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

Monday, October 24, 2011


On the back of a sketch for the final plate for Milton these words appear:

Notebook, Inscriptions, (E 674)
"Father & Mother I return
From flames of fire tried & pure & white"

John Milton ends Paradise Regained with the statement that Jesus returned to his home and mother, while Luke and Matthew state simply that Jesus returned to Galilee. Blake uses this last illustration to Paradise Regained, which was his final illustration of Milton's works, to tie together the Biblical temptation, Paradise Regained and his own teaching about the role of the feminine. To Blake the process described in Jesus' encounter with temptation in the wilderness was incomplete until the relationship of Jesus with the feminine was included.

Paradise Regained ends with these words:

Paradise Regained
"Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both Worlds,
Queller of Satan! On thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save Mankind."
Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refreshed,
Brought on his way with joy. He, unobserved,
Home to his mother's house private returned. "

The wilderness experience in Luke ends with these words:

[13] And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
[14] And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Jesus is about to enter a new phase of his life. His time in the wilderness (40 days, a symbolic period of testing and preparation) completed, Jesus returns to his home, his mother, the community of which he had been a part. The man who comes back is not the man who left. His relationship with his mother is altered. She had been a cord who tied him to the physical world of family, neighbors and mundane responsibilities. Now he sees the female dimension differently. Man must be united with the feminine as his emanation, his Jerusalem, the connectivity between heaven and earth. The incarnation which Jesus would teach depended on reuniting the contraries of masculine and feminine which are divided in the world of generation.

Jerusalem, PLATE 39 [44],(E 187)
"Man is adjoind to Man by his Emanative portion:
Who is Jerusalem in every individual Man: and her
Shadow is Vala, builded by the Reasoning power in Man
O search & see: turn your eyes inward: open O thou World
Of Love & Harmony in Man: expand thy ever lovely Gates."

Blake is teaching us to distinguish the characteristics of the Eternal world from those of the world of our experience, the world of generation.

Paradise Regained
Image # 12
Christ returns to His mother

At the physical level the feminine is split from the masculine. If the feminine (substance) competes with the masculine aspect (spirit), a destructive paradigm results. As a perfect unity the feminine exists as an aspect of the complete male. If the return to his mother's house meant return to the divided condition which existed before the temptation, Blake would have portrayed separation and disintegration in his illustration. Instead he portrays the feminine as Jerusalem the spiritual nature which binds together man's multiple dimensions and binds man to man.

Jerusalem , Plate 71, (E 224)
"As the Soul is to the Body, so Jerusalems Sons,
Are to the Sons of Albion: and Jerusalem is Albions Emanation
What is Above is Within, for every-thing in Eternity is translucent:
The Circumference is Within: Without, is formed the Selfish Center
And the Circumference still expands going forward to Eternity."

Jerusalem, Plate 88 (E246), we learn why the female Emanations are so essential to man:
"When in Eternity Man converses with Man they enter
Into each others Bosom (which are Universes of delight)
In mutual interchange. and first their Emanations meet
Surrounded by their Children. if they embrace & comingle
The Human Four-fold Forms mingle also in thunders of Intellect
But if the Emanations mingle not; with storms & agitations
Of earthquakes & consuming fires they roll apart in fear
For Man cannot unite with Man but by their Emanations
Which stand both Male & Female at the Gates of each Humanity"

Jerusalem, Plate 4,(E 146)
"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!"

The contrasting condition which the sexes play in the fallen condition is epitomized in this passage:

Jerusalem, Plate 92 (E 251)
"Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:
When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin:
All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit
Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time.
In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore
And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid
The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment. Beholding them
Displayd in the Emanative Visions of Canaan in Jerusalem & in Shiloh
And in the Shadows of Remembrance, & in the Chaos of the Spectre
Amalek, Edom, Egypti, Moab, Ammon, Ashur, Philistea, around Jerusalem"

How different is the female in her eternal dimension:

Four Zoas, Page 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376)
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire"

Joseph Anthony Wittreich, in his chapter 'Opening the Seals' in Blake's Sublime Allegory, considers Paradise Regained and its theme of return to hold the essence of Blake's myth.
"It should be said that, for Blake, Paradise Regained was the one poem in epic tradition to which he could give his allegiance, the one poem from which he would accept 'dictation.' The form of Blake's Milton and the form of Blake's Jerusalem emphasize return. Both poems pick up where Paradise Regained leaves off - with the true poet-prophet-orator (Milton-Los-Blake), having annihilated selfhood, which is Satan, returning to civilization to begin the work of redemption. By withstanding the temptation of the pinnacle, Christ displays his enormous love for God; by returning to his mother's house he displays his enormous love for man. This moment of return is Christ's deed above heroic, and it constitutes the moment when contemplation, having unfolded into vision, is translated into form and action. Blake's designs to [Paradise Regained] - the last complete set of illustrations to Milton that Blake did (and he did them during the time when Jerusalem was being etched) - fasten attention on the moment on the pinnacle and to the moment of return." (Page 51-2)

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