Thursday, September 26, 2019


Blake filled Robert's notebook after his beloved Brother's death. When he ran out of pages he turned the notebook upside down and filled it from the opposite direction. The portrait
of Catherine was inverted when he wrote text for A Vision for the Last Judgment.

Among the notes and sketches in Blake's Notebook appear two images of his wife. Bake used the Notebook to record images and ideas as they occurred to him. These two images were not intended for inclusion in future works of art. They were spontaneous responses to the domestic scene which surrounded him. This was the woman who shared his bed and his table, who ran errands for him and helped with the printing process. She was Enitharmon to Blake's Los. When inspiration came to him, she helped him bring his vision into the physical world.  
"And first he drew a line upon the walls of shining heaven    
And Enitharmon tincturd it with beams of blushing love"
                                                                          Four Zoas 

If William and Catherine had to struggle to adapt to living together as husband and wife, we would find remnants of their striving in Blake's poetry and pictures. In the Four Zoas, Enitharmon suggested to Los that her efforts had less value or permanence than his did. The products of her hands 'vanish again into my bosom.' If her work could be assimilated into the forms sublime which Los was fabricating, their life together would acquire a new dimension.

This can be seen as a breakthrough in the relationship of the young couple. If William recognized that Catherine was capable of working as an artist alongside him as he produced the Illuminated Books, it would eliminate some of the tension between them. Her creative energy would be directed toward producing something of real sustained value. He would benefit by not being alone against all the forces which conspired to thwart his achieving his aspirations.

Alexander Gilchrist wrote in his early biography of Blake that the production of the Illuminated Books was a joint project. Other authors may be dependent on designers, engravers, printers and publishers but Blake found another way to present the product of his creativity. Together "the Poet and his wife did everything in making the book, - writing, designing, printing, engraving, - everything except manufacturing the paper: the very ink, or color rather, they did make." He didn't mention coloring the images and binding the books at which Catherine became proficient.

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 98 [90], (E 370) 
Enitharmon spread her beaming locks upon the wind & said   
O Lovely terrible Los wonder of Eternity O Los my defence & guide 
Thy works are all my joy. & in thy fires my soul delights
If mild they burn in just proportion & in secret night
And silence build their day in shadow of soft clouds & dews
Then I can sigh forth on the winds of Golgonooza piteous forms  
That vanish again into my bosom   but if thou my Los
Wilt in sweet moderated fury. fabricate forms sublime    
Such as the piteous spectres may assimilate themselves into
They shall be ransoms for our Souls that we may live

So Enitharmon spoke & Los his hands divine inspired began  
To modulate his fires studious the loud roaring flames
He vanquishd with the strength of Art bending their iron points
And drawing them forth delighted upon the winds of Golgonooza 
From out the ranks of Urizens war & from the fiery lake
Of Orc bending down as the binder of the Sheaves follows   
The reaper in both arms embracing the furious raging flames
Los drew them forth out of the deeps planting his right foot firm
Upon the Iron crag of Urizen thence springing up aloft
Into the heavens of Enitharmon in a mighty circle

And first he drew a line upon the walls of shining heaven    
And Enitharmon tincturd it with beams of blushing love

It remaind permanent a lovely form inspird divinely human
Dividing into just proportions Los unwearied labourd
The immortal lines upon the heavens till with sighs of love
Sweet Enitharmon mild Entrancd breathd forth upon the wind   
The spectrous dead Weeping the Spectres viewd the immortal works
Of Los Assimilating to those forms Embodied & Lovely
In youth & beauty in the arms of Enitharmon mild reposing"
Jerusalem, Plate 14, (E 158) "Los also views the Four Females: Ahania, and Enion, and Vala, and Enitharmon lovely. And from them all the lovely beaming Daughters of Albion, Ahania & Enion & Vala, are three evanescent shades: Enitharmon is a vegetated mortal Wife of Los: His Emanation, yet his Wife till the sleep of death is past. Such are the Buildings of Los! & such are the Woofs of Enitharmon!"

Monday, September 23, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Drawing by Catherine Blake
Information from Fitzwilliam Museum:
Date of drawing circa 1827 — 1831
Said to have been given by Mrs Blake to a friend who sold it c. 1886 to Daniels (a printseller in Mortimer Street, London); bt. by Herbert P. Horne (d. 1916); acquired by E.H. Marsh in 1904, bequeathed 1953; Marsh, Edward Howard

As part of the grieving process after the death of William, Catherine drew this portrait of her husband as she remembered him as a young man. From it we learn of the appearance of young William. From it we see also that Catherine had a remarkable visual memory and considerable artistic skill with the pencil.

