Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The names of the first three of Albion's sons are Hand, Hyle and Coban. If Blake meant for his reader to think of Hand as the analog of Newton, and Hyle the analog of Locke, Coban is the analog of Bacon of which his name is an anagram.

Blake stated that he had read and annotated Bacon's Advancement of Learning when he was young - probably a teenager. Then and later he "felt ...Contempt & Abhorrence" at what he read. Blake later wrote notes in another of Bacon's books, Essays Moral, Economical and Political. Although Blake's annotations for the first book are lost, those for the second are recorded in Erdman's, The Complete Poerty and Prose of William Blake. 

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 660)
 "I read
Burkes Treatise when very Young at the same time I read Locke on
Human Understanding & Bacons Advancement of Learning   on Every
one of these Books I wrote my Opinions & on looking them over
find that my Notes on Reynolds in this Book are exactly Similar. 
I felt the Same Contempt & Abhorrence then; that I do now.  They
mock Inspiration & Vision   Inspiration & Vision was then & now
is & I hope will
always Remain my Element my Eternal Dwelling place. how can I
then hear it Contemnd without returning Scorn for Scorn" 

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 41

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 
But Albion turn'd away refusing comfort. 
Jerusalem, Plate 37 [41], (E 184)
[mirror writing on scroll]
          Each Man is in his Spectre's power
          Untill the arrival of that hour,
          When his Humanity awake
          And cast his Spectre into the Lake" 

The fault that Blake found in Bacon's book is not obvious but here are a few quotes which seem to diverge from Blake's understanding of the nature of God and Man.
Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning, (1893)

"As for the knowledge which induced the fall, it was, as was touched before, not the natural knowledge of creatures, but the moral knowledge of good and evil; wherein the supposition was, that God’s commandments or prohibitions were not the originals of good and evil, but that they had other beginnings, which man aspired to know, to the end to make a total defection from God and to depend wholly upon himself.
But yet the commandment of knowledge is yet higher than the commandment over the will; for it is a commandment over the reason, belief, and understanding of man, which is the highest part of the mind, and giveth law to the will itself.  For there is no power on earth which setteth up a throne or chair of estate in the spirits and souls of men, and in their cogitations, imaginations, opinions, and beliefs, but knowledge and learning.
which science whether I should report as deficient or no, I stand doubtful.  For I find a certain rhapsody of natural theology, and of divers parts of logic; and of that part of natural philosophy which concerneth the principles, and of that other part of natural philosophy which concerneth the soul or spirit—all these strangely commixed and confused; but being examined, it seemeth to me rather a depredation of other sciences, advanced and exalted unto some height of terms, than anything solid or substantive of itself.
So, in like manner, although our persons live in the view of heaven, yet our spirits are included in the caves of our own complexions and customs, which minister unto us infinite errors and vain opinions if they be not recalled to examination.

But out of these two do result and issue four main branches of divinity: faith, manners, liturgy, and government."

Here are some of Blake's notes in his copy of Essays Moral, Economical and Political
Annotations to Bacon, (E 619-632)
"Self Evident Truth is one Thing and Truth the result of
Reasoning is another Thing Rational Truth is not the Truth of
Christ but of Pilate   It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good &
What Bacon calls Lies is Truth itself
Pretence to Religion to destroy Religion
Bacon put an End to Faith
What do these Knaves mean by Virtue   Do they mean War & its
horrors & its Heroic Villains
Thought is Act.  Christs Acts were Nothing to Caesars if
this is not so 
When the Reverence of Government is Lost it is better than
when it is found          Reverence is all For Reverence
A Tyrant is the Worst disease & the Cause of all others
Bacon has no notion of any thing but Mammon
The Devil is the Mind of the Natural Frame
There is no Such Thing as a Second Cause nor as a Natural
Cause for any Thing in any Way
He who says there are Second Causes has already denied a
First   The Word Cause is a foolish Word 
An Atheist pretending to talk against Atheism
What a Cursed Fool is this   Ill Shapen are Infants or
small Plants   ill shapen because they are not yet come to their
maturity    What a contemptible Fool is This Bacon
a Lord Chancellor's opinions as different from Christ as
those of Caiphas or Pilate or Herod   what such Men call Great is
indeed detestable
Bacon calls Intellectual Arts Unmanly   Poetry Painting
Music are in his opinion Useless & so they are for Kings & Wars &
shall in the End Annihilate them 
Bacons Business is not Intellect or Art
King James was Bacon's Primum Mobile" 
As Oliver Sacks reminded me, when we see a reflection in a mirror, we have lost a dimension of the image. A three dimensional image has been reduced to two dimensions: there is no depth. This was Blake's complaint about Bacon. In order to see the world empirically, Bacon eliminated the dimension of spirit. Although the world included a channel for receiving information from the non-material world Bacon recommended that man ignore communication through that channel in order to focus on measurements, theories, experiments and proofs. I remember as a high school student learning to adopt the methods of science and mathematics in order to view the world in terms of qualities and quantities. The dimension of myth, music, art, and meaning was neglected in order to focus on physical descriptions, theoretical constructions, objective analysis. Bacon was admired for being the father of the scientific method which introduced the line of reasoning which emphasized empiricism and inductive logic.

