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

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Four Zoas, Page 103, (E 376)
"Enitharmon wove in tears Singing Songs of Lamentations
In Golgonoozas Furnaces among the Anvils of time & space
Thus forming a Vast family wondrous in beauty & love
And they appeard a Universal female form created
From those who were dead in Ulro from the Spectres of the dead
And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire"

Jerusalem, Plate 20, (E 165)
"Wherefore hast thou shut me into the winter of human life
And clos'd up the sweet regions of youth and virgin innocence:
Where we live, forgetting error, not pondering on evil:
Among my lambs & brooks of water, among my warbling birds:
Where we delight in innocence before the face of the Lamb:
Going in and out before him in his love and sweet affection.

Vala replied weeping & trembling, hiding in her veil.

When winter rends the hungry family and the snow falls:
Upon the ways of men hiding the paths of man and beast,
Then mourns the wanderer: then he repents his wanderings & eyes
The distant forest; then the slave groans in the dungeon of stone.
The captive in the mill of the stranger, sold for scanty hire.
They view their former life: they number moments over and over;
Stringing them on their remembrance as on a thread of sorrow.
Thou art my sister and my daughter! thy shame is mine also!
Ask me not of my griefs! thou knowest all my griefs.

Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys.

O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest
At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little
Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin
Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness! O! if I have Sinned
Forgive & pity me! O! unfold thy Veil in mercy & love!
Slay not my little ones, beloved Virgin daughter of Babylon
Slay not my infant loves & graces, beautiful daughter of Moab
I cannot put off the human form I strive but strive in vain
When Albion rent thy beautiful net of gold and silver twine;
Thou hadst woven it with art, thou hadst caught me in the bands
Of love; thou refusedst to let me go: Albion beheld thy beauty
Beautiful thro' our Love's comeliness, beautiful thro' pity.
The Veil shone with thy brightness in the eyes of Albion,
Because it inclosd pity & love; because we lov'd one-another!
Albion lov'd thee! he rent thy Veil! he embrac'd thee! he lov'd thee!
Astonish'd at his beauty & perfection, thou forgavest his furious love:
I redounded from Albions bosom in my virgin loveliness.
The Lamb of God reciev'd me in his arms he smil'd upon us:
He made me his Bride & Wife: he gave thee to Albion.
Then was a time of love: O why is it passed away!

Jerusalem asks the question, 'Why?' Why am I who lived in Eden or Eternity now locked in this body in the world of generation? Why are the ordinary pleasures of innocence and continual forgiveness in association with the Saviour shut off from me? Vala seems to know what has happened: the Eternal family has been torn apart, Jerusalem is not in her accustomed home and the way of return is unknown. Vala explains the the usual behavior of wandering and return will instead now lead to confusion, limitations and the reasoning abstract. Man is trapped in the pattern of remembering instead of imagining. Jerusalem knows these restrictions to be 'mind forged manacles'.

Vala reminds Jerusalem that she is aware of conditions in which they now live. But Jerusalem tells Vala that what she calls sin was but error in Eternity and quickly forgiven. Jerusalem knows that her desire to love and pity and forgive is not sin. Jerusalem seeks forgiveness herself but pleads that her creative output not be destroyed. Jerusalem's involvement in the material world was not sought by her but came about through love and pity as did Vala's and Albion's. Now a new arrangement has been made (another mercy to lead to regeneration). Vala has been given to Albion: involvement in the natural to the Eternal/Fallen Man. Jerusalem has been given to Jesus: the spiritual consciousness to the Divine Body.

As one of the illustrations which Blake created for potential publication in Night Thoughts, this picture is not explicitly of Vala and Jerusalem. But as an image in which we can see the implicit as well as the explicit, they are present. The reclining woman is Vala as so portrayed in other pictures. She wears a crown and gazes into a mirror: the vegetable glass, a symbol for the material world. Cupid is her companion from the world of generation or the sexes. Sitting on the chair and playing the flute, as a symbol of imagination, is a figure not tuned to Vala's world. Her crown is not of gold but of laurel leaves. Unfortunately she cannot flee to the world which is her home because she is chained to the chair.

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