
Above High Snowdon & closd the Messengers in clouds around  
Till the time of the End. Then they Elected Seven. called the Seven
Eyes of God & the Seven lamps of the Almighty                    
The Seven are one within the other the Seventh is named Jesus

The Lamb of God blessed for ever & he followd the Man
Who wanderd in mount Ephraim seeking a Sepulcher
His inward eyes closing from the Divine vision & all
His children wandering outside from his bosom fleeing away      t
PAGE 22 [20]                     
The Daughters of Beulah beheld the Emanation they pitied
They wept before the Inner gates of Enitharmons bosom
And of her fine wrought brain & of her bowels within her loins
Three gates within Glorious & bright open into Beulah 
From Enitharmons inward parts but the bright female terror       
Refusd to open the bright gates she closd and barrd them fast
Lest Los should enter into Beulah thro her beautiful gates

The Emanation stood before the Gates of Enitharmon 
Weeping. the Daughters of Beulah silent in the Porches
Spread her a couch unknown to Enitharmon here reposd             
Jerusalem in slumbers soft lulld into silent rest
Terrific ragd the Eternal Wheels of intellect terrific ragd
The living creatures of the wheels in the Wars of Eternal life
But perverse rolld the wheels of Urizen & Luvah back reversd
Downwards & outwards consuming in the wars of Eternal Death 

PAGE 21 [19]
                 End of The First Night"
Genesis 2
[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
[2] And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
[3] And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Hebrews 4
[8] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
[9] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
[10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
[11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
[12] For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
[13] Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
[14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
[15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
[16] Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
The Ninth and final night of the Four Zoas begins in dramatic fashion. Los and Enitharmon became disillusioned with building Golgonooza which was to be the evidence of the Divine Vision in time and space. Because the Crucified body appeared to be present to their natural eyes, they failed to discern Jesus standing beside them. Fearing that the Spirit continued not when the body died, Los began the process of bringing the material world to a conclusion by tearing down the sun and moon. The universe cracked apart and Los and Enitharmon - Time and Space - lost their substance. Thus the apocalypse began, matter was terminated and the process of reassembling the Infinite, Eternal, Ethereal commenced.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 117, (E 386)
          "Night the Ninth
          The Last Judgment

And Los & Enitharmon builded Jerusalem weeping  
Over the Sepulcher & over the Crucified body
Which to their Phantom Eyes appear'd still in the Sepulcher
But Jesus stood beside them in the Spirit Separating
Their Spirit from their body. Terrified at Non Existence 
For such they deemd the death of the body. Los his vegetable hands
Outstretchd his right hand branching out in fibrous Strength
Siezd the Sun. His left hand like dark roots coverd the Moon
And tore them down cracking the heavens across from immense to immense
Then fell the fires of Eternity with loud & shrill 
Sound of Loud Trumpet thundering along from heaven to heaven
A mighty sound articulate Awake ye dead & come
To judgment from the four winds Awake & Come away
Folding like scrolls of the Enormous volume of Heaven & Earth

With thunderous noise & dreadful shakings rocking to & fro 
The heavens are shaken & the Earth removed from its place
The foundations of the Eternal hills discoverd
The thrones of Kings are shaken they have lost their robes & crowns
The poor smite their opressors they awake up to the harvest
The naked warriors rush together down to the sea shore 
Trembling before the multitudes of slaves now set at liberty
They are become like wintry flocks like forests stripd of leaves
The opressed pursue like the wind there is no room for escape
The Spectre of Enitharmon let loose on the troubled deep
Waild shrill in the confusion & the Spectre of Urthona
PAGE 118 
Recievd her in the darkning South their bodies lost they stood
Trembling & weak a faint embrace a fierce desire as when
Two shadows mingle on a wall they wail & shadowy tears
Fell down & shadowy forms of joy mixd with despair & grief
Their bodies buried in the ruins of the Universe 
Mingled with the confusion. Who shall call them from the Grave"

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 62
Damon writes in A Blake Dictionary that "Giants symbolize the great primeval powers within us..." the totality of which is symbolized by the giant Albion who is represented by all of Britain. More expansively Albion includes all of mankind in one body.

