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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

TO THE DEISTS


Jerusalem, Plate 51
Vala... Hyle... Skofeld
[materialism, rationalism, destruction]

The wisdom of John Middleton Murry shines on every page of his book William Blake, first published in 1933. In his chapter Forgiveness and War we read:

"Deism is the religion of the Selfhood; Christianity of Self-annihilation...The ultimate and inevitable expression of the unannihilated Selfhood, whether it assumes the disguise of philosophy or patriotism, or - in the politics of interest and 'security - no disguise at all, is war.
Between the world of the Selfhood, in all its forms, and the world of Self-annihilation there is a gulf of the kind that divides one order of being from another; and the outward and visible sign of their absolute heterogeneity is that in the world of the Selfhood, war is inevitable, while in the world of Self-annihilation, war is impossible. For Self-annihilation is Forgiveness, and where there is Forgiveness, there War cannot be. War is thus the test, simple and infallible, of the world's Christianity." (Page 315)

Jerusalem , Plate 52, (E 201)
"But the Religion of Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, can never
be the cause of a War nor of a single Martyrdom.
Those who Martyr others or who cause War are Deists, but never
can be Forgivers of Sin. The Glory of Christianity is, To
Conquer by Forgiveness. All the Destruction therefore, in
Christian Europe has arisen from Deism, which is Natural
Religion."

The three figures in the image for the beginning of chapter three of Jerusalem - To the Deists - as labeled in another print, picture Vala, Hyle and Scofeld. They may be seen to represent the end product of following the Deistic philosophy. All three have lost their vitality and humanity and connection with each other.

Vala as fallen Nature is hard, dark, covered and closed although she bears the trappings of royalty which her sons bestowed upon her.

Hyle, a traditional name for matter, has assumed the shape of a cube which lets nothing in or out. Scholars associate Hyle with Haley who facilitated Blake's residence in Felpham. Blake soon learned that Haley intended for him to forsake inspiration to engage in shallow projects of Haley's choosing. Blake's imagination could not be contained in the enclosure of purely material consciousness which occupied Haley.

The role which Scofeld played in Blake's life resulted in his becoming a complex symbol in Blake's poetry. Blake ejected Scofeld, a soldier, from his garden after an exchange of harsh words. Scofeld brought the charge of sedition against Blake. Although Blake was exonerated he had to endure being labeled an accused criminal and brought to trial. Scofeld was a weak and troubled man, a reprobate deserving of forgiveness and yet a real threat to Blake's freedom. The incident with Scofeld was instrumental in Blake's struggle to understand his own Selfhood and confront the necessity of annihilating it.

Luke 11
[52] Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
[53] And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:
[54] Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Jerusalem, PLATE 25, (E 170)
"And there was heard a great lamenting in Beulah: all the Regions
Of Beulah were moved as the tender bowels are moved: & they said:

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
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals Evermore Amen"
.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

TO THE JEWS

Jerusalem, Plate 26

Legend on Plate 26

"SUCH VISIONS HAVE APPEARD TO ME
AS I MY ORDERD RACE HAVE RUN
JERUSALEM IS NAMED LIBERTY
AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION

HAND JERUSALEM"


The image of Hand and Jerusalem which begins the second chapter of Jerusalem - To The Jews - presents a dramatic scene in which Jerusalem resists the invitation of Hand to follow his false religion. Minna Doskow in William Blake's Jerusalem states that:
"Hand's religion of sin and punishment, moral virtue, atonement, and sacrifice of others (described in pl. 9) represents the version of Jewish legalism which chapter 2 exposes as error, while Jerusalem, who is 'named Liberty among the Sons of Albion' according to the inscription below her figure, symbolizes the liberated Jewish prophetic tradition that the chapter offers as an alternative to error." (Page 33)

A clearer picture of the threat of Hand's false religion appears in the text on Plate 9:

Jerusalem, Plate 8-9, (E 151)
"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.
His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:
Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
I [Los] saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion
By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
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:"

Hand appearance and position in the image on Plate 26 presents the "parody of inspiration that Hand's religion presents in both its Judaic origins and Christian continuation." (Page 33)

Doskow points out that:
"True religion will not be led astray and inverted by false, although it may temporarily be cast into shadow by it, as Jerusalem is by Hand in the illustration. Hand's attempt 'to destroy Jerusalem, & devour the body of Albion' (9:10) is thus doomed to failure, although he does not realize it. The interchange is dramatized in more detail as false religion tries to destroy Jerusalem and Albion in the chapter itself. (Page 33)

The contrast between false and true religion is presented on plate 53. False: "
many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness To Individuals & not to States". True: "This is Jerusalem in every Man/A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness."

Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 171)
"Thus wept they in Beulah over the Four Regions of Albion
But many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness
To Individuals & not to States, and these Slept in Ulro.
PLATE 54
In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings.
And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion

But Albion fell down a Rocky fragment from Eternity hurld
By his own Spectre, who is the Reasoning Power in every Man
Into his own Chaos which is the Memory between Man & Man"
.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TO THE PUBLIC

In the frontispiece of Jerusalem we see Los entering the Door of Death to wake the Giant Albion from the sleep which has numbed his senses, distorted his reason and bound his imagination. The following plate acts a a title page for the work and introduces the first chapter of the book - To the Public. The butterfly images represent phases of Jerusalem the emanation of Albion, who like her male counterpart is asleep to her true Eternal nature. The artist Blake has used his skills and imagination to present the 'lovely, mild Jerusalem' in her splendor.


