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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

FALL OF ADAM II

Wikipedia
Paradise Lost
Illustration 10, 1807 
In an illustration to Milton's Paradise Lost, Blake presented another view of the judgement that fell on Adam and Eve for their disobedience. Following Milton's statement, 'So judg'd he Man, both Judge and Saviour sent,' (Book 10.209), Blake pictured Christ, not Jehovah, as informing Adam and Eve of the consequences of their eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The were expelled from Eden and sent into the world which Blake calls generation.

The book of 1John (Chapter 2) in the bible, echoes the gentler attitude toward sin which Christ demonstrates in the picture painted by Blake:

"[ 1] My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"

However the darker side of separating oneself from the Divine Presence is shown in the upper section of the picture. Here we see Sin and Death, who have been given entry into the world through the opening of the Gate of Hell. Death, to the left wearing a crown, and sin to the right with the three headed hound of hell, are in readiness to work their foul deeds in the world walled off from Eden. 

 
Sin & Death: the children of Satan.
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 34)
"And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death" 

The Female is
      now separate from the Male: the criteria for the generative world.
 Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 133, (E 401)
"The Eternal Man arose he welcomd them to the Feast
The feast was spread in the bright South & the Eternal Man
Sat at the feast rejoicing & the wine of Eternity
Was servd round by the flames of Luvah all day & all the night

And Many Eternal Men sat at the golden feast to see 
The female form now separate They shudderd at the horrible thing
Not born for the sport and amusement of Man but born to drink up all his powers
They wept to see their shadows they said to one another this is Sin  
This is the Generative world"

Benevolent provision which is made for the new world to be inhabited by man: the Divine Vision.
Four Zoas, Night II, Page 32, (E 321)
"On clouds the Sons of Urizen beheld Heaven walled round       
They weighd & orderd all & Urizen comforted saw               
The wondrous work flow forth like visible out of the invisible   
For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision       
Permitted all lest Man should fall into Eternal Death
For when Luvah sunk down himself put on the robes of blood
Lest the state calld Luvah should cease. & the Divine Vision
Walked in robes of blood till he who slept should awake          

Thus were the stars of heaven created like a golden chain
To bind the Body of Man to heaven from failing into the Abyss"
. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FALL OF ADAM

Genesis 3
[17] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
[18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
[19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
[20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
[21] Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
[22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
[23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
[24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.                                                           


The Metropolitan Museum of Art
God Judging Adam
ca. 1795
            
A comment from Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye:
"The Fall began by the separation of Eve from Adam and once that had taken place Eve became allied with the reasoning serpent. This closely approximates Blake's account of the fall of Albion and his surrender to Vala, while 'the vast form of Nature, like a Serpent, roll'd between.'" Page 352

Jerusalem, Plate 43 [29], (E 192)

"Then frownd the fallen Man, and put forth Luvah from his presence
Saying. Go and Die the Death of Man, for Vala the sweet wanderer.
I will turn the volutions of your ears outward, and bend your nostrils
Downward, and your fluxile eyes englob'd roll round in fear:
Your withring lips and tongue shrink up into a narrow circle,
Till into narrow forms you creep: go take your fiery way:        
And learn what tis to absorb the Man you Spirits of Pity & Love.

They heard the voice and fled swift as the winters setting sun.
And now the human blood foamd high, the Spirits Luvah & Vala,
Went down the Human Heart where Paradise & its joys abounded,
In jealous fears & fury & rage, & flames roll round their fervid feet:   
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent playd before them
And as they fled in folding fires & thunders of the deep:

Vala shrunk in like the dark sea that leaves its slimy banks.
And from her bosom Luvah fell far as the east and west.
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent rolld between,        
Whether of Jerusalems or Valas ruins congenerated, we know not:
All is confusion: all is tumult, & we alone are escaped.

So spoke the fugitives; they joind the Divine Family, trembling"                                           


Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 86, (E 369)
"Then Los plucked the fruit & Eat & sat down in Despair
And must have given himself to death Eternal But
Urthonas spectre in part mingling with him comforted him  
Being a medium between him & Enitharmon   But This Union
Was not to be Effected without Cares & Sorrows & Troubles
Of six thousand Years of self denial and of bitter Contrition" 
 
Jerusalem, Plate 42,  (E 189)


"There is a limit of Opakeness, and a limit of Contraction;
In every Individual Man, and the limit of Opakeness,             
Is named Satan: and the limit of Contraction is named Adam.
But when Man sleeps in Beulah, the Saviour in mercy takes
Contractions Limit, and of the Limit he forms Woman: That
Himself may in process of time be born Man to redeem
But there is no Limit of Expansion! there is no Limit of Translucence.   
In the bosom of Man for ever from eternity to eternity."


Laocoon, (E 273)
"Adam is only The Natural Man & not the Soul or Imagination" 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

WARS OF LOVE


Two of the worst offences against the religion of Jesus in Blake's opinion were war and chastity. War in Eternity is an intellectual activity.  

Jerusalem, Plate 33 [37], (E 180) 
"...Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love, 
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought: 
Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing 
We live as One Man;" 

War on earth comes from jealousy, vengeance and the desire to control and dominate. The religion of chastity has its roots in the same emotions.  

