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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Jerusalem, Plate 55,(E 204)
"And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God; 
Lucifer, Molech, Elohim, Shaddai, Pahad, Jehovah, Jesus.
They namd the Eighth. he came not, he hid in Albions Forests
But first they said: (& their Words stood in Chariots in array
Curbing their Tygers with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory)"     
To Blake the seven Spirits or Angels elected by the Eternals to be the guardians of the created world were incomplete. They were to be joined by an Eighth whose presence was not yet fully expressed to mankind. Since Blake identifies the seventh Eye of God with Jesus, the eighth will be the revelation of God which follows that of Jesus. We know that Jesus promised to leave with us his spirit which would be with us always. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and filled them with his presence. However God's Kingdom remained within the hearts, minds and bodies of men and did not spread to cover the earth as the disciples hoped it would.

Matthew 28
[18] And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
[19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
[20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

John 14
[9] Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
[16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
[17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
[25] These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
[27] Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Ascension 
original in Fitzwilliam Museum
found at
Acts 2
[1] And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
[2] And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
[3] And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
[4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

To this hoped for Kingdom of the Spirit of Christ which would come forth through the activity of the Holy Spirit, Blake gave form as the Eighth Divine Image.  

Friday, October 26, 2012


In the continuation of the passage from Plate 55 of Jerusalem in which 'an eternal deed was done' Blake states that the Seven Eyes of God were elected. He gives each a name used for God and mentioned in the Bible. Each name is used symbolically to recall a period of history characterised by behaviors and attitudes prevalent in the development of humanity at a particular time. Blake's insight is that cultures are progressing through phases of development which are built on previous experiences. The errors which are revealed through adherence to prevailing ideas, as well as the opportunities which become apparent through apprehending new truth, impel mankind to explore options which were formerly closed to him. 
Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 204)
"But others said: Let us to him who only Is, & who
Walketh among us, give decision. bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done: in fiery flames

The Universal Conc[l]ave raged,
Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation
And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God; 
Lucifer, Molech, Elohim, Shaddai, Pahad, Jehovah, Jesus."
Blake saw the passage through these phases of development as synonymous with encountering the 'seven Spirits of God' or the Lamb 'having seven horns and seven eyes', which are two images used in the Book of Revelation. As the seven Spirits were sent forth into all the earth in the Book of Revelation, Blake's Seven Eyes were the provision that the Eternals made for the contingent that separated and '
who Walketh among us.'

[6] And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5)

Boston College website
Illustrations of the Book of Job
Plate 13

Blake further saw that the psychological and spiritual development of the individual progressed through the stages represented by the Eyes of God. The formation of the psyche is not accomplished in a single step, but proceeds through multiple steps. Especially in Blake's set of Illustrations of the Book of Job he shows the psychological process through which an individual psyche is restructured to accommodate a real relationship with the Divine.

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 21, (E 312)
"The Family Divine drew up the Universal tent
Above High Snowdon & closd the Messengers in clouds around 
Till the time of the End. Then they Elected Seven. called the Seven
Eyes of God & the Seven lamps of the Almighty                    
The Seven are one within the other the Seventh is named Jesus"

Other posts on Eyes of God.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Why should those who exist at a level of development higher than the turmoil of the world we know concern themselves with our petty concerns? Why not remain aloof in the ever-fluctuating world of mental delights. An awareness of an aberration comes into their field of perception: one of their own has assumed a limitation and entered a state.   

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 204)
"When those who disregard all Mortal Things, saw a Mighty-One
Among the Flowers of Beulah still retain his awful strength
They wonderd; checking their wild flames & Many gathering
Together into an Assembly; they said, let us go down
And see these changes! Others said, If you do so prepare         
For being drived from our fields, what have we to do with the Dead?
To be their inferiors or superiors we equally abhor;
Superior, none we know: inferior none: all equal share
Divine Benevolence & joy, for the Eternal Man
Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers & his Friends:         
Forbidding us that Veil which Satan puts between Eve & Adam
By which the Princes of the Dead enslave their Votaries
Teaching them to form the Serpent of precious stones & gold
To sieze the Sons of Jerusalem & plant them in One Mans Loins
To make One Family of Contraries: that Joseph may be sold        
Into Egypt: for Negation; a Veil the Saviour born & dying rends."

Consensus was destroyed among the Immortals: some drew back, some choose to explore. The spark had ignited the evolution of consciousness which resulted from the initiation of duality in the form of the 'Family of Contraries.'  Blake provides no fanfare for the event that shook the universe, saying only: "Let us to him who only Is, & who Walketh among us, give decision." Apparently the situation is controlled by the word 'Is' as representing a level of existence other than that of the Eternals, which has become an option that may be entered.

