Friday, August 30, 2019

The Rock

First Published Feb 2010

The Dome of the Rock is sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We can be sure that Blake was fully cognizant of this, and it seems likely in this common awareness he used the terms: Rock of Eternity ( the Rock of eternity), Rock of Ages, Rock of Albion, and many other significant Rocks..

Rock of Eternity:
Four Zoas, Night V, Page 39, (E 340) 
"He [Albion] wept & he divided & he laid his gloomy head
Down on the Rock of Eternity on darkness of the deep
Torn by black storms & ceaseless torrents of consuming fire
Within his breast his fiery sons chaind down & filld with cursings" 

Rock of Ages:
Milton, Plate 15, (E 109) 
"First Milton saw Albion upon the Rock of Ages,
Deadly pale outstretchd and snowy cold, storm coverd;
A Giant form of perfect beauty outstretchd on the rock 
In solemn death: the Sea of Time & Space thunderd aloud
Against the rock, which was inwrapped with the weeds of death" 

Also Four Zoas, Night I, Page17, (E 310) 
"Now Man was come to the Palm tree & to the Oak of Weeping
Which stand upon the Edge of Beulah he [Albion] sunk down
From the Supporting arms of the Eternal Saviour; who disposd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon The Rock of Ages. Watching over him with Love & Care"

Rock of Albion:
Four Zoas, Night II, Page 24, (E 314) 
"Luvah & Vala trembling & shrinking, beheld the great Work master [Urizen]
And heard his Word! Divide ye bands influence by influence
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizly deep
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion"

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 94
Albion Cold Lays on His Rock

The Rock, above the Sea of Time and Space, lies on the verge of Beulah, where Albion, forgiven and saved, awaits the Resurrection.

Thursday, August 29, 2019


Portrait of John Milton for William Hayley

Paradise Regained Book 4
"For though that seat of earthly bliss be fail'd,
fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen Sons, whom thou
Saviour art come down to re-install. [ 615 ]
Where they shall dwell secure"

Anna Beer in her biographyMilton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot made the following statement about the reader's responsibility as he pursued Paradise Lost:

"Milton is attempting to rouse the political nation...
The reader's involvement is critical, not just spiritually and emotionally, but politically. Milton believed that republicanism was the best mode of government for his country, but he also, by the time of writing Paradise Lost, knew what the English people would not, perhaps could not, deliver it.
Yet, alongside this elitist view is a concern to create those leaders, to create a nation that can enjoy political and religious liberty. Paradise Lost seeks to create 'fit readers', not just to preach to them. The hope is that those who pick it up will, through reading it, be able, for example to see how tyrants gain their power and, perhaps, next time, stand firm against tyranny. Paradise Lost therefore demands and creates readers who will be able to be alert to all its complexities, able to appreciate its ironies, able to share its anger and its compassion." (Page 347) 

There are those who believe that the outer world of experience will never be changed without first changing the inner world's thought processes which effect everything to which man has access. Blake shared with Milton the determination to make the invisible world visible: to open the world of thought, the inner world which lay hidden so that the light which shown there could illumine the darkness which pervaded outer experience.

Philippians 2
[12] work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
[13] For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

If man is created in the image of God, he does not have to look outside of himself to find the guidance to give him answers to his life's questions. Milton and Blake looked within themselves, they followed the paths which opened to them, they looked elsewhere if they reached a dead end. They clung to the belief that the internal spirit would not abandon them but be with them always. They didn't create systems to which others could adhere but urged their brothers to cultivate a relationship with their inner spirits which partook of truth, light and love. 