Jerusalem, Plate 69,(E 223) 
"And now the Spectres of the Dead awake in Beulah: all 
The Jealousies become Murderous: uniting together in Rahab 
A Religion of Chastity, forming a Commerce to sell Loves 
With Moral Law, an Equal Balance, not going down with decision 
Therefore the Male severe & cruel filld with stern Revenge: 
Mutual Hate returns & mutual Deceit & mutual Fear." 

Enforced chastity is a tool of oppression growing out of revenge, hate, deceit and fear as Blake intimates.
Yale Center for British Art
Young's Night Thoughts, Page 75 
 
The Everlasting Gospel, (E 521) 
"Was Jesus Chaste or did he
Give any Lessons of Chastity
The morning blushd fiery red
Mary was found in Adulterous bed
Earth groand beneath & Heaven above   
Trembled at discovery of Love
Jesus was sitting in Moses Chair
They brought the trembling Woman There
Moses commands she be stoned to Death
What was the sound of Jesus breath              
He laid his hand on Moses Law
The Ancient Heavens in Silent Awe
Writ with Curses from Pole to Pole
All away began to roll
The Earth trembling & Naked lay    
In secret bed of Mortal Clay
On Sinai felt the hand Divine
Putting back the bloody shrine
And she heard the breath of God
As she heard by Edens flood     
Good & Evil are no more                         
Sinais trumpets cease to roar
Cease finger of God to Write
The Heavens are not clean in thy Sight
Thou art Good & thou Alone     
Nor may the sinner cast one stone
To be Good only is to be
A Devil or else a Pharisee                      
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine
That didst create this Body of Mine   
Wherefore has[t] thou writ these Laws
And Created Hells dark jaws
My Presence I will take from thee
A Cold Leper thou shalt be
Tho thou wast so pure & bright    
That Heaven was Impure in thy Sight       
Tho thy Oath turnd Heaven Pale
Tho thy Covenant built Hells Jail
Tho thou didst all to Chaos roll
With the Serpent for its soul     
Still the breath Divine does move
And the breath Divine is Love
Mary Fear Not Let me see
The Seven Devils that torment thee
Hide not from my Sight thy Sin       
That forgiveness thou maist win
Has no Man Condemned thee
No Man Lord! then what is he
Who shall Accuse thee. Come Ye forth
Fallen Fiends of Heavnly birth       
That have forgot your Ancient love
And driven away my trembling Dove
You shall bow before her feet
You shall lick the dust for Meat
And tho you cannot Love but Hate      
Shall be beggars at Loves Gate
What was thy love Let me see it               
Was it love or Dark Deceit
Love too long from Me has fled.
Twas dark deceit to Earn my bread      
Twas Covet or twas Custom or
Some trifle not worth caring for              
That they may call a shame & Sin              
Loves Temple that God dwelleth in             
And hide in secret hidden Shrine      
The Naked Human form divine
.And render that a Lawless thing
On which the Soul Expands its wing
But this O Lord this was my Sin
When first I let these Devils in      
In dark pretence to Chastity
Blaspheming Love blaspheming thee
Thence Rose Secret Adulteries
And thence did Covet also rise
My Sin thou hast forgiven me        
Canst thou forgive my Blasphemy
Canst thou return to this dark Hell
And in my burning bosom dwell
And canst thou Die that I may live
And canst thou Pity & forgive"       

Love and forgiveness restore the balance between male and female. The heart is opened to the indwelling spirit. 

Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256) 
"And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love
Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying 
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love 
And the Hand of Man grasps firm between the Male & Female Loves 
And he Clothed himself in Bow & Arrows in awful state Fourfold" 
.

Friday, May 25, 2012

BECOME AS WE BEHOLD

Blake frequently uses the word 'behold' to indicate an intense sort of seeing in which the attention is fixed upon the object. Biblical scholars note that 'behold' is used in this way in the Old and New Testaments. Blake's statement that 'If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite', refers to the same ability to see as he means by 'behold'.

John 1
[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
[36] And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

To invest oneself in the object of perception opens one to the possibility of transformation. Perception becomes a reciprocal relationship in which object and perceiver each influence the other.______
Los is transformed as he beholds Urizen becoming a separate entity as the sensory organs developed. Los responds as the 'red Round Globe' separates into a female and the male form follows. In this instance the negative activity which is beheld leads to further splitting and deconstruction.

 
Milton, Plate 3, (E 97) 
"Enraged & stifled without & within: in terror & woe, he threw his
Right Arm to the north, his left Arm to the south, & his Feet  
Stampd the nether Abyss in trembling & howling & dismay
And a seventh Age passed over & a State of dismal woe

Terrified Los stood in the Abyss & his immortal limbs
Grew deadly pale; he became what he beheld: for a red
Round Globe sunk down from his Bosom into the Deep in pangs  
He hoverd over it trembling & weeping. suspended it shook
The nether Abyss in temblings. he wept over it, he cherish'd it
In deadly sickening pain: till separated into a Female pale
As the cloud that brings the snow: all the while from his Back
A blue fluid exuded in Sinews hardening in the Abyss       
Till it separated into a Male Form howling in Jealousy"

 
In Jerusalem we learn that beholding the Eternal Vision is what maintains the continued 
existence of the human.  