"But others said: Let us to him who only Is, & who
Walketh among us, give decision. bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done: in fiery flames

The Universal Conc[l]ave raged, such thunderous sounds as never
Were sounded from a mortal cloud, nor on Mount Sinai old
Nor in Havilah where the Cherub rolld his redounding flame.

Loud! loud! the Mountains lifted up their voices, loud the Forests
Rivers thunderd against their banks, loud Winds furious fought
Cities & Nations contended in fires & clouds & tempests.         
The Seas raisd up their voices & lifted their hands on high
The Stars in their courses fought. the Sun! Moon! Heaven! Earth.
Contending for Albion & for Jerusalem his Emanation
And for Shiloh, the Emanation of France & for lovely Vala.

Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation"  

Milton's Paradise Lost
Satan Calling Up His Legions

Milton's war in heaven which in Paradise Lost, led to the creation of our world resulted from the pride of Lucifer and his fear of being supplanted by the creation of mankind. Blake's fall was simply a separation: a movement to walk among those who had entered temporal existence.

Monday, October 22, 2012


British Museum
Plate 85, Copy A
We read in Northrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry of the origin of the form of a woman when the 'active creative energy' becomes passive. The exteriorized object is seen as a woman and may become an object of worship. The power ceded to the object creates a destructive scenario. 

Frye states on Page 126:

"There are several accounts of the Fall in Blake which we shall summarize later, but the invariable characteristic of them is Albion's relapse from active creative  energy to passivity. This passivity takes the form of wonder or awe at the world he has created, which in eternity he sees as a woman. The Fall thus begins in Beulah, the divine garden identified with Eden in Genesis. Once he takes the fatal step of thinking the object-world independent of him, Albion sinks into a sleep symbolising the passivity of his mind, and his creation separates and becomes the 'female will' or Mother Nature, the remote and inaccessible universe of tantalizing  mystery we now see. Love, or the transformation of the objective into the beloved, and art, or the transformation of the objective into the created, are the two activities pursued on this earth to repair the damage of the Fall and they raise our state to Beulah and Eden respectively.

On earth the cult of worshipping the independent object or female will takes two chief forms. One is the superstitious reverence for a Mother God, the primitive fear of the sibyl or prophetess whom the Teutons called Vala. This is the symbolic form of nature-worship, and Blake gives the name Vala to nature in his symbolism. The other form is the worship not so much of vegetative nature as of the Queen of Heaven, the remote, mysterious beauty of the starry heavens. This produces on earth the blind devotion to a mistress who is expected to elude and tantalize the lover, the basis for the Troubadour code. The Queen of Heaven's name in Blake is Enitharmon." 

When we consider the role of Enitharmon we find ambivalence. She is both an attractive and admired entity and a destructive force who diminishes her male counterpart. Enitharmon and Los without cooperation from the other continue to fall into vengeance and strife.

Jerusalem, Plate 88, (E 246) 
"For Man cannot unite with Man but by their Emanations 
Which stand both Male & Female at the Gates of each Humanity
How then can I ever again be united as Man with Man
While thou my Emanation refusest my Fibres of dominion.
When Souls mingle & join thro all the Fibres of Brotherhood
Can there be any secret joy on Earth greater than this?    

Enitharmon answerd: This is Womans World, nor need she any
Spectre to defend her from Man. I will Create secret places
And the masculine names of the places Merlin & Arthur.
A triple Female Tabernacle for Moral Law I weave
That he who loves Jesus may loathe terrified Female love  
Till God himself become a Male subservient to the Female.

She spoke in scorn & jealousy, alternate torments; and
So speaking she sat down on Sussex shore singing lulling
Cadences, & playing in sweet intoxication among the glistening
Fibres of Los: sending them over the Ocean eastward into  
The realms of dark death; O perverse to thyself, contrarious
To thy own purposes; for when she began to weave
Shooting out in sweet pleasure her bosom in milky Love
Flowd into the aching fibres of Los. yet contending against him
In pride sending his Fibres over to her objects of jealousy  
In the little lovely Allegoric Night of Albions Daughters
Which stretchd abroad, expanding east & west & north & south
Thro' all the World of Erin & of Los & all their Children

A sullen Smile broke from the Spectre in mockery & scorn
Knowing himself the author of their divisions & shrinkings, gratified    
At their contentions, he wiped his tears he washd his visage.