In the portrait the penetrating eye of Blake is clearly seen. The brow betrays his active mind which he applied to understanding a troubled world. His mouth reveals his determination to reveal the infinite in all things. His wirey hair indicates his exuberant personality.

After he died Catherine had a strong desire to continue the work that she had done with William. He had tried to preserve his creations in his lifetime by getting them into the hands of people who knew their value. Now it was her responsibility to preserve what remained with her, as best she could. Although it is believed that much was lost through poor decisions, somehow a large quantity of the work remains for the enjoyment and enrichment of those who appreciate it.

In the Halls of Los all that is created through Imagination does not pass away but is permanent, it is part of the Spiritual Reality which endures. 

Jerusalem, Plate 16, (E 161)
"All things acted on Earth are seen in the bright Sculptures of
Los's Halls
& every Age renews its powers from these Works
With every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or
Wayward Love & every sorrow & distress is carved here
Every Affinity of Parents Marriages & Friendships are here
In all their various combinations wrought with wondrous Art

All that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years
Such is the Divine Written Law of Horeb & Sinai:
And such the Holy Gospel of Mount Olivet & Calvary:" 

In this letter we read of Catherine working independently of William as she undertook the job of printing the Plates for the Cowper book for Hayley.

Letters, To James Blake, (E 726)
"Felpham Jany 30--1803.
Dear Brother
My Wife has undertaken to Print
the whole number of the Plates for Cowpers work which she does to
admiration & being under my own
eye the prints are as fine as the French prints & please every
one. in short I have Got every thing so under my thumb that it is
more profitable that things should be as they are than any other
way, tho not so agreeable because we wish naturally for
friendship in preference to interest.--The Publishers are already
indebted to My Wife Twenty Guineas for work deliverd this is a
small specimen of how we go on. then fear nothing & let my Sister
fear nothing because it appears to me that I am now too old &
have had too much experience to be any longer imposed upon only
illness makes all uncomfortable & this we must prevent by every
means in our power"

When Blake returned to London after his trial for sedition in Chichester he found Catherine ill from the anxiety of being uncertain of the trial's outcome.

 Letters,  (E 740)
"To William Hayley Esqre Felpham
near Chichester, Sussex

London Jany 14. 1804
My poor
wife has been near the Gate of Death as was supposed by our kind
& attentive fellow inhabitant. the young & very amiable Mrs
Enoch. who gave my wife all the attention that a daughter could
pay to a mother but my arrival has dispelld the formidable malady
& my dear & good woman again begins to resume her health &
strength--Pray my dear Sir." 

Later in the year Blake wrote to Hayley reporting on Catherine's remarkable 
recovery from rheumatism.

Letters, (E 755)
"[To William Hayley]
[23 October 1804]
Dear Sir
My wife
returns her heartfelt thanks for your kind inquiry concerning her
health.  She is surprisingly recovered.  Electricity is the
wonderful cause; the swelling of her legs and knees is entirely
reduced.  She is very near as free from rheumatism as she was
five years ago, and we have the greatest confidence in her
perfect recovery."

Saturday, September 21, 2019


From Private Collection
Sketch of Catherine
True marriage is a mystical bond. It depends upon two people having the desire to achieve a meeting of their minds. Unless each partner is capable of appreciating the other's differences as benefits to the union, there will be strife and dissension. William and Catherine Blake did not marry because they recognized only their similarities, but because they valued the qualities in the other which were absent in themselves. William needed the stability of Catherine, while she needed the stimulation of his active mind. There were things each gave up to accommodate the other. Any hope she may have had for a conventional life she relinquished; something of his fiery, contentious nature he subdued. They each valued the condition of marriage more than the need to realize his/her own individual desires.   

Catherine was not educated; in fact she signed her marriage certificate with an X. But William did not value formal education since he never sat at the foot of a schoolmaster himself. Catherine, the daughter of a green grocer, married at twenty years of age. She was prepared for a simple life of working with her husband who taught her the skills she needed in order to assist his career. What was her unique contribution over the years was a calmness of spirit upon which William could rely when his fierce need to create overstimulated his mind. 