John 16
[4] But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
[5] But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
[6] But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
[7] Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
[8] And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
[9] Of sin, because they believe not on me;
[10] Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
[11] Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
"The Spectre is the Reasoning Power in Man; & when separated      
From Imagination, and closing itself as in steel, in a Ratio
Of the Things of Memory. It thence frames Laws & Moralities
To destroy Imagination! the Divine Body, by Martyrdoms & Wars

Teach me O Holy Spirit the Testimony of Jesus! let me
Comprehend wonderous things out of the Divine Law                
I behold Babylon in the opening Street of London, I behold
Jerusalem in ruins wandering about from house to house
This I behold the shudderings of death attend my steps"

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
" I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.   
  Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more.  The Apostles knew of no other Gospel.  What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in
Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing
to Man?"
Poetical Sketches, King Edward The Third, (E 424)
"The world of men are like the num'rous stars,
That beam and twinkle in the depth of night,
Each clad in glory according to his sphere;--
But we, that wander from our native seats,         
And beam forth lustre on a darkling world,
Grow larger as we advance! and some perhaps
The most obscure at home, that scarce were seen
To twinkle in their sphere, may so advance,
That the astonish'd world, with up-turn'd eyes,          
Regardless of the moon, and those that once were bright,
Stand only for to gaze upon their splendor!"

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Reposted from March 09, 2012.

Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection
Milton, Plate 10
Palamabron, Rintrah & Satan
The stated intention of Satan in the Bard's Song was to exchange places with his brother Palamabron; to take over the more difficult job of ploughing or harrowing, which was Palamabron's daily task, in exchange for Satan's job of operating the mill.

Now if Blake were addressing the period of time in which Milton lived, he might be talking about an exchange which was made in the political system which did not turn out according to expectations either. A rebel army removed the King from power (beheaded him). Their general, Cromwell, became the head of the government. His intention were 'mild' as were Satan's. But as the Chairman of the Council of State of the Commonwealth, he was unable to control the Parliament, the army or other factions of the nation. Palamabron's horses of the harrow went wild in the hands of Satan, the gnomes of the mill became drunk and disorderly under Palamabron.

Satan (Cromwell) appealed to the Council of the Eternals (the will of the people), whose judgement fell upon Rintrah (the army). Palamabron (Parliament), whose weakness or misjudgement allowed this to happen, was also unable to function in the role of governing to which he was not suited. Satan's assigned task was the operation of the mill which in this analogy would be the operation of government which sometimes came to a standstill when Parliament tried to take control. Rintrah (the army) could control militarily but couldn't create the conditions that would bring about peaceful cooperation which was sorely needed during the interregnum .

Now where does John Milton fit into this. He believed in revolution as the way to end political tyranny and end the enforcement of a state controlled religion. His skills in Latin (which was the language of diplomacy in that day) earned him a job in the revolutionary government. Besides functioning in the diplomatic relations of the state, he served as a spokesman (propagandist) for the policies of government. Military operations did not end with the monarchy; war was the rule not the exception. Milton saw from the inside the accumulation of mistakes which doomed the experiment in republicanism, but he hadn't the power to slow down the forces which were in motion. Until he died Cromwell had Milton's support but Milton's reservations increased as did tyranny within the government.

Blake had favored revolution as a young man but had come to realize that the removal of tyranny by violence would create more violence and more tyranny. He learned primarily from the American and French Revolutions but from the English Civil Wars also. He had come to believe that the chief fault with Greek culture was its devotion to war which was glorified in its poetry. He wanted to give his hero Milton another opportunity to look at his life and writings in the light of where the Prophetic Voice was leading them both. Milton and Blake agreed that liberty of conscience and complete separation of church and state were essentials of good government.

Why does Blake postulate that Milton was so moved by the Bard's Prophetic Song that he undertook a pilgrimage to the underworld? Might it be that Blake recognized that Milton had lived through the expectations, disappointments, reversals and inconsistencies during his association with Cromwell's government. As Blake travelled his journey through life and tried to master the challenges it presented, there would be more that he might learn from Milton and more that he might like to teach him. Blake sets up a scenario in which the two of them together might re-examine the possibilities of preparing for the New Age when all men are prophets. 

Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)

"The Stolen and Perverted Writings of Homer & Ovid: of Plato &
Cicero. which all Men ought to contemn: are set up by artifice
against the Sublime of the Bible. but when the New Age is at
leisure to Pronounce; all will be set right: & those Grand Works
of the more ancient & consciously & professedly Inspired Men,
will hold their proper rank, & the Daughters of Memory shall
become the Daughters of Inspiration. Shakspeare & Milton were
both curbd by the general malady & infection from the silly Greek
& Latin slaves of the Sword.