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 179)
"Turning from Universal Love petrific as he went,
His cold against the warmth of Eden rag'd with loud
Thunders of deadly war (the fever of the human soul)
Fires and clouds of rolling smoke! but mild the Saviour follow'd him,   

Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:"

The divided man is incompatible with the Eternal Vision and becomes 
screened off in the darkness of the void. The Eternals protect themselves 
from viewing the divisions by erecting curtains to avoid  beholding the 
distorted universe created by Urizen.  

Yale Center for British Art
Book of Urizen
Plate 17 

Urizen, Plate 18,(E 78)
"9. All Eternity shudderd at sight
Of the first female now separate                       
Pale as a cloud of snow
Waving before the face of Los

10. Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,
Petrify the eternal myriads;
At the first female form now separate                  

PLATE 19
They call'd her Pity, and fled

11. "Spread a Tent, with strong curtains around them
"Let cords & stakes bind in the Void
That Eternals may no more behold them"

12. They began to weave curtains of darkness           
They erected large pillars round the Void
With golden hooks fastend in the pillars
With infinite labour the Eternals
A woof wove, and called it Science"

The opposite movement is produced by beholding 'the good, the true and the 
beautiful' as Paul advises us to do in Philippians: 

Philippians 4 
[8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
 
Milton, PLATE 13 [14], (E 106)
"For then the Body of Death was perfected in hypocritic holiness, 

Around the Lamb, a Female Tabernacle woven in Cathedrons Looms
He died as a Reprobate. he was Punish'd as a Transgressor!
Glory! Glory! Glory! to the Holy Lamb of God
I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord!

The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet      
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour.
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live.
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death.
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."            

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 179)
"Turning from Universal Love petrific as he went,
His cold against the warmth of Eden rag'd with loud
Thunders of deadly war (the fever of the human soul)
Fires and clouds of rolling smoke! but mild the Saviour follow'd him,   

Displaying the Eternal Vision! the Divine Similitude!
In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends
Which if Man ceases to behold, he ceases to exist:

Saying. Albion! Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love,
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought:       
Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing
We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,        
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,
In Eden: in the garden of God: and in heavenly Jerusalem.        
If we have offended, forgive us, take not vengeance against us.

Thus speaking; the Divine Family follow Albion:"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

GATES OF PARADISE

Among Blake's works is a little book of only 16 plates which he produced early in his career - in 1793. It is titled For Children: Gates of Paradise. In 1818 he re-engraved the same images, added a frontispiece, tailpiece, and explanatory couplets for each picture. The new book was titled For the Sexes: Gates of Paradise.

The children to whom the first book was addressed may be the innocents, those who had not travelled far along the journey. Gates of Paradise is not presented as an account of violent activities such as those portrayed in The Book of Urizen. Instead it's a roadmap to psychic development. Blake is trying to lead us through the process of psychological evolution, but he does not express himself in clear rational language in either the first or second version. The reader is asked to use his intuition to retrieve from his unconscious, archetypal content to associate with the images supplied. The second version addressed To the Sexes seems to recognise that it is those who are in the stage of 'generation' who will benefit from these insights.

In his book Symbol and Image in William Blake, George Wingfield Digby, presents a thorough psychological commentary plate by plate. On page 6, Digby says: "But the purpose of this form of communication is not to make explicit statements. It is to evoke and direct attention to psychological events and states of consciousness by means other than that of the intellectual concept, which is rooted in dualism."

So the first plate pictures a caterpillar on a leaf and a chrysalis with the face of a baby; the caption is 'What is man!'; and the associated couplet is 'The Sun's Light when he unfolds it / Depends on the Organ that beholds it.' So we are at the beginning; we want to find out what man is; we may go in one direction or another; to develop psychologically man must begin to see things differently; not just what one sees, but the way in which one sees things must be altered.

British Museum
Gates of Paradise
Frontispiece
The frontispiece captures two stages in the life cycle of the insect. The infant is emerging from the dormant stage of the chrysalis; he is entering the world of outward activity in which his potential may be realised.  The larval stage is represented too; it is feeding on the leaf, assimilating the outer world for its growth. Implied is the butterfly stage of development which Blake uses to represent the achievement of the spiritual level of development.

This image from the British Museum was photographed showing the gage with the measurement of the image. Blake packed all these ideas into an image only 2 1/2 inches in height. There are five known copies of For Children: The Gates of Paradise, including the one in the British Museum and one in the Library of Congress. 


To view all of the pages of For Children: The Gates of Paradise go to the Library of Congress website, page down to Rosenwald 1813, For children: The gates of Paradise. La MBeth, W. Burke, 1793. [1], select PDF, and download it to your computer.  
.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

SERVANTS OF MANKIND

John Middleton Murry, on page 247 of his book William Blake, calls our attention to the transition between 'states' in the world of generation and in the Eternal World.

