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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Blake was conflicted in regard to illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy. Although he admired Dante's genius, he deplored much in Dante's theology. Notice that Blake mentioned Dante among various luminaries in a positive role in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem , Plate 73, (E 228)
"And all the Kings & Nobles of the Earth & all their Glories
These are Created by Rahab & Tirzah in Ulro: but around

These, to preserve them from Eternal Death Los Creates
Adam Noah Abraham Moses Samuel David Ezekiel
[Pythagoras Socrates Euripedes Virgil Dante Milton]
Dissipating the rocky forms of Death, by his thunderous Hammer
As the Pilgrim passes while the Country permanent remains
So Men pass on: but States remain permanent for ever"

The line on Plate 73 of Jerusalem mentioning Dante was deleted by Blake after further consideration. Blake had included geniuses of Greek and European literature along with the most influential Old Testament characters, as individuals created by Los to preserve imagination. Apparently Blake later decided that he could not put all of these men in the same category.

When late in life Blake was commissioned to illustrate the Divine Comedy, he went about the task with enthusiasm but skepticism. A particular illustration in which the giant Antaeus transports Virgil and Dante to a lower circle of hell as per their request, gave Blake an opportunity to show a benevolent giant gently placing the two pilgrims on the ledge below. If Blake was making a bit of a joke by picturing an acrobatic giant clinging to the cliftside with an expression of loving concern on his face, some think that Dante too was making a joke with Virgil's negotiations with Antaeus.

Blake produced other pictures contrasting the size of giants with ordinary humans. The Angel of Revelation pictures a vision being recorded by John of Patmos as he sits between the feet of the gigantic angel who commanded him to prophesy. Plate 62 of Jerusalem pictures the agonized giant Albion standing above the diminutive Los, the One who stood forth to warn Albion. The Eternal Zoas were giants too although we don't see them pictured with ordinary humans. In the illustrations to Night Thoughts there is occasionally a contrast between giant figures and ordinary sized ones. Much as Blake in his poetry used words to describe various levels of existence, he used size in images to portray different orders of reality. Becoming conscious of the Gigantic forms represents a mental awakening.

It appears that Blake used the image of Antaeus, Virgil and Dante as a reminder that powerful forces may offer unexpected assistance.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Written on a sketch by Blake in the British Museum is the legend 'is all joy forbidden.' The image catches the sorrow of being closed off from all sources of joy. John Middleton Murry, author of William Blake, directs us to the causes of man's deepest sorrow in this fallen world:

"Man is already punished in that they 'know naught of sweet eternity'. To take from them the possibility of that knowledge is a crime against the Manhood.
In the Christianity we know, and which we have inherited, it was not so. Once let Eternity become a condition into which men enter after death, and Christianity may not merely condone War, as it does, but it may employ War, as it did. The life of the body is indifferent: the immortal soul fares on, unhindered to its appointed place. But if Eternity is here and now, the case is altered. The soul fares as the body, and to kill a body is to kill a soul.
Such was Blake's doctrine, and such was the doctrine of Jesus before him. Eternity is here and now. And for Blake the cause of the corruption of the true Religion is, first of all, to have told the Human Race that Woman's love is Sin, and, second , to have told it

'That an Eternal life awaits the worm of sixty winters
In an allegorical abode where existence has never come'

These illusions propagated by false Religion are not separate from one another. The Moral Law which 'Forbids all Joy' in life, and forbids most vehemently the deepest joy of all, must needs offer its victims the promise of happiness to come. But happiness is here and now, like Eternity. And Eternity is happiness in the here and now; nor is there any other." (Page 313)

In this account the fall of Albion leads to his forgetting his origin until 'Nought he knew Of sweet Eternity.'

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 83, (E 358)
"Among the Flowers of Beulah walkd the Eternal Man & Saw
Vala the lilly of the desart. melting in high noon
Upon her bosom in sweet bliss he fainted Wonder siezd
All heaven they saw him dark. they built a golden wall
Round Beulah There he reveld in delight among the Flowers
Vala was pregnant & brought forth Urizen Prince of Light
First born of Generation. Then behold a wonder to the Eyes
Of the now fallen Man a double form Vala appeard. A Male
And female shuddring pale the Fallen Man recoild
From the Enormity & calld them Luvah & Vala. turning down
The vales to find his way back into Heaven but found none
For his frail eyes were faded & his ears heavy & dull

Urizen grew up in the plains of Beulah Many Sons
And many daughters flourishd round the holy Tent of Man
Till he forgot Eternity delighted in his sweet joy
Among his family his flocks & herds & tents & pastures

But Luvah close conferrd with Urizen in darksom night
To bind the father & enslave the brethren Nought he knew
Of sweet Eternity"

The ideas that ' Womans love is Sin' and that Eternal life is only experienced after death are associated in this passage with the forbidding of joy.

