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

Monday, February 20, 2012


We are told that above the Ark of the Covenant are the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim. The law of Moses is enclosed in the Ark representing the Justice of God. God's mercy is represented by the Cherubim and Mercy Seat.

Exodus 25
[16] And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
[17] And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
[18] And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
[19] And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
[20] And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
[21] And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
[22] And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Justice and mercy are meant to be twin attributes of God. Pleas for mercy abound in the Old Testament, but the law dominates the practice of the priests. In the New Testament, Jesus points out that 'judgment, mercy and faith' are the weightier matters of the law.

Matthew 23
[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.

Jesus emphasises forgiveness. It is through God's mercy and love not through adhering to the law in good works that salvation is received.

Titus 3
[5] Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Ephesians 2

[4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
[5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
[6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
[7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
[9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Blake's Albion speaks his last words; there is nothing more he can do. But the tender mercies of Jesus hold and protect him until his awakening.

Jerusalem, Plate 47, (E 196)
"Therefore I write Albions last words. Hope is banish'd from me.
Plate 48
These were his last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages. Then, surrounded with a Cloud:
In silence the Divine Lord builded with immortal labour,
Of gold & jewels a sublime Ornament, a Couch of repose,
With Sixteen pillars: canopied with emblems & written verse.
Spiritual Verse, order'd & measur'd, from whence, time shall reveal."

Justice, the operation of the law, is said to be one of the 'iron pillars of Satans throne.'

Milton, PLATE 29 [31], (E 128)
"Then Los conducts the Spirits to be Vegetated, into
Great Golgonooza, free from the four iron pillars of Satans Throne
(Temperance, Prudence, justice, Fortitude, the four pillars of
That Satans Watch-Fiends touch them not before they Vegetate."

Here we find that Albion has turned from the courts of Jerusalem including the 'Cherubim of Tender-mercy' into the 'Wastes of Moral Law.' But the work of redemption through mercy will be accomplished with forgiveness and patience.

erusalem, Plate 24, (E 169)

[Albion speaks]
"O what is Life & what is Man. O what is Death? Wherefore
Are you my Children, natives in the Grave to where I go
Or are you born to feed the hungry ravenings of Destruction
To be the sport of Accident! to waste in Wrath & Love, a weary
Life, in brooding cares & anxious labours, that prove but chaff.
O Jerusalem Jerusalem I have forsaken thy Courts
Thy Pillars of ivory & gold: thy Curtains of silk & fine
Linen: thy Pavements of precious stones: thy Walls of pearl
And gold, thy Gates of Thanksgiving thy Windows of Praise:
Thy Clouds of Blessing; thy Cherubims of Tender-mercy
Stretching their Wings sublime over the Little-ones of Albion
O Human Imagination O Divine Body I have Crucified
I have turned my back upon thee into the Wastes of Moral Law:
There Babylon is builded in the Waste, founded in Human desolation."
Jerusalem, Plate 13, (E 157)
(But whatever is visible to the Generated Man,
Is a Creation of mercy & love, from the Satanic Void.)

Milton, PLATE 23 [25], (E 119)
"Remember how Calvin and Luther in fury premature
Sow'd War and stern division between Papists & Protestants
Let it not be so now! O go not forth in Martyrdoms & Wars
We were plac'd here by the Universal Brotherhood & Mercy
With powers fitted to circumscribe this dark Satanic death
And that the Seven Eyes of God may have space for Redemption.
But how this is as yet we know not, and we cannot know;
Till Albion is arisen; then patient wait a little while,"

Jerusalem, Plate 88, (E 247)
"The blow of his Hammer is Justice. the swing of his Hammer: Mercy.
The force of Los's Hammer is eternal Forgiveness; but
His rage or his mildness were vain, she [Enitharmon] scatterd his love on the wind
Eastward into her own Center, creating the Female Womb
In mild Jerusalem around the Lamb of God."

British Museum
Watercolor 1795-97
Illustration to Edward Young's Night Thoughts

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