Rouze up O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads
against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the
Camp, the Court, & the University: who would if they could, for
ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.

Monday, August 26, 2019


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's Il Penseroso
Milton's Mysterious Dream

The influence of John Milton on William Blake began in Blake's childhood when he was so fascinated by Paradise Lost that he felt that Milton loved him. But he reached a point when he felt that Milton had not found solutions to the predicament of man in the cosmic order. In Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake states that Milton in Paradise Lost called 'the Governor or Reason' - 'Messiah.' Blake associated Reason not with the Messiah but with Urizen, the authoritarian figure who sought to control mankind. Furthermore he thought that in Paradise Lost Milton wrote as if 'the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum!', or, in other words, that the Father is controlling, the Son is confined to the material world, and the Holy Spirit is absent.

As Blake matured in his understanding of love and forgiveness he tried to resolve the debt he owed to Milton with the errors in Milton's thinking which he found contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Blake wrote his poem Milton in order to show both his love for John Milton and the failures of Milton's theology to offer a clear path for man to follow seeking God. In Milton, Blake and Milton struggle together along a journey to redemption. 
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
Across the Atlantic to France.  Then the French Revolution commencd in thick clouds
And My Angels have told me. that seeing such visions I could not subsist on the Earth
But by my conjunction with Flaxman  who knows to forgive Nervous Fear
I remain for Ever Yours

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 5, (E 34)
  "Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough
to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place &
governs the unwilling.
  And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is
only the shadow of desire.
  The history of this is written in Paradise Lost. & the Governor
or Reason is call'd Messiah.
  And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death
  But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.
  For this history has been adopted by both parties
  It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out. but the
Devils account is, that the Messiah fell. & formed a heaven
of what he stole from the Abyss
  This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to
send  the comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build
on, the Jehovah of the Bible being no other than he, who dwells
in flaming fire.                                 
   Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah.
   But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the
five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum!
   Note.  The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of
Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he 
was a true  Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it"
Kay Easson and Roger R Easson wrote in their book Milton of the parallel paths of the two poets who engaged in journeys of self-discovery while learning to write prophetic poetry:

"Blake designates John Milton, the seventeenth century Christian poet, to be the central figure of Milton and, in this way, acknowledges that John Milton was his literary and spiritual teacher. As Milton undertakes a spiritual journey within Blake's narrative, it is as if John Milton and his works are teaching Blake about their identity and simultaneously guiding Blake to discovery of his poetic and prophetic role." (Page 135)
"the spiritual path, Milton senses, requires giving, not getting. Sacrifice and surrender and giving mean a painful renunciation, but they can be an equally painful openness to love. Just as the journey is undertaken because of love, so to the relationship upon which the journey is predicated, the relationship of student and teacher, must be loving and mutual, 'each shall mutually / Annihilate himself.' The Bard loves and therefore sings. His song does not cater to Milton's 'present ease and gratification, (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell); it, in fact, opposes Milton. But Milton accepts the opposition in the loving spirit in which it is offered. Blake believes that 'Opposition is true Friendship' (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). He sees the teacher/student relationship as neither 'corporeal' nor hierarchical, but as a loving and mutual conversation: the Bard takes 'refuge in Milton's bosom.'
Blake describes his task in Milton as displaying 'Nature's cruel holiness, the Deceits of Natural Religion.' In other words, one of the basic tasks of Blake's poem is to expose the false reality of the so-called 'natural world' and its assertion that it is the only reality." (Page 137-8)  

Comments on Milton.