In this passage in Milton we read of Albion as a giant body stretching over the British landscape. He is attempting to rise from his dreadful sleep on the Couch of Death. The anguish he experienced is portrayed in the face of Albion on plate 62 of Jerusalem. Blake includes a small figure between Albion's feet to indicate the scale of the forces incorporated in Albion - his symbol of Man.
Milton, Plate 39 [44] (E 140)
"Awake Albion awake! reclaim thy Reasoning Spectre. Subdue        

Him to the Divine Mercy, Cast him down into the Lake
Of Los, that ever burneth with fire, ever & ever Amen!
Let the Four Zoa's awake from Slumbers of Six Thousand Years

Then loud the Furnaces of Los were heard! & seen as Seven heavens
Stretching from south to north over the mountains of Albion"     

Milton, Plate 39 [44]
"Then Albion rose up in the Night of Beulah on his Couch
Of dread repose seen by the visionary eye; his face is toward
The east, toward Jerusalems Gates: groaning he sat above
His rocks. London & Bath & Legions & Edinburgh                   
Are the four pillars of his Throne; his left foot near London
Covers the shades of Tyburn: his instep from Windsor
To Primrose Hill stretching to Highgate & Holloway
London is between his knees: its basements fourfold 
His right foot stretches to the sea on Dover cliffs, his heel  
On Canterburys ruins; his right hand covers lofty Wales
His left Scotland; his bosom girt with gold involves
York, Edinburgh, Durham & Carlisle & on the front
Bath, Oxford, Cambridge Norwich; his right elbow
Leans on the Rocks of Erins Land, Ireland ancient nation[,]      
His head bends over London: he sees his embodied Spectre
Trembling before him with exceeding great trembling & fear
He views Jerusalem & Babylon, his tears flow down
He movd his right foot to Cornwall, his left to the Rocks of Bognor
He strove to rise to walk into the Deep. but strength failing    
Forbad & down with dreadful groans he sunk upon his Couch
In moony Beulah. Los his strong Guard walks round beneath the Moon

Romans 12 
[4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 
[5] So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
[6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 
[7] Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 
[8] Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

 First Corinthians 12 
[12] For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 
[13] For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts 
First published October 6, 2014.

In order to emphasize some of the Essential Teachings of Blake which may have been skipped in my haphazard way of blogging, I wrote a series of seventeen posts which incorporate many of the most important of Blake's ideas.



These are transformative ideas. It is the opportunity of the individual's essential identity to undergo experience in order for the seed within him to germinate and grow into a tree. Blake has discerned aspects of the process which man goes through as he strives toward psychological wholeness and spiritual enlightenment. Blake gives us the benefit of his intense struggles along his journey in order that we may be willing to contemplate our own potential for altering our ability to perceive.

Vision of Last Judgment,(E 559)
"If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy   General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too."

Kay and Roger Easson, in Milton: A Poem by William Blake, emphasize Blake's role as a teacher:

"To read William Blake's illuminated books is to participate in a spiritual education. To read Blake's Milton is to discover the nature of that spiritual education concurrently with the education itself. Although Milton is incredibly beautiful in its combination of word and illustration and although its complexity stimulates intellectual scrutiny, it is a prophecy and like all prophecy, it provides spiritual instruction. William Blake is a spiritual teacher, a prophet who, having 'discover'd the infinite in every thing' is committed to 'raising other men into a perception of the infinite' (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). And, Milton is the book in which Blake teaches how 'all the Lord's people' can become prophets. In Milton Blake defines the spiritual journey which renews prophecy in every moment of  human time." (Page 135)

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 16, (E 42)
"The man
who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
reptiles of the mind."

Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251)
"Los beheld undaunted furious

His heavd Hammer; he swung it round & at one blow,
In unpitying ruin driving down the pyramids of pride
Smiting the Spectre on his Anvil & the integuments of his Eye
And Ear unbinding in dire pain, with many blows,           
Of strict severity self-subduing, & with many tears labouring.

Then he sent forth the Spectre all his pyramids were grains
Of sand & his pillars: dust on the flys wing: & his starry
Heavens; a moth of gold & silver mocking his anxious grasp
Thus Los alterd his Spectre & every Ratio of his Reason      
He alterd time after time, with dire pain & many tears
Till he had completely divided him into a separate space.

