Sunday, March 04, 2018


S. Foster Damon in The Blake Dictionary takes on the knotty problem of explaining the strange image on Plate 50 of Jerusalem. The text on Plate 70 makes it clearer.

The Sons of Albion in their state of innocence bring gifts to Jerusalem and receive blessings in return, but when Albion falls into his deadly sleep they take on characteristics in opposition to Jerusalem.


"This perfect state, when they dwell in the various Cathedral Cities with their Emanations is described at length (J, Plate 71). But when they became separate from Albion,  they rage to devour his sleeping humanity; they renounce their father and declare war against him, also against the Savior, the Imagination, Golgonooza and Los's Furnaces, Jerusalem, and Erin." (Page 15) 
Yale Center for British Art
Plate 50
"The first three sons constitute an evil trinity:
Hand (heartless Head),
Hyle (headless Heart), and
Coban (presumably the selfish Loins)."
(Page 172)


"Eventually the three [Hand, Hyle, Coban] assume one three-headed body" (Page 172)

"Occasionally its chest opens to reveal other Sons, who then combine into Bacon, Newton and Locke."  (Page 173)

"This event is pictured on Plate 50 of Jerusalem. Hand sits on the rocky isle surrounded by the black sea of Time and Space. His three heads are crowned. From his chest issues in a flame a figure with two heads facing opposite directions; from his chest in turn issues a one-headed figure, from whom issues yet another who looks backward and points forward. On the left is a planet and an eyed lightning bolt striking below; on the right is a crescent moon, toward which a huge comet rushes, while below a sun begins to rise (or set?) above the black horizon." ( Page 173)
Jerusalem,  Plate 70, (E 224)
"And this the form of mighty Hand sitting on Albions cliffs
Before the face of Albion, a mighty threatning Form.

His bosom wide & shoulders huge overspreading wondrous
Bear Three strong sinewy Necks & Three awful & terrible Heads
Three Brains in contradictory council brooding incessantly.      
Neither daring to put in act its councils, fearing each-other,
Therefore rejecting Ideas as nothing & holding all Wisdom
To consist. in the agreements & disagreements of Ideas.
Plotting to devour Albions Body of Humanity & Love.

Such Form the aggregate of the Twelve Sons of Albion took; & such
Their appearance when combind: but often by birth-pangs & loud groans
They divide to Twelve: the key-bones & the chest dividing in pain
Disclose a hideous orifice; thence issuing the Giant-brood
Arise as the smoke of the furnace, shaking the rocks from sea to sea.
And there they combine into Three Forms, named Bacon & Newton & Locke,
In the Oak Groves of Albion which overspread all the Earth.

Imputing Sin & Righteousness to Individuals;" 

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