Thursday, August 22, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained
Christ returns to His mother

Paradise Regained, Book 4
fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen Sons, whom thou
Saviour art come down to re-install. [ 615 ]
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be
Of Tempter and Temptation without fear.
But thou, Infernal Serpent, shalt not long
Rule in the Clouds; like an Autumnal Star
Or Lightning thou shalt fall from Heav'n trod down [ 620 ]
Under his feet: for proof, e're this thou feel'st
Thy wound, yet not thy last and deadliest wound
By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in Hell
No triumph; in all her gates Abaddon rues
Thy bold attempt; hereafter learn with awe [ 625 ]
To dread the Son of God: he all unarm'd
Shall chase thee with the terror of his voice
From thy Demoniac holds, possession foul,
Thee and thy Legions; yelling they shall flye,
And beg to hide them in a herd of Swine, [ 630 ]
Lest he command them down into the deep,
Bound, and to torment sent before thir time.
Hail Son of the most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan, on thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save mankind. [ 635 ]

Thus they the Son of God our Saviour meek
Sung Victor, and, from Heavenly Feast refresht
Brought on his way with joy; hee unobserv'd
Home to his Mothers house private return'd."

Luke 4
[13] And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
[14] And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
[15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
[16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up:

In Calm of Mind, Edited by Joseph Anthony Wittreich Jr, on Page121 Wittreich wrote:
"Blake is one of the very few illustrators, very few interpreters, of Paradise Regained to recognize that Milton's poem does not end with the epiphanies signaled by the pinnacle scene. Those epiphanies are followed by by the most heroic act of all. Having learned of his divinity, Christ instead of passing away into ecstasy returns to humanity. This is Christ's deed above heroic, what Blake would call his 'unexampled deed.' By withstanding the temptation on the pinnacle Christ displays his enormous love of God; by returning home he displays his enormous love of man. He can 'Now enter, and begin to save mankind.'"

The most profound events can never be described in language because it limits and restricts. All language points beyond itself but most impressively language which attempts to express archetypal experiences does so. When Jesus is said by Milton to return to his 'mother's house', or by Luke to 'Nazareth, where he had been brought up', they are saying more that can be expressed in words. The essential change in the recognition which Jesus perceived of the nature on God and Man through his experiences in the wilderness are alluded to by the simple word 'return.'

Jesus had been remade by encountering a new conception of the work that God might accomplish through him. But he returned to the community which had nurtured his outer existence, not knowing God's plan but knowing that he was a vessel containing a truth which God would have him give to the children of Adam.

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 3, (E 33)
 " As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years
since its advent: the Eternal Hell revives. And lo! Swedenborg is
the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes
folded up. Now is the dominion of Edom, & the return of Adam into
Paradise; see Isaiah XXXIV & XXXV Chap:"
Isaiah 35
[1] The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
[2] It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
[3] Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
[4] Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
[5] Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
[6] Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

[7] And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
[8] And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
[9] No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
[10] And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Laocoon, (E 273)
"Adam is only The Natural Man & not the Soul or Imagination

The Eternal Body of Man is The IMAGINATION."
Mary the mother of Jesus is pictured in the final illustration to Milton's Paradise Regained not as an individual but as a symbol of the ministry which will be accomplished through the life and teaching of Christ. From the time that Jesus was conceived Mary recognized that the unborn child was the fulfillment of the promise of God to show mercy on his people. She experiences once again the joy of knowing that the process of salvation is being enacted.

Luke 1
[44] For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
[45] And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
[46] And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 
[47] And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
[48] For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
[49] For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
[50] And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
[51] He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
[52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 
[53] He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 
[54] He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
[55] As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Peter and Andrew had waited during the forty days that Jesus struggled in the wilderness after his baptism. They had held on to the hope that Jesus was the leader who would answer the needs of the people for a means of escaping from the bondage which held them. Jesus had come back to them prepared to offer himself as God's chosen one whom they anticipated. They were prepared to follow to the best of their abilities. 