Europe, PLATE 5, (E 62)
"Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?
That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion?
Arise O Rintrah thee I call! & Palamabron thee!
Go! tell the human race that Womans love is Sin!
That an Eternal life awaits the worms of sixty winters
In an allegorical abode where existence hath never come:
Forbid all joy, & from her childhood shall the little female
Spread nets in every secret path.

My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but new."

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In 1933 John Middleton Murry wrote his study titled William Blake. His stated aim was to 'elucidate the doctrine of William Blake, using only his written works as evidence.' His book evokes the man William Blake and his thought as well as any.

Murry uses this short quote from Auguries of Innocence to apply Blake's concept of 'states' to man's common experience of being angry.

Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"To be in a Passion you good may do;
But no good if a Passion is in you."

"The passion of Anger is a state; for the man who knows that it is a State, and keeps the Eternal Individual undisturbed and uncontaminated by it, Anger is a necessary instrument of life - a weapon against the enemies of life, and a means of purging the bosom of perilous stuff. Such anger is clean; one enters and leaves it as an alien thing; a flamelike visitation. But the anger that is in us, smolders and does not flame; it is a grudging resentment of a thwarted Selfhood, a state in which, because we do not know that it is a State, the Eternal Individual is lost.

From such an anger comes war. Forgiveness being the condition of the Eternal Individual, opposes its absolute veto to the corruption of pure wrath into corperal war. It refuses to allow righteous wrath to become the disguise of the appetite of the Selfhood for envy and hatred and vengeance." (Page 323)

At a critical point in the Four Zoas Los threatens to use the instrument of his anger against Urizen unless he repent and be redeemed from error's power. Los' anger against Urizen's error leads him to weep and seek to resume his human form.

Europe a Prophecy
Plate 13

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 120, (E 390)
"My anger against thee is greater than against this Luvah
For war is energy Enslavd but thy religion
The first author of this war & the distracting of honest minds
Into confused perturbation & strife & honour & pride
Is a deceit so detestable that I will cast thee out
If thou repentest not & leave thee as a rotten branch to be burnd
With Mystery the Harlot & with Satan for Ever & Ever
Error can never be redeemd in all Eternity
But Sin Even Rahab is redeemd in blood & fury & jealousy
That line of blood that stretchd across the windows of the morning
Redeemd from Errors power. Wake thou dragon of the Deeps

PAGE 121
Urizen wept in the dark deep anxious his Scaly form
To reassume the human & he wept in the dark deep"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Blake's Illustrations to the Book of Job
atan Going Forth from the Presence of the Lord and Job's Charity
Butts Set

There is a lot to be seen in this illustration to the book of Job. Job and his wife are conforming to the standards of their religion by giving alms to the poor represented by a man who is old, blind and crippled, led by his faithful dog. Angels to the right and left give their approval. But Satan is descending with God's permission to pour his woes on the head of Job.

God in the picture is hidden from Job in clouds. He is the God afar off in the sky with his book of law and scroll of the elect. You might say that he is the God whom Job has created in his own image sitting on the same sort of stone platform. His relationship to Job is equivalent to Job's relationship to the beggar: distant but proper, involved at a superficial level.

To the left of Job is a trilithon which to Blake represented the Druid religion of sacrifice or Natural Religion. As Damon writes in A Blake Dictionary:
"Blake objected to the deist God, remote, and inaccessible, as he believed that God exists actively in our bosoms. He objected to the deistic nature worship, with its idea that the world of three dimensions is all, and that it operates by cause and effect." (Page 101)

In this passage Blake equates the Religion of Satan, Deism, Natural Religion, Natural Philosophy, Natural Morality and Self-Righteousness.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
"Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart.
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus. Deism
is the same & ends in the same."

Blake suggests that although Job originally worships the God of this world who goes by the name Satan, his error is made known to him by bitter experience. He comes to know the ever present God who has the power to reveal the Eternal World to man.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Psychological processes are evident as we read Blake's myths.
I found this part of the tale an example of projection being

A decisive incident concerning a disagreement between Satan and Palamabron over the horses of the harrow, can be seen as Satan projecting his own desires and failures onto Palamabron. ( M7.1; E100) When Satan states his case he is very convincing because he believes what he says is true.