"The States are everlasting in the world of Generation. In that world always are, and always will be, Love divided from the Imagination, Memory divided from Forgiveness, Reason divided from Vision. Roughly, they correspond to Luvah, and Tharmas, and Urizen, in the Fallen Man: The Sexual Threefold. When they are united, or re-united with Urthona, the Fourfold Human comes to be. But in the consummation they are not annihilated. They are simply changed. They become 'Servants of Humanity, not Gods or Lords'. We may remember the Spectre's words concerning 'the mild fields of happy Eternity'.

Four Zoas,  Page 84, (E 359)
"Mutual there we dwelt in one anothers joy revolving
Days of Eternity with Tharmas mild & Luvah sweet melodious
Upon our waters. This thou well rememberest listen I will tell
What thou forgettest. They in us & we in them alternate Livd 
Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood."
 
Murry continues: "That which thus unites them is the Imagination, wherein each may live and move and have his being, without seeking tyranny: and this condition of mutual forgiveness, of Mental instead of Sexual warfare, is the condition on the Eternal Man."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"Calling the Human Imagination: which is the Divine Vision & Fruition
In which Man liveth eternally: madness & blasphemy, against      
Its own Qualities, which are Servants of Humanity, not Gods or Lords[.]
Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die."

Acts 17  

[28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

New York Public Library
Milton, Plate 14
Blake calls upon his reader to distinguish between his true identity and the states through which he passes. In his Imagination man lives Eternally; identifying with the states through which he passes, he lives in the world of generation. The image in which Milton removes his robes presents the idea that the states, the traps which ensnare man, can be discarded. Beneath the coverings are revealed the human in his fourfold nature. The Senses, the Emotions, the Reason and the Intuition serve man and do not rule him. They live in man and he in them 'Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood.' 



Friday, May 18, 2012

EVERYTHING THAT LIVES


British Museum
Pastoral Scene
c.1780-1785




S. Foster Damon, on Page 344 of The Blake Dictionary, tells us that:  "Blake's religion became really all-inclusive when he decided that 'everything that lives is holy.' This was a natural conclusion from the ancient belief that all things were created from the divine substance."




Blake became convinced that all life partakes of the immortal, infinite, eternal characteristics which are associated with the Divine. The potential within man is to realise his Divine nature. As Paul says in Romans the spirit dwelling within gives us life and sustains us through his love. 

Romans 8
[11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
...
[38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
[39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 8, (E 50)
"does not that mild beam blot
The bat, the owl, the glowing tyger, and the king of night.      
The sea fowl takes the wintry blast. for a cov'ring to her limbs:
And the wild snake, the pestilence to adorn him with gems & gold.
And trees. & birds. & beasts. & men. behold their eternal joy.
Arise you little glancing wings, and sing your infant joy!
Arise and drink your bliss, for every thing that lives is holy! 

America, Plate 8, (E 54)
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity,                 
May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil'd tho' ravish'd in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;      
Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,
His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like gold.

Jerusalem, Plate 69, (E 223)
"Hence the Infernal Veil grows in the disobedient Female:
Which Jesus rends & the whole Druid Law removes away
From the Inner Sanctuary: a False Holiness hid within the Center,
For the Sanctuary of Eden. is in the Camp: in the Outline,
In the Circumference: & every Minute Particular is Holy:
Embraces are Cominglings: from the Head even to the Feet;
And not a pompous High Priest entering by a Secret Place."

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 34, (E 324)
"The birds & beasts rejoice & play
And every one seeks for his mate to prove his inmost joy

Furious & terrible they sport & rend the nether deeps
The deep lifts up his rugged head
And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry         
The fading cry is ever dying
The living voice is ever living in its inmost joy

Arise you little glancing wings & sing your infant joy
Arise & drink your bliss
For every thing that lives is holy for the source of life        
Descends to be a weeping babe
For the Earthworm renews the moisture of the sandy plain

Now my left hand I stretch to earth beneath
And strike the terrible string
I wake sweet joy in dens of sorrow & I plant a smile             
In forests of affliction
And wake the bubbling springs of life in regions of dark death"

All life is created as a receptacle for spirit. There is a mutually enriching relationship between the receptive body and the inflowing spirit.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BIRTH OF CONSCIOUSNESS

British Museum
Book of Urizen
Copy D
It seems that Blake not only spoke through his images but learned through his images. When Blake created the image for Plate 24 of the Book of Urizen he pictured prototypes of the four classical elements: fire, air, earth and water. These elements would grow into  the Four Zoas of whom he would later have much to say. Creating the picture stimulated Blake's thought about each individual element and the relationships among them. We have seen how he singled out water who became associated with Tharmas for an individual picture of the emergence of life from the great flood of water (matter, sensation).

In his mind Blake found that there was more that he could represent by selecting from the original image. By blotting out the two elements fire and earth before he engraved the plate, Blake made a picture of only water and air: Tharmas and Urizen. So now the image can be seen as the emergence of consciousness. From Thamas,  the development of the senses, evolved reason: the ability to process and relate sensory data. The rising sun tells of the arrival of reason which will lift man from the unconscious to the conscious state.    