Second Corinthians 4
5] For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
[6] For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
[7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Acts 9
[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man [Saul/Paul], how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
[14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
[15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
[16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

First Corinthians 15
[38] But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
[39] All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
[40] There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
[41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
[42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
[43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
[44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
[45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
[46] Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
[47] The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
[48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained 

Angels ministering to Christ 
Matthew 4:11
[11] Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

" So Satan fell and strait a fiery Globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy Vans receiv'd him soft
From his uneasie station, and upbore
As on a floating couch through the blithe Air, [ 585 ]
Then in a flowry valley set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spred
A table of Celestial Food, Divine,
Ambrosial, Fruits fetcht from the tree of life,
And from the fount of life Ambrosial drink, [ 590 ]
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair'd
What hunger, if aught hunger had impair'd,
Or thirst, and as he fed, Angelic Quires
Sung Heavenly Anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the Tempter proud. [ 595 ]
True Image of the Father, whether thron'd
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or remote from Heaven, enshrin'd
In fleshly Tabernacle, and human form,
Wandring the Wilderness, whatever place, [ 600 ]
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with Godlike force indu'd
Against th' Attempter of thy Fathers Throne,
And Thief of Paradise; him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from Heav'n cast [ 605 ]
With all his Army, now thou hast aveng'd
Supplanted Adam, and by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise,"

In the Gospels and in Paradise Regained, Satan saw fit to tempt Jesus with food to satisfy physical hunger or to gratify the desire to exercise physical power. Having passed through the wall of temptation symbolized by Satan, Jesus arrived at a condition to which Satan has no access. Blake pictured Jesus surrounded by four angels who supported him and offered bread and wine - the elements of the sacrament of Holy Communion. This image celebrates the fact that Jesus Annihilated his Selfhood by yielding his self-will to God's will.

The theme of Blake's symbolic poetry is the reestablishment of the unity which is destroyed when man loses sight of the Eternal Great Humanity Divine. In illustration 11 of Paradise Regained Blake attempted to show the nature of the unity which is established through accepting the avenue provided by Christ. When Jesus surrendered himself to following the will of God he opened the path for others to follow. Blake further believed that it is through offering and accepting forgiveness that we are capable of living the Eternal Life while yet on Earth. 

Blake followed the image of Jesus answering the temptation on the pinnacle with the image of Jesus in the presence of angels. The import of Jesus' experience of setting aside his own interest and agenda by not choosing which action God should take, was equivalent to what Blake called Annihilating the Selfhood. Following the death of self-will, rebirth took place.   

A similar scene of angelic presence was reported by Luke at the birth of Jesus. An angel surrounded by the Glory of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and announced the 'good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.' Blake's angels are re-announcing the same message after Jesus renounced any path to self-fulfillment other than following God's will wherever it would lead.     

Luke 2
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Milton, Plate 38 [43], (E 139)
"Such are the Laws of thy false Heavns! but Laws of Eternity
Are not such: know thou: I come to Self Annihilation
Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually     
Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee"
Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)
"Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me.

Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination        
O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love:
Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life!
Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages,"

Milton, Plate 16, (E 110)
"To Annihilate the Selfhood of Deceit & False Forgiveness"
Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)
"Come into my hand    
By your mild power; descending down the Nerves of my right arm
From out the Portals of my Brain, where by your ministry
The Eternal Great Humanity Divine. planted his Paradise,
And in it caus'd the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms
In likeness of himself. Tell also of the False Tongue! vegetated
Beneath your land of shadows: of its sacrifices. and
Its offerings; even till Jesus, the image of the Invisible God
Became its prey; a curec, an offering, and an atonement,
For Death Eternal in the heavens of Albion, & before the Gates
Of Jerusalem his Emanation, in the heavens beneath Beulah        

Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence
Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent
Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep
In torment! To go into the deep her to redeem & himself perish?  
What cause at length mov'd Milton to this unexampled deed[?] 
A Bards prophetic Song! for sitting at eternal tables,
Terrific among the Sons of Albion in chorus solemn & loud
A Bard broke forth! all sat attentive to the awful man."

