Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Blake's father had been apprenticed as a draper who dealt in fabrics which were made on hand operated looms. He operated a shop which sold hosiery and and the goods for making clothing at home including what we call notions - threads, yarns, needles, buttons, etc. During the industrial revolution the weaving of cloth became machine manufactured but clothing continued to be made by hand. Since his father's shop was on the ground floor of the family's residence, William would have become acquainted with all of the materials which went into making garments.

He carried the idea of clothing the body in a garment to his imagery. In Auguries of Innocence he called 'Joy & Woe' clothing for the soul divine. Milton took off the 'robe of the promise' to descend into our world from his abode in Eternity. Luvah put on the robes of blood 'lest Man should fall into Eternal Death.' The 'Light' is the  garment of the Divine Vision. Satan does not know the 'Garment from the Man.' Blake wove the image of garments into his poetry like a thread which bound together levels of understanding.

University of Adelaide
The Grave
Blake painted more watercolors than were included in Cromack's published book of The Grave. One picture shows lovely women handling the thread from which bodies are woven for the specters to be clothed in. If you right click on the picture and open in a new window you can enlarge the image to show detail. Although the women seem to be engaged in a joyous task, the expression on their faces show their sincere concern about the seriousness work. The presence of the crescent moon reminds us of the protective aspect of the activity which we are watching. The children seem to take pleasure in lending assistance.

In the quotes we see that not all weaving is beneficent. Vala weaves bodies of misery.

Four Zoas Night VIII, Page 104, (E 378) 
"Los said to Enitharmon Pitying I saw
Pitying the Lamb of God Descended thro Jerusalems gates
To put off Mystery time after time & as a Man
Is born on Earth so was he born of Fair Jerusalem
In mysterys woven mantle & in the Robes of Luvah 

He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body  
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body may be Reveald"

Milton, Plate 14 [25], (E 108)
"Then Milton rose up from the heavens of Albion ardorous!         
The whole Assembly wept prophetic, seeing in Miltons face
And in his lineaments divine the shades of Death & Ulro
He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God

And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!"
Milton, Plate 18, (E 111)
"And thus the Shadowy Female howls in articulate howlings

I will lament over Milton in the lamentations of the afflicted   
My Garments shall be woven of sighs & heart broken lamentations
The misery of unhappy Families shall be drawn out into its border
Wrought with the needle with dire sufferings poverty pain & woe
Along the rocky Island & thence throughout the whole Earth
There shall be the sick Father & his starving Family! there      
The Prisoner in the stone Dungeon & the Slave at the Mill
I will have Writings written all over it in Human Words
That every Infant that is born upon the Earth shall read
And get by rote as a hard task of a life of sixty years"

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 33, (E 321)
"For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision   
Permitted all lest Man should fall into Eternal Death
For when Luvah sunk down himself put on the robes of blood
Lest the state calld Luvah should cease. & the Divine Vision
Walked in robes of blood till he who slept should awake"    

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

Gates of Paradise, The Keys, (E 269)
"Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man"
Jerusalem, Plate 18, (E 163)
"(For Vala produc'd the Bodies. Jerusalem gave the Souls)"

Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 209)
"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" 

Jerusalem, Plate 64, (E 215)
"Then the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific   
Glittering with precious stones & gold, with Garments of blood & fire
He wept in deadly wrath of the Spectre, in self-contradicting agony
Crimson with Wrath & green with jealousy dazling with Love
And jealousy immingled & the purple of the violet darkend deep
Over the Plow of Nations thundring in the hand of Albions Spectre

A dark Hermaphrodite they stood frowning upon Londons River
And the Distaff & Spindle in the hands of Vala with the Flax of
Human Miseries turnd fierce with the Lives of Men along the Valley
As Reuben fled before the Daughters of Albion Taxing the Nations"

Jerusalem, Plate 80, (E 236)
But I Vala, Luvahs daughter, keep his [Albion's] body embalmd in moral laws
With spices of sweet odours of lovely jealous stupefaction:
Within my bosom, lest he arise to life & slay my Luvah
Pity me then O Lamb of God! O Jesus pity me!           
Come into Luvahs Tents, and seek not to revive the Dead!
So sang she: and the Spindle turnd furious as she sang:
The Children of Jerusalem the Souls of those who sleep
Were caught into the flax of her Distaff, & in her Cloud
To weave Jerusalem a body according to her will            
A Dragon form on Zion Hills most ancient promontory

The Spindle turnd in blood & fire: loud sound the trumpets
Of war:"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 137, (E 405)
"Then Tharmas & Urthona rose from the Golden feast satiated
With Mirth & joy Urthona limping from his fall on Tharmas leand
In his right hand his hammer Tharmas held his Shepherds crook
Beset with gold gold were the ornaments formed by the sons of Urizen 
Then Enion & Ahania & Vala & the wife of Dark Urthona
Rose from the feast in joy ascending to their Golden Looms
There the wingd shuttle Sang the spindle & the distaff & the Reel
Rang sweet the praise of industry. Thro all the golden rooms
Heaven rang with winged Exultation   All beneath howld loud  
With tenfold rout & desolation roard the Chasms beneath
Where the wide woof flowd down & where the Nations are gatherd together"

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