A visit to the beach is an opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the functioning of the four elements in microcosm. The sand is earth, the waves are water, the heat and light of the sun are fire, and the wind is air. The constant interplay of the elements in their naked forms fascinates the alert viewer. The sand is moved by the water and wind, heat dries the sand and alters its properties, the waves are tossed or soothed by the wind, the light creates ever changing shadows and reflections on the sand and water. What is external is internal; what is internal is external.
Letter to Trusler,(E 702)
"Some See
Nature all Ridicule & Deformity & by these I shall not regulate
my proportions, & Some Scarce see Nature at all But to the Eyes
of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself.  As a man
is So he Sees.  As the Eye is formed such are its Powers You
certainly Mistake when you say that the Visions of Fancy are not
be found in This World.  To Me This World is all One continued
Vision of Fancy or Imagination & I feel Flatterd when I am told
So.  What is it sets Homer Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of
Art.  Why is the Bible more
Entertaining & Instructive than any other book.  Is it not
because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual
Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason Such is
True Painting and such  alone valued by the Greeks & the
best modern Artists.  Consider what Lord Bacon says "Sense sends
over to Imagination before Reason have judged & Reason sends over
to Imagination before the Decree can be acted." 
Gates of Paradise, (E 261)
2
Water
Thou Waterest him with Tears   
3
Earth
He struggles into Life
4
Air
On Cloudy Doubts & Reasoning Cares
5
Fire
That end in endless Strife
6
At length for hatching ripe he breaks the shell 
. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

SACRIFICE

Judges 11
[1] Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.
...
[30] And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
[31] Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
[32] So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
[33] And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
[34] And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
[35] And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
[36] And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
[37] And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
[38] And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
[39] And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,



British Museum
The sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter
for Thomas Butts, 1803
Perhaps Blake was adding some of his own insights to the illustration for the Old Testament account of the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter. The symmetry of the image may be an indication that Blake was portraying a vision rather than illustrating an incident. The man returning from war offered to sacrifice to God not realising that the sacrifice would be his daughter. Metaphorically the daughter may represent all the love, joy and beauty in his life. The exchange Jephthah has made is power, success, and recognition for the light that has brightened his life.

Breakthroughs in understanding of what God requires of man, and what God offers to man occur at several points in the Old Testament. One is when Abraham realises that God will not require him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Another is when Job encounters God as an inner reality rather than an outward projection. There is no indication that Jephthah's sacrifice is such an occasion. The vision of God that Jephthah acknowledges requires obedience even if it means human sacrifice.

The assertion that the girl became a willing sacrifice may be the significance which Blake wishes to emphasise in his painting. To Blake the feminine relinquishes her independent existence to restore the wholeness of the masculine. The child, like Ololon, the virgin of twelve years in Blake's Milton, may be offering herself so that inner conflict may be resolved through reaching a higher level of consciousness.


Milton, PLATE 41 [48], (E 142) 
"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.

Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Femin[in]e Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female      
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I            
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into
PLATE 42 [49]                                      
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee

So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold & with a shriek
Dolorous that ran thro all Creation a Double Six-fold Wonder!
Away from Ololon she divided & fled into the depths              
Of Miltons Shadow as a Dove upon the stormy Sea."
. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

REGENERATION

The fall for Blake is the dividing of man from God and from his brothers, his other selves. The fracture of the bond which joins God and man leads to the division into the four mighty ones, the Zoas.

The process must be reversed. The fall occurs in discrete stages and regeneration recapitulates the process in reverse order. 


Jerusalem, Plate 7, (E 150)
"Los answer'd. Altho' I know not this! I know far worse than this:
I know that Albion hath divided me, and that thou O my Spectre,
Hast just cause to be irritated: but look stedfastly upon me:
Comfort thyself in my strength the time will arrive,
When all Albions injuries shall cease, and when we shall         
Embrace him tenfold bright, rising from his tomb in immortality.
They have divided themselves by Wrath. they must be united by
Pity: let us therefore take example & warning O my Spectre,
O that I could abstain from wrath! O that the Lamb
Of God would look upon me and pity me in my fury.                
In anguish of regeneration! in terrors of self annihilation:
Pity must join together those whom wrath has torn in sunder,
And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the destruction
Of Jerusalem, become her covering, till the time of the End.
O holy Generation! [Image] of regeneration!     
O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies!
Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee"

On page 216 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny, Milton O. Percival states:

"It goes without saying that regeneration must be in terms of unification. The severed Spectre and Emanation must unite as one. Man's discordant masculine and feminine selves must end their strife, and the female return to her original life of self-annihilation. 'Sexes' must cease to be. The warring Zoas who, as abstractions, became Gods with dominion over man, must once again take their places in Albion's bosom, servants to the only God the Divine Humanity. All distinctions between Albion and his universe must disappear. Man must come to see that 'everything that lives is holy.' The awakening Albion of Blake's myth


'... looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast,

collecting up the scatter'd portions of his immortal body.'

The giant androgyne is being re-assembled.


In Blake's symbolism the sexual garments are exchanged for the human; the mortal disappears in the immortal, the natural in the spiritual, the corruptible in the incorruptible; fire is changed to light, night into day, and winter into spring. 

...

