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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


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These are the Dante's circles of hell in descending order as indicated in the Wikipedia website.
First Circle - Limbo
Second Circle - Lust
Third Circle - Gluttony
Forth Circle - Greed
Fifth Circle - Anger
Sixth Circle - Heresy
Seventh Circle - Violence
Eighth Circle - Fraud
Ninth Circle - Treachery

In the British Museum is a pencil sketch which is said to be Blake's diagram of Dante's Hell-Circles.

Martin Klonsky, in Blake's Dante, remarks on page 142:

"This drawing has been given no canto number, but it is evidently meant to illustrate Canto XI. At the beginning of this canto Dante and Virgil are compelled to pause on the brink of the seventh circle because of the overpowering stench arising from the abyss (lines 10-15). Virgil uses the occasion to explain the kinds and degrees of torment inflicted upon the sinners in the three remaining circles. His rationale follows Cicero's in distinguishing between sins committed as a result of human frailty and sins that are willed, but it is based chiefly on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Physics." 

Here is the text written by Blake as scholars have made out the indistinct writing (E 690):
British Museum
Plate 22: Diagram for Hell-Circles
Dante, Plate 101
   "This is Upside Down When viewd from Hells Gate
     But right When Viewd from Purgatory after they have passed the Center
     In Equivocal Worlds Up & Down are Equivocal
9 Lucifer Containing 9 Rounds
8 Geryon Malebolge Containing 10 Gulphs
7 Centaurs   Most likely Dante describes the 7 8 & 9 Circles
 in Canto XI v 18   3 Compartments   Dante calls them Cerchietti
6 Minotaur The City of Dis seems to occupy the Space between
the Fifth & Sixth Circles   or perhaps it occupies both Circles
with its Environs
5 City of Dis furies &   Queen of Endless Woe   Lesser
Circle   Point of the Universe   Canto Eleventh line 68 
4 Plutus & Phlegyas
3 Cerberus
2 Minos 
1 Charon  
 It seems as if Dantes supreme Good was something Superior to
the Father or Jesus  if he gives his rain to
the Evil & the Good & his Sun to the just & the Unjust He could
never have Builded Dantes Hell nor the Hell of the Bible neither
in the way our Parsons explain it   It must have been originally
Formed by the Devil Himself & So I understand it to have been
     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"

Blake is emphatically unwilling to follow the system of Aristotle, Cicero or Dante.
The God of Jesus is not the accuser and punisher of sin but the forgiver.    

Satan creates sin, laws and punishments to serve his own purposes.

Milton, Plate 9, (E 103) 
"For Satan flaming with Rintrahs fury hidden beneath his own mildness
Accus'd Palamabron before the Assembly of ingratitude! of malice:
He created Seven deadly Sins drawing out his infernal scroll,
Of Moral laws and cruel punishments upon the clouds of Jehovah
To pervert the Divine voice in its entrance to the earth
With thunder of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease
Punisbments & deaths musterd & number'd; Saying I am God alone   
There is no other! let all obey my principles of moral individuality
I have brought them from the uppermost innermost recesses
Of my Eternal Mind, transgressors I will rend off for ever,
As now I rend this accursed Family from my covering."

Enitharmon 'Created a New Space to protect Satan from punishment'. Even Satan is not to be the object of vengeance. 

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E 106)
"Now Leutha ceas'd: tears flow'd: but the Divine Pity), supported her.

All is my fault! We are the Spectre of Luvah the murderer.
Of Albion: O Vala! O Luvah! O Albion! O lovely Jerusalem

The Sin was begun in Eternity, and will not rest to Eternity     
Till two Eternitys meet together, Ah! lost! lost! lost! for ever!

So Leutha spoke. But when she saw that Enitharmon had
Created a New Space to protect Satan from punishment;
She fled to Enitharmons Tent & hid herself."

Saving those who have sinned and keeping them from sin through love is accomplished through the creation of states. 

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.

Albion goes to Eternal Death: In Me all Eternity.
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;
Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again:
And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create           
States: to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen.

So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity
[To Govern the Evil by Good: and States abolish

The cycle of vengeance must be broken to arrest the fall into the abyss. 

Jerusalem, Plate 45 [31], (E 194)
"And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;
If I should dare to lay my finger on a grain of sand
In way of vengeance; I punish the already punishd: O whom
Should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray!       
O Albion, if thou takest vengeance; if thou revengest thy wrongs
Thou art for ever lost! What can I do to hinder the Sons
Of Albion from taking vengeance? or how shall I them perswade.
So spoke Los, travelling thro darkness & horrid solitude:"

Forgiveness is the mercy which reverses the direction in which the wheels are turning.

Jerusalem, Plate 22, (E 168)
"Why should Punishment Weave the Veil with Iron Wheels of War
When Forgiveness might it Weave with Wings of Cherubim" 

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