In The Stranger from Paradise, a Biography of William Blake by G.E. Bentley, Jr, there is a quote from Frederick Tatum:

"he fancied , that while she looked at him, as he worked, her sitting quite still by...[his] side, doing nothing, soothed his tempestuous mind & he has many a time when a strong desire presented itself to overcome any difficulty in the Plates or Drawings, ... in the middle of the night risen & requested her to get up with him & sit by his side, in which she cheerfully acquiesced". Page 70

Gates of Paradise, For the Sexes, (E 268)
16 Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb
     Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb
     Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife
     And weeping over the Web of Life
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 122, (E 391)
"The winter thou shalt plow & lay thy stores into thy barns       
Expecting to recieve Ahania in the spring with joy
Immortal thou. Regenerate She & all the lovely Sex
From her shall learn obedience & prepare for a wintry grave
That spring may see them rise in tenfold joy & sweet delight
Thus shall the male & female live the life of Eternity           
Because the Lamb of God Creates himself a bride & wife
That we his Children evermore may live in Jerusalem
Which now descendeth out of heaven a City yet a Woman
Mother of myriads redeemd & born in her spiritual palaces
By a New Spiritual birth Regenerated from Death                  

Urizen Said. I have Erred & my Error remains with me"

Songs and Ballads, Blake's notebook, (E 481)
"I have Mental Joy & Mental Health
And Mental Friends & Mental wealth    
Ive a Wife I love & that loves me
Ive all But Riches Bodily"

Letters, (E 709)
"To William Hayley Esqre at Miss Pooles, Lavant
near Chichester, Sussex
Hercules Buildings Lambeth Sept 16. 1800

Leader of My Angels
     My Dear & too careful & over joyous Woman has Exhausted her
strength to such a degree with expectation & gladness added to
labour in our removal that I fear it will be Thursday before we
can get away from this---- City   I shall not be able to avail
myself of the assistance of Brunos fairies.  But I invoke the
Good Genii that Surround Miss Pooles Villa to shine upon my
journey thro the Petworth road which by your fortunate advice I
mean to take but whether I come on Wednesday or Thursday That Day
shall be marked on my calendar with a Star of the first magnitude
     Eartham will be my first temple & altar My wife is like a
flame of many colours of precious jewels whenever she hears it
named Excuse my haste & recieve my hearty Love & Respect
I am Dear Sir
Your Sincere

My fingers Emit sparks of fire with Expectation of my future

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


First posted November 2009

Blake's best known short poem is from Songs of Innocence and Experience (E24)The Tyger

"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"

A second occurrence of the line from Tyger, ' the stars threw down their spears,' appears in the Four Zoas, Night Five, Plate 64 (E344)
. Urizen is speaking.

"O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep

I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice
Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean

I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears & fled naked away
We fell. I siezd thee dark Urthona In my left hand falling

I siezd thee beauteous Luvah"

Judging from the amount of interest there is in Blake's Tyger, it hooks into an archetypal reality which is easily activated. There is much agreement that Tyger is saying something important, but little agreement on what it is saying. Here is another stab.

One mystifying line in the poem, "when the stars threw down their spears," appears also in the Four Zoas at a critical moment when Urizen/Satan refuses obedience to the Almighty. At that point a chain reaction begins - with the stars. So the line in Tyger reminds us of the cataclysmic event when Urizen fell and took with him Urthona and Luvah.

Three Zoas Falling

It is easy for me to see Tyger as autobiographical. The conflict within Blake of his reason and imagination, is expressed in the dynamic battle between Urizen and Los thoughout Blake's myth. The tyger himself can represent the battlefield Blake sees within. Forces of beauty, restraint, explosive activity and expanded consciousness compete for dominance. Blake's struggle is to achieve that balance which will allow his imagination a free reign of expression, without becoming an uncontrolled destructive force.

Look at the words in Tyger that make one think
of Los: fire, hammer, anvil, furnace, chain;
of Urizen: bright, aspire, seize, stars;
of Luvah: heart, began to beat;
of Jesus: tears, smile, work, Lamb.

The multiple parts within the human mind make possible an internal state of competition. But the use of the word 'symmetry' signifies to me the balanced pattern in which Blake saw the Four Zoas as aspects of the psyche. The symmetry becomes fearful when the delicate alignment is disturbed. We have seen how every aspect of the Divine Humanity is affected by any refusal of a Zoa to accept his appointed role. (See blog post Fallen Zoas) All are 'members of one another'. (Paul - Ephesians 4:25)