Projection is invisible to the person doing it. Although Satan presents a mild demeanor, Palamabron knows that what Satan says speaks more about his own behavior than about Palamabron's.

To show that Satan is involved in self-deceit, Blake says of Satan: "Seeming a brother, being a tyrant, even thinking himself a brother While he is murdering the just",

The salient line ( M7.34; E101) which demonstrates projection is stated thus:

"Satan wept,
And mildly cursing Palamabron, him accus'd of crimes
Himself had wrought."

Los, who is given the role of hearing the case in a council, is not able to get Satan to withdraw his projections, so the status quo is maintained and the consequences are catastrophic.

M7.41; E101|
"So Los said, Henceforth Palamabron, let each his own station
Keep: nor in pity false, nor in officious brotherhood, where
None needs, be active. Mean time Palamabrons horses.
Rag'd with thick flames redundant, & the Harrow maddend with fury.
Trembling Palamabron stood, the strongest of Demons trembled:
Curbing his living creatures; many of the strongest Gnomes,
they bit in their wild fury, who also maddend like wildest beasts"

Palmabron, who represents a gentler side of Los, doesn't act our himself but his horses and Gnomes are infuriated, perhaps because the are the ones who suffered under Satan's control.

The Gnomes Directing Another Harrow

M8.1; E101|
"Mean while wept Satan before Los, accusing Palamabron;
Himself exculpating with mildest speech. for himself believ'd
That he had not opress'd nor injur'd the refractory servants."

The conflict continued with the activating of Rintrah, or wrath,
until Satan kills Thulloh who appears to be a bystander.
Satan's rage and declaration of himself as God follows. This
opens up the abyss and rearranges the structure of the
world. Satan sinks down into Death which leads to a new
chapter in in the drama of the fall.

The self-deception which leads to projection can be said to have led to the eventual fall from the wholeness of Eternity.

Read the text for the full incident in Milton at the Blake Archive; hit NEXT to continue to next plate.

Friday, June 17, 2011


We have often remarked on the restricting of the eternal senses as a consequence and symptom of the fallen state of man. Oothoon experienced the closing of her senses when she felt cut off from the divine vision. However when she perceived that everything that lives is holy her senses no longer enclosed her infinite brain.

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 2, (E47)
"Because the night is gone that clos'd me in its deadly black.
They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;
They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos'd my infinite brain into a narrow circle,"

After the first publication on Europe Blake added a plate to the beginning in which his imagination ranged freely in exuberance. As windows, the five senses are experienced as gift rather than as limitation.

Europe a Prophec
y. Plate iii, (E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the air;
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant.

So sang a Fairy mocking as he sat on a streak'd Tulip,
Thinking none saw him: when he ceas'd I started from the trees!
And caught him in my hat as boys knock down a butterfly.
How know you this said I small Sir? where did you learn this song?
Seeing himself in my possession thus he answered me:
My master, I am yours. command me, for I must obey.

Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?
He laughing answer'd: I will write a book on leaves of flowers,
If you will feed me on love-thoughts, & give me now and then
A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so when I am tipsie,
I'll sing to you to this soft lute; and shew you all alive
The world, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.

I took him home in my warm bosom: as we went along
Wild flowers I gatherd; & he shew'd me each eternal flower:
He laugh'd aloud to see them whimper because they were pluck'd.
They hover'd round me like a cloud of incense: when I came
Into my parlour and sat down, and took my pen to write:
My Fairy sat upon the table, and dictated EUROPE."

In this poem we get a intimation of the eternal senses that can not only see and hear fairies but can catch them and learn their secrets.

Blake's question to the fairy was not about the eternal world for he knew and understood that world intimately and spent much of his time there. Blake asks if the material world is dead. To the fairy the material world is not a dead world but one in which 'every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.' He is aware that the material not only gives its life to man but receives life from man as well. The limited senses we rely on each moment are of the material world, but the eternal senses are available to us in the material also - like a 'cloud of incense' hovering around us.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews felt some of the same exuberance that Blake felt when he spoke of being 'compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses' and coming to 'an innumerable company of angels.'