Jerusalem, Plate 15, (E 159)
 "O Divine Spirit sustain me on thy wings!.
That I may awake Albion from His long & cold repose.             
For Bacon & Newton sheathd in dismal steel, their terrors hang
Like iron scourges over Albion, Reasonings like vast Serpents
Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations

I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages dire  
Washd by the Water-wheels of Newton. black the cloth
In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works
Of many Wheels I View, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: which
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace."

Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203) 
"But the Spectre like a hoar frost & a Mildew rose over Albion    
Saying, I am God O Sons of Men! I am your Rational Power!
Am I not Bacon & Newton & Locke who teach Humility to Man!
Who teach Doubt & Experiment & my two Wings Voltaire: Rousseau.
Where is that Friend of Sinners! that Rebel against my Laws!
Who teaches Belief to the Nations, & an unknown Eternal Life     
Come hither into the Desart & turn these stones to bread.
Vain foolish Man! wilt thou believe without Experiment?
And build a World of Phantasy upon my Great Abyss!
A World of Shapes in craving Lust & devouring appetite

So spoke the hard cold constrictive Spectre"

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 253)
"Then Los again took up his speech as Enitharmon ceast

Fear not my Sons this Waking Death. he is become One with me
Behold him here! We shall not Die! we shall be united in Jesus.
Will you suffer this Satan this Body of Doubt that Seems but Is Not 
To occupy the very threshold of Eternal Life. if Bacon, Newton, Locke,
Deny a Conscience in Man & the Communion of Saints & Angels
Contemning the Divine Vision & Fruition, Worshiping the Deus
Of the Heathen, The God of This World, & the Goddess Nature
Mystery Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon & hidden Harlot    
Is it not that Signal of the Morning which was told us in the Beginning" 
Annotations to Spurzheim, (E 663)
"Cowper came to me & said. O that I
were insane always I will never rest.  Can you not make me truly
insane.  I will never rest till I am so. O that in the bosom of
God I was hid.  You retain health & yet are as mad as any of us
all--over us all--mad as a refuge from unbelief--from Bacon
Newton & Locke"

Letters, To trusler, (E 702)
"Why is the Bible more
Entertaining & Instructive than any other book.  Is it not
because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual
Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason Such is
True Painting and such was alone valued by the Greeks & the
best modern Artists.  Consider what Lord Bacon says "Sense sends
over to Imagination before Reason have judged & Reason sends over
to Imagination before the Decree can be acted." See Advancemt of
Learning Part 2 P 47 of first Edition"

Letters, To Butts, (E 716)
"This I endeavour
to prevent & with my whole might chain my feet to the world of
Duty & Reality. but in vain! the faster I bind the better is the
Ballast for I so far from being bound down take the world with me
in my flights & often it seems lighter than a ball of wool rolled
by the wind Bacon & Newton would prescribe ways of making the
world heavier to me & Pitt would prescribe distress for a
medicinal potion. but as none on Earth can give me Mental
Distress, & I know that all Distress inflicted by Heaven is a
Mercy. a Fig for all Corporeal Such Distress is My mock & scorn."

Letters, To linnell, (E 775)
"Sr Francis Bacon would say it is
want of Discipline in Mountainous Places.  Sr Francis Bacon is a
Liar.  No discipline will turn one Man into another even in the
least particle. & such Discipline I call Presumption & Folly I
have tried it too much not to know this & am very sorry for all
such who may be led to such ostentatious Exertion against their
Eternal Existence itself because it is Mental Rebellion against
the Holy Spirit & fit only for a Soldier of Satan to perform"        