The Tyger's fascination may come from the unresolved tension which it portrays - a state we each frequently experience.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 79,  (E 355) 
"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"  
Wikipedia Commons
Illustration to the Book of Job
Butts Set, Page 12
It is not the simple, easy, pleasant things which offer the greatest benefit or prove to be the most worth doing. The world could have been arranged in such a way that there was no variation, no change, no challenge. But without obstacles to be overcome, problems to be solved, unpredictability to be considered, life would indeed be a 'dull round' of repetition.  
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 543)
"Mr. B. has done, as all
the ancients did, and as all the moderns, who are worthy of fame,
given the historical fact in its poetical vigour; so as it always
happens, and not in that dull way that some Historians pretend,
who being weakly organized themselves, cannot see either miracle
or prodigy; all is to them a dull round of probabilities and
possibilities; but the history of all times and places, is
nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities; what we 
should say, was impossible if we did not see it always before our 
Blake puts in the hand of Urizen the plow as the instrument that keeps stirring the events which comprise the complexities of existence. Living as we do in the world of time and space, we learn from demonstration, from experiencing, from seeing the indefinite become definite. It is the reasoning mind which is assigned the task of taking the material which it encounters and defining the value in it whether it be truth or error. Without the labor of Urizen performing the work of breaking up, and turning over the soil comprised of thoughts and actions, there would be no possibility for the work of Los, imagination, to continue.  
Milton, Plate 25 [27], (E 121)
"There Los puts all into the Press, the Opressor & the Opressed
Together, ripe for the Harvest & Vintage & ready for the Loom.

They sang at the Vintage. This is the Last Vintage! & Seed
Shall no more be sown upon Earth, till all the Vintage is over
And all gatherd in, till the Plow has passd over the Nations     
And the Harrow & heavy thundering Roller upon the mountains

And loud the Souls howl round the Porches of Golgonooza
Crying O God deliver us to the Heavens or to the Earths,
That we may preach righteousness & punish the sinner with death
But Los refused, till all the Vintage of Earth was gatherd in.  

And Los stood & cried to the Labourers of the Vintage in voice of awe.

Fellow Labourers! The Great Vintage & Harvest is now upon Earth
The whole extent of the Globe is explored: Every scatterd Atom
Of Human Intellect now is flocking to the sound of the Trumpet
All the Wisdom which was hidden in caves & dens, from ancient    
Time; is now sought out from Animal & Vegetable & Mineral- 121 -

The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe! the Vision of God is fulfilled
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,"

Jerusalem, Plate 29 [33], (E 175)       
"Turning his back to the Divine Vision, his Spectrous
Chaos before his face appeard: an Unformed Memory.

Then spoke the Spectrous Chaos to Albion darkning cold
From the back & loins where dwell the Spectrous Dead

I am your Rational Power O Albion & that Human Form              
You call Divine, is but a Worm seventy inches long
That creeps forth in a night & is dried in the morning sun
In fortuitous concourse of memorys accumulated & lost
It plows the Earth in its own conceit, it overwhelms the Hills
Beneath its winding labyrinths, till a stone of the brook        
Stops it in midst of its pride among its hills & rivers[.] 
Battersea & Chelsea mourn, London & Canterbury tremble
Their place shall not be found as the wind passes over[.]
The ancient Cities of the Earth remove as a traveller
And shall Albions Cities remain when I pass over them            
With my deluge of forgotten remembrances over the tablet
 So spoke the Spectre to Albion. he is the Great Selfhood
Satan: Worshipd as God by the Mighty Ones of the Earth"

Jerusalem, Plate 41 [46], (E 188)
"Thou art in Error Albion, the Land of Ulro:               
One Error not remov'd, will destroy a human Soul
Repose in Beulahs night, till the Error is remov'd
Reason not on both sides. Repose upon our bosoms
Till the Plow of Jehovah, and the Harrow of Shaddai
Have passed over the Dead, to awake the Dead to Judgment.     
But Albion turn'd away refusing comfort."

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 205)
"Every one knows, we are One Family! One Man blessed for ever

Silence remaind & every one resumd his Human Majesty
And many conversed on these things as they labourd at the furrow
Saying: It is better to prevent misery, than to release from misery
It is better to prevent error, than to  forgive the criminal:    
Labour well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones:
And those who are in misery cannot remain so long
If we do but our duty: labour well the teeming Earth.

They Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow
And the voices of the Living Creatures were heard in the clouds of heaven
Crying: Compell the Reasoner to Demonstrate with unhewn Demonstrations
Let the Indefinite be explored. and let every Man be judged
By his own Works, Let all Indefinites be thrown into Demonstrations
To be pounded to dust & melted in the Furnaces of Affliction:
He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars 
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer:
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power.
The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity
Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falshood continually    
On Circumcision: not on Virginity, O Reasoners of Albion

So cried they at the Plow. Albions Rock frowned above
And the Great Voice of Eternity rolled above terrible in clouds
Saying Who will go forth for us! & Who shall we send before our face?"

Jerusalem, Plate 17, (E 207)
"Are not Religion & Politics the Same Thing? Brotherhood is Religion    
O Demonstrations of Reason Dividing Families in Cruelty & Pride!