Hebrews 12
[1] Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
[22] But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
[23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Wikimedia Commons
Small Book of Designs
Copy B, c. 1796
Book of my Remembrance
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 15, (E 39)
                            "A Memorable Fancy

   I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which
knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
   In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the
rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a number of Dragons were
hollowing the  cave, 
   In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the 
cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious
   In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of
air, he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were
numbers  of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense
   In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around
&  melting the metals into living fluids.
   In the fifth chamber were Unnam'd forms, which cast the metals 
into the expanse.
   There they were reciev'd by Men who occupied the sixth
chamber,  and took the forms of books & were arranged in

A previous post reduced the imagery of Plate 15 of Marriage of Heaven & Hell to prosaic terms describing Blake creating his illuminated books from copper, gravers, acid, inks, paper and paints. A more esoteric process can also be seen in the chambers of the printing house.

clearing away the rubbish' The first chamber is the dark cavern of the unconscious. It is a typical starting point in any movement of psychological development. The Cosmic egg must be cracked, the cultural rut must be breached, the bottom must be reached or the need for change must be acknowledged. This prepares the surface of the copper (or the hardened rituals and routines) to receive the images which will modify and transform it.

'folding round the rock & the cave, and others adorning it' The second chamber in which the design is executed allows the rational mind to have its say. A plan is made and transferred to the surface. The plate is not the image itself but the means by which the image may come forth. The plate is incised, reversed, manipulated. It is a material object or state but it is only a transient stage in the evolutionary process.

'caused the inside of the cave to be infinite' The Eagle of Imagination occupies the third chamber where the acid bath removes copper which has not been protected by waxed applications. This is the stage which is not controlled by the artist but by the action of the acid which acts as the agent of the imagination. The furnaces of Los are forever engaged in this process of removing what can and must be discarded.

'melting the metals into living fluids' In the fourth chamber the inks are prepared using fire and fluids. They are applied to the surfaces which stand elevated as mountains above the valleys of etched copper. 

'cast the metals into the expanse' All that went before this step was preparation, The fifth chamber sees the inked plates meet the expanse of paper which are ready to receive them and prove that the process has brought forth the product of imagination first conceived.

'took the forms of books' In the sixth chamber the artists prepare to release their 'children' to go into the world. What had been internal has become external, what had been eternal has become temporal, what had been a seed has come to fruition. The cocoon has released the butterfly.

'This is all for the purpose of transmitting knowledge from generation to generation.'
In this our world of generation this is the method through which Blake can transmit his knowledge to the generations which come after. But unless the printed pages open the minds of men to the 'perception of the infinite', we remain in the first chamber amidst our clutter.

Milton, Plate 28 (30), (E 126)
"But others of the Sons of Los build Moments & Minutes & Hours
And Days & Months & Years & Ages & Periods; wondrous buildings
And every Moment has a Couch of gold for soft repose,
(A Moment equals a pulsation of the artery)    ,
And between every two Moments stands a Daughter of Beulah
To feed the Sleepers on their Couches with maternal care.
And every Minute has an azure Tent with silken Veils.
And every Hour has a bright golden Gate carved with skill.
And every Day & Night, has Walls of brass & Gates of adamant,
Shining like precious stones & ornamented with appropriate signs:

And every Month, a silver paved Terrace builded high:
And every Year, invulnerable Barriers with high Towers.
And every Age is Moated deep with Bridges of silver & gold.
And every Seven Ages is Incircled with a Flaming Fire.
Now Seven Ages is amounting to Two Hundred Years
Each has its Guard. each Moment Minute Hour Day Month & Year.
All are the work of Fairy hands of the Four Elements    
The Guard are Angels of Providence on duty evermore
Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period & value to Six Thousand Years.
PLATE 29 [31]
For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



Four Zoas, Night Nine
, PAGE 121 (E391):

"Urizen wept in the dark deep anxious his Scaly form
To reassume the human & he wept in the dark deep

Saying O that I had never drank the wine nor eat the bread
Of dark mortality nor cast my view into futurity nor turnd
My back darkning the present clouding with a cloud
And building arches high & cities turrets & towers & domes
whose smoke destroyd the pleasant gardens & whose running Kennels
Chokd the bright rivers burdning with my Ships the angry deep
Thro Chaos seeking for delight & in spaces remote
Seeking the Eternal which is always present to the wise
Seeking for pleasure which unsought falls round the infants path
And on the fleeces of mild flocks who neither care nor labour
But I the labourer of ages whose unwearied hands
Are thus deformd with hardness with the sword & with the spear
And with the Chisel & the mallet I whose labours vast
Order the nations separating family by family
Alone enjoy not I alone in misery supreme
Ungratified give all my joy unto this Luvah & Vala
Then Go O dark futurity I will cast thee forth from these
Heavens of my brain nor will I look upon futurity more
I cast futurity away & turn my back upon that void
Which I have made for lo futurity is in this moment
Let Orc consume let Tharmas rage let dark Urthona give
All strength to Los & Enitharmon & let Los self-cursd
Rend down this fabric as a wall ruind & family extinct
Rage Orc Rage Tharmas Urizen no longer curbs your rage"

Urizen resolves to reassume the human form - the spiritual.