Terrified Los sat to behold trembling & weeping & howling
I care not whether a Man is Good or Evil; all that I care
Is whether he is a Wise Man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness   
And put on Intellect: or my thundrous Hammer shall drive thee
To wrath which thou condemnest: till thou obey my voice

So Los terrified cries: trembling & weeping & howling! Beholding"

Four Zoas, Page 49, (E 333)
"The Spectre of Urthona seeing Enitharmon writhd   
His cloudy form in jealous fear & muttering thunders hoarse     
And casting round thick glooms. thus utterd his fierce pangs of heart

Tharmas I know thee. how are we alterd our beauty decayd
But still I know thee tho in this horrible ruin whelmd
Thou once the mildest son of heaven art now become a Rage
A terror to all living things. think not that I am ignorant     
That thou art risen from the dead or that my power forgot"

Songs & Ballads, (E 485)
The Mental Traveller
"And to Allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms
The Cottage fades before his Sight
The Garden & its lovely Charms   

The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball

The Stars Sun Moon all shrink away 
A desart vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around"

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 532)
"Of Chaucer's characters, as described in his Canterbury
Tales, some of the names or titles are altered by time, but the
characters themselves for ever remain unaltered, and
consequently they are the

physiognomies or lineaments of universal human life, beyond which
Nature never steps.  Names alter, things never alter.I have
known multitudes of those who would have been monks in the age of
monkery, who in this deistical age are deists.  As Newton
numbered the stars, and as Linneus numbered the plants, so
Chaucer numbered the classes of men."

Monday, September 25, 2017


Wikimedia Commons 
Songs of Innocence & of Experience 
Plate 49
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, (E 28)

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretchd beneath the tree." 
Ephesians 4
[31] Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour,
and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
[32] And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving
    one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Luke 7
[47] Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
[48] And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.


Forgiveness is a two edged sword. One edge enables us to seek and accept forgiveness for the harm we do. The other edge enables us to forgive those who have done harm to us. In this world it is inadvertent that in our Selfhood we cause harm to come to others, but that we also endure the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that Shakespeare eludes to in Hamlet. The irony is that if we hold onto consciousness of the injuries we endure, we cannot accept the forgiving healing from others for the harm we have done to them.

Matthew 5
[23] Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
[24] Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
"Whether 'tis  nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to?"


The experience of forgiveness functions on two levels: between Man and Man and between God and Man. Forgiveness is essential to maintain the Brotherhood of Man by removing the barriers which grow because of the unhealed wounds which we endure and inflict on one another, it is essential too for maintaining an open channel between Man and the Divine; between the individual Soul and the Infinite Eternal Divine Presence in whom all live. Blake wrote "Throughout all Eternity I forgive you, You forgive me, So the dear redeemer said, This the wine & this the bread." This is a statement addressed to God, acknowledging that Man's suffering is not all because of his own or his Brothers' failing, but the suffering of Man results from how God has constructed the world. Blake's insight was that the process of forgiveness in Man's relationship with God, both giving and receiving it, fed the spiritual and physical needs of man.

Songs & Ballads, (E 477)
"Throughout all Eternity    
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said                                   
This the Wine & this the Bread    

Milton, Plate 26 [28], (E 124) 
"In Bowlahoola; & as the Spectres choose their affinities
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 3, (E 145)
"The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of Sin: he who
waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviours kingdom,the Divine 
Body; will never enter there. I am perhaps the most sinful of men! I 
pretend not to holiness! yet I pretend to love, to see, to converse with 
daily, as man with man, & the more to have an interest in the Friend 
of Sinners. Therefore [Dear] Reader, [forgive] what you do not
approve, & [love] me for this energetic exertion of
my talent.

Jerusalem, Plate 49, (E 199)
"Remove from Albion, far remove these terrible surfaces.

They are beginning to form Heavens & Hells in immense

Circles: the Hells for food to the Heavens: food of torment,
Food of despair: they drink the condemnd Soul & rejoice
In cruel holiness, in their Heavens of Chastity & Uncircumcision
Yet they are blameless & Iniquity must be imputed only           
To the State they are enterd into that they may be deliverd:
Satan is the State of Death, & not a Human existence:
But Luvah is named Satan, because he has enterd that State.
A World where Man is by Nature the enemy of Man
Because the Evil is Created into a State. that Men               
May be deliverd time after time evermore. Amen.
Learn therefore O Sisters to distinguish the Eternal Human
That walks about among the stones of fire in bliss & woe
Alternate! from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels:
This is the only means to Forgiveness of Enemies[.]              
Therefore remove from Albion these terrible Surfaces.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
"Rousseau thought Men Good by Nature; he found them Evil
& found no friend.  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 61, (E 211)
"I heard his voice in my sleep O his Angel in my dream:
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." 
From The Everlasting Mercy by John Masefield
"The corn that makes the holy bread   
By which the soul of man is fed,   
The holy bread, the food unpriced,   
Thy everlasting mercy, Christ."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Classes