Wikimedia

Illustrations to Book of Job 
Plate 18, Linnell Set


In short, in Blake's regenerated world we have the familiar return of the mystic to a lost paradisaical state. Such a return implies the birth of the Son of God in the soul. This rebirth is imaged in the Job pictures by Job's appearance in the likeness of Christ. Albions regeneration necessitates a similar change, but with the universal liberation which the wider symbol signifies, the cosmos is also freed from the vanity laid upon it."



Job.42 
[1] Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
[2] I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
[3] Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
[4] Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
[5] I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
[6] Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
...
[9] So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.


This is the text on Plate 18 of Blake's engraving. 

From
Encounter with the Self, by Edward F. Edinger:

"Job is a sacrifice for Yahweh's developing consciousness. At first he is an involuntary victim. After the theophany, when he sees the reality of Yahweh with his own eyes, he takes on the attitude of voluntary sacrifice:


'I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,

but now my eye sees thee;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.'

Job's comforters are no longer separated from him. The sacrificial attitude brings unity to the personality as ego, shadow figures and wife-anima turn toward the center which they serve and which unites them."

.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BLAKE & DANTE

Blake had reservations about creating the illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy. Dante's ideas of sin, punishment and a God of vengeance were far from the image of God Blake knew from experience. Although he often created his illustrations with complete adherence to Dante's descriptions, as opportunity arose Blake altered the images to convey his own ideas.

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" 
 
Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;            
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love."

Inscriptions, On Blake's Illustrations to Dante, (E 688)
"Whatever Book is for Vengeance for Sin & whatever Book is
Against the Forgiveness of Sins is not of the Father but of Satan
the Accuser & Father of Hell"
 
British Museum
Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy
'Beatrice on the car, Matilda and Dante'
One illustration which Blake seems to have taken pleasure in working on is titled Beatrice on the car, Matilda and Dante. Dante has arrived at the river Lethe having passed through purgatory. Virgil who has been his guide through hell and purgatory was not to cross over with him to Eden, the Earthly Paradise, because he was a pagan. Henceforth Dante's guide will be Beatrice who awaits him in the procession on the far bank. The procession is composed of entities from the Book of Revelation: the candelabra with seven candles, the four-and-twenty elders and the griffin drawing the car in which Beatrice rides. The Griffin which is a combination of two animals, was used by Dante to symbolise Christ who is of a double nature. A point of disagreement between Dante and Blake concerns Beatrice who represents to Dante the church which to Blake was not the sole vehicle for salvation but a fallen destructive institution.  

The blessedness of Eden is represented in the light which radiates from the candelabra and stretches across the heavens in a rainbow. Dante is prepared to cross the river Lethe and bathe in its waters which will wash away his memories. He will cross another river also; the Eunoe whose waters will restore happy, helpful, life-giving memories to carry with him to the upper heavens.

Although Blake portrayed a positive uplifting scene, you may notice a long string of clouds surrounding much of the procession; these are the type of clouds which Blake associates with Vala who was in such opposition to Jerusalem. This is a reminder that Dante's system diverged from the truth Blake perceived.
.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MYTHOS & LOGOS

British Museum
Young's Night Thoughts
'I stand at the Door'

 In the prologue to the Gospel of John the author uses the word 'logos' to speak of truth which is eternal but inaccessible. The logos which became manifest was embodied in the flesh. By becoming expressed in human form the logos became mythos, and was able to speak to men through images, allegory, and anology. In a sense the Old Testament is logos because the eternal truth came to be expressed in the abstraction of the law. In the New Testament the truth became incarnate in Jesus which opened the way for man to experience God as internal: an ever present reality being forever born in his psyche.   
 


John.1
[1] In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[2] The same was in the beginning with God.
[3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
[4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
[5] And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
[7] The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
[8] He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
[9] That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
[10] He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
[11] He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
[12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
[13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
[14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Blake wrote not for the rational mind (associated with the logos), but for the intuitive mind. Dependence on reason, he felt, had led man away from his ability to understand his true nature and construct a reliable paradigm for viewing the world. Raine saw the same division between the rational and intuitive in Plato who addressed some his work to each type of mental processing. Blake applied himself to developing a means of awakening in men the ability to bypass rational or corporeal understanding and speak directly to the intuitive or spiritual sense.


Explaining the inconsistent attitude Blake had toward Plato and Greek culture, Kathleen Raine remarks in
Blake and Tradition

"...Blake read the Neoplatonists before he read Plato, and the
Phaperus, Cratylus, Phaedo, Parmenides, and Timaeus before he read the purely discursive works. Neoplatonism stems from one side of Plato - all that he inherited, through Pythagoras and the Orphic tradition, from the 'revealed' wisdom of antiquity. Blake was neither the first nor the last reader of Plato's works to have been bewildered by the presence of two, in many respects contradictory, aspects of his thought - logos and mythos; and he rejected the former with no less vigor than he continued to embrace the latter." (Page 73)

Blake was constantly in the process of refining his ability to restore the lost faculty of man to understand the infinite, eternal reality expressed in mythos.  