He is sorry:

1. He ever experienced physicality,

2. sought to see or control the future which by right belongs to

3. distorted the view of present,

4. created a religion of materiality,

5. made the destructive, oppressive economic system,

6. sought distant satisfactions instead of those at hand,

7. failed to recognize the God Within,

8. neglected simple pleasures,

9. divided one from another,

10. used force to engender conformity.

He recognizes that these failings are internal ('in my brain'). He
sees that 'futurity is in
this moment.' He relinquishes claim to any
achievements as my own. He recognize the role of
each Zoa.

As a result of his repentance: (E391)
"Into the fires Then glorious bright Exulting in his joy
He sounding rose into the heavens in naked majesty
In radiant Youth."

Monday, June 13, 2011


Blake described the Printing house in Hell on Plate 15 of Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Going through the five chambers we arrive at the sixth where books are arranged in libraries. This is all for the purpose of transmitting knowledge from generation to generation.

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 15, (E 39)
"I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which
knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the
rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a number of Dragons were
hollowing the cave,
In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the
cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious stones.
In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air,
he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were
numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.
In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around
& melting the metals into living fluids.
In the fifth chamber were Unnam'd forms, which cast the metals
into the expanse.
There they were reciev'd by Men who occupied the sixth
chamber, and took the forms of books & were the arranged in libraries. 

Joseph Viscomi takes us thought the process in which the Blakes engaged while making the illuminated books using the chambers of the Printing House of Hell.

Chamber 1: preparing the plate
Chamber 2: executing the design
Chamber 3: etching with acid
Chamber 4: inking the plate
Chamber 5: printing and coloring
Chamber 6: prints into books

Viscomi's article is available on the Blake Archive. Enjoy the detailed run through of producing Illuminated Books. (Click on Engraving or any chapter heading.)

Read more in Inquiry into Blake's Method of Color Printing by Robert N. Essick and Joseph Viscomi.

See Blake's methods demonstrated by Michael Phillips.
Blake described the Printing House in Hell on Plate 15 of Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


To begin figuring out Blake's use of the symbol 'stars' let's start with some of his geography.
Milton, Plate 13, (E 156)
"Around Golgonooza lies the land of death eternal; a Land
Of pain and misery and despair and ever brooding melancholy:
In all the Twenty-seven Heavens, numberd from Adam to Luther;
From the blue Mundane Shell, reaching to the Vegetative Earth.

The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell
And there it meets Eternity again, both within and without,
And the abstract Voids between the Stars are the Satanic Wheels."

Damon (A Blake Dictionary) says of the stars in Blake: "They are the visible machinery of the astronomical universe," and "Albion's limbs once contained all the starry heavens."

Percival (William Blake's Circle of Destiny) explains :
"As Albion falls he carries his celestial light with him in ever diminishing strength and splendor. The heavenly light with which his world is illuminated at all times, therefore an indication of his spiritual condition. The eternal world of Eden and Beulah is lighted by the sun and moon in their diurnal courses. When that world fails and the Mundane Shell is created as a barrier against utter dissolution, light is provided by the stars which in their multiplicity represent the break-up of the eternal sun and in their unified westward movement represent the effort to maintain some vestige of eternal values. When the starry Mundane Shell crashes into the darkness of the abyss, the Planets, moving irregularly eastward, make 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 sun and moon had failed. When knowledge ceased to be intuitive and love ceased to be spontaneous, when in astrological imagery, the eternal order was threatened by the departure of Urizen, the sun, into the north (the realm sacred 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 round of constellations is Blake's beautiful and appropriate symbol for the order imposed by law upon a world from which unity has fled." (page 148)

Marriage of Heaven and Hell
, Plate 26, (E 44)
"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 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:"

Milton, Plate 4, (E 98)
"Every Mans Wisdom is peculiar to his own Individ[u]ality
O Satan my youngest born, art thou not Prince of the Starry Hosts
And of the Wheels of Heaven, to turn the Mills day & night?"