Sunday, March 11, 2018


British Museum
Large Book of Designs
"The Accusers of Theft Adultery Murder
 W Blake inv & sculp
 A Scene in the Last Judgment
 Satans' holy Trinity
The Accuser The Judge & The Executioner"
The majority of the Sons of Albion named by Blake were connected with Blake's trial for sedition which took place in Chichester in 1804. Blake had forcefully expelled from his garden a soldier stationed in the neighborhood. The dragoon accused Blake of sedition for expressing disloyalty to the King. Blake was arraigned, was provided bail by Hayley, was tried after a period of five months, and was acquitted by a jury. His confrontation with the legal system gave him first hand experience of the danger of falling into the net of the law. And so he named among the twelve Sons of Albion his accusers, prosecutors, and justices.
The inclusion among the Sons of Albion of those who opposed Blake before the law, fosters the implication that Albion was so threatened. The threat was not only from  the false reasoning of Hand, and the distorted emotion of Hyle, but from  the system of justice which conspired to oppress people rather than make them secure. Schofield, Cock, Brereton, Peachy. and Quantock, represent cogs in the wheel that keeps men fearful, suspicious, defensive and intimidated. The fact that Blake's accuser was a military man added to the syndrome of man under the control of the power of the state. 
To come before the machinery of the law under the threat of imprisonment, focuses the attention on one's vulnerability. Blake was not immune to the feeling that he had been unjustly accused and might be unjustly punished. He knew of several good and just men who had spent time in prison: among them the apostles Peter and Paul, Fox, Bunyan, Milton, Paine and his publisher friend Joseph Johnson. Being a prophet and a poet Blake reacted by incorporating his experiences and his emotional reactions to his precarious situation into his poetry. When we read the names 'Skofeld and Kox' in Jerusalem we know that Blake was not referring just to two men who accused him, but to the organization of government which can deprive a man of his liberty. He may lose his freedom by being sent to prison, or by being forced to endure the insecurity of anxiety, suspicion, hostility, and isolation through being the accused. Blake's own acquaintance with the troubles of man formed the framework of his prophetic poetry and impelled him to look for a way for man to escape from his predicament .   
Erdman (Prophet Against Empire) tells us: "Yet the wounds made by the accusations and the inarticulate trial never entirely healed." Page 411

Jerusalem, Plate 46 [32], (E 195)
"In stern defiance came from Albions bosom Hand, Hyle, Koban, 
Gwantok, Peachy, Brertun, Slaid, Huttn, Skofeld, Kock, Kotope 
Bowen: Albions Sons: they bore him a golden couch into the porch 
And on the Couch reposd his limbs, trembling from the bloody field."

Annotations to Berkley, (E 664)
  "The Whole Bible is filld with Imaginations & Visions from
End to End & not with Moral virtues that is the baseness of Plato
& the Greeks & all Warriors  The Moral Virtues are continual
Accusers of Sin & promote Eternal Wars & Domineering over others"  

Inscriptions, (E 672)
"Satans' holy Trinity The Accuser The Judge & The Executioner" 

Jerusalem, Plate 19 (E 164)
"All his Affections now appear withoutside: all his Sons,
Hand, Hyle & Coban, Guantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton,
Scofeld, Kox, Kotope & Bowen"

Jerusalem, Plate 9, (E 152)  
"And this is the manner of the Sons of Albion in their strength
They take the Two Contraries which are calld Qualities, with which
Every Substance is clothed, they name them Good & Evil
From them they make an Abstract, which is a Negation             
Not only of the Substance from which it is derived
A murderer of its own Body: but also a murderer
Of every Divine Member: it is the Reasoning Power
An Abstract objecting power, that Negatives every thing
This is the Spectre of Man: the Holy Reasoning Power             
And in its Holiness is closed the Abomination of Desolation

Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza"

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 170)
"Why did you take Vengeance O ye Sons of the mighty Albion?
Planting these Oaken Groves: Erecting these Dragon Temples
Injury the Lord heals but Vengeance cannot be healed:            
As the Sons of Albion have done to Luvah: so they have in him
Done to the Divine Lord & Saviour, who suffers with those that suffer:
For not one sparrow can suffer, & the whole Universe not suffer also,
In all its Regions, & its Father & Saviour not pity and weep.
But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom
Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:
Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin 

Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 185)
Scofeld & Kox are let loose upon my Saxons! they accumulate
A World in which Man is by his Nature the Enemy of Man,
In pride of Selfhood unwieldy stretching out into Non Entity" 

Jerusalem, Plate 17, (E 162)
 "but thou shalt be a Non Entity for ever
And if any enter into thee, thou shalt be an Unquenchable Fire
And he shall be a never dying Worm, mutually tormented by
Those that thou tormentest, a Hell & Despair for ever & ever.

So Los in secret with himself communed & Enitharmon heard
In her darkness & was comforted: yet still she divided away
In gnawing pain from Los's bosom in the deadly Night;            
First as a red Globe of blood trembling beneath his bosom[.]
Suspended over her he hung: he infolded her in his garments
Of wool: he hid her from the Spectre, in shame & confusion of
Face; in terrors & pains of Hell & Eternal Death, the
Trembling Globe shot forth Self-living & Los howld over it:      
Feeding it with his groans & tears day & night without ceasing:
And the Spectrous Darkness from his back divided in temptations,
And in grinding agonies in threats! stiflings! & direful strugglings.

Go thou to Skofield: ask him if he is Bath or if he is Canterbury
Tell him to be no more dubious: demand explicit words            
Tell him: I will dash him into shivers, where & at what time
I please: tell Hand & Skofield they are my ministers of evil
To those I hate: for I can hate also as well as they!"

