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

Saturday, February 18, 2012


An earlier post focused on the ark of Noah. Blake's mention of an ark refers more often to the Ark of the Covenant which originally held the tablets of law written by Moses at God's instruction. Stationed at the center of the temple, covered by the cherubim and the mercy seat, secluded by curtains, it occupied the 'holy of holies'.

Exodus 25
[10] And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
[14] And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
[15] The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
[16] And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
[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.

Northrop Frye sees the original vision of God which was memorialised by the ark, as having been abandoned and forgotten. The ark became an empty shell as a symbol used for magic and mystery by a fallen people.

Fearful Symmetry , Page 368
"The image of God carried by the Hebrews was an 'ark.' The true ark of God is the human body, as Jesus implied when he identified his body with the temple. But as the Israelite culture declined, the term 'ark' became attached to a tabooed object, jealously guarded by priests, causing plagues and death to those who touched it, heavily curtained, and used as a palladium in war. What the Hebrews really had was an image of the female will or Vala, who later got control of the Jewish temple and the Christian church in the same way. When the Hebrews finally took Jerusalem, made it their capital, and brought the ark into it, Jerusalem thereby became the fallen Jerusalem on the level with Egypt and Babylon."

The symbol was given new life by Jesus who removed the secrecy which hid a religion of rules and rituals.

[1] Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
[2] For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
[3] And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
[4] Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
[5] And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
[23] It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
[24] For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Acts 7
[48] Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
[49] Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

Second Corinthians 5
[1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Fearful Symmetry, Page 381
"...The curtains of the ark and the veil in the temple which concealed the nothingness of the Pharisees' God and which was rent by Jesus, need no further explanation."

Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 142)
"These are the destroyers of Jerusalem, these are the murderers
Of Jesus, who deny the Faith & mock at Eternal Life:
Who pretend to Poetry that they may destroy Imagination;
By imitation of Natures Images drawn from Remembrance
These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains
Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire
Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration."

Design of the last Judgment, (E 553)
"To Ozias Humphry Esqre

Behind the Seat & Throne of Christ appears
the Tabernacle with its Veil opened the Candlestick
on the right the Table with the Shew bread on the left in
midst is the Cross in place of the Ark Cherubim bowing over it
On the Right hand of the Throne of Christ is Baptism On
the left is the Lords Supper the two introducers into Eternal Life
Women with Infants approach the Figure of an aged Apostle which represents
Baptism & on the left hand
the Lords Supper is administerd by
Angels from the hands of another Apostle these
kneel on each side of the Throne which is surrounded by a Glory
many Infants appear in the Glory
representing the Eternal Creation flowing from the Divine
Humanity in Jesus who opens the Scroll of Judgment upon his knees
before the Living & the Dead
Such is the Design which you my Dear Sir have been the cause
of my producing & which but for you might have slept till the
Last Judgment


Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 562)
"Over the Head of the Saviour & Redeemer The Holy
Spirit like a Dove is surrounded by a blue Heaven in which are
the two Cherubim that bowd over the Ark for here the temple is
opend in Heaven & the Ark of the Covenant is as a Dove of Peace
The Curtains are drawn apart Christ having rent the Veil The
Candlestick & the Table of Shew bread appear on Each side a
Glorification of Angels with Harps surrou[n]d the Dove"

Annotations to Lavater, (E 596)
"man is the ark of God the mercy seat is above upon the ark
cherubims guard it on either side & in the midst is the holy law.
man is either the ark of God or a phantom of the earth & of the

The Vision of the Last Judgement

Pen and watercolour,
510 x 395 mm


Petworth House, Sussex, National Trust

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