But Albion fled from the Divine Vision, with the Plow of Nations enflaming
The Living Creatures maddend and Albion fell into the Furrow, and
The Plow went over him & the Living was Plowed in among the Dead
But his Spectre rose over the starry Plow. Albion fled beneath the Plow    
Till he came to the Rock of Ages. & he took his Seat upon the Rock.

Wonder siezd all in Eternity! to behold the Divine Vision. open
The Center into an Expanse, & the Center rolled out into an Expanse."

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"that Los in despair oft sat, & often ponderd
On Death Eternal in fierce shudders upon the mountains of Albion 
Walking: & in the vales in howlings fierce, then to his Anvils
Turning, anew began his labours, tho in terrible pains!

Plate 63
Jehovah stood among the Druids in the Valley of Annandale
When the Four Zoas of Albion, the Four Living Creatures, the Cherubim
Of Albion tremble before the Spectre, in the starry likeness of the Plow
Of Nations. And their Names are Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona"

Four Zoas, Night VI, Page 70, (E 346)
"Writing in bitter tears & groans in books of iron & brass
The enormous wonders of the Abysses once his brightest joy

For Urizen beheld the terrors of the Abyss wandring among        
The ruind spirits once his children & the children of Luvah
Scard at the sound of their own sigh that seems to shake the immense
They wander Moping in their heart a Sun a Dreary moon
A Universe of fiery constellations in their brain
An Earth of wintry woe beneath their feet & round their loins 
Waters or winds or clouds or brooding lightnings & pestilential plagues
Beyond the bounds of their own self their senses cannot penetrate"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 124, (E 393)
 "The Sons of Urizen Shout Their father rose The Eternal horses
Harnessd They calld to Urizen the heavens moved at their call
The limbs of Urizen shone with ardor. He laid his ha[n]d on the Plow
Thro dismal darkness drave the Plow of ages over Cities
And all their Villages over Mountains & all their Vallies
Over the graves & caverns of the dead   Over the Planets
And over the void Spaces over Sun & moon & star & constellation

Then Urizen commanded & they brought the Seed of Men            
The trembling souls of All the Dead stood before Urizen
Weak wailing in the troubled air East west & north & south
PAGE 125 
He turnd the horses loose & laid his Plow in the northern corner
Of the wide Universal field. then Stepd forth into the immense 

Then he began to sow the seed he girded round his loins
With a bright girdle & his skirt filld with immortal souls
Howling & Wailing fly the souls from Urizens strong hand         

For from the hand of Urizen the myriads fall like stars
Into their own appointed places driven back by the winds
The naked warriors rush together down to the sea shores
They are become like wintry flocks like forests stripd of leaves
The Kings & Princes of the Earth cry with a feeble cry           
Driven on the unproducing sands & on the hardend rocks
And all the while the flames of Orc follow the ventrous feet
Of Urizen & all the while the Trump of Tharmas sounds
Weeping & wailing fly the souls from Urizens strong hand
The daughters of Urizen stand with Cups & measures of foaming wine
Immense upon the heavens with bread & delicate repasts

Then follows the golden harrow in the midst of Mental fires
To ravishing melody of flutes & harps & softest voice
The seed is harrowd in while flames heat the black mould & cause
The human harvest to begin Towards the south first sprang 
The myriads & in silent fear they look out from their graves

Then Urizen sits down to rest & all his wearied Sons
Take their repose on beds they drink they sing they view the flames
O f Orc in joy they view the human harvest springing up
A time they give to sweet repose till all the harvest is ripe"    


Thursday, September 12, 2019


Yale center for British Art
Plate 54
The wisdom integral to reason was distributed to the stars when Urizen fell. It became incorporated in the Starry Host which followed Urizen through the wilderness. In as much as man follows Urizen through the confusion of corporeality he is the Starry Host. It is interesting that two of the meanings of the word host may be applied to Blake's phrase. The multitude of humanity which concedes control of the mind to rationality are members of the Starry Host. But man must invite and allow Urizen to become his master; he must be a willing host to the dominance of Urizen. Man chooses to become the Starry Host.

Los, 'who is the Vehicular Form of strong Urthona', the source of intuition, imagination and integration, refused to concede. His first reaction was to oppose Urizen using the same fury which Urizen used. However, when in his anger he struck Enitharmon, he began a cascade of degradation which was not easy to reverse. 
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 26, (E 44)
Song of Liberty

"15. Down rushd beating his wings in vain the jealous king: his
grey brow'd councellors, thunderous warriors, curl'd veterans,
among helms, and shields, and chariots horses, elephants:
banners, castles, slings and rocks,

16. Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona's
17. All night beneath the ruins, then their sullen flames faded
emerge round the gloomy king,
18. With thunder and fire: leading his starry hosts thro' the waste wilderness [PL 27] he promulgates his ten commands, glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay,"
waste wilderness [PL 27] he promulgates his ten commands,
glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay,"
America, Plate 8, (E 54)
"The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath'd round the accursed tree:
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break;
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands,
What night he led the starry hosts thro' the wide wilderness:
That stony law I stamp to dust: and scatter religion abroad
To the four winds as a torn book, & none shall gather the leaves;"
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 12, (E 307)
"Sullen sat Los plotting Revenge. Silent he eye'd the Prince   
Of Light. Silent the prince of Light viewd Los. at length a brooded  
Smile broke from Urizen for Enitharmon brightend more & more
Sullen he lowerd on Enitharmon but he smild on Los

Saying Thou art the Lord of Luvah into thine hands I give
The prince of Love the murderer    his soul is in thine hands
Pity not Vala for she pitied not the Eternal Man                 
Nor pity thou the cries of Luvah. Lo these starry hosts
They are thy servants if thou wilt obey my awful Law     

Los answerd furious art thou one of those who when most complacent
Mean mischief most. If you are such Lo! I am also such
One must be master. try thy Arts I also will try mine        
For I percieve Thou hast Abundance which I claim as mine

Urizen startled stood but not Long soon he cried
Obey my voice young Demon I am God from Eternity to Eternity

Thus Urizen spoke collected in himself in awful pride

Art thou a visionary of Jesus the soft delusion of Eternity   
Lo I am God the terrible destroyer & not the Saviour
Why should the Divine Vision compell the sons of Eden
to forego each his own delight to war against his Spectre 
The Spectre is the Man the rest is only delusion & fancy

So spoke the Prince of Light & sat beside the Seat of Los        
Upon the sandy shore rested his chariot of fire
Ten thousand thousand were his hosts of spirits on the wind:
Ten thousand thousand glittering Chariots shining in the sky:
They pour upon the golden shore beside the silent ocean.
Rejoicing in the Victory & the heavens were filld with blood  

The Earth spread forth her table wide. the Night a silver cup
Fill'd with the wine of anguish waited at the golden feast
But the bright Sun was not as yet; he filling all the expanse
Slept as a bird in the blue shell that soon shall burst away

Los saw the wound of his blow he saw he pitied he wept  
Los now repented that he had smitten Enitharmon he felt love
Arise in all his Veins he threw his arms around her loins
To heal the wound of his smiting

They eat the fleshly bread, they drank the nervous wine"  

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


New York Public Library

Plate 4
There are the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets; the sources of light in the mundane world. The sun is associated with reason or Urizen, one of the four aspects of the Eternal Man. The aspect we call emotion was the precinct of Luvah or the moon, a passive source of light which provided repose or rest from the severe contentions of reason. But the balance was broken and Urizen fell, splitting his light into factions, the stars, which provide dim light. As remnants of reason, the stars form a chain of rationality expressed as law which restrains the fall of man into the abyss. The planets are the wanderers among the constellations of the Zodiac.  

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
Thus were the stars of heaven created like a golden chain
To bind the Body of Man to heaven from failing into the Abyss
Each took his station, & his course began with sorrow & care
In sevens & tens & fifties, hundreds, thousands, numberd all
According to their various powers. Subordinate to Urizen
And to his sons in their degrees & to his beauteous daughters
Travelling in silent majesty along their orderd ways
In right lined paths outmeasurd by proportions of number weight
And measure. mathematic motion wondrous. along the deep"

William Blake's Circle of Destiny by Milton Percival, on Page 148, visualizes Blake's process of using astronomical symbols in the fall of Albion:

"When the starry mundane shell crashes into the darkness of the abyss, the planets moving irregularly eastward, made their appearance. To counteract their maleficent influence Los creates a temporal sun and a temporal moon, feeble but indispensable replicas of their eternal counterparts.

The first diminution of light is indicated as we have just said, by the star world. This world was created to keep the body of man from falling into the abyss, when both the sun and moon had failed. When knowledge ceased to be intuitive and love ceased to be spontaneous, when, in astrological imagery, the departure of Urizen, the sun, into the north (the realm sacred to Urthona), and of Luvah, the moon, into the south (the realm sacred to Urizen), the diminished reason became Albion's guiding light. Out of fear it built the world of law that Albion might not descend into chaos. The ordered world of constellations is Blake's beautiful and appropriate symbol for the order imposed by law upon a world from which unity had fled. The symbol draws an added value from the Stoics' association of the stars with reason's ethereal fires. The star world of the law is the great rational achievement."   