Jerusalem, Plate 2




Later on page 86 of the poem Blake uses words to present Jerusalem. Notice how the word picture complements, supplements and reinforces the image which introduced the poem, and in which we are introduced to Jerusalem, the Emanation of the Giant Albion. The lovely Jerusalem is pictured four-fold and described three-fold.



Jerusalem, PLATE 86, (E 244)
"I see thy Form O lovely mild Jerusalem, Wingd with Six Wings
In the opacous Bosom of the Sleeper, lovely Three-fold
In Head & Heart & Reins, three Universes of love & beauty
Thy forehead bright: Holiness to the Lord, with Gates of pearl
Reflects Eternity beneath thy azure wings of feathery down
Ribbd delicate & clothd with featherd gold & azure & purple
From thy white shoulders shadowing, purity in holiness!
Thence featherd with soft crimson of the ruby bright as fire
Spreading into the azure Wings which like a canopy
Bends over thy immortal Head in which Eternity dwells
Albion beloved Land; I see thy mountains & thy hills
And valleys & thy pleasant Cities Holiness to the Lord
I see the Spectres of thy Dead O Emanation of Albion.

Thy Bosom white, translucent coverd with immortal gems
A sublime ornament not obscuring the outlines of beauty
Terrible to behold for thy extreme beauty & perfection
Twelve-fold here all the Tribes of Israel I behold
Upon the Holy Land: I see the River of Life & Tree of Life
I see the New Jerusalem descending out of Heaven
Between thy Wings of gold & silver featherd immortal
Clear as the rainbow, as the cloud of the Suns tabernacle

Thy Reins coverd with Wings translucent sometimes covering
And sometimes spread abroad reveal the flames of holiness
Which like a robe covers: & like a Veil of Seraphim
In flaming fire unceasing burns from Eternity to Eternity
Twelvefold I there behold Israel in her Tents
A Pillar of a Cloud by day: a Pillar of fire by night
Guides them: there I behold Moab & Ammon & Amalek
There Bells of silver round thy knees living articulate
Comforting sounds of love & harmony & on thy feet
Sandals of gold & pearl, & Egypt & Assyria before me
The Isles of Javan, Philistea, Tyre and Lebanon

Thus Los sings upon his Watch walking from Furnace to Furnace."
.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

JERUSALEM WEPT

The final chapter of Jerusalem is addressed 'To the Christians'. Doskow refers to Chapter 4 as treating affective error, whereas chapter 1 treated the entire story, chapter 2 treated religious error, and chapter 3 treated rational error.

Of great concern to Blake was the fact that the spiritual experience of Jesus had been transformed into a religion which deprived man of the liberty to use the imagination to express the fullness of his spirit. In Chapter 4, Jerusalem as an expression of that liberty, has been distorted by the sons of Albion. This is another example of the war between emotions as represented by Jerusalem, and reason represented by the Sons of Albion. Los will assume the job of protecting Jerusalem in her fallen state from Albion's spectrous sons.

Jerusalem, Plate 78
Yale Center for British Art



Comments from Minna Doskow's William Blake's Jerusalem:
"Here a bird-headed human figure sits upon a white rock surrounded by the sea of time and space. Vala's clouds dominate the sky while the sun of imagination sets at the left, its brown rays sending an ominous light over the whole. The figure with the bird of prey's beak represents Albion's twelve spectrous sons, who the text explains are "ravening to devour/The Sleeping Humanity". (Page 141)

Jerusalem like the other fallen emanations becomes involved in emotional errors against the male:
"As Enitharmon extols secrecy, jealousy, feminine domination, pride, and morality, and uses sexuality as the ultimate weapon in her arsenal, she echo's the affective errors of the other fallen females;" (Page 151)

Jerusalem, PLATE 78, (E 233)
"Chapter 4
The Spectres of Albions Twelve Sons revolve mightily
Over the Tomb & over the Body: ravning to devour
The Sleeping Humanity.
Los with his mace of iron
Walks round: loud his threats, loud his blows fall
On the rocky Spectres, as the Potter breaks the potsherds;
Dashing in pieces Self-righteousnesses: driving them from Albions
Cliffs: dividing them into Male & Female forms in his Furnaces
And on his Anvils: lest they destroy the Feminine Affections
They are broken. Loud howl the Spectres in his iron Furnace

While Los laments at his dire labours, viewing Jerusalem,
Sitting before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair;
Albions Twelve Sons surround the Forty-two Gates of Erin,
In terrible armour, raging against the Lamb & against Jerusalem,
Surrounding them with armies to destroy the Lamb of God.
They took their Mother Vala, and they crown'd her with gold:
They namd her Rahab, & gave her power over the Earth

The Concave Earth round Golgonooza in Entuthon Benython,
Even to the stars exalting her Throne, to build beyond the Throne
Of God and the Lamb, to destroy the Lamb & usurp the Throne of God
Drawing their Ulro Voidness round the Four-fold Humanity

Naked Jerusalem lay before the Gates upon Mount Zion
The Hill of Giants, all her foundations levelld with the dust!

Her Twelve Gates thrown down: her children carried into captivity
Herself in chains: this from within was seen in a dismal night
Outside, unknown before in Beulah, & the twelve gates were fill'd
With blood; from Japan eastward to the Giants causway, west
In Erins Continent: and Jerusalem wept upon Euphrates banks
Disorganizd; an evanescent shade, scarce seen or heard among
Her childrens Druid Temples dropping with blood wanderd weeping!
And thus her voice went forth in the darkness of Philisthea.

My brother & my father are no morel God hath forsaken me
The arrows of the Almighty pour upon me & my children
I have sinned and am an outcast from the Divine Presence!"

