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

Friday, April 29, 2011


The previous post on Blake's Emanations ended with the deterioration of the Emanations as they became wedded to materiality and lost their eternal qualities of flexibility, creativity and joy. Los turns to his furnaces as the means of returning the sons and daughters of Jerusalem to their former splendor. 

Jerusalem, PLATE 10, (E 152)
"Into the Furnaces & into the valleys of the Anvils of Death
And into the mountains of the Anvils & of the heavy Hammers
Till he should bring the Sons & Daughters of Jerusalem to be
The Sons & Daughters of Los that he might protect them from
Albions dread Spectres; storming, loud, thunderous & mighty
The Bellows & the Hammers move compell'd by Los's hand."

The situation Los is attempting to correct is described in this passage:

Jerusalem , PLATE 90, (E 249)
"The Feminine separates from the Masculine & both from Man,
Ceasing to be His Emanations, Life to Themselves assuming!
And while they circumscribe his Brain, & while they circumscribe
His Heart, & while they circumscribe his Loins! a Veil & Net
Of Veins of red Blood grows around them like a scarlet robe.
Covering them from the sight of Man like the woven Veil of Sleep
Such as the Flowers of Beulah weave to be their Funeral Mantles
But dark! opake! tender to touch, & painful! & agonizing
To the embrace of love, & to the mingling of soft fibres
Of tender affection. that no more the Masculine mingles
With the Feminine. but the Sublime is shut out from the Pathos
In howling torment, to build stone walls of separation, compelling
The Pathos, to weave curtains of hiding secresy from the torment."

The separation of the Emanation from the Masculine is not the final breakdown, for Man is connected to Man in Brotherhood through his Emanation.

Jerusalem, PLATE 88, (E 246)
"Los answerd sighing like the Bellows of his Furnaces

I care not! the swing of my Hammer shall measure the starry
When in Eternity Man converses with Man they enter
Into each others Bosom (which are Universes of delight)
In mutual interchange. and first their Emanations meet
Surrounded by their Children. if they embrace & comingle
The Human Four-fold Forms mingle also in thunders of Intellect
But if the Emanations mingle not; with storms & agitations
Of earthquakes & consuming fires they roll apart in fear
For Man cannot unite with Man but by their Emanations
Which stand both Male & Female at the Gates of each Humanity
How then can I ever again be united as Man with Man
While thou my Emanation refusest my Fibres of dominion.
When Souls mingle & join thro all the Fibres of Brotherhood
Can there be any secret joy on Earth greater than this?"

Los cannot relax his vigilance nor neglect the labor of the furnaces for it is through his agency that the scene is to be set for redemption.

Jerusalem , Plate 83, (E 242)
"The night falls thick: I go upon my watch: be attentive:
The Sons of Albion go forth; I follow from my Furnaces:
That they return no more: that a place be prepard on Euphrates
Listen to your Watchmans voice: sleep not before the Furnaces
Eternal Death stands at the door. O God pity our labours.

So Los spoke. to the Daughters of Beulah while his Emanation
Like a faint rainbow waved before him in the awful gloom"

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

Yale Center for British Art
Paul Mellon Collection
The First Book of Urizen 
copy C, plate 18

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

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