The Man who respects Woman shall be despised by Woman
And deadly cunning & mean abjectness only, shall enjoy them
For I will make their places of joy & love, excrementitious[.]
Continually building, continually destroying in Family feuds   
While you are under the dominion of a jealous Female
Unpermanent for ever because of love & jealousy.
You shall want all the Minute Particulars of Life

Thus joyd the Spectre in the dusky fires of Los's Forge, eyeing
Enitharmon who at her shining Looms sings lulling cadences     
While Los stood at his Anvil in wrath the victim of their love
And hate; dividing the Space of Love with brazen Compasses 
In Golgonooza & in Udan-Adan & in Entuthon of Urizen."


Saturday, October 20, 2012


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Enitharmon is said to be the spiritual dimension of man in the world of generation, as Jerusalem is in Eden. As such she is a reflection of  the real, true and permanent Eternal existence. Our world, although vegetated not humanised, is not disconnected from the Divine Providence. When we view a reflection the light does not come from the object we see but from the source which emanates its own light. The light in the vegetated world comes from the Eternal but not directly. It encounters matter, the watery world, where it is diminished but not extinguished. In this reflected, looking glass world there are distortions and loss of intensity and clarity.

But what we see dimly reflected deserves close attention. In the Marriage of Heaven & Hell we read: 'Eternity is in love with the productions of time'. If we reciprocate and are in love with Eternity, we will seek to be aware of every attempt Eternity makes to be revealed. The trick is look not at the glass but through to the reality.
Thel, Plate 1,(E 3)
"Ah! Thel is like a watry bow. and like a parting cloud.
Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water."

Jerusalem, Plate 63, (E 214) 
"Los knew not yet what was done: he thought it was all in Visions
In Visions of the Dreams of Beulah among the Daughters of Albion
Therefore the Murder was put apart in the Looking-Glass of Enitharmon

He saw in Vala's hand the Druid Knife of Revenge & the Poison Cup
Of Jealousy, and thought it a Poetic Vision of the Atmospheres   
Till Canaan rolld apart from Albion across the Rhine: along the Danube

And all the Land of Canaan suspended over the Valley of Cheviot
From Bashan to Tyre & from Troy to Gaza of the Amalekite
And Reuben fled with his head downwards among the Caverns"

Four Zoas, Page 129, (E 398)
"And on the rivers margin she [Enion] ungirded her golden girdle
She stood in the river & viewd herself within the watry glass
And her bright hair was wet with the waters She rose up from the river
And as she rose her Eyes were opend to the world of waters 
She saw Tharmas sitting upon the rocks beside the wavy sea"

Miscellaneous Poems, (E 415)
"Memory, hither come,
  And tune your merry notes;
And, while upon the wind,
  Your music floats,
I'll pore upon the stream,
Where sighing lovers dream,      
And fish for fancies as they pass
Within the watery glass.

I'll drink of the clear stream,
  And hear the linnet's song;      
And there I'll lie and dream
  The day along:
And, when night comes, I'll go
  To places fit for woe;
Walking along the darken'd valley,   
  With silent Melancholy."

Jerusalem, Plate 63, (E 214)
"The Giants & the Witches & the Ghosts of Albion dance with
Thor & Friga, & the Fairies lead the Moon along the Valley of Cherubim
Bleeding in torrents from Mountain to Mountain, a lovely Victim  
And Jehovah stood in the Gates of the Victim, & he appeared
A weeping Infant in the Gates of Birth in the midst of Heaven

The Cities & Villages of Albion became Rock & Sand Unhumanized
The Druid Sons of Albion & the Heavens a Void around unfathomable
No Human Form but Sexual & a little weeping Infant pale reflected
Multitudinous in the Looking Glass of Enitharmon, on all sides
Around in the clouds of the Female, on Albions Cliffs of the Dead

Such the appearance in Cheviot: in the Divisions of Reuben
When the Cherubim hid their heads under their wings in deep slumbers
When the Druids demanded Chastity from Woman & all was lost."    

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 555)
"This world of Imagination is the World of
Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after
the death of the Vegetated body   This World  is
Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation
is Finite & [for a small moment] Temporal    There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature" 
Corinthians I, 13:12
"At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole and face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!" 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