Jerusalem, Plate 45,(E 196)
"And the Veil of Vala, is composed of the Spectres of the Dead

Hark! the mingling cries of Luvah with the Sons of Albion
Hark! & Record the terrible wonder! that the Punisher
Mingles with his Victims Spectre, enslaved and tormented         
To him whom he has murderd, bound in vengeance & enmity
Shudder not, but Write, & the hand of God will assist you!
Therefore I write Albions last words. Hope is banish'd from me."

Jerusalem, Plate 49, (E 199)
"Rush on: Rush on! Rush on! ye vegetating Sons of Albion        
The Sun shall go before you in Day: the Moon shall go
Before you in Night. Come on! Come on! Come on! The Lord
Jehovah is before, behind, above, beneath, around
He has builded the arches of Albions Tomb binding the Stars
In merciful Order, bending the Laws of Cruelty to Peace."  

Jerusalem, Plate 90, (E 250)
"So Los cried in the Valleys of Middlesex in the Spirit of Prophecy
While in Selfhood Hand & Hyle & Bowen & Skofeld appropriate    
The Divine Names: seeking to Vegetate the Divine Vision
In a corporeal & ever dying Vegetation & Corruption
Mingling with Luvah in One. they become One Great Satan"

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin: 
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit 
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment. Beholding them 
Displayd in the Emanative Visions of Canaan in Jerusalem & in Shiloh
And in the Shadows of Remembrance, & in the Chaos of the Spectre
Amalek, Edom, Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Ashur, Philistea, around Jerusalem

Where the Druids reard their Rocky Circles to make permanent Remembrance
Of Sin. & the Tree of Good & Evil sprang from the Rocky Circle & Snake
Of the Druid, along the Valley of Rephaim from Camberwell to Golgotha
And framed the Mundane Shell Cavernous in Length Bredth & Highth"

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Fitzwilliam Museum
University of Cambridge
Print of Plate 51
Hyle and Hand don't work openly but underground through deception and secrecy. They masquerade as beneficial attitudes while they intentionally undermine Albion's integrity. Hand is harsh and judgmental in destroying the productive work of others. Hyle praises and supports materiality while preventing the imaginative creativity.
Blake looked within his own experience to people his imaginative poetry. He saw Albion's inner harsh judge, whom he named Hand, in the Hunt brothers, who published criticism of his work which they viewed from a purely material perspective. When the man in whom Blake thought he had found a spiritual brother turned out to be incapable of understanding his calling to write visionary poetry, he found an example for the character Hyle.
The process which Blake considered to be the method of annihilating error was illustrated in the relationship between Blake and Hayley. Blake soon discerned after moving to Felpham to work alongside Hayley that his benefactor wanted to direct him toward earning a living by relatively trivial endeavors. Blake appreciated that Hayley's intentions were good: he wanted Blake to learn to support himself and his wife by pleasing patrons and following Hayley's interests and activities. After Blake discerned what Hayley's kind intentions were, he attempted to conform to Hayley's expectations while continuing in a limited way his visionary pursuits. It took an overt argument between the two men for Blake to see that Hayley was actively opposed to the expressions of imagination because they negated a purely material outlook. The error of allowing himself to be controlled by the mild methods of Hayley became evident to Blake and he began to sever his relationship with Hayley.   
Hyle takes on two characteristics related to Blake's experience with Hayley: that of working to replace the spiritual with the material, and that of using the mild emotions to prevent Albion's return to wholeness. The attempt to convert Hyle into an 'infant love' only resulted in producing a 'winding worm.'

Milton, Plate 19 [21], (E 113) 
"Where is the Lamb of God? where is the promise of his coming?    
Her shadowy Sisters form the bones, even the bones of Horeb:
Around the marrow! and the orbed scull around the brain!
His Images are born for War! for Sacrifice to Tirzah!
To Natural Religion! to Tirzah the Daughter of Rahab the Holy!
She ties the knot of nervous fibres, into a white brain!        
She ties the knot of bloody veins, into a red hot heart!
Within her bosom Albion lies embalmd, never to awake
Hand is become a rock! Sinai & Horeb, is Hyle & Coban:  
Scofield is bound in iron armour before Reubens Gate!
She ties the knot of milky seed into two lovely Heavens,         
Plate 20 [22]
Two yet but one: each in the other sweet reflected! these
Are our Three Heavens beneath the shades of Beulah, land of rest!
Come then to Ephraim & Manasseh O beloved-one!
Come to my ivory palaces O beloved of thy mother!
And let us bind thee in the bands of War & be thou King          
Of Canaan and reign in Hazor where the Twelve Tribes meet.

