Cleveland Museum of Art
Christ in the Lap of Truth
Angels to Blake are symbols not signs. They intimate; they are not defined. They can have various functions in different circumstances. In Marriage of Heaven and Hell they project the conventional, conservative patterns of thought which constrict and confine. In the guise of Angels of Providence they protect and guide. The Angel of the Divine Presence is synonymous with the fallen Lucifer who is a sinister character.
Blake saw angels as spiritual forces who bring messages from the divine. He studied the role that they played in the Bible and knew their presence in his life. He conveyed in images the benevolence of the God who made angels instruments of the connection between the human and the divine.
Letters, To Butts, (E 724)
"But if we fear to do the dictates of our
Angels & tremble at the Tasks set before us. if we refuse to do
Spiritual Acts. because of Natural Fears or Natural Desires! Who
can describe the dismal torments of such a state!--I too well
remember the Threats I heard!--If you who are organized by Divine
Providence for Spiritual communion. Refuse & bury your Talent in
the Earth even tho you should want Natural Bread. Sorrow &
Desperation pursues you thro life! & after death shame & confusion of face to
Annotations to Lavater, (E 601)
"Every mans leading propensity ought to be calld his
leading Virtue & his good Angel"
Jerusalem, Plate 43 , (E 191)
"And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion
I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy."
Songs and Ballads, William Bond, (E 497)
"He went not out to the Field nor Fold
He went not out to the Village nor Town
But he came home in a black black cloud
And took to his Bed & there lay down
And an Angel of Providence at his Feet
And an Angel of Providence at his Head
And in the midst a Black Black Cloud
And in the midst the Sick Man on his Bed
And on his Right hand was Mary Green
And on his Left hand was his Sister Jane
And their tears fell thro the black black Cloud
To drive away the sick mans pain"
Everlasting Gospel, (E 521)
"To be Good only is to be
A Devil or else a Pharisee
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine
That didst create this Body of Mine
Wherefore hast thou writ these Laws
And Created Hells dark jaws
My Presence I will take from thee
A Cold Leper thou shalt be
Tho thou wast so pure & bright
That Heaven was Impure in thy Sight
Tho thy Oath turnd Heaven Pale
Tho thy Covenant built Hells Jail
Tho thou didst all to Chaos roll
With the Serpent for its soul
Still the breath Divine does move
And the breath Divine is Love"
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 560)
" The Aged Figure with Wings having a writing tablet & taking
account of the numbers who arise is That Angel of the Divine
Presence mentiond in Exodus XIVc 19v & in other Places this Angel
is frequently calld by the Name of Jehovah Elohim The I am of the
Oaks of Albion"
 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have
gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his
 And the angel of God, which went before the
camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the
cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel;
and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to
these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
Inscriptions on Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job, (E 687)
[Blake's verbal variants from his source, the King James
II The Angel of the Divine Presence [identified in Hebrew as
"King Jehovah"] (not in the Bible) We shall awake up in thy
Likeness] . . . With thy likeness (Psalm xvii:15) the Sons of
God came to present themselves before the Lord & Satan came also
among them to present himself before the Lord . . . and Satan
came also among them (Job i:6)
 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have
their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid
treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their
substance to their babes.
 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered
the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking
up and down in it.
 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast
thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the
earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth
Letters, To Butts, (E 729)
"The Angel of the Divine Presence clothing Adam & Eve with Coats of Skins"
 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know
good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the
tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of
Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the
way of the tree of life.
Songs of Experience, Songs 41, (E 24)
I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen:
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe, was ne'er beguil'd!
And I wept both night and day
And he wip'd my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight
So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush'd rosy red:
I dried my tears & armed my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears,
Soon my Angel came again;
I was arm'd, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled
And grey hairs were on my head."