How unlike Blake's usual method of writing is this fragment of a manuscript. Here he strings together abstractions instead of weaving a net of images. If this is a reflection of our poet's own psychic state he identifies his own envy as the root of his discontent as well as a motivation for his creativity. 
He departs from the litany of abstractions to present Hecate as an image of Envy and the mother of melancholy. Our understanding of Blake's evaluation of melancholy is enhanced by his associating it with 'heaven' and 'true joy.' The list of characteristics as it continues is long and depressing and ends with the ubiquitousness of Self love.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Fragment, (E 447) 
 "My Cup is fill'd with Envy's Rankest Draught a miracle No less can set me Right. Desire Still Pines but for one Cooling Drop and tis Deny'd, while others in Contentments downy Nest do sleep, it is the Cursed thorn wounding my breast that makes me sing. however sweet tis Envy that Inspires my Song. prickt. by the fame of others how I mourn and my complaints are Sweeter than their Joys but O could I at Envy Shake my hands. my notes Should Rise to meet the New born Day. Hate Meager hag Sets Envy on unable to Do ought herself. but Worn away a Bloodless Daemon The Gods all Serve her at her will so great her Power is[.] like. fabled hecate She doth bind them to her law. Far in a Direful Cave She lives unseen Closd from the Eye of Day. to the hard Rock transfixt by fate and here She works her witcheries that when She Groans She Shakes the Solid Ground Now Envy She controlls with numming trance & Melancholy Sprung from her dark womb There is a Melancholy, O how lovely tis whose heaven is in the heavenly Mind for she from heaven came, and where She goes heaven still doth follow her. She brings true joy once fled. & Contemplation is her Daughter. Sweet Contemplation. She brings humility to man Take her She Says & wear her in thine heart lord of thy Self thou then art lord of all. Tis Contemplation teacheth knowledge truly how to know. and Reinstates him on his throne once lost how lost I'll tell. But Stop the motley Song I'll Shew. how Conscience Came from heaven. But O who listens to his Voice. T'was Conscience who brought Melancholy down Conscience was sent a Guard to Reason. Reason once fairer than the light till fould in Knowledges dark Prison house. For knowledge drove sweet Innocence away. and Reason would have followd but fate sufferd not. Then down Came conscience With his lovely band The Eager Song Goes on telling how Pride against her father Warrd & Overcame. ... Indeed hate Controlls all the Gods. at will. Policy brought forth Guile & fraud. these Gods last namd live in the Smoke of Cities. on Dusky wing breathing forth Clamour & Destruction. alas in Cities wheres the man whose face is not a mask unto his heart Pride made a Goddess. fair or Image rather till knowledge animated it. 'twas Calld Selflove. The Gods admiring loaded her with Gifts as once Pandora She 'mongst men was Sent. and worser ills attended her by far. She was a Goddess Powerful & bore Conceit and Shame bore honour & made league with Pride & Policy doth dwell with her by whom she [had] Mistrust & Suspition. Then bore a Daughter called Emulation. who. married. honour these follow her around the World[.] Go See the City friends Joind Hand in Hand. Go See. the Natural the of flesh & blood. Go See more strong the ties of marriage love, thou Scarce Shall find but Self love Stands Between" 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Blake's picture which goes both by the names Hecate and The Night of Enitharmon's Joy is one of his Large Color Printed Drawings of 1795. There are reasons why the picture came to be called by different names. Blake would have been familiar with Hecate's role in ancient mythology and with the instances in which she appears in Shakespeare's Macbeth and Midsummer Night's Dream. The central figure is pictured threefold as the goddess Hecate was imagined by the Greeks, but for Blake she includes a young male and a young female with the central woman. She is beautiful as Blake said the the witches in Shakespeare should be represented. 

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 535)
"By way of illustration, I instance Shakspeare's Witches in
Macbeth.  Those who dress them for the stage, consider
them as wretched old women, and not is as Shakspeare intended, the
Goddesses of Destiny; this shews how Chaucer has been
misunderstood in his sublime work.  Shakspeare's Fairies also 
are the rulers of the vegetable world, and so are Chaucer's; 
let them be so considered, and then the poet will be understood, 
and not else."
She is accompanied by the bat, the snake and the owl which are associated with Hecate as a goddess of the night and the underworld. Since the donkey is not generally associated with Hecate its presence is a reference to Titania, Queen of the fairies, who in Midsummer Night's Dream under a spell, falls in love with a man with the appearance of a donkey. This reference would indicate the foolishness of the male submitting to female dominance.

The phrase Enitharmon's Joy comes from the poem Europe which speaks of the rise of Orc or revolution. Preliminary to the outbreak of Orc's conflagration is the night of Enitharmon's Joy, the dominance of woman or female love which results from the idea that loving a woman is sinful, that heaven comes after death and that joy is forbidden. After being under female dominion for Eighteen Hundred Years the active energy of the male breaks out of the webs and nets which have bound him. 

Europe, Plate 4 , (E 62)

"The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire,
Whirling about in furious circles round the immortal fiend.

Then Enitharmon down descended into his red light,
And thus her voice rose to her children, the distant heavens reply.
Plate 5
Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!                          
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?
That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion?
Arise O Rintrah thee I call! & Palamabron thee!
Go! tell the human race that Womans love is Sin!                 
That an Eternal life awaits the worms of sixty winters
In an allegorical abode where existence hath never come:
Forbid all joy, & from her childhood shall the little female
Spread nets in every secret path.