Letters
, 27, (E 730)
[To Thomas Butts] Felpham July 6. 1803

"Thus I hope that all our three years trouble Ends in
Good Luck at last & shall be forgot by my affections & only
rememberd by my Understanding to be a Memento in time to come &
to speak to future generations by a Sublime Allegory which is now
perfectly completed into a Grand Poem[.] I may praise it since I
dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors
are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This
World Contains.  Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers
while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is
My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry. it is also somewhat in
the same manner defind by Plato."

Northrop Frey, in Fearful Symmetry, tells us:
"A visionary creates, or dwells in, a higher spiritual world in which the objects of perception in this one have become transfigured and charged with a new intensity of symbolism." (Page 8) 

Auguries of Innocence , (E 493)

"God Appears and God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day."

Annotations to Lavater (E 599)
"God is in the lowest effects as well as in the highest
causes for he is become a worm that he may nourish the weak
For let it be rememberd that creation is. God descending
according to the weakness of man for our Lord is the word of God
& every thing on earth is the word of God & in its essence is God"
.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BROTHERHOOD

British Museum
Young's Night Thoughts
Night VIII, page 47
'Were all men happy' 

The condition of being redeemed or regenerated expresses itself in Brotherhood: recognising oneself as a part of the unity of all men and all things. Blake follows the New Testament in his affirmation that man has the potential for becoming one in the body of Christ. The love that we have for God and he has for us, unites us as one family and establishes the Brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. Brotherhood is not something we create by our own efforts but is a gift we receive when we practice forgiveness, learn compassion, and conquer our selfishness. We are one in Christ as the inclusive Brotherhood expressed by God's Universal Love.




Quotes from Blake:  
Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 41, (E 327) 
"Rent from Eternal Brotherhood we die & are no more"

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me            
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not"

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood" 

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 133, (E 401)
"we know That Man subsists by Brotherhood & Universal Love  
...
calling him Brother image of the Eternal Father" 

Quotes from the New Testament:

John.17
[21]  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, 
that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
[22] And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; 
that they may be one, even as we are one:
[23]  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; 
and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, 
as thou hast loved me.
[24] Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; 
that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me 
before the foundation of the world.
[25] O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, 
and these have known that thou hast sent me.
[26] And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: 
that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Ephesians 4
[3] Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
[4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
[5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
[6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
[7] But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
...
[13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

1st John 2
[9] He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
[10] He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
[11] But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

1st John 4
[20] If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
[21] And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

 Loving God and loving our brothers are one and the same thing.
.

Friday, May 4, 2012

BLAKE THE ROMANTIC

Pierre Berger, Professor of English Language and Literature in the Lycee and Lecturer in the University of Bordeaux, wrote his biography of William Blake in French. William Blake, poet and mystic, was released in 21 editions in English and French between 1907 and 1973. It is available now as a Google book in several formats. In his introduction Berger enthusiastically remarks on Blake's unique contribution to the Romantic movement
British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
'Truths, which Eternity lets fall on man'


On page 16 Berger writes:
"Now, on the contrary, let us imagine a man who, before the advent of even the romantic school, should have gone further than romanticism was ever to go ; who felt intuitively that inspiration and poetic vision, which had disappeared since Milton, must take complete possession of literature again; who was seized by an uncontrollable anger against the despotic nature of reason and common sense; who would wage fierce war against them, casting them forever into the waters of oblivion. Imagine a man who, at the moment when classic art was universally admired, and altars were dedicated to Reason, dared to proclaim the worthlessness of Greece and Rome, and exalt the art of the Middle Ages, that Gothic art which is " living form "; a man who despised logic and common sense, declared his most fantastic visions to be eternal realities, and regarded them as divine; who had revived the ancient saying, Credo quia absurdum, and believed in nothing but what we call absurd; who, with frank assurance, declared that there is but one truth, that of mystic vision; one God, poetical insight; one form of worship, that of the imagination; one ideal only, a liberty without laws.
Let us again imagine this man preaching such doctrines as these, and applying them to his art with an intensity which was near to madness, till he robbed his works of their poetry and their art—this despiser of Reason, this apostle of the absurd, this wandering visionary, precursor of the Romanticists and more romantic than any of them —this man was William Blake, an absolutely unique personality, the strange product of his age, and the prophet of the age to come; obscure to his contemporaries from his very earnestness, and hardly comprehensible even to us who have seen in its completeness the movement of which he represented, in advance, the final and culminating point.
During the last twenty years of the eighteenth century, Burns and Blake were the only poets whose lyrical songs recalled the spontaneity and freedom of the Elizabethan poetry, and who proclaimed unmistakably the tone which was to sound so richly in the work of the great poets who marked the beginning of the romantic period.
Both men gave their first poems to the world about the same time. Blake's Poetical Sketches belong to 1783, the year of Crabbe's Village, and two years earlier than Cowper's Task. His Songs of Innocence appeared in 1789, whilst Burns's first poems, in the Kilmarnock edition, had been read all over England for three years past. There were still nine years to wait before the appearance of the Lyrical Ballads, which mark the birth of romanticism in poetry.
But these two forerunners of genius were distinct from their age. They did not draw their inspiration from the same sources as their contemporaries. They could not have painted the elegant dwellers of the town, with their veiled ambitions and their false love affairs; nor could they describe the intrigues of court life, nor grow indignant over a cultivated corruption which did not touch them. They both could sing of nature; and they did so. But they were not tired spirits who sought, as did their contemporaries, to forget the cares of the world. They could rejoice in nature without contrasting it with the rush of social life, or seeking to heighten its flavour by some artificially rustic idyll played by fashionable nymphs and lovers. They could not linger over the theories dear to the philosophers of their epoch, nor minutely analyse that abstraction which, as reasonable humanity, their century knew so well, and which Pope had declared to be the most proper study for mankind. Neither of them expressed the thoughts and emotions of others; they sang only for themselves, and fed their lyrical powers from their own individuality."
On Virgil, (E 270)
"Rome & Greece swept Art into their maw & destroyd it     a
Warlike State never can produce Art.  It will Rob & Plunder &
accumulate into one place, & Translate & Copy & Buy & Sell &
Criticise, but not Make.
  Mathematic Form is Eternal in the Reasoning Memory.  Living
Form is Eternal Existence.
  Grecian is Mathematic Form
  Gothic is Living Form"