First published Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Public Library 
Plate 8
Palamabron, Rintrah and Satan

From Milton, Plate 25, (E 121):
"The Elect is one Class: You 

Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life 
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed, 

Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect"

Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He takes three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.
The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who "cannot Believe in Eternal Life Except by Miracle & a New Birth".

The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."

The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."

From Ellie:
When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)

The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable.
The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.

The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human,
sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.

The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for
congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake.

From Larry: 
In Marriage of Heaven and Hell we met two classes: angels and devils. Blake ironically names free spirits as devils and good dutiful church goers (and other establishment types) as angels.

Los and his 'emanation', Enitharmon "bore an enormous race" (not only mankind, but every other created thing as well). But in particular Enitharmon's progeny consists of three classes:

From Milton Plate 7:
The first the Elect from the foundation of the World, symbolized here by Satan.
The second, the Redeem'd, symbolized by Palamabron.
The third, the Reprobate, symbolized by Rintrah.

The Bard's Song begins Blake's description of how these three classes of men relate.

To Rintrah (the just man) was assigned the plow.

To Palamabron, a kind and gentle boy (not a strong minded one), was assigned the harrow.

Satan (Selfhood) was assigned to the mills.

Rintrah and Palamabron are contraries; Satan is a negation.

In the Bard's Song those were the three assignments of Enitharmon's three sons.

A post could be written about the plow (See Damon 329); the plow of Rintrah might be the heated words of the prophet that denounces and breaks up the corrupt establishment. (It might be several other things as well.)

The harrow follows the plow; for Blake it was a metaphor for redemptive poetry.

The Mill symbolizes Reason - conservative: reducing the creative to the commonplace. But it may have been related in Blake's mind with the insidious mills brought about by the Industrial Revolution which impoverished so many people.

Los of course was the father of these three boys, a farmer-- the World being his field. He had expressly forbidden Satan from using the harrow. But Satan wheedled his amicable brother Palamabron into letting him use the harrow.

This led to disaster (the kind of disaster we have all lived under most of our lives).

All this was part of the tale told by the Bard at an Eternal gathering. The Bard's Song induced Milton to forsake heaven and return to the Earth to correct the errors of his mortal life. Milton's adventures in the World with Los and Blake is the subject of Blake's Milton.

There is much more to the Bard's Song, but this will give you a beginning. Learn the Bard's Song, and you will find it much easier to enjoy Milton, the first of Blake's two major works.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 64

Perhaps when we read we are only allowing information to enter our brains at a superficial level. We may pick up some details of a story, or a theory, or a philosophy which we may record as a memory, or discard like rubbish in the waste paper basket. But some information we receive finds a connection with what lies deeper in the archives of fragments we have retained from earlier encounters. These are ideas that influence us because they penetrate the center of our being and lodge there to become light-bearers.

Blake had the ability to present ideas from the depths of his own being in order to reach and resonate with what was capable of responding in the depths of his reader.

In The Grammatical Man Jeremy Campbell quotes from T. S. Eliot in his essay The Frontiers of Criticism. Eliot indicates that Blake wrote from a level within himself which makes his poetry unexplainable to the natural mind.
T. S. Eliot:
"For myself, I can only say that knowledge of the springs which released a poem is not necessarily a help towards understanding the poem: too much information about the origins of the poem may even break my contact with it...I am ever prepared to suggest that there is, in all great poetry, something which must remain unaccountable however complete may be the knowledge of the poet, and that that is what matters most. When the poem has been made, something new has happened, something that cannot be wholly explained by anything that went before." Page 110 