So spoke they as in one voice! Silent Milton stood before
The darkend Urizen; as the sculptor silent stands before
His forming image; he walks round it patient labouring."

Milton, Plate 23 [25], (E 118)
"Albion turns upon his Couch
He listens to the sounds of War, astonishd and confounded:
He weeps into the Atlantic deep, yet still in dismal dreams
Unwakend! and the Covering Cherub advances from the East:        
How long shall we lay dead in the Street of the great City
How long beneath the Covering Cherub give our Emanations
Milton will utterly consume us & thee our beloved Father
He hath enterd into the Covering Cherub, becoming one with
Albions dread Sons, Hand, Hyle & Coban surround him as           
A girdle; Gwendolen & Conwenna as a garment woven
Of War & Religion; let us descend & bring him chained
To Bowlahoola O father most beloved! O mild Parent!
Cruel in thy mildness, pitying and permitting evil
Tho strong and mighty to destroy, O Los our beloved Father!"   

Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 151)
"but now I am living; unless
Thou abstain ravening I will create an eternal Hell for thee.
Take thou this Hammer & in patience heave the thundering Bellowse
Take thou these Tongs: strike thou alternate with me: labour obedient                                                   t
Hand & Hyle & Koban: Skofeld, Kox  &  Kotope, labour mightily
In the Wars of Babel & Shinar, all their Emanations were
Condensd. Hand has absorbd all his Brethren in his might
All the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Plate 9
Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death."

Jerusalem, Plate 9, (E 152)
"Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of religion:          
Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:
I saw terrified; I took the sighs & tears, & bitter groans:
I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
That lays open the hidden heart: I drew forth the pang
Of sorrow red hot: I workd it on my resolute anvil:              
I heated it in the flames of Hand, & Hyle, & Coban
Nine times; Gwendolen & Cambel & Gwineverra
Are melted into the gold, the silver, the liquid ruby,
The crysolite, the topaz, the jacinth, & every precious stone,
Loud roar my Furnaces and loud my hammer is heard:               
I labour day and night, I behold the soft affections
Condense beneath my hammer into forms of cruelty
But still I labour in hope, tho' still my tears flow down.
That he who will not defend Truth, may be compelld to defend
A Lie: that he may be snared and caught and snared and taken     
That Enthusiasm and Life may not cease: arise Spectre arise!

Thus they contended among the Furnaces with groans & tears;
Groaning the Spectre heavd the bellows, obeying Los's frowns;
Till the Spaces of Erin were perfected in the furnaces
Of affliction, and Los drew them forth, compelling the harsh Spectre."         

Jerusalem, Plate 19, (E 164)
"His Giant beauty and perfection fallen into dust:
Till from within his witherd breast grown narrow with his woes:
The corn is turn'd to thistles & the apples into poison:         
The birds of song to murderous crows, his joys to bitter groans!
The voices of children in his tents, to cries of helpless infants!
And self-exiled from the face of light & shine of morning,
In the dark world a narrow house! he wanders up and down,
Seeking for rest and finding none! and hidden far within,       
His Eon weeping in the cold and desolated Earth.

All his Affections now appear withoutside: all his Sons,
Hand, Hyle & Coban, Guantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton,
Scofeld, Kox, Kotope & Bowen; his Twelve Sons: Satanic Mill!
Who are the Spectres of the Twentyfour, each Double-form'd:"  

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 190)
"So Los spoke: then turn'd his face & wept for Albion.

Albion replied. Go! Hand & Hyle! sieze the abhorred friend: 
As you Have siezd the Twenty-four rebellious ingratitudes;
To atone for you, for spiritual death! Man lives by deaths of Men
Bring him to justice before heaven here upon London stone,     
Between Blackheath & Hounslow, between Norwood & Finchley
All that they have is mine: from my free genrous gift,
They now hold all they have: ingratitude to me!
To me their benefactor calls aloud for vengeance deep."

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
"The Sons of Albion are Twelve: the Sons of Jerusalem Sixteen
I tell how Albions Sons by Harmonies of Concords & Discords
Opposed to Melody, and by Lights & Shades, opposed to Outline    
And by Abstraction opposed to the Visions of Imagination
By cruel Laws divided Sixteen into Twelve Divisions
How Hyle roofd Los in Albions Cliffs by the Affections rent
Asunder & opposed to Thought, to draw Jerusalems Sons
Into the Vortex of his Wheels. therefore Hyle is called Gog      
Age after age drawing them away towards Babylon
Babylon, the Rational Morality deluding to death the little ones
In strong temptations of stolen beauty;"

Jerusalem, Plate 82, (E 239)
"See Sisters Canaan is pleasant, Egypt is as the Garden of Eden:  
Babylon is our chief desire, Moab our bath in summer:
Let us lead the stems of this Tree let us plant it before Jerusalem
To judge the Friend of Sinners to death without the Veil:
To cut her off from America, to close up her secret Ark:
And the fury of Man exhaust in War! Woman permanent remain      