Songs and Ballads, (E 476)
"My Spectre

When wilt thou return & view
My loves & them to life renew     
When wilt thou return & live
When wilt thou pity as I forgive       

Never Never I return                      
Still for Victory I burn
Living thee alone Ill have                
And when dead Ill be thy Grave

Thro the Heavn & Earth & Hell
Thou shalt never never quell
I will fly & thou pursue
Night & Morn the flight renew       

Till I turn from Female Love        
And root up the Infernal Grove    
I shall never worthy be                 
To Step into Eternity

And to end thy cruel mocks    
Annihilate thee on the rocks
And another form create
To be subservient to my Fate

Let us agree to give up Love
And root up the infernal grove                                 
Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity

& Throughout all Eternity              
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said                                   
This the Wine & this the Bread"

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained 
Christ placed on the pinnacle of the Temple
Luke 4
[9] And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
[10] For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
[11] And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
[12] And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
[13] And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

The synoptic gospels in the New Testament devote a few verses to the temptation by the devil which Jesus experienced after his baptism by John. The temptation is a short interlude between the childhood of Jesus and his ministry. Having written Paradise Lost to explain how man came to be in his current predicament of alienation and difficulty, Milton used those few verses as a basis for writing a sequel to Paradise Lost. Milton used the introspective passage in the wilderness to show that man is intended to return to paradise by placing himself in the hands of a beneficent God and accepting the guidance which is provided. 

In the final temptation by the devil, Jesus was placed on the pinnacle of the temple and asked to choose between falling to his death and asking God to provided Angels to prevent him from suffering injury from a fall. The devil had presented Jesus with a false dichotomy because he did not realize that God will not allow himself to be manipulated by devils or men. Jesus by maintaining his focus on God's benevolence and refusing the devil's technique of trickery, held to what he knew to be true.

The reaction of Jesus to this final temptation was the end of period of uncertainty in the development of Jesus. He realized that he was prepared to begin his ministry. He didn't need a program or agenda. It was unnecessary to predict the outcome or select the right team to execute the steps along the way. Jesus knew within himself that by standing - by being absolutely trusting in the will of God - his life would unfold as it should.    

Paradise Regained, Book 4
"for Honours, Riches, Kingdoms, Glory
Have been before contemn'd, and may agen:
Therefore to know what more thou art then man,
Worth naming Son of God by voice from Heav'n,
Another method I must now begin. [ 540 ]
So saying he caught him up, and without wing
Of Hippogrif bore through the Air sublime
Over the Wilderness and o're the Plain;
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The holy City, lifted high her Towers, [ 545 ]
And higher yet the glorious Temple rear'd
Her pile, far off appearing like a Mount
Of Alablaster, top't with golden Spires:
There on the highest Pinacle he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn: [ 550 ]

There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Fathers house
Have brought thee, and highest plac't, highest is best,
Now shew thy Progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thy self down; safely if Son of God: [ 555 ]
For it is written, He will give command
Concerning thee to his Angels, in thir hands
They shall up lift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.
To whom thus Jesus: also it is written, [ 560 ]
Tempt not the Lord thy God; he said and stood.
But Satan smitten with amazement fell"

Psalms 91
[1] He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
[2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
[3] Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
[4] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
[5] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
[6] Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
[7] A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
[8] Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
[9] Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
[10] There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
[11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
[12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
[13] Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
[14] Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
[15] He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
[16] With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Milton O. Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny, tells of Los and his furnaces:

"As the arbiter of the world of experience, the creator of its finite and changing forms, Los is Lord of the furnaces, which together constitute the cycle of experience through which man passes in the interim between Eternity and Eternity. These are the 'furnaces of affliction' in which man is tempered and refined, and out of which, after the purifying process, he is to be delivered, even as the Israelites were delivered out of the iron furnace of Egypt. The condition of deliverance is revealed in one of the concluding pages of Jerusalem. Los, peering in his furnaces, sees all the nations of the world amalgamated into one, the individual law laid aside for the law of brotherhood. The purpose of the fires has been accomplished. The corruptible has put on incorruption. The mortal has put on immortality." (Page 222)

Sonnet 19

John Milton (1608-1674)

"When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve there with my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Sonnet 19 was composed sometime between June and October 1655, when Milton's blindness was essentially complete.

