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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Illustrations to the Book of Job
Linnell Set
Picture 14

Blake's famous concept of Fourfold is something of a misnomer. The fourfoldness of Blake's system is repeated at multiple levels. For instance, the Zoas each contained aspects of the three other Zoas. The mathematical concept of fractals may give us a handle on the way Blake keeps dividing his entities into replicas at more minute scales. The information contained at each level of the fractal supplies the information for other levels. Just as the hologram contains all of the information for the entire image in each particular, each iteration of the fractal is a replication of the original. Blake's multiple divisions allow us to examine the repetition of manifestations of archetypical entities as they are visible in multiple situations.

In this passage from Jerusalem, Blake is clearly inviting us to dig deeper as we explore the gates through which transitions are accomplished. I've divided the passage into sections to emphasise the repetition of four within each of the four gates. I've italicised the number four of which there are 17 occurrences.

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;
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:

And that toward Eden,
four, form'd of gold, silver, brass, &

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.

And every part of the City is fourfold; & every inhabitant,
And every pot & vessel & garment & utensil of the houses,
And every house,
fourfold; but the third Gate in every one
Is closd as with a threefold curtain of ivory & fine linen &
And Luban stands in middle of the City. a moat of fire,
Surrounds Luban, Los's Palace & the golden Looms of Cathedron."

Blake's symbols do not readily yield their content. This is partly because the meaning they convey can be read as viewed from afar or from close-up. We focus our eyes on the object or on a plane to which we want to give attention. Blake has written in such a way that the focus of our attention will allow us to move about his worlds in their infinite variety.

Letters , 16, to Thomas Butts, (E 712)

"Each grain of Sand
 Every Stone on the Land
 Each rock & each hill
 Each fountain & rill
 Each herb & each tree
 Mountain hill Earth & Sea
 Cloud Meteor & Star
 Are Men Seen Afar"

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