See how the fires of our loins point eastward to Babylon
Look. Hyle is become an infant Love: look! behold! see him lie!
Upon my bosom. look! here is the lovely wayward form
That gave me sweet delight by his torments beneath my Veil;
By the fruit of Albions Tree I have fed him with sweet milk    
By contentions of the mighty for Sacrifice of Captives;
Humanity the Great Delusion: is changd to War & Sacrifice:
I have naild his hands on Beth Rabbim & his [feet] on Heshbons Wall:
O that I could live in his sight: O that I could bind him to my arm.
So saying: She drew aside her Veil from Mam-Tor to Dovedale   
Discovering her own perfect beauty to the Daughters of Albion
And Hyle a winding Worm beneath [her Loom upon the scales.
Hyle was become a winding Worm:] & not a weeping Infant.
Trembling & pitying she screamd & fled upon the wind:
Hyle was a winding Worm and herself perfect in beauty:         
The desarts tremble at his wrath: they shrink themselves in fear."

Jerusalem, Plate 90, (E 250)
"So Los cried in the Valleys of Middlesex in the Spirit of Prophecy
While in Selfhood Hand & Hyle & Bowen & Skofeld appropriate    
The Divine Names: seeking to Vegetate the Divine Vision
In a corporeal & ever dying Vegetation & Corruption
Mingling with Luvah in One. they become One Great Satan

Loud scream the Daughters of Albion beneath the Tongs & Hammer
Dolorous are their lamentations in the burning Forge         
They drink Reuben & Benjamin as the iron drinks the fire
They are red hot with cruelty: raving along the Banks of Thames
And on Tyburns Brook among the howling Victims in loveliness
While Hand & Hyle condense the Little-ones & erect them into
A mighty Temple even to the stars: but they Vegetate         
Beneath Los's Hammer, that Life may not be blotted out."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Albion when divided projects on the exterior world the divisive      strife which exists within the psyche. He rejects his Emanative
      portion, his Jerusalem. He accept as mother, Vala the Goddess
      Virgin-Mother. The first of Albion's sons, Hand, the 'heartless
      head' gains dominance and infects the thought processes of Albion.
      The gentle, consensus building functions - pity, forgiveness,
      peace, love, brotherhood, and delighting in ordinary things - are
      rejected in favor of aggressive attitudes - war, deadly
      contention, strife, unforgiving, enmity, suspicion and hatreds.

Yale Center for British Art
Plate 26
The 'heartless head' becomes associated with sacrifice of others since he feels no empathy, having no emotional attachment to those around him. Without the bonds of love there is no compunction against sending young men to the battlefield, condemning pickpockets to the gallows, selling children to the chimney sweeps and young women to harlotry, and sentencing workers to starvation wages and unsafe conditions. Sacrifice in Biblical times included offering lambs and doves. In Blake's time it became relinquishing the nation's youth (male and female); it was the pernicious exploitation of the weak and deprived. In our times the 'heartless head' takes different forms but it is not silent or helpless, and if Blake were alive he would speak out against it.
Two ancient Gods, Chemosh and Moloch are associated with Hand. Both were notorious for requiring sacrifice. They infected the early Hebrew religion with practices which were later rejected. Although ritualistic sacrifice was eliminated, Hand is the reminder that whenever an attack is made that destroys the opponent, a portion of the Divine Body is sacrificed.

Jerusalem, Plate 18, (E 162)
"From every-one of the Four Regions of Human Majesty,
There is an Outside spread Without, & an Outside spread Within
Beyond the Outline of Identity both ways, which meet in One:
An orbed Void of doubt, despair, hunger, & thirst & sorrow.
Here the Twelve Sons of Albion, join'd in dark Assembly,         

Jealous of Jerusalems children, asham'd of her little-ones
(For Vala produc'd the Bodies. Jerusalem gave the Souls)
Became as Three Immense Wheels, turning upon one-another
Into Non-Entity, and their thunders hoarse appall the Dead
To murder their own Souls, to build a Kingdom among the Dead     

Cast! Cast ye Jerusalem forth! The Shadow of delusions!
The Harlot daughter! Mother of pity and dishonourable forgiveness
Our Father Albions sin and shame! But father now no more!
Nor sons! nor hateful peace & love, nor soft complacencies
With transgressors meeting in brotherhood around the table,      
Or in the porch or garden. No more the sinful delights
Of age and youth and boy and girl and animal and herb,
And river and mountain, and city & village, and house & family.
Beneath the Oak & Palm, beneath the Vine and Fig-tree.