Thursday, August 08, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained
Morning chasing away the phantoms
Paradise Regained, Book 4
"Thus pass'd the night so foul till morning fair
Came forth with Pilgrim steps in amice gray;
Who with her radiant finger still'd the roar
Of thunder, chas'd the clouds, and laid the winds,
And grisly Spectres, which the Fiend had rais'd [ 430 ]
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the Sun with more effectual beams
Had chear'd the face of Earth, and dry'd the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds
Who all things now behold more fresh and green, [ 435 ]
After a night of storm so ruinous,
Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray
To gratulate the sweet return of morn;
Nor yet amidst this joy and brightest morn
Was absent, after all his mischief done, [ 440 ]"

Blake viewed the cycle of life in terms of a fall from a paradisaical state into a state of alienation where man wanders in a reduced state of consciousness. This condition may be symbolized as sleep. We might say that through sleep man is given a respite from outer distractions as an opportunity to examine the dynamics of his psyche. If a man were to have no means of resolving the conflicting demands which require attention, there would be no exit from the dilemmas which entrap him.

In the previous illustration we saw Jesus assaulted by exposure to threatening images. Jesus maintained his calm in spite of the dreams which entered his sleeping mind. Blake was totally convinced that we each have within ourselves the means of escaping from the conflicts which threaten to overwhelm us. Blake's faith was in access to the Spirit which resides in every man eternally. This Spirit goes by many names including the Light Within, the Holy Spirit, and that of God in Every Man. Through connection with that Spirit which is always available, man may wake from the sleep into which he falls when he closes his eyes to the Divine Vision.

In illustrations 8 and 9 to Paradise Regained Blake took the opportunity to contrast the darkness of night and sleep with the brightness of light and consciousness. When dawn arrives there is no desire to continue to remain confined in darkness by fears and despair.

First Thessalonians 5
[5] Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
[6] Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
[7] For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
[8] But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Revelation 22
[4] And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
[5] And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

America, Plate 6, (E 53)
"The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their tations;
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up;
The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd.
Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing! awakening!
Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst; 

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 116)
"Seven mornings Los heard them, as the poor bird within the shell
Hears its impatient parent bird; and Enitharmon heard them:
But saw them not, for the blue Mundane Shell inclosd them in.    

And they lamented that they had in wrath & fury & fire
Driven Milton into the Ulro; for now they knew too late
That it was Milton the Awakener: they had not heard the Bard,
Whose song calld Milton to the attempt; and Los heard these laments.
He heard them call in prayer all the Divine Family;              
And he beheld the Cloud of Milton stretching over Europe."

Milton, Plate 23 [25], (E 118)
"Awake thou sleeper on the Rock of Eternity Albion awake
The trumpet of Judgment hath twice sounded: all Nations are awake
But thou art still heavy and dull: Awake Albion awake!"          .

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" 

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 233)
"England! awake! awake! awake!
  Jerusalem thy Sister calls!
Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death?
  And close her from thy ancient walls."

Poetical Sketches, (E 410)
"O holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heav'n's golden gates, and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light
Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring
The honied dew that cometh on waking day."    

"melt the clouds of sin and sadness"

Sunday, August 04, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Paradise Regained
Christ's troubled sleep

Paradise Regained, Book 4

The Kingdoms of the world to thee I give;
For giv'n to me, I give to whom I please,
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else, [ 165 ]
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior Lord,
Easily done, and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve?
Whom thus our Saviour answer'd with disdain. [ 170 ]
I never lik'd thy talk, thy offers less,
Now both abhor, since thou hast dar'd to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition;
But I endure the time, till which expir'd,
Thou hast permission on me. It is written [ 175 ]
The first of all Commandments, Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only him shalt serve;
And dar'st thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee accurst, now more accurst
For this attempt bolder then that on Eve, [ 180 ]
And more blasphemous? which expect to rue
So saying, he took (for still he knew his power
Not yet expir'd) and to the Wilderness [ 395 ] 
Brought back the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As day-light sunk, and brought in lowring night
Her shadowy off-spring, unsubstantial both,
Privation meer of light and absent day. [ 400 ]
Our Saviour meek and with untroubl'd mind
After his aerie jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might shield [ 405 ]
From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head,
But shelter'd slept in vain, for at his head
The Tempter watch'd, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturb'd his sleep; and either Tropic now
'Gan thunder; and both ends of Heav'n, the Clouds [ 410 ]
From many a horrid rift abortive pour'd
Fierce rain with lightning mixt, water with fire
In ruine reconcil'd: nor slept the winds
Within thir stony caves, but rush'd abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell [ 415 ]
On the vext Wilderness, whose tallest Pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest Oaks
Bow'd thir Stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer: ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st [ 420 ]
Unshaken; nor yet staid the terror there,
Infernal Ghosts, and Hellish Furies, round
Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell'd, some shriek'd,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat'st unappall'd in calm and sinless peace. [ 425 ]