In The Sacred Wood Eliot gives further insight in the mind of Blake: how it developed, how it differed from the conventional, and how it influenced his writing.
"... The question about Blake the man is the question of the circumstances that concurred to permit this honesty in his work, and what circumstances define its limitations. The favouring conditions probably include these two: that, being early apprenticed to a manual occupation, he was not compelled to acquire any other education in literature than he wanted, or to acquire it for any other reason than that he wanted it; and that, being a humble engraver, he had no journalistic-social career open to him.
It is important that the artist should be highly educated in his own art; but his education is one that is hindered rather than helped by the ordinary processes of society which constitute education for the ordinary man. For these processes consist largely in the acquisition of impersonal ideas which obscure what we really are and feel, what we really want, and what really excites our interest. It is of course not the actual information acquired, but the conformity which the accumulation of knowledge is apt to impose, that is harmful. Tennyson is a very fair example of a poet almost wholly encrusted with parasitic opinion, almost wholly merged into his environment. Blake, on the other hand, knew what interested him, and he therefore presents only the essential, only, in fact, what can be presented, and need not be explained. And because he was not distracted, or frightened, or occupied in anything but exact statement, he understood. He was naked, and saw man naked, and from the centre of his own crystal. To him there was no more reason why Swedenborg should be absurd than Locke. He accepted Swedenborg, and eventually rejected him, for reasons of his own. He approached everything with a mind unclouded by current opinions. There was nothing of the superior person about him. This makes him terrifying."

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 136)
"Just in this Moment when the morning odours rise abroad
And first from the Wild Thyme, stands a Fountain in a rock
Of crystal flowing into two Streams, one flows thro Golgonooza   

And thro Beulah to Eden beneath Los's western Wall
The other flows thro the Aerial Void & all the Churches
Meeting again in Golgonooza beyond Satans Seat

The Wild Thyme is Los's Messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon
Terrible deadly & poisonous his presence in Ulro dark            
Therefore he appears only a small Root creeping in grass
Covering over the Rock of Odours his bright purple mantle
Beside the Fount above the Larks nest in Golgonooza
Luvah slept here in death & here is Luvahs empty Tomb
Ololon sat beside this Fountain on the Rock of Odours." 

Milton, Plate 28 [30], (E 126)
"The Sons of Ozoth within the Optic Nerve stand fiery glowing
And the number of his Sons is eight millions & eight.            
They give delights to the man unknown; artificial riches
They give to scorn, & their posessors to trouble & sorrow & care,
Shutting the sun. & moon. & stars. & trees. & clouds. & waters.
And hills. out from the Optic Nerve & hardening it into a bone
Opake. and like the black pebble on the enraged beach.        
While the poor indigent is like the diamond which tho cloth'd
In rugged covering in the mine, is open all within
And in his hallowd center holds the heavens of bright eternity
Ozoth here builds walls of rocks against the surging sea
And timbers crampt with iron cramps bar in the joys of life     
From fell destruction in the Spectrous cunning or rage."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 131)
"Thou percievest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours!
And none can tell how from so small a center comes such sweets
Forgetting that within that Center Eternity expands
Its ever during doors," 
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 89 [97], (E 361)
"My Waters like a flood around thee fear not trust in me
And I will give thee all the ends of heaven for thy possession

In war shalt thou bear rule in blood shalt thou triumph for me
Because in times of Everlasting I was rent in sunder
And what I loved best was divided among my Enemies  
My little daughters were made captives & I saw them beaten
With whips along the sultry sands. I heard those whom I lovd  
Crying in secret tents at night & in the morn compelld
To labour & behold my heart sunk down beneath
In sighs & sobbings all dividing till I was divided 
In twain & lo my Crystal form that lived in my bosom
Followd her daughters to the fields of blood they left me naked
Alone & they refusd to return from the fields of the mighty
Therefore I will reward them as they have rewarded me
I will divide them in my anger & thou O my King  
Shalt gather them from out their graves & put thy fetter on them
And bind them to thee that my crystal form may come to me

So cried the Demon of the Waters in the Clouds of Los"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 130, (E 398)
"And then she enterd her bright house leading her mighty children 

And when night came the flocks laid round the house beneath the trees
She laid the Children on the beds which she saw prepard in the house
Then last herself laid down & closd her Eyelids in soft slumbers

And in the morning when the Sun arose in the crystal sky
Vala awoke & calld the children from their gentle slumbers 

Awake O Enion awake & let thine innocent Eyes
Enlighten all the Crystal house of Vala awake awake
Awake Tharmas awake awake thou child of dewy tears
Open the orbs of thy blue eyes & smile upon my gardens"