Thursday, September 05, 2019


British Museum
Title Page
Northrop Frey was able to see the relationship which Blake attained with Milton on a spiritual, visionary level which transcended ordinary temporal experience. Until Blake was able to break Orc's chain of jealousy which bound him to Milton as a mentor, as a rival and as the embodiment of British poetic tradition, he could not be reborn into the fullness of his own imaginative capacity. An epiphany of breaking out of Time into Eternity resulted when Blake annihilated his Selfhood or ego in order to receive the completeness of Vision.

Fearful Symmetry, by Northrop Frye, Page 322:

"There is no such thing as 'reincarnation,' in the sense that a 'soul' may leave a 'body' and then enter another. 'In Eternity,' says Blake, 'one Thing never Changes into another Thing.' But there are two possible forms of rebirth. One the rebirth of Orc, the reappearance of life in a new form, which is the ordinary process of life. The other is the rebirth of Los, the recreation of one vision by another. Milton's imagination was the real Milton and a deliberate and conscious attempt to recreate his vision, as Paradise Lost was a deliberate and conscious attempt to recreate the vision of the Book of Genesis, is the rebirth of the real Milton into the imagination of the poet who makes the attempt.
Page 323:
If Jesus had been nothing more than a reborn Orc, he would have been merely one more cycle of energy in nature, as Orc-Jesus is in Europe: the fact that the human imagination reaches finality in Jesus is expressed in the doctrine that the end of time is his second coming. Similarly, when Blake visualizes himself as a reborn Milton, he expresses the corollary of this. If, in the Jesus cycle of history, one man's vision returns to another and is recreated with final clarity, a permanent eternal form will appear in time and the fallen perspective of time as a vanishing current will be arrested."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556)
"In Eternity one Thing never Changes into
another Thing   Each Identity is Eternal consequently Apuleius's
Golden Ass & Ovids Metamorphosis & others of the like kind are
Fable yet they contain Vision in a Sublime degree being derived
from real Vision in More Ancient Writings[.] Lots Wife
being Changed into Pillar of Salt alludes to the Mortal Body
being renderd a Permanent Statue but not Changed or Transformed
into Another Identity while it retains its own Individuality.  A
Man can never become Ass nor Horse some are born with shapes of
Men who may be both but   Eternal Identity is one thing & Corporeal
Vegetation is another thing    Changing Water into Wine by Jesus &
into Blood by Moses relates to Vegetable Nature also"

Milton, Plate 20 [22], (E 115)
"Los saw them and a cold pale horror coverd o'er his limbs
Pondering he knew that Rintrah & Palamabron might depart:
Even as Reuben & as Gad; gave up himself to tears.
He sat down on his anvil-stock; and leand upon the trough.
Looking into the black water, mingling it with tears.            

At last when desperation almost tore his heart in twain
He recollected an old Prophecy in Eden recorded,
And often sung to the loud harp at the immortal feasts
That Milton of the Land of Albion should up ascend
Forwards from Ulro from the Vale of Felpham; and set free        
Orc from his Chain of Jealousy, he started at the thought"

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 117)
"for not one Moment
Of Time is lost, nor one Event of Space unpermanent
But all remain: every fabric of Six Thousand Years               
Remains permanent: tho' on the Earth where Satan
Fell, and was cut off all things vanish & are seen no more
They vanish not from me & mine, we guard them first & last
The generations of men run on in the tide of Time
But leave their destind lineaments permanent for ever & ever.    

So spoke Los as we went along to his supreme abode."

Milton, Plate 40 [46],(E 141)
"Before Ololon Milton stood & percievd the Eternal Form
Of that mild Vision; wondrous were their acts by me unknown
Except remotely; and I heard Ololon say to Milton

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years.   
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies
Are those who contemn Religion & seek to annihilate it
Become in their Feminine portions the causes & promoters       
Of these Religions, how is this thing? this Newtonian Phantasm
This Voltaire & Rousseau: this Hume & Gibbon & Bolingbroke
This Natural Religion! this impossible absurdity
Is Ololon the cause of this? O where shall I hide my face
These tears fall for the little-ones: the Children of Jerusalem  
Lest they be annihilated in thy annihilation."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 555)
     "The Last judgment is one of these Stupendous
Visions. I have represented it as I saw it.
to different People it appears differently as every
thing else does for tho on Earth things seem Permanent they are
less permanent than a Shadow as we all know too well
     The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just as the Imaginative Image
returns according to the seed of Contemplative
Thought   the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision"

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 555)
"This world of Imagination is the World of
Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after
the death of the Vegetated body   This World of Imagination is
Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation
is Finite & for a small moment Temporal    There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature
     All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the
Divine body of the Saviour the True Vine of Eternity
The Human Imagination who appeard to Me as Coming to Judgment.
among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal that the Eternal
might be Establishd. around him were seen the Images of
Existences according to their aggregate Imaginations a
certain order suited to my Imaginative Eye" 