Milton Percival, in William Blake's Circle of Destiny, explains the role the feminine emotions play in bringing Albion to a state in which his regeneration is possible:

"The feminine emotions, driven in desperation by the increasing severity of the rational mind, turn from vengeance to forgiveness in their own defense...the emotions have been driven by the doubting rational mind into such narrow and cruel forms, such perversions of their own nature, that a sudden conversion is induced... Redeemed from error's power, the female unites herself again with her masculine contrary. As Blake puts it, the female "is made receptive of generation through mercy in the potters furnace." The sterile feminine world is made spiritually productive. Christ is born in Vala's woven mantle. (Page 228)
...
"Such then is the redemptive process. By means of it the emotional life (the feminine contrary) is made self-sacrificing and the original relationship of the contraries is restored. (Page 229)

Doskow concludes her commentary with these words:
"Contraries that form the basis of progression and dialectic within the poem, therefore, still continue within imaginative existence. They complement each other in living relationships so that finite and infinite, natural and immortal, are not exclusive but interdependent. As soon as such conditions obtain, liberty prevails - everyone's Emanation is called Jerusalem. Man can then exercise the arts of imagination in creative effort. He is unified with the world and his fellow men through sympathy and brotherhood, and his society reflects his regeneration in external conditions. The moment of Eternal Life forecast at the outset is now accomplished." (Page 169)


This post follows posts on the first chapter of Jerusalem - To the Public, and the second chapter - To the Jews, and the third - To the Deists.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ROOTS OF ALBION'S TREE

This post follows posts on the first chapter of Jerusalem; To the Public and the second chapter: To the Jews.

Chapter 3 of Jerusalem is addressed to the Deists, those with a consciousness that rejects a direct and immediate connection between God and man. Sense data, processed by the rational mind, is the only admissible evidence to the Deist. The figure of Rahab is used by Blake to epitomize the Deistic perspective. The experience of the 'Spiritual Fourfold' is:
"incomprehensible
To the Vegetated Mortal Eye's perverted & single vision"

Jerusalem, PLATE 53, (E 202)
" Chap 3.

But Los, who is the Vehicular Form of strong Urthona
Wept vehemently over Albion where Thames currents spring
From the rivers of Beulah; pleasant river! soft, mild, parent stream
And the roots of Albions Tree enterd the Soul of Los
As he sat before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair
In gnawing pain dividing him from his Emanation;
Inclosing all the Children of Los time after time.
Their Giant forms condensing into Nations & Peoples & Tongues
Translucent the Furnaces, of Beryll & Emerald immortal:
And Seven-fold each within other: incomprehensible
To the Vegetated Mortal Eye's perverted & single vision

The Bellows are the Animal Lungs. the hammers, the Animal Heart
The Furnaces, the Stomach for Digestion; terrible their fury
Like seven burning heavens rang'd from South to North

Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza,
Outside of the Gates of the Human Heart,
beneath Beulah
In the midst of the rocks of the Altars of Albion. In fears
He builded it, in rage & in fury. It is the Spiritual Fourfold
London: continually building & continually decaying desolate!

In eternal labours: loud the Furnaces & loud the Anvils
Of Death thunder incessant around the flaming Couches of
The Twentyfour Friends of Albion and round the awful Four
For the protection of the Twelve Emanations of Albions Sons
The Mystic Union of the Emanation in the Lord; Because
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow

But she is made receptive of Generation thro' mercy
In the Potters Furnace, among the Funeral Urns of Beulah
From Surrey hills, thro' Italy and Greece, to Hinnoms vale."



Jerusalem

Plate 53
Image from
Library of Congress
Click on LC image to enlarge




The following quotes are from Minna Doskow's William Blake's Jerusalem: structure and meaning in poetry and picture which you
can read online or purchase through Better World Books.

Page 111
"As Los and Albion divide,repeating the initial ongoing action of the poem, Rahab sits brooding over the description within the huge sunflower that dominates the opening plate of the chapter (pl. 53). This pictorial opening to chapter 3 parallels that of chapter 2, just as the poetical beginning does, for it also depicts a fallen female, a flower, and the sea as plate 28 does. Vala's lily of plate 28, however has been exchanged in plate 53 for Rahab's sunflower, the flower tied inexorably to time, following the sun all its life...Ironically though Rahab on her Deistic sunflower throne obscures the sun and its imaginative potential and shadows the worlds of time and space that she blankly regards. Her seated attitude with head in hands suggests Deism's philosophical abstraction and accompanying despair...Her wings , which parody the butterfly wings of Jerusalem, contain the moon, earth, and stars, but not the sun. They include the fallen elements of the universe only not the imaginative, and therefore accurately represent the Deistic natural world."

Page 138
[Rahab is] "that system of mystery, self-righteousness, sin, war, generative sexuality, and moral virtue which must be overcome for the Edenic world to prevail."
"...she has acted as the sacrificial priestess in Reason's temple, as natural religion, and destructive nature within Deism."

Page 118
"Left to Deism the world become pure matter under Albion's daughters and pure mathematics and empirical science under his sons."

So it is Rahab who is chosen as the image to represent the reasoning error which expresses itself in Deism. The female as materiality gains power over the male as he is cut off from a 'perception of the infinite.' Chapter 3 develops the theme of the accumulation of power in Rahab and the resulting political, social and personal ramifications. The error of Deism, produced by the loss of the imaginative connection to Eternity, fosters man's trust in reasoning along with the trust in the material or 'Natural' world of Rahab.
.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FROM SACRIFICE OF SELF

In the post THROUGH ETERNAL DEATH we dealt with Doskow's introduction to the first of the four chapters of Jerusalem, the one addressed 'To the Public'. The introduction to the second chapter, 'To the Jews', claims our attention now.