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

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 98[90], (E 370)
"Where the Spectrous dead wail & sighing thus he spoke to Enitharmon

Lovely delight of Men Enitharmon shady refuge from furious war 
Thy bosom translucent is a soft repose for the weeping souls
Of those piteous victims of battle there they sleep in happy obscurity
They feed upon our life we are their victims. Stern desire
I feel to fabricate embodied semblances in which the dead
May live before us in our palaces & in our gardens of labour
Which now opend within the Center we behold spread abroad
To form a world of Sacrifice of brothers & sons & daughters 
To comfort Orc in his dire sufferings; look! my fires enlume afresh
Before my face ascending with delight as in ancient times"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 132, (E 400)
"And when Morning began to dawn upon the distant hills
a whirlwind rose up in the Center & in the Whirlwind a shriek 
And in the Shriek a rattling of bones & in the rattling of bones 
A dolorous groan & from the dolorous groan in tears
Rose Enion like a gentle light"  

Saturday, September 09, 2017


New York Public Library Milton
Plate 38

Returning to an important concept in Blake - that of Fourfold Vision - I find that a familiar passage from Paul can be seen as recognizing Fourfold Vision. In a letter to Thomas Butts, Blake wrote:
Letters, To Butts, 22 Nov 1802, (E 722)
"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

Looking at First Corinthians chapter thirteen we read:


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."


If we superimpose the fourfold vision which Blake postulates on the passage in Corinthians we see the 'child' represents single vision, 'Newton's sleep' or using sense data only. This is a limited way of interpreting the world based upon data received from the external world without understanding or applying the full range of man's ability to perceive and process the data. In A Blake Dictionary Damon explains on page 436 that, "Single vision is not properly 'vision' at all: it is seeing with the physical eye only the facts before it. It 'it leads you to Believe a Lie / When you see with, not thro' the Eye'" (Everlasting Gospel, E 520)

Twofold vision - 'Always' in the poem - begins to assimilate experience into patterns by the intellect which gives a partial and unclear perspective or interpretation because the dimensions of emotion and intuition have not been incorporated. Paul says that 'childish things' were 'put away' when he became 'a man.' However we rely on the intellect to tell us the meaning of our experience although it is blind to emotions and to the spirit whose image resides within us.

Threefold vision - 'Beulah's night' - requires a transition to the ability to look for the effect that the gathered data has internally and in relationship to other people. Blake looked for more than what could be seen two-dimensionally. In Beulah man must learn to reconcile the contraries which contribute to a complete vision. Paul called this perspective seeing 'through a glass darkly', knowing 'in part.'

The fourfold vision puts to use all of the mental skills with which mankind is endowed. It is called by Blake his 'supreme delight'. Paul calls it seeing 'face to face' and knowing 'even as also I am known.' It is the Soul of Man which incorporates every dimension into a unified whole. In it all of the dimensions reflect and interact with one another. This is the faculty which Blake calls Imagination, Paul calls Christ in you, and Jung calls Intuition. 

Milton, Plate 4, (E 97)                                                       t
"Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty
In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan
Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell
Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven
The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold"              

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels.

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

Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256)
"Then Albion stretchd his hand into Infinitude.
And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen
Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold
Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright shining
Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought   
Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering.

And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love, 
Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 123, (E 393)
"four Wonders of the Almighty 
Incomprehensible. pervading all amidst & round about
Fourfold each in the other reflected they are named Life's in Eternity.
Four Starry Universes going forward from Eternity to Eternity
And the Falln Man who was arisen upon the Rock of Ages           

PAGE 124
Beheld the Vision of God & he arose up from the Rock"

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


The reasoning mind is always looking for explanations. It puts together data gathered by the senses into patterns which may be repeated. 
The world becomes friendlier if the patterns predict dangers or opportunities which lie in the future. Rules are formulated to control the elements and behaviors with the goal of managing the outer world to benefit the mental world. Predicting and manipulating the future becomes a fascination of the reasoning mind.
Blake gave a lot of thought to developing his character Urizen who represented the reasoning mind as it had assumed dominance in the psyche. In Blake's myth this happened as a result of Urizen exchanging the horses of light for the wine of eternity which belonged to Luvah. Urizen found himself in the position of having lost dominion over the world of thought in return for desire and attachment. He focused, however, not on what he had gained but on what he had lost. He set about exploring, writing rules, and building a world in his own image. If he could control the present, he could make the future predictable in accordance with his limited vision. 
When I read of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem I was reminded of Urizen's unending quest for a system which he completely controlled and with which he could control the behavior of those around him. When Urizen's lost faith in the light he was given in the present, it instilled in him anxiety about the future which was unknown. Blake gave us a portrayal of Urizen going to the edge of chaos seeking "for a joy without pain, For a solid without fluctuation." 