Song of Los, Plate 5, (E 68)
"Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave
Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more
And more to Earth: closing and restraining:
Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete
Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke"

Illustrations to the Book of Job
'The Wrath of Elihu'

Percival calls the stars the 'remnant of light left to the falling Albion'. From this remnant of light is built the Mundane Shell which embodies the law in 'beneficence and majesty'. So the trail left by the fall becomes the chain which restricts the fall. The voids between the stars are the 'doubt and negation of the spectrous mind'.

Percival calls to our minds that the appearance of the stars in the 12th of the Illustrations to the Book of Job 'marks Job's emergence out of the darkness of Ulro.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


As a continuation of the study of Blake's accounts of the fall we look to the Bard's Song as the first segment of Milton is called. James Rieger calls the Bard's song 'a prophet's account of the fall of prophecy itself.' (Blake's Sublime Allegory, Page 271) Those familiar with Milton know of the account of the dispute between Palamabron and Satan which resulted in a hearing before the Great Solemn Assembly. Unexpectedly, it was Rintrah against whom the judgment went.

Why the Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty is asked before the Assembly. We might say that Blake took the rest of the poem answering that question. But first we learn that to avoid condemning the guilty to eternal death, one must die for another throughout all Eternity. (We are reminded here of Blake's lines 'Throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me.')

Milton , Plate 11 [12], (E 1O4)
"And it was enquir'd: Why in a Great Solemn Assembly
The Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty? Then an Eternal rose

Saying. If the Guilty should be condemn'd, he must be an Eternal Death
And one must die for another throughout all Eternity.
Satan is fall'n from his station & never can be redeem'd
But must be new created continually moment by moment
And therefore the Class of Satan shall be calld the Elect, & those
Of Rintrah. the Reprobate, & those of Palamabron the Redeem'd
For he is redeem'd from Satans Law, the wrath falling on Rintrah,
And therefore Palamabron dared not to call a solemn Assembly
Till Satan had assum'd Rintrahs wrath in the day of mourning
In a feminine delusion of false pride self-deciev'd.

So spake the Eternal and confirm'd it with a thunderous oath

But when Leutha (a Daughter of Beulah) beheld Satans condemnation
She down descended into the midst of the Great Solemn Assembly
Offering herself a Ransom for Satan, taking on her, his Sin.

Mark well my words. they are of your eternal salvation!"

A process is begun through which the guilty may avoid eternal death. It begins with the creation of states through which man passes to gain experience. ' Palamabron dared not to call a solemn Assembly' and interrupt the process which had been initiated. Two steps involved in the process are Satan's assuming a false wrath and a false pride. In the state of Satan man will undergo experiences which convince him of the error of 'Rintrah's wrath' and the 'feminine delusion of false pride'. Leutha appears on the scene offering to take on the sin of Satan. Leutha recounts a tale of how through tempting Palamabaron she is able to 'unloose the flaming steeds' which Satan is unable to control:

Milton, Plate 12 [13], (E 105)
"At length standing upon the golden floor of Palamabron
She spake: I am the Author of this Sin! by my suggestion
My Parent power Satan has committed this transgression.
"Like sweet perfumes I stupified the masculine perceptions
And kept only the feminine awake, hence rose his soft
Delusory love to Palamabron: admiration join'd with envy
Cupidity unconquerable! my fault, when at noon of day
The Horses of Palamabron call'd for rest and pleasant death:
I sprang out of the breast of Satan, over the Harrow beaming
In all my beauty! that I might unloose the flaming steeds"
Plate 12 (13), (E 106)
"Day sunk and Palamabron return'd, trembling I hid myself
In Satans inmost Palace of his nervous fine wrought Brain:
For Elynittria met Satan with all her singing women.
Terrific in their joy & pouring wine of wildest power
They gave Satan their wine: indignant at the burning wrath.
Wild with prophetic fury his former life became like a dream
Cloth'd in the Serpents folds, in selfish holiness demanding purity
Being Most impure, self-condemn'd to eternal tears, he drove
Me from his inmost Brain & the doors clos'd with thunders sound
O Divine Vision who didst create the Female: to repose
The Sleepers of Beulah: pity the repentant Leutha. My
PLATE 13 [14]
Sick Couch bears the dark shades of Eternal Death infolding
The Spectre of Satan. he furious refuses to repose in sleep
I humbly bow in all my Sin before the Throne Divine.
Not so the Sick-one; Alas what shall be done him to restore?
Who calls the Individual Law, Holy: and despises the Saviour.
Glorying to involve Albions Body in fires of eternal War--

Now Leutha ceas'd: tears flow'd: but the Divine Pity), supported her.