Doscow ( William Blake's Jerusalem) makes clear that the second chapter is addressed to the level of consciousness represented by 'The Jews' and not by a historical group of people. In this chapter Albion is to experience the consequences of the religious error of practicing a religion based "codes of moral law that define sin and punishment, and second on the idea of an absent, invisible exiled God who dwells in chaos." Albion will be shown the alternation to this error: the possibility of assimilating a religion based on "codes of love, mutuality and acceptance and God as 'The Human Form Divine.'" (Page 72)

Each chapter of Jerusalem begins with a full page plate which gives in symbolic pictorial language an introduction to the content of the chapter. Following the illustrative plate is a plate which addresses a particular group whose errors Blake wishes to explore. Next is the first page of the chapter which states in words and pictures the problem he is treating and its potential solution.

Image is from Yale Collection
Additional image from
Library of Congress
Click LC picture to enlarge


Now lets see what Doskow has to say about Jerusalem, Plate 28, which is the third plate of chapter 2:

"While the poetic text of the plate concentrates on the male expression of Albion's religious error in Albion and his sons, the illustration depicts the same error in terms of Albion's female parts as Vala dominates Jerusalem. Two naked females in the illustration embrace face to face before a golden net...Furthermore both figures sit on a huge lily, symbol of Vala..., surrounded by the watery world of time and space." (Page 76)

"Man's self-reduction to the merely natural state that results from his religious error and is expressed in Vala's domination also appears in the figure Ruben. In him we see the further limitations of Albion' sensuality, the reduction of his other four senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing) in addition to touch (sexuality) limited by Vala."

Jerusalem , PLATE 28, (E 174)
Chap: 2.

"Every ornament of perfection, and every labour of love,
In all the Garden of Eden, & in all the golden mountains
Was become an envied horror, and a remembrance of jealousy:
And every Act a Crime, and Albion the punisher & judge.

And Albion spoke from his secret seat and said

All these ornaments are crimes, they are made by the labours
Of loves: of unnatural consanguinities and friendships
Horrid to think of when enquired deeply into; and all
These hills & valleys are accursed witnesses of Sin
I therefore condense them into solid rocks, stedfast!
A foundation and certainty and demonstrative truth:
That Man be separate from Man, & here I plant my seat.

Cold snows drifted around him: ice coverd his loins around
He sat by Tyburns brook, and underneath his heel, shot up!
A deadly Tree, he nam'd it Moral Virtue, and the Law
Of God who dwells in Chaos hidden from the human sight.


The Tree spread over him its cold shadows, (Albion groand)
They bent down, they felt the earth and again enrooting
Shot into many a Tree! an endless labyrinth of woe!

From willing sacrifice of Self, to sacrifice of (miscall'd) Enemies
For Atonement: Albion began to erect twelve Altars,
Of rough unhewn rocks, before the Potters Furnace
He nam'd them Justice, and Truth. And Albions Sons
Must have become the first Victims, being the first transgressors
But they fled to the mountains to seek ransom: building A Strong
Fortification against the Divine Humanity and Mercy,
In Shame & Jealousy to annihilate Jerusalem!"

When the reading of the body of the text gets confusing, it may be helpful to return to the first three plates of a chapter to reorient oneself by the use of these three pages of 'maps' which Blake provides to help his reader through bewildering territory. Read online Minna Doskow's William Blake's Jerusalem: structure and meaning in poetry and picture for an in depth commentary on Jerusalem and a facsimile of Blake's complete book.

From the Library of Congress website you may download a PDF of the entire 100 plates of Jerusalem. This won't be the color copy, but you will be able to get an overview, select specific pages, zoom in for detail, and enjoy reading your own copy of Jerusalem.
.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

AWAKE O SLEEPER

Minna Doskov's has written a useful guide to the complexities of reading Jerusalem in her book William Blake's Jerusalem. The four chapters of Jerusalem are addressed to the Public, the Jews, the Deists and the Christians. Doskow explains that each is directed to:
"a particular group that in Blake's view typifies the error exposed in the chapter. These groups, however, refer to states of consciousness, rather than historical entities. Just as sleep, passage, and awakening are metaphors for for a particular state of Albion's consciousness, so are Jews, Deists, and Christians (the dedicatory groups of chapters 2, 3, and 4 respectively)." (Page 20)
...
"The first two lines of chapter 1 contain the action of the whole; the prologue and epilogue display it graphically. The first confrontation between Albion and the Savior outlines all other confrontations. The first chapter's frontispiece and dedication embraces the chapter as well as the whole poem. Each subsequent chapter's dedication takes one piece of the whole and explores it, summarizing the content of the entire chapter." (Page 21)


Jerusalem, Plate 4
Library of Congress



Jerusalem, PLATE 4, (E 146)
"Chap: I

Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life.


This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild song.

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.

In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
[Where!!]
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
>From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?
I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!

But the perturbed Man away turns down the valleys dark;
[Saying. We are not One: we are Many, thou most
simulative
]
Phantom of the over heated brain! shadow of immortality!
Seeking to keep my soul a victim to thy Love! which binds
Man the enemy of man into deceitful friendships:
Jerusalem is not! her daughters are indefinite:
By demonstration, man alone can live, and not by faith.
My mountains are my own, and I will keep them to myself!

The Malvern and the Cheviot, the Wolds Plinlimmon & Snowdon
Are mine. here will I build my Laws of Moral Virtue!
Humanity shall be no more: but war & princedom & victory!

So spoke Albion in jealous fears, hiding his Emanation
Upon the Thames and Medway, rivers of Beulah: dissembling
His jealousy before the throne divine, darkening, cold!"

Doskow subtitles her book Structure and Meaning in Poetry and Picture. She gives the graphic content as well as the written material careful attention.

"'In his first speech, Albion demonstrates all three basic components of his fall, his religious, rational and affective errors that are all investigated in this chapter and then in detail separately in the three following chapters of the poem."
...
[The Savior presents the] "opposing alternatives" [which are] "equally available for Albion's consciousness as the illustration indicates (pl. 4), for it pictures both fallen Albion controlled by error and unfallen Albion soaring freely. The network of lines in the right lower margin of this plate exemplifies the same opposing alternatives, for what it represents depends upon the beholder's consciousness. Looked at in Albion's fallen terms, it represents the deceitful bonds he mentions and the net that Vala so often uses to ensare mankind. Regarded, however in the Savior's imaginative terms, it becomes those fibers of love he mentions which establish the divine brotherhood of man." (Page 45)
...
"The cowled figure resembles the fallen female spirit who controls the merely natural world...she is only partially successful in Jerusalem... Grasping the head of one naked male figure, fallen Albion, who is seated on the rocky shore, she controls his intellect and vision. The other naked male figure, unfallen Albion, eludes her grasp and turns his attention and praying hands to the soaring figures rising in a parabola from him. Here are Albion's ongoing alternatives graphically represented...The exploration of these choices forms the substance of the poem graphically as well as poetically, for each choice is unfolded in subsequent illustrations." (Page 19)

Blake brings all the powers of his imagination together to impress on men's psyches the stark choices which lie before each individual and each nation.
.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

GHOST OF ABEL

These are the plates for Blake's The Ghost of Abel which was quoted in the post EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS.




Careful attention to the symbolic images will enhance your appreciation for this poem.
.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SACRIFICE


Abraham & Isaac
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Genesis 22
[2] And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there
for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
[3] And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
[4] Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
[5] And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,
[6] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
[7] And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
[8] And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
[9] And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
[10] And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
[11] And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
[12] And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing onto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
[13] And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Ghost of Abel, Plate 2, (E 272)

"Abel--    Are these the Sacrifices of Eternity O Jehovah, a Broken Spirit
        And a Contrite Heart. O I cannot Forgive! the Accuser hath        
        Enterd into Me as into his House & I loathe thy Tabernacles
        As thou hast said so is it come to pass: My desire is unto Cain
        And He doth rule over Me: therefore My Soul in fumes of Blood
        Cries for Vengeance: Sacrifice on Sacrifice Blood on Blood
Jehovah-- Lo I have given you a Lamb for an Atonement instead  

        Of the Transgres[s]or, or no Flesh or Spirit could ever Live
Abel--    Compelled I cry O Earth cover not the Blood of Abel

        Abel sinks down into the Grave. from which arises Satan
          Armed in glittering scales with a Crown & a Spear 

Satan--   I will have Human Blood & not the blood of Bulls or Goats
        And no Atonement O Jehovah the Elohim live on Sacrifice
        Of Men: hence I am God of Men: Thou Human O Jehovah.
        By the Rock & Oak of the Druid creeping Mistletoe & Thorn
        Cains City built with Human Blood, not Blood of Bulls & Goats
        Thou shalt Thyself be Sacrificed to Me thy God on Calvary

Jehovah-- Such is My Will.                     Thunders
                         that Thou Thyself go to Eternal Death
        In Self Annihilation even till Satan Self-subdud Put off Satan
        Into the Bottomless Abyss whose torment arises for ever & ever.

        On each side a Chorus of Angels entering Sing the
               following

The Elohim of the Heathen Swore Vengeance for Sin! Then Thou stoodst
Forth O Elohim Jehovah! in the midst of the darkness of the Oath! All Clothed
In Thy Covenant of the Forgiveness of Sins: Death O Holy! Is this Brotherhood
The Elohim saw their Oath Eternal Fire; they rolled apart trembling over The
Mercy Seat: each in his station fixt in the Firmament by Peace Brotherhood
and Love.

        The Curtain falls

        The Voice of Abels Blood 
        1822 W Blakes Original Stereotype was 1788"
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

TRANSLUCENT WITHIN

Psychological work is done in cooperation between inner awareness and outward behavior. Blake wants to change how the outer world is experienced by changing the inner perceptions.

Kathleen Raine in Golgonooza City of Imagination tells us that:

"We must remember at all times that a 'world' for Blake is situated not in Cartesian space but in consciousness; therefore every change of consciousness changes the world." (Page 18)

and

"Blake, we must remember, is writing of creation not in terms of matter but of consciousness - the faculty which experiences'." (Page 16)

The first lines of Blake's first illuminated book acknowledge 'the faculty which experiences' as the 'true faculty of knowing.'

All Religions are One , (E 1)
"The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness

The Argument As the true method of knowledge is experiment
the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which
experiences. This faculty I treat of."

Raine continues:

"The Universe, according to Orphic tradition, is Apollo's lyre whose harmonies are a divine utterance, a divine communication of meaning and beauty. By banishing the phenomena from the Imagination - the 'faculty which experiences' - they are emptied of all significance, retaining only a quantitative existence. 'What is within is now seen without' and humankind 'raw to the hungry wind' live no longer in immeasurable incorporeal space but 'in a little and dark Land'. Yet even from this fallen race the world of Imagination is not wholly withdrawn; within every creature 'eternity expands'. the mortal worm, oppressed by Urizen, natural reason, has at all times access to the indwelling Imagination: (Page 19)

Jerusalem , Plate 27, (E 173)
"He witherd up the Human Form,
By laws of sacrifice for sin:
Till it became a Mortal Worm:
But O! translucent all within."

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 25, (E 314)
"Their eyes their ears nostrils & tongues roll outward they behold
What is within now seen without they are raw to the hungry wind
They become Nations far remote in a little & dark Land"

To Blake there is no impediment to gaining access to the ever expanding worlds of eternity because within each of us are openings through which we can pass from the mundane to imaginative. The means is available to us too through love, forgiveness, and expanded awareness.

Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)
"I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination"










Illustrations for Milton's L'Allegro
Night Startled by the Lark
Blake's accompanying text: "The Lark is an Angel on the Wing; dull Night starts from his Watch Tower on a Cloud. The Dawn with her dappled Horses arises above the Earth: the Earth beneath awakes at the Lark's voice."

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BLAKE IN THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS



The Library of Congress in Washington DC has an extensive array of Blake's works in its Lessing J Rosenwald Collection. As a part of his interest in illuminated books,
Rosenwald acquired copies of most of Blake's books. Rosenwald donated his collection to the Library of Congress and the National Gallery. The American people as the owners of these two institutions can claim as their own, one of the finest collections of Blake's art in the world. Although the works are rarely shown in public, you can enjoy them online everyday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE


Songs of Innocence (E 16)
Infant Joy

"Sweet Joy Befall Thee"

Besides his well known (to Blake students), A Blake Dictionary, S. Foster Damon wrote William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols, which also has much to teach about Blake's poetry and how it can be understood. This quote about various levels of meaning which the symbol can represent is found on page 65.



"Practically the whole existence of poetry consists of imposing of human values on natural objects...
Symbolism is the recognition and fixation of these values. It is the highest form of that process usually performed by the weaker metaphor and the still weaker simile. The simile states a resemblance, the metaphor states an identity, and the symbol assumes the identity without direct statement. In the first case love would be likened to a rose; in the second case, Love would be called a rose; in the third, the Rose would appear unexplained. There is a still higher rung in this Jacob's Ladder: the rung popularly known as Prophecy. Here the Rose would indicate some particular act in the past, present, or future. A specific temporal significance is thus imposed upon the Symbol, which hitherto dealt with Eternities...
Let us return , then, to the symbol. Blake, of course, knew perfectly well what he was doing. He deliberately interpreted objects to show their relation to, and their expression of, mankind. Everything he saw revealed to him its inner essence, which was in turn the revelation of a truth. Only through this method could Truth be approached. Isis cannot be seen unveiled, for the mortal eye itself is her vesture. The great secrets cannot be told; the very syllables are their mask....
And thus we learn a strange fact: that the clearer, the more precise, Blake's writings become, the more obscure they seem. The trouble is not with Blake, it lies in our own inability to understand. The fires of Hell still seem like torment and insanity to us, the Angles. Therefore Blake cried so fiercely: 'Go! put off Holiness, and put on Intellect!' "

It is not difficult to find passages in Blake to illustrate the use of the symbol to reveal multiple layers of psychological, poetic and spiritual meanings. How does this speak to you?

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 113-114, (E 384)
[Enion speaking:]
"Listen: I will tell you what is done in the caverns of the grave
the lamb of God has rent the veil of mystery
When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away
And so become invisible to those who still remain
Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave

The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery soon to return
In Clouds & Fires around the rock & the Mysterious tree
As the seed waits Eagerly watching for its flower & fruit
Anxious its little soul looks out into the clear expanse
To see if hungry winds are abroad with their invisible army
So Man looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast
Collecting up the scatterd portions of his immortal body
Into the Elemental forms of every thing that grows
He tries the sullen north wind riding on its angry furrows
The sultry south when the sun rises & the angry east
When the sun sets when the clods harden & the cattle stand
Drooping & the birds hide in their silent nests. he stores his thoughts
As in a store house in his memory he regulates the forms
Of all beneath & all above & in the gentle West
Reposes where the Suns heat dwells he rises to the Sun
And to the Planets of the Night & to the stars that gild
The Zodiac & the stars that sullen stand to north & south
He touches the remotest pole & in the Center weeps
That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget & return
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew
In pain he sighs in pain he labours in his universe
Screaming in birds over the deep & howling in the Wolf
Over the slain & moaning in the cattle & in the winds
And weeping over Orc & Urizen in clouds & flaming fires
And in the cries of birth & in the groans of death his voice
Is heard throughout the Universe whereever a grass grows
Or a leaf buds The Eternal Man is seen is heard is felt
And all his Sorrows till he reassumes his ancient bliss"

This is symbolic language at its finest; not allegory, simile or metaphor but living symbols which may enter the Soul of Man: an opportunity to collect the 'scattered portions of [our] immortal bodies.'

Monday, July 11, 2011

WESTERN GATE

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North,
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever.
These are the four Faces towards the Four Worlds of Humanity
In every Man. Ezekiel saw them by Chebars flood.
And the Eyes are the South, and the Nostrils are the East.
And the Tongue is the West, and the Ear is the North.

And the North Gate of Golgonooza toward Generation;
Has four sculpturd Bulls terrible before the Gate of iron.
And iron, the Bulls: and that which looks toward Ulro,
Clay bak'd & enamel'd, eternal glowing as four furnaces:
Turning upon the Wheels of Albions sons with enormous power.
And that toward Beulah four, gold, silver, brass, & iron:

PLATE 13
And that toward Eden, four, form'd of gold, silver, brass, &
iron.

The South, a golden Gate, has four Lions terrible, living!
That toward Generation, four, of iron carv'd wondrous:
That toward Ulro, four, clay bak'd, laborious workmanship
That toward Eden, four; immortal gold, silver, brass & iron.