It seems that Milton knew that Satan would not approach Jesus only through his ego - through his conscious mind - but would access the unconscious where fears, failures, and hidden secrets might be stored. In Paradise Regained through troubled dreams Jesus was exposed to disturbing events which threatened his calm. Although Milton wrote of natural events of storms, terrors, furries, and fiery darts, Blake pictured a dream of a dark, demented God releasing monstrous serpents.

Blake showed a terrifying aspect of God being encountered in the dream. Later when Blake made illustrations for the book of Job, he pictured on page 11 the frightening event of seeing God as an evil, angry being entwined by a serpent, and surrounded by the elements being released in all their power. When Blake portrayed the 'troubled sleep' of Jesus he showed a weak God who appeared to be more a victim than a victimizer. The ugly God was no threat to Jesus who knew himself to be under the protection of a loving God who is wise, and kind and good and who shielded him from the dark forces such as those which welled up from Job's unconscious.

Jerusalem Bible
Job 33: 14-30
God speaks first in one way, and then in another, but not one notices. He speaks by dreams, and visions that come in the night, when slumber comes on mankind, and men are all asleep in bed. Then it is he whispers in the ear of man, or may frighten him with fearful sights, to turn him away from evil-doing, and make an end of his pride; to save his soul from the pit and his life from the pathway to Sheol. With suffering, too, he corrects man on his sickbed, when his bones keep trembling with palsy; when his whole self is revolted by food, and his appetite spurns dainties; when his flesh rots as you watch it, and his bare bones begin to show; when his soul is drawing near to the pit, and his life to the dwelling of the dead. Then there is an Angel by his side, a Mediator, chosen out of thousands, to remind a man where his duty lies, to take pity on him and to say, "Release him from descent into the pit, for I have found a ransom for his life"; his flesh recovers the bloom of its youth, he lives again as he did when he was young. He prays to God who has restored him to favor, and comes, in happiness, to see his face. He publishes far and wide the news of his vindication, singing before his fellow men this hymn of praise, "I sinned and left the path of right, but God has not punished me as my sin deserved. He has spared my soul from going down into the pit, and is allowing my life to continue in the light." All this God does again and yet again for man, rescuing his soul from the pit, and letting the light of life shine bright on him.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Song 5, (E 7)  
"The Shepherd.
How sweet is the Shepherds sweet lot,
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."

Songs of Experience, Song 34, (E 20)
"The Little Girl Lost
Sweet sleep come to me
Underneath this tree;
Do father, mother weep.--
Where can Lyca sleep.

Lost in desart wild
Is your little child.
How can Lyca sleep,
If her mother weep.

If her heart does ake, 
Then let Lyca wake;
If my mother sleep,
Lyca shall not weep.

Frowning frowning night,
O'er this desart bright,
Let thy moon arise,
While I close my eyes.

Sleeping Lyca lay;
While the beasts of prey,

Come from caverns deep, 
View'd the maid asleep

The kingly lion stood
And the virgin view'd,
Then he gambold round
O'er the hallowd ground;

Leopards, tygers play,
Round her as she lay;
While the lion old,
Bow'd his mane of gold.

And her bosom lick,
And upon her neck,
From his eyes of flame,
Ruby tears there came;

While the lioness,
Loos'd her slender dress,
And naked they convey'd
To caves the sleeping maid."  

Notice the head of a lion in the lower right hand corner of the picture.