In self-denial!--But War and deadly contention, Between          
Father and Son, and light and love! All bold asperities
Of Haters met in deadly strife, rending the house & garden
The unforgiving porches, the tables of enmity, and beds
And chambers of trembling & suspition, hatreds of age & youth
And boy & girl, & animal & herb, & river & mountain 
And city & village, and house & family. That the Perfect,
May live in glory, redeem'd by Sacrifice of the Lamb
And of his children, before sinful Jerusalem. To build
Babylon the City of Vala, the Goddess Virgin-Mother.

She is our Mother! Nature! Jerusalem is our Harlot-Sister     
Return'd with Children of pollution, to defile our House,
With Sin and Shame. Cast! Cast her into the Potters field.
Her little-ones, She must slay upon our Altars: and her aged
Parents must be carried into captivity, to redeem her Soul
To be for a Shame & a Curse, and to be our Slaves for ever       

So cry Hand & Hyle the eldest of the fathers of Albions   
Little-ones; to destroy the Divine Saviour; the Friend of Sinners,
Building Castles in desolated places, and strong Fortifications.
Soon Hand mightily devour'd & absorb'd Albions Twelve Sons."

Milton, Plate 36 [40], (E 137)
"Descending down into my Garden, a Human Wonder of God
Reaching from heaven to earth a Cloud & Human Form
I beheld Milton with astonishment & in him beheld            
The Monstrous Churches of Beulah, the Gods of Ulro dark
Twelve monstrous dishumanizd terrors Synagogues of Satan.
A Double Twelve & Thrice Nine: such their divisions.

And these their Names & their Places within the Mundane Shell
In Tyre & Sidon I saw Baal & Ashtaroth. In Moab Chemosh          
In Ammon, Molech: loud his Furnaces rage among the Wheels
Of Og, & pealing loud the cries of the Victims of Fire!
And pale his Priestesses infolded in Veils of Pestilence, border'd
With War; Woven in Looms of Tyre & Sidon by beautiful Ashtaroth.

In Palestine Dagon, Sea Monster! worshipd o'er the Sea.      
Thammuz in Lebanon & Rimmon in Damascus curtaind
Osiris: Isis: Orus: in Egypt: dark their Tabernacles on Nile
Floating with solemn songs, & on the  Lakes of Egypt nightly
With pomp, even till morning break & Osiris appear in the sky
But Belial of Sodom & Gomorrha, obscure Demon of Bribes
And secret Assasinations, not worshipd nor adord; but   
With the finger on the lips & the back turnd to the light
And Saturn Jove & Rhea of the Isles of the Sea remote
These Twelve Gods. are the Twelve Spectre Sons of the Druid Albion"

Jerusalem, Plate 84, (E 243)
"The Corner of Broad Street weeps; Poland Street languishes     
To Great Queen Street & Lincolns Inn, all is distress & woe.
    [three lines gouged out irrecoverably]
The night falls thick Hand comes from Albion in his strength   
He combines into a Mighty-one the Double Molech & Chemosh"  

Sunday, March 4, 2018


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Imputing Sin & Righteousness to Individuals;" 

Friday, March 2, 2018


Blake's taste for the Gothic period and the Gothic style began early when he set himself to copying prints of early masters. When be became apprenticed to the engraver James Basire he had opportunities to develop his interest. Basire was engraver to the Society of Antiquaries specializing in architectural prints and illustrations. Basire assigned Blake of work in Westminster Abbey making drawings of the monuments in preparation for engravings for publications. In the hours Blake spent alone in the ancient church, he embraced the Gothic atmosphere and learned to appreciate the details which led to its powerful ambience of beauty and awe.
A unique experience for Blake was being present when the tomb of King Edward I who died in 1307 was opened. Although the embalmed body was intact when the casket was opened it quickly disintegrated when exposed to air. Blake recorded the scene for his master. 
Body of Edward I
Sketched in Westminster Abbey
Blake's apprenticeship was a period of training in his craft to which most of his time was devoted. But, likewise, his ever active mind and spirit were formulating attitudes to art and things of the spirit which would serve as a foundation to his life's work.       
On Virgil, (E 270)
 "Rome & Greece swept Art into their maw & destroyd it 
Warlike State never can produce Art.  It will Rob & Plunder &
accumulate into one place, & Translate & Copy & Buy & Sell &
Criticise, but not Make.
  Mathematic Form is Eternal in the Reasoning Memory.  Living 
Form is Eternal Existence.
  Grecian is Mathematic Form
  Gothic is Living Form"

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 649)
"Reynolds: [Durer] would, probably, have been one of the first painters of his
age, (and he lived in all era of great artists,) had he been
initiated into those great principles. . . .
Blake:     What does this mean "Would have been" one of the first
Painters of his Age" Albert Durer Is! Not would
have been! Besides. let them look at Gothic Figures & Gothic
Buildings, & not talk of Dark Ages or of Any Age! Ages are All
Equal.  But Genius is Always Above The Age" 