Monday, September 02, 2019


New York Public Library
Plate 43
Essays for S. Foster Damon edited by Alvin H. Rosenfeld includes a chapter by Harold Fisch titled Blake's Miltonic Moment. On page 44 Fisch associates the spiritual event in Blake's life in which he grasped the fullness of the living presence of the Imagination within him was mediated to him through Milton. We  read:

" the spirit of prophecy which spoke through Elijah and Ezekiel; and if with him the biblical dimension is introduced in its fullness in Blake's poetry, it should be added that it is Milton who presides over this transformation. Milton is the inspired biblical poet of an age of faith who had wedded poetry to the inspiration of the Bible. And so Los becomes the spirit of biblical poetry; with his arrival of Eden and Jerusalem become major symbols. The new phase of Blake's poetry beginning with the later additions of The Four Zoas and reaching its fullness in Milton and Jerusalem is thus in a most particular degree biblical, and the agent of the transformation is Milton. We can watch the actual dynamics of the process, Los, busy creating the world and governing it through time to its predestined conclusion, looks around for a means of redeeming the enchained Orc (that is the stifled spirit of revolution). In Plate 20 of Milton that means is discovered:

Milton, Plate 20, (E 115)
'He recollected an old Prophecy in Eden recorded,
And often sung to the loud harp at the immortal feasts
That Milton of the Land of Albion should up ascend
Forwards from Ulro from the Vale of Felpham; and set free
Orc from his Chain of Jealousy'

Here the epiphany is precisely located and its nature defined. Milton is the prophet of England-Albion, but his arrival is prophesied in Eden, that is it is biblically motivated and directed. The transforming moment occurs, we are told, in the Vale of Felpham, that is between 1800 and 1803, and its outcome will be the freeing of Orc from his Chain, that is to say, the giving of new direction to the perverted spirit of Revolution now disclosed to be the ugliness of the Napoleonic era in France and the parallel manifestation in the England of Pitt and George III.

The fundamental value of Milton's spiritual achievement to Blake then was that he enabled him to relate the temporal, political reality to the biblical."    

That reconciliation of his use of imagination in interpreting biblical history with using imagination to understand of the revolutionary events of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries became for Blake the key to entering a new stage of spiritual development. He associated his breakthrough with having assimilated the progress Milton had made in freeing himself from the constraints imposed by his religious and political affiliations. Blake represented his transformation as having occurred through Milton entering his foot. The implication is that Blake's imagination was enlarged not through some grand revelation but through a humble response resulting from living with Milton's physical experiences and mental achievements.

Plate 43 represents the culmination of Blake's incorporating what Milton gave him. Blake is pictured not with his mentor Milton but with Los 'in that fierce glowing fire.'

Letters, To Thomas Butts, Enclosed Poem, (E 721)
"Then Los appeard in all his power
In the Sun he appeard descending before
My face in fierce flames in my double sight

Twas outward a Sun: inward Los in his might" 

Blake's Imagination was not longer clouded by doubt or fear; the prophetic voice which spoke through Ezekiel spoke through him as well.  

Ezekiel 8
[1] And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
[2] Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
[3] And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
[4] And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.

Milton, Plate 21, [23] (E 115)
"And down descended into Udan-Adan; it was night:
And Satan sat sleeping upon his Couch in Udan-Adan:
His Spectre slept, his Shadow woke; when one sleeps th'other wakes

But Milton entering my Foot; I saw in the nether
Regions of the Imagination; also all men on Earth,              
And all in Heaven, saw in the nether regions of the Imagination
In Ulro beneath Beulah, the vast breach of Miltons descent.
But I knew not that it was Milton, for man cannot know
What passes in his members till periods of Space & Time
Reveal the secrets of Eternity: for more extensive              
Than any other earthly things, are Mans earthly lineaments.

And all this Vegetable World appeard on my left Foot,
As a bright sandal formd immortal of precious stones & gold:
I stooped down & bound it on to walk forward thro' Eternity.
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.

But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun      
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon.

Saying, Milton goes to Eternal Death! so saying, they groan'd in spirit
And were troubled! and again the Divine Family groaned in spirit!"

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 116)
"Tho driven away with the Seven Starry Ones into the Ulro
Yet the Divine Vision remains Every-where For-ever. Amen.
And Ololon lamented for Milton with a great lamentation.

While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals
On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me:        
And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close
Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold.
Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also  stoop'd down
And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood
Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale            
Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health.
And I became One  Man  with  him  arising in my strength:
Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul:
His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength."