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

Saturday, September 10, 2011


In the British Museum is the one complete copy of Blake's Small Book of Designs which includes 23 Plates. It is designated Copy A because pages from a second copy (B) are scattered among various owners. There is not a complete second set, but duplicates of 16 plates have been located. Many of the images from the second copy bear inscriptions.

The British Museum has recently released its collection
of non-copyright protected material for non-commercial educational use. The images of the Small Book of Designs are distributed among the 1697 items found in a search of the database for William Blake. With appreciation to the British Museum, I display Page 1 of the Small Book of Designs which reproduces the Title page of the Book of Urizen. From the duplicate in Copy B, we learn the inscription for the page:

Page 1
From the Book of UrizenTitle Plate

Which is the Way/The Right or the Left

David Erdman in The Illuminated Blake describes the picture: Urizen holds in his left hand a quill for writing in his book (law); in his right he holds a brush of engraver for illustrating it (imagination). "He is writing secrets and commandments, but his copy book is enrooting; the closed books in which he is transcribing may be seen as a single coffin lid; the Mosaic tablets at his back (where the proverb-communicating Devil of Marriage 10 has living wings) suggest a double tombstone: are both Testaments stony to Urizen?" (Page 183)

Urizen, Plate 2, (E 70)
"Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,
When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;
And gave him a place in the north,
Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary."

Urizen, Plate 4, (E 72)
"7. Lo! I unfold my darkness: and on
This rock, place with strong hand the Book
Of eternal brass, written in my solitude.

8. Laws of peace, of love, of unity:
Of pity, compassion, forgiveness.
Let each chuse one habitation:
His ancient infinite mansion:
One command, one joy, one desire,
One curse, one weight, one measure
One King, one God, one Law.

Chap: III.

1. The voice ended, they saw his pale visage
Emerge from the darkness; his hand
On the rock of eternity unclasping
The Book of brass. Rage siez'd the strong

2. Rage, fury, intense indignation
In cataracts of fire blood & gall
In whirlwinds of sulphurous smoke:
And enormous forms of energy;
All the seven deadly sins of the soul

In living creations appear'd
In the flames of eternal fury."

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 80, (E 355)
"And Urizen Read in his book of brass in sounding tones

Listen O Daughters to my voice Listen to the Words of Wisdom
So shall [ye] govern over all let Moral Duty tune your tongue
But be your hearts harder than the nether millstone
To bring the shadow of Enitharmon beneath our wondrous tree
That Los may Evaporate like smoke & be no more
Draw down Enitharmon to the Spectre of Urthona
And let him have dominion over Los the terrible shade

Compell the poor to live upon a Crust of bread by soft mild arts
Smile when they frown frown when they smile & when a man looks pale
With labour & abstinence say he looks healthy & happy
And when his children Sicken let them die there are enough
Born even too many & our Earth will be overrun
Without these arts If you would make the poor live with temper
With pomp give every crust of bread you give with gracious cunning
Magnify small gifts reduce the man to want a gift & then give with pomp
Say he smiles if you hear him sigh If pale say he is ruddy
Preach temperance say he is overgorgd & drowns his wit
In strong drink tho you know that bread & water are all
He can afford Flatter his wife pity his children till we can

Reduce all to our will as spaniels are taught with art"

The alternative way to Urizen's Book of Brass is not offered in these passages but can be constructed from the poetry.

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 145)
"The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of Sin: he who
waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviours kingdom,
the Divine Body; will never enter there."

Jerusalem, Plate 22, (E 168)
"Jerusalem then stretchd her hand toward the Moon & spoke

Why should Punishment Weave the Veil with Iron Wheels of War
When Forgiveness might it Weave with Wings of Cherubim"

The Book of Brass is the attempt to "Create a Heaven in which all shall be pure & holy In their Own Selfhoods" to claim for ones own reasoning power and self perception of moral virtue what God has freely given to us. His is the 'kingdom, the power and the glory.'
Jerusalem, Plate 49, (E 199)
"Striving to Create a Heaven in which all shall be pure & holy
In their Own Selfhoods, in Natural Selfish Chastity to banish Pity
And dear Mutual Forgiveness; & to become One Great Satan
Inslavd to the most powerful Selfhood: to murder the Divine Humanity
In whose sight all are as the dust & who chargeth his Angels with folly!

Romans 6

[23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Phillipians 2
[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
[7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name


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