All is my fault! We are the Spectre of Luvah the murderer.
Of Albion: O Vala! O Luvah! O Albion! O lovely Jerusalem

The Sin was begun in Eternity, and will not rest to Eternity
Till two Eternitys meet together, Ah! lost! lost! lost! for ever!

So Leutha spoke. But when she saw that Enitharmon had
Created a New Space to protect Satan from punishment;
She fled to Enitharmons Tent & hid herself. Loud raging
Thundered the Assembly dark & clouded, and they ratify'd
The kind decision of Enitharmon & gave a Time to the Space,
Even Six Thousand years; and sent Lucifer for its Guard."

Image: Satan, Sin & Death
Milton's Paradise Lost

Thus began the Seven Eyes of God, the seven periods of human history which are prepared to return man through the mortal world to Eden.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Listen to Blake and the Bible commenting on Jesus, Sin, Error, Forgiveness, Satan and Judgment. These quotes from the two sources allow us to compare New Testament concepts and how similar ideas appear in Blake's :


1)Jesus not the accuser (Satan) is our judge.

[1] My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Forgiveness of Sin is only at the Judgment Seat of Jesus the
Saviour where the Accuser is cast out. not because he Sins but
because he torments the Just & makes them do what he condemns as
Sin & what he knows is opposite to their own Identity"

2) The accuser has no power over us.

[10] And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Vision of the Last Judgment,(E 564)
"Christ comes
as he came at first to deliver those who were bound under the
Knave not to deliver the Knave He Comes to Deliver Man the
[Forgiven] not Satan the Accuser we do not
find any where that Satan is Accused of Sin he is only accused of
Unbelief & thereby drawing Man into Sin that he may accuse him.
Such is the Last Judgment a Deliverance from Satans Accusation
Satan thinks that Sin is displeasing to God he ought to know that
Nothing is displeasing to God but Unbelief & Eating of the Tree
of Knowledge of Good & Evil"

3) The light of Truth leads us to the new creation.

[18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. [PAUL]

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 565)
"I will not Flatter them Error is
Created Truth is Eternal [,] Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me."

4) Forgiveness of sins is God's will.

[2] And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
[5] For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
[6] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

Plate 20, (E 165)

"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"

5) The religion of Jesus practices mercy not vengeance.

[23] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
"Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart.
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus. Deism
is the same & ends in the same."

6) Practicing Forgiveness builds the Kingdom of God

Matthew 18
[21] Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
[22] Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 232)
"And remember: He who despises & mocks a Mental Gift in another;
calling it pride & selfishness & sin; mocks Jesus the giver of
every Mental Gift, which always appear to the ignorance-loving
Hypocrite, as Sins. but that which is a Sin in the sight of cruel
Man, is not so in the sight of our kind God.
Let every Christian as much as in him lies engage himself
openly & publicly before all the World in some Mental pursuit for
the Building up of Jerusalem "

The influence that the Bible had on shaping the mind of Blake led him to become a religious poet. He used the Christian metaphors in unique ways but always with the goal of opening the minds of men to the 'perception of the Infinite'.


Thursday, June 9, 2011


When the Blakes returned to London in 1803 after three years in the rural setting in Sussex they found the city absorbed in preparations for war. The uneasy peace with France had been fractured and Blake now found London to be an arms arsenal and engaging in the manufacture of the weapons of war.

America a Prophecy
Plate 3

David V Erdman, author of Prophet Against Empire, speaking of the Blakes' situation in London quotes from one of Blake's letters and continues with a few words about the ambiance in the city:
"Here is the 'other' meaning of 'My wife continues poorly' and 'Everybody complains,' the sadness of an unemployed artist 'almost 50 Years of Age.' But these lines scarcely hint at what the experience is in 1803. They give no indication that London is fortified against invasion, that the Thames is filling with captured French ships, that the Tower and numerous workshops are busy turning out small arms night and day. Yet Blake did observe this daily cast of brazen cannon and hear ambassador and king call for war almost before the drying of signatures for peace. These woes are in his prophecies." (Page 395)

, Plate 65, (E 216)
"The sun was black & the moon rolld a useless globe thro Britain!