The Western Gate fourfold, is closd: having four Cherubim
Its guards, living, the work of elemental hands, laborious task!
Like Men, hermaphroditic, each winged with eight wings
That towards Generation, iron; that toward Beulah, stone;
That toward Ulro, clay: that toward Eden, metals.
But all clos'd up till the last day, when the graves shall yield
their dead

The Eastern Gate, fourfold: terrible & deadly its ornaments:
Taking their forms from the Wheels of Albions sons; as cogs
Are formd in a wheel, to fit the cogs of the adverse wheel.
That toward Eden, eternal ice, frozen in seven folds
Of forms of death: and that toward Beulah, stone:
The seven diseases of the earth are carved terrible.

And that toward Ulro, forms of war: seven enormities:
And that toward Generation, seven generative forms."

Milton, Plate 5, (E 98)
"And this is the manner of the Daughters of Albion in their beauty
Every one is threefold in Head & Heart & Reins, & every one
Has three Gates into the Three Heavens of Beulah which shine
Translucent in their Foreheads & their Bosoms & their Loins
Surrounded with fires unapproachable: but whom they please
They take up into their Heavens in intoxicating delight"

In the world of generation man is not Fourfold as he is in Eternity, but is Threefold. In the south is his head, in the east is his heart and in the north is his loins. The west is vacant, or the Western Gate is closed. The body, the fourth aspect in Eternity, no longer gives access to the real world of Eternity. Tharmas, the Zoa of the body, no longer has the ability to provide the integrating force which facilitates the unity of man.

Milton O. Percival gives us his wisdom on this subject in William Blake's Circle of Destiny, (Page 295):

"Note 15.36. cosmic man: That south, east, and north are the head, heart, and loins will not, I suppose, be questioned. The evidence is explicit. The evidence for the west being the Body may be briefly summarized. The west is 'outwards every way.' As the fall begins, Tharmas and Enion (the dual regents of the west) are said to constitute Nature (the cosmic body). At this point also Enion weaves a 'filmy woof' containing Tharmas; this is his new conception of the physical universe. As the fall progresses, it is the world of Tharmas which troubles Urizen (the Mind). At the time of the Flood Tharmas appears as the 'rough demon of the waters,' an overwhelming multiple and material universe. It is he who commands the universe to be rebuilt in the forms of 'death and decay'. The fall drags Enion into the indefinite of matter - into the Grave, whence she speaks with a comprehensive knowledge of the suffering of nature. As regeneration begins and the unity of Eden begins to be restored, Albion is said to gather 'the scattered portions of his immortal body.' The unity of Eden, which is placed in Tharmas's western region, is suggested by the fact that the Eternals live there in 'perfect harmony,' meeting together as 'One Man.'"

The Threefold sexual man of generation cannot be returned to the Fourfold complete man of Eternity unless heart, head, loins and body regain the ability to function in 'perfect harmony' through the opening of his Western Gate.

Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 95 [87] (SECOND PORTION), (E 368)
"If we unite in one[,] another better world will be
Opend within your heart & loins & wondrous brain
Threefold as it was in Eternity & this the fourth Universe
Will be Renewd by the three & consummated in Mental fires
But if thou dost refuse Another body will be prepared"
Genesis 3[23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
[24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.






Blake's Illustrations to Milton's Paradise LostThe Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of EdenButts Set 1808

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Friday, July 8, 2011

WEALTH IN POVERTY

Gospel of Thomas

(29) Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty."

Blake was never wealthy but he went through periods ranging from relative affluence to abject poverty. One constant in his life in spite of his circumstances was that he continued to work at his art whatever difficulties there were. If you look at pictures he produced when you know he was destitute, there is no intimation that he was working in poverty. In fact the period in which he returned to London in 1803 after the three years in Felphan was a time when his income was at a low ebb. However inspiration had returned to him giving him renewed reason to produce what his imagination led him to. His hopes of earning significant income from his art were repeatedly thwarted, but that gave him more time to put into the writing and engraving of Jerusalem which he probably knew from the beginning would not earn appreciable money. In 1818 John Linnell was added to Thomas Butts as a supporter who provided regular commissions. These two men provided the roof over his head and food on the table through years of productive labor when Blake lived according to vision and imagination.

The quote I begin with from the Gospel of Thomas came to mind as I though of the treasures of art and poetry Blake had produced when his outward circumstances were miserable. In a strange way Blake's spirit was expressed in his art because he lived without the world's rewards. His work became the body in which his spirit resided. The 'wonder' of which Jesus spoke, which made its home in this poverty, is seen in the wealth of spirit expressed in Blake as he struggled outwardly with lack and loss and little.

This image from Blake's illustrations for Edward Young's Night Thoughts encapsulates a wealth of ideas which recur in Blake extended myth.
Go to the Library of Congress website for the enlarged view.

The final verse of Holy Thursday epitomises the mental state which allowed Blake to work without regard to outward hardships.

Songs of Innocence, SONGS 33, (E 19)
HOLY THURSDAY

"Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill'd with thorns.
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e'er the sun does shine,
And where-e'er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall."
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CREATION OF EVE

Blake often writes of the splitting off of the emanation from the unified man as an occasion of destruction and sorrow; a portent of a downward spiral of disintegration. This image from the illustrations to Paradise Lost portrays the creation of Eve from the contrary perspective: the Eternal perspective. Eve is seen not as being made of clay as was the description of Adam's creation in the Bible. She is not taken from the flesh of Adam by the removal of one of his ribs. She is created by Christ as a spiritual being, not of the earth or man but as individual with the potential to develop spiritually.