These lines are quoted from The Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell:

Page 108
"There is another idea of great importance arising from the Life Game [John Conway]. This is the notion of incompleteness, a famous crux of twentieth-century science and logic...He links them to von Neumann's theory of complexity and also to one of the most revolutionary modern discoveries of logic, the Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Goedel.

...Goedel's paper does not apply to mathematical logic alone, but touches on much broader questions of the completeness of all formal systems of logic...within the wider meta system there would be other statements which could not be proved without further expansion, and so on without end. Perfect completeness is never reached.

Page 111
No final, wrapped-up all-inclusive theory of reality will ever be perfected. The nature of language, the forms of logic, the duality of matter beneath the surface we observe, the power of rules to generate new structures, the limits of knowledge, the special character of complex as opposed to simple systems, all point to this conclusion. In this respect, science and art, philosophy and politics, history and psychology, meet on common ground, so that the barriers between the cultures break down under the recognition that all are incomplete and always will be; there is no single discipline or school of thought has a monopoly on the truth.

Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 71)
"4: From the depths of dark solitude. From
The eternal abode in my holiness,
Hidden set apart in my stern counsels
Reserv'd for the days of futurity,
I have sought for a joy without pain,                    

For a solid without fluctuation
Why will you die O Eternals?
Why live in unquenchable burnings?"

Book of Urizen, Plate 10, (E 75)
"2. And Urizen (so his eternal name)
His prolific delight obscurd more & more
In dark secresy hiding in surgeing
Sulphureous fluid his phantasies.
The Eternal Prophet heavd the dark bellows,                      
And turn'd restless the tongs; and the hammer
Incessant beat; forging chains new & new
Numb'ring with links. hours, days & years" 

Four Zoas, Night I, Page  121, (E 300)
"But I the labourer of ages whose unwearied hands
Are thus deformd with hardness with the sword & with the spear 
And with the Chisel & the mallet I whose labours vast            
Order the nations separating family by family
Alone enjoy not   I alone in misery supreme
Ungratified give all my joy unto this Luvah & Vala             
Then Go O dark futurity I will cast thee forth from these      
Heavens of my brain nor will I look upon futurity more   
I cast futurity away & turn my back upon that void       
Which I have made for lo futurity is in this moment       
Let Orc consume let Tharmas rage let dark Urthona give
All strength to Los & Enitharmon & let Los self-cursd
Rend down this fabric as a wall ruind & family extinct           
Rage Orc Rage Tharmas Urizen no longer curbs your rage

So Urizen spoke he shook his snows from off his Shoulders & arose
As on a Pyramid of mist his white robes scattering
The fleecy white renewd he shook his aged mantles off
Into the fires Then glorious bright Exulting in his joy          
He sounding rose into the heavens in naked majesty
In radiant Youth. when Lo like garlands in the Eastern sky
When vocal may comes dancing from the East Ahania came
Exulting in her flight as when a bubble rises up
On to the surface of a lake. Ahania rose in joy" 

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 27, (E 317)
"They have surrounded me with walls of iron & brass, O Lamb  
Of God clothed in Luvahs garments little knowest thou       
Of death Eternal that we all go to Eternal Death
To our Primeval Chaos in fortuitous concourse of incoherent
Discordant principles of Love & Hate I suffer affliction
Because I love. for I was love but hatred awakes in me      
And Urizen who was Faith & Certainty is changd to Doubt          
The hand of Urizen is upon me because I blotted out
That Human delusion to deliver all the sons of God          
From bondage of the Human form, O first born Son of Light
O Urizen my enemy I weep for thy stern ambition
But weep in vain    O when will you return Vala the Wanderer     