Inscriptions, (E 671)
     "JOSEPH of Arimathea among The Rocks of Albion
     Engraved by W Blake 1773 from an old Italian Drawing 
     This is One of the Gothic Artists who Built the Cathedrals
in what we call the Dark Ages    Wandering about in sheep skins &
goat skins of  whom  the World was not worthy   such were the
Christians in all Ages
     Michael Angelo Pinxit 
 Engraved when I was a beginner at Basires from a drawing by
Salviati after Michael Angelo"

Public Address, (E 573) 
 "A Certain Portrait Painter said To me in a boasting way
Since I have Practised Painting I have lost all idea of Drawing. 
Such a Man must know that I lookd upon him with Contempt he did
not care for this any more than West did who hesitated &
equivocated with me upon the same subject at which time he
asserted that Wooletts Prints were superior to Basires
because they had more Labour & Care now this is contrary to the
truth. Woolett did not know how to put so much labour into a
head or a foot as Basire did he did not know
how to draw the Leaf of a tree all his study was clean strokes &
mossy tints. how then should he be able to make use of either
Labour or Care unless the Labour & Care of Imbecillity  The
Lifes Labour of Mental Weakness scarcely Equals one Hour of the
Labour of Ordinary Capacity like the full Gallop of the Gouty Man
to the ordinary walk of youth & health I allow that there is such
a thing as high finishd Ignorance as there may be a fool or a
Knave. in an Embroiderd Coat but I say that the Embroidery of the
Ignorant finisher is not like a Coat made by another but is an
Emanation from Ignorance itself & its finishing is like its
master The Lifes Labour of Five Hundred Idiots for he never does
the Work Himself"

Public Address, (E 575)
 "Woolett I know did not know how to Grind his Graver I know
this he has often proved his Ignorance before me at Basires by
laughing at Basires knife tools & ridiculing the Forms of
Basires other Gravers till Basire was quite dashd & out of
Conceit with what he himself knew but his Impudence had a
Contrary Effect on me. Englishmen have been so used to
Journeymens undecided bungling that they cannot bear the firmness
of a Masters Touch. Every Line is the Line of Beauty it is only
fumble & Bungle which cannot draw a Line this only is Ugliness.
That is not a Line which Doubts & Hesitates in the Midst of its
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 560)
 "Multitudes are seen ascending from the Green
fields of the blessed in which a Gothic Church is representative
of true Art Calld Gothic in All Ages"
This video presents the Boy Choristers of Canterbury Cathedral. The camera pans the Gothic architecture which enhances the exquisite music.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Finding meaning is not an objective experience. Dissection and analysis destroys the living energy of a work of art. Immediate intuitive response connects with the mind which the artist employed in creating. Blake called this looking not with the eye but looking 'thro' the eye. It is not the surface where the meaning lies; its hidden in the depths where images are formed.

Northrop Frye contributed a chapter Poetry and Design in Blake to the book of essays The Visionary Hand: William Blake's Art and Aesthetics. On page 157 he makes this statement contrasting two levels of discerning Blake's meaning:

"[It] is only when literary critics stand back far enough to see the imagery as one pattern that they are in a position to solve the problem of structure, of genre, and of archetype...The propositional content of Blake's Europe could be expressed somewhat as follows: the root of evil and suffering is the fallen nature of man; this fallen nature is part of physical nature; hence the basis of superstition and tyranny is the deification of physical nature; this definition has polluted Western culture from the sky-gods of Greece and Rome to the gravitational universe of Newton. But its poetic meaning, its total meaning, is given to us by Blake himself in his frontispiece to the poem, the famous picture of the Ancient of Days, the bearded god whose sharp cruel compasses etch the circumference of the human skull and of the spherical universe which is its objective shadow."   
Wikimedia Commons
From Houghton Library of Harvard University
Europe a Prophecy
Songs and Ballads, Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye                                    t
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light" 
Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 115)
"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.

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

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

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556) 
"it ought to be understood that the Persons
Moses & Abraham are not here meant but the States Signified by
those Names the Individuals being representatives or Visions of
those States as they were reveald to Mortal Man in the Series of
Divine Revelations. as they are written in the Bible these
various States I have seen in my Imagination when distant they
appear as One Man but as you approach they appear
Multitudes of Nations."

Letters, To Hayley (E 759)
"My wife joins me in wishing you a
merry Christmas.  Remembering our happy Christmas at lovely
Felpham, our spirits seem still to hover round our sweet cottage
and round the beautiful Turret.  I have said seem, but
am persuaded that distance is nothing but a phantasy.  We are
often sitting by our cottage fire, and often we think we hear
your voice calling at the gate.  Surely these things are real and
eternal in our eternal mind and can never pass away."