The book William Blake at the Huntington, by Robert N. Essick comments on this picture:

"In Adam's recounting of this scene [in Paradise Lost], he does not specifically refer to Christ's presence. Yet Milton consistently attributes the creation of the world to Christ as the Father's 'effectual might' (3:170) and the performative incarnation of His creative 'Word' (7:163). Thus, Blake's presentation of Christ as Eve's creator does not violate the text even though it stands outside the tradition established by Renaissance paintings such as Michelangelo's Sistine fresco, that God is the divine creator of Eve. Here and elsewhere throughout the Paradise Lost watercolors, Blake takes every opportunity to emphasize Christ's energetic presence.
...In his later writings, however, Blake presents this primal scene as a fortunate fall. As he writes on plate 42 of his conclusive epic, Jerusalem, 'when Man sleeps in Beulah [a version of Eden], the Savior in mercy takes / Contraction's Limit [Adam], and of the Limit he forms Woman: That / Himself may in process of time be born Man to Redeem.' By creating Eve, Christ prepares for His own incarnation in her descendant, the man Jesus." (Page 120)

Paradise Lost , Book 3
John Milton

"To whom the great Creatour thus reply'd.
O Son, in whom my Soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thou spok'n as my thoughts are, all
As my Eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but
sav'd who will,
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely
voutsaft; once more I will renew
His lapsed powers,"


Click on picture to enlarge.
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PERCEPTION

Ezekiel once acted out a bizarre symptom of the prospects of the Israelites, lying for 3 months on his right side, then 3 months on his left. Mr.Blake once had a conversation with him and asked him why he had done it and the answer came clearly: "the desire of raising other [people] into a perception of the infinite".

Who can doubt that William actually had that interview with Zeke? But if truth be known, that desire became the agenda for Blake's life, and perhaps the generic life purpose of every true prophet.

He saw things that most of us don't, and he urgently needed to show them to us, to show us how to see them.

There are many kinds of seeing and many levels of consciousness, but with the natural proclivity to resort to the dialectic we might say there are two:

1. The sense-based, natural, materialistic consciousness (Blake called this Ulro; Jesus called it Hell).

2. Vision, coming forth from the inner man, the Light, the Now. It's a different kind of consciousness, a perception of the infinite (Blake called it Eden; Jesus called it the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God).

Jesus showed us with his life how to live eternally; and he told us we could do it. Blake did it, periodically at least, and like Jesus he wanted us to share that heavenly gift.

He called it Vision; that's what he lived for, those eternal moments were all that matters. If you can't do it continuously, then you can talk about it, write about it, draw it, paint it. He did (and you can) show us how to see.

Do you want to see? Read Blake.

Posted by Larry
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Sunday, July 3, 2011

DOOR OF DEATH


Plate 1

JerusalemBritish Museum



Blake's Jerusalem begins with a memorable image of Los entering the dark doorway of a crypt carrying in his hand a light to illuminate his steps. The ideas contained in the post CONSUMED IN FIRE follow from the concepts incorporated in the image and legend in this frontispiece. The 'Door of death' which Los enters is to the world which we call life. Entering the physical world is experienced as Death to eternity. Reentering eternity is experienced as death to the world. In the Gospels Jesus had this to say:

Luke 17
[33] Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

John 12
[25] He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

Minna Doskow's book Jerusalem: Structure and Meaning in Poetry and Picture analyzes the text and illustrations of Jerusalem. Also included is a facsimile of Blake's book which facilitates the study of both facets of Blake's communication. She writes this about the initial plate of Jerusalem:

"The full-page illustration of Los entering 'the Door of Death for Albion's sake Inspired' (1:19) with which Jerusalem opens captures the situation of the whole poem in the image of a single action, a single figure, and a single moment. From the graffiti over the doorway, we learn of the two adjacent, coexistent, and omnipresent realms the the poem explores - the Void (also called sleep, Ulro, or Generation in the poem) and Existence (alternatively called awakening, Eden, or Eternity). While the poem tells us much about the meaning of these two realms, this plate immediately gives us their salient features. Existence is characterized by the imaginative light pictured in the illustration, while the Void is poetically described by sleep, shadow and rock (1:3-4). Albion's initial position is in the void, dead, with petrified and 'fixed' intellect and emotions (his 'sublime' and 'pathetic' qualities [1:4]), enclosed by limited reason (his covering 'Spectrous Power' [1:5]), which does not allow him to see further than this fallen universe that he creates and is limited to (1:1-2)." (Page 26)

Jerusalem, Title Page, (E 144)
"JERUSALEM
The Emanation of The Giant Albion
1804 Printed by W. Blake Sth Molton St.

PLATE 1

[The following text is not visible in this copy of the plate but readable on other copies.]

[Above the archway:]

"There is a Void, outside of Existence, which if enterd into
Englobes itself & becomes a Womb, such was Albions Couch
A pleasant Shadow of Repose calld Albions lovely Land

His Sublime & Pathos become Two Rocks fixd in the Earth
His Reason his Spectrous Power, covers them above
Jerusalem his Emanation is a Stone laying beneath
O [Albion behold Pitying] behold the Vision of Albion

[On right side of archway:]

Half Friendship is the bitterest Enmity said Los
As he enterd the Door of Death for Albions sake Inspired
The long sufferings of God are not for ever there is a Judgment

[On left side, in reversed writing:]

Every Thing has its Vermin O Spectre of the Sleeping Dead"

As Doskow implies, she and Blake both wrote their books to 'contrast between sleep in Ulro (Albion's fallen state) and the awakened Eternal Life (the Savior's unified state of identity and mutual love between man and God) [which] could not become more complete than it is at the outset.' (Page 16)

It is all about changing sleep to awakening, death to life, Ulro to Eternity.
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