Then left the Sons of Urizen the plow & harrow, the loom
The hammer & the chisel, & the rule & compasses; from London fleeing
They forg'd the sword on Cheviot, the chariot of war & the battle-ax,
The trumpet fitted to mortal battle, & the flute of summer in Annandale
And all the Arts of Life. they changd into the Arts of Death in Albion.
The hour-glass contemnd because its simple workmanship.
Was like the workmanship of the plowman, & the water wheel,
That raises water into cisterns: broken & burnd with fire:
Because its workmanship. was like the workmanship of the shepherd.
And in their stead, intricate wheels invented, wheel without wheel:
To perplex youth in their outgoings, & to bind to labours in Albion
Of day & night the myriads of eternity that they may grind
And polish brass & iron hour after hour laborious task!
Kept ignorant of its use, that they might spend the days of wisdom
In sorrowful drudgery, to obtain a scanty pittance of bread:
In ignorance to view a small portion & think that All,
And call it Demonstration: blind to all the simple rules of life.

Now: now the battle rages round thy tender limbs O Vala
Now smile among thy bitter tears: now put on all thy beauty
Is not the wound of the sword sweet! & the broken bone delightful?"
Wilt thou now smile among the scythes when the wounded groan in the field[?]
We were carried away in thousands from London; & in tens
Of thousands from Westminster & Marybone in ships closd up:

Chaind hand & foot, compelld to fight under the iron whips
Of our captains; fearing our officers more than the enemy."

Blake saw the enemy not in France but in war itself which changed the arts of life (the productive arts of the imagination) to the arts of death (the destructive arts of taking life.)

Monday, June 6, 2011


Uniting Heaven and Earth: A Jungian and Taoist Exploration of the Masculine and Feminine in Human Consciousness by Sukie Colegrave makes this comment on the fall of Adam and Eve is terms of consciousness:

"But when one day the serpent explained to Eve why God had forbidden them to eat the fruit, saying God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof , then your eyes will be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil', the desire for wisdom proved irresistible. She ate the fruit and persuaded Adam also to accompany her into the new world of consciousness. Until that moment both and been naked and knew not their nakedness, but now they recognized it and hastily covered themselves. In eating the fruit they rent apart their pre-conscious identity with the supreme principle. They lost their instinctive communication with God and gained freedom of choice and the possibility of understanding. They fell from innocence and instinctive perfection into consciousness and a world of good and evil...

Such wisdom is costly. Tranquility and spontaneous order were possible in Paradise precisely because there was no consciousness. With its emergence humanity severed itself, a little, from the cosmos and began the slow, difficult and painful struggle towards self-consciousness and understanding." (Page 15)

The orderly structure of the universes of the Zoas was thrown into turmoil by the fall whatever initiated it and however it proceeded. Blake was kind enough to give us a diagram of the Eternal situation before 'time' intervened through the rearrangement.

Image from
, Plate 36

, Plate 19 [21], (E 112)
"Four Universes round the Mundane Egg remain Chaotic
One to the North, named Urthona: One to the South, named Urizen:
One to the East, named Luvah: One to the West, named Tharmas
They are the Four Zoa's that stood around the Throne Divine!
But when Luvah assum'd the World of Urizen to the South:
And Albion was slain upon his mountains, & in his tent;
All fell towards the Center in dire ruin, sinking down.
And in the South remains a burning fire; in the East a void.
In the West, a world of raging waters; in the North a solid,
Unfathomable! without end. But in the midst of these,
Is built eternally the Universe of Los and Enitharmon:
Towards which Milton went, but Urizen oppos'd his path."

Changed, Milton, Plate 19 Changed
J, Plate 59
solid, unfathomable, without end
solid darkness
burning fire
burning fire
world of raging waters
raging waters

Jerusalem, Plate 59,(E 208)
"But when Luvah assumed the World of Urizen Southward

And Albion was slain upon his Mountains & in his Tent.
All fell towards the Center, sinking downwards in dire ruin,
In the South remains a burning Fire: in the East. a Void
In the West, a World of raging Waters: in the North; solid Darkness
Unfathomable without end: but in the midst of these
Is Built eternally the sublime Universe of Los & Enitharmon"

The unity of the One Man Albion was 'slain'; consciousness of multiplicity upset the balance which held the body together. What had been inward was driven outward. But without the destruction of completeness the 'sublime Universe of Los & Enitharmon' would not be 'built eternally'.