Annotations to Bacon, (E621)
 "Self Evident Truth is one Thing and Truth the result of
Reasoning is another Thing Rational Truth is not the Truth of
Christ but of Pilate   It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good &
Evil"
. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

LAST SUPPER

Letters, (E 703)
"Mr [George] Cumberland, Bishopsgate, Windsor Great Park
Hercules Buildings, Lambeth. Augst 26. 1799
Dear Cumberland
...
Pray let me intreat you to persevere in your Designing it is the only source of Pleasure all your other pleasures depend upon It. It is the Tree Your Pleasures are the Fruit. Your Inventions of Intellectual Visions are the Stamina of every thing you value. Go on if not for your own sake yet for ours who love & admire your works. but above all For the Sake of the Arts. Do not throw aside for any long time the honour intended you by Nature to revive the Greek workmanship. I study your outlines as usual just as if they were antiques. As to Myself about whom you are so kindly Interested. I live by Miracle. I am Painting small Pictures from the Bible. For as to Engraving in which art I cannot reproach myself with any neglect yet I am laid by in a corner as if I did not Exist & Since my Youngs Night Thoughts have been publishd Even Johnson & Fuseli have discarded my Graver. But as I know that He who Works & has his health cannot starve. I laugh at Fortune & Go on & on. I think I foresee better Things than I have ever seen. My Work pleases my employer & I have an order for Fifty small Pictures at One Guinea each which is Something better than mere copying after another artist. But above all I feel myself happy & contented let what will come having passed now near twenty years in ups & downs I am used to them & perhaps a little practise in them may turn out to benefit. It is now Exactly Twenty years since I was upon the ocean of business & Tho I laugh at Fortune I am perswaded that She Alone is the Governor of Worldly Riches. & when it is Fit She will call on me till then I wait with Patience in hopes that She is busied among my Friends. With Mine & My Wifes best compliments to Mrs Cumberland I remain
Yours sincerely
WILLm BLAKE"

One of the tempera paintings which Blake make for Thomas Butts in 1799 is a portrayal of the Last Supper. Blake created a dramatic image of Jesus and the twelve disciples involved in a scene where each displays his individual emotions at this critical juncture. Jesus himself, surrounded by the radiance, looks beyond his present circumstances to a future that is to be revealed. His hand gesture seems to be that of reluctant acceptance. 

Gathered around Jesus are the twelve men whom he chose as his special companions. Each seems to be in his own separate world: praying, contemplating the past or future, or meditating on the strange events which have taken place and where they might lead. Beside Jesus sits 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' appearing in Blake's portrayal to assume feminine characteristics. In the foreground to the left there might be Peter already traumatised by knowing he would be tempted to deny his Lord. To his right the two figures deep in discussion may be continuing their earlier discussion about who would be greatest in the kingdom. Most easily recognised is Judas to the right counting the coins he had accepted to betray Jesus to the authorities. Each disciple struggles with his own issues including doubts, awe, disappointment, fears and anticipation of possible outcomes.

National Gallery Washington
1799
Rosenwald Collection

A Descriptive Catalog, (E 543)
"Mr. B. has done, as all the ancients did, and as all the moderns, who are worthy of fame, given the historical fact in its poetical vigour; so as it always happens, and not in that dull way that some Historians pretend, who being weakly organized themselves, cannot see either miracle or prodigy; all is to them a dull round of probabilities and possibilities; but the history of all times and places, is nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities; what we should say, was impossible if we did not see it always before our eyes."

Jerusalem , Plate 13, (E 157)
"And all that has existed in the space of six thousand years:
Permanent, & not lost not lost nor vanishd, & every little act,
Word, work, & wish, that has existed, all remaining still
In those Churches ever consuming & ever building by the Spectres
Of all the inhabitants of Earth wailing to be Created:
Shadowy to those who dwell not in them, meer possibilities:
But to those who enter into them they seem the only substances
For every thing exists & not one sigh nor smile nor tear,
Plate 14
One hair nor particle of dust, not one can pass away."