PAGE 28 
These were the words of Luvah patient in afflictions
Reasoning from the loins in the unreal forms of Ulros night"
Letters, (E 784)
"[To] Mr Linnell, 6 Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
25 April 1827
Dear Sir
     I am going on better Every day as I think both in hea[l]th &
in Work I thank you for The Ten Pounds which I recievd from you
this Day which shall be put to the best use as also for the
prospect of Mr Ottleys advantageous acquaintance I go on without
daring to count on Futurity. which I cannot do without Doubt &
Fear that ruins Activity & are the greatest hurt to an Artist
such as I am. as to Ugolino &c I never supposed that I should
sell them my Wife alone is answerable for their having Existed in
any finishd State--I am too much attachd to Dante to think much
of any thing else--I have Proved the Six Plates & reduced the
Fighting Devils ready for the Copper I count myself sufficiently
Paid If I live as I now do & only fear that I may be unlucky
to my friends & especially that I may not be so to you
I am Sincerely yours

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 79, (E 354)
"In tortures of dire coldness now a Lake of waters deep
Sweeps over thee freezing to solid still thou sitst closd up     
In that transparent rock as if in joy of thy bright prison
Till overburdend with its own weight drawn out thro immensity
With a crash breaking across the horrible mass comes down
Thundring & hail & frozen iron haild from the Element
Rends thy white hair   yet thou dost fixd obdurate brooding sit 
Writing thy books. Anon a cloud filld with a waste of snows
Covers thee still obdurate still resolvd & writing still
Tho rocks roll oer thee tho floods pour tho winds black as the Sea
Cut thee in gashes tho the blood pours down around thy ankles
Freezing thy feet to the hard rock still thy pen obdurate        
Traces the wonders of Futurity in horrible fear of the future
I rage furious in the deep for lo my feet & hands are naild
To the hard rock or thou shouldst feel my enmity & hate
In all the diseases of man falling upon thy grey accursed front

Urizen answerd Read my books explore my Constellations 
Enquire of my Sons & they shall teach thee how to War
Enquire of my Daughters who accursd in the dark depths
Knead bread of Sorrow by my stern command for I am God
Of all this dreadful ruin   Rise O daughters at my Stern command"

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page (E 373)
"Horrible hooks & nets he formd twisting the cords of iron
And brass & molten metals cast in hollow globes & bor'd
Tubes in petrific steel & rammd combustibles & wheels 
And chains & pullies fabricated all round the heavens of Los
Communing with the Serpent of Orc in dark dissimulation

And with the Synagogue of Satan in dark Sanhedrim         
To undermine the World of Los & tear bright Enitharmon

To the four winds hopeless of future. All futurity 
Seems teeming with Endless Destruction never to be repelld 
Desperate remorse swallows the present in a quenchless rage

Terrified & astonishd Urizen beheld the battle take a form 
Which he intended not a Shadowy hermaphrodite black & opake
The Soldiers namd it Satan but he was yet unformd & vast
Hermaphroditic it at length became hiding the Male
Within as in a Tabernacle Abominable Deadly

The battle howls the terrors fird rage in the work of death"

Four Zoas, Noght IX, Page 119, (E 389)
"I weary walk in misery & pain 
For from within my witherd breast grown narrow with my woes 
The Corn is turnd to thistles & the apples into poison
The birds of song to murderous crows My joys to bitter groans

PAGE 120 
The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants
And all exiled from the face of light & shine of morning
In this dark world a narrow house I wander up & down
I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation
When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old 
O weary life why sit I here & give up all my powers
To indolence to the night of death when indolence & mourning
Sit hovring over my dark threshold. tho I arise look out
And scorn the war within my members yet my heart is weak
And my head faint Yet will I look again unto the morning 
Whence is this sound of rage of Men drinking each others blood
Drunk with the smoking gore & red but not with nourishing wine

The Eternal Man sat on the Rocks & cried with awful voice

O Prince of Light where art thou   I behold thee not as once
In those Eternal fields in clouds of morning stepping forth 
With harps & songs where bright Ahania sang before thy face
And all thy sons & daughters gatherd round my ample table
See you not all this wracking furious confusion
Come forth from slumbers of thy cold abstraction come forth
Arise to Eternal births shake off thy cold repose 
Schoolmaster of souls great opposer of change arise
That the Eternal worlds may see thy face in peace & joy
That thou dread form of Certainty maist sit in town & village
While little children play around thy feet in gentle awe
Fearing thy frown loving thy smile O Urizen Prince of light"