My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but new."    
Milton Klonsky in William Blake, The Seer and His Visions comments on Hecate on page 60:
"Both Hecate and Pity ... were meant to illustrate dual aspects of what Blake regarded as the domineering Female Will, which attempts to ensnare the a male in a web of religion woven out of sexual repression, chastity and jealousy. 'O Woman-born/ And Woman-nourish'd & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd' he wrote in Jerusalem (64:16-17)."

Jerusalem, Plate 30 [34], (E 176)
"I hear the screeh of Childbirth loud pealing, & the groans
Of Death, in Albions clouds dreadful utterd over all the Earth
What may Man be? who can tell! but what may Woman be?            
To have power over Man from Cradle to corruptible Grave.
There is a Throne in every Man,it is the Throne of God
This Woman has claimd as her own & Man is no more!
Albion is the Tabernacle of Vala & her Temple
And not the Tabernacle & Temple of the Most High                 
O Albion why wilt thou Create a Female Will?

To hide the most evident God in a hidden covert, even
In the shadows of a Woman & a secluded Holy Place
That we may pry after him as after a stolen treasure
Hidden among the Dead & mured up from the paths of life"  

Sunday, October 14, 2012


There are several encounters in Milton between Milton and Urizen. Although each is instructive, they are all inconclusive. The final mention of Urizen occurs in this passage:
Milton, Plate 39 [44], (E 141)
"He [Albion] strove to rise to walk into the Deep. but strength failing    
Forbad & down with dreadful groans he sunk upon his Couch
In moony Beulah. Los his strong Guard walks round beneath the Moon

Urizen faints in terror striving among the Brooks of Arnon
With Miltons Spirit: as the Plowman or Artificer or Shepherd
While in the labours of his Calling sends his Thought abroad 
To labour in the ocean or in the starry heaven. So Milton
Labourd in Chasms of the Mundane Shell, tho here before
My Cottage midst the Starry Seven, where the Virgin Ololon
Stood trembling in the Porch: loud Satan thunderd on the stormy Sea
Circling Albions Cliffs in which the Four-fold World resides     
Tho seen in fallacy outside: a fallacy of Satans Churches

Plate 40 [46]
I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years.   
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies
Are those who contemn Religion & seek to annihilate it
Become in their Femin[in]e portions the causes & promoters       
Of these Religions, how is this thing? this Newtonian Phantasm
This Voltaire & Rousseau: this Hume & Gibbon & Bolingbroke
This Natural Religion! this impossible absurdity
Is Ololon the cause of this? O where shall I hide my face
These tears fall for the little-ones: the Children of Jerusalem  
Lest they be annihilated in thy annihilation.

No sooner she had spoke but Rahab Babylon appeard
Eastward upon the Paved work across Europe & Asia
Glorious as the midday Sun in Satans bosom glowing:
A Female hidden in a Male, Religion hidden in War           
Namd Moral Virtue; cruel two-fold Monster shining bright
A Dragon red & hidden Harlot which John in Patmos saw

And all beneath the Nations innumerable of Ulro
Appeard, the Seven Kingdoms of Canaan & Five Baalim
Of Philistea. into Twelve divided, calld after the Names      
Of Israel: as they are in Eden. Mountain. River & Plain
City & sandy Desart intermingled beyond mortal ken

But turning toward Ololon in terrible majesty Milton
Replied. Obey thou the Words of the Inspired Man
All that can be annihilated must be annihilated   

That the Children of Jerusalem may be saved from slavery
There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary
The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries
The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal           
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination.

Plate 41 [48]
To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration
To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour
To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration
To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering          
To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration"
British Museum

Michael Contending with Satan 
Study for illustration to Young's Night Thoughts
Milton and Blake both participate in the 'great battle' but there a many other entities as well. This battle is taking place in the natural world between natural religion and spiritual religion, in the mental world among the Four Zoas, in the Eternal world between Satan and Ololon.  The role of Urizen in this battle unfolds on several levels: spiritually as Satan, psychologically as the selfhood, morally as the Spectre and intellectually as the false reasoning.

These combatants are the Good Guys:
Children of Jerusalem

and these are the Bad Guys:
Fallen Zoas of Albion
Those who condemn religion and seek to annihilate it
Rahab Babylon (moral virtue)

The battle is not concluded with the defeat of Urizen but with the recognition of the forces that participate in the struggle. When the enemy is recognized as negation which by its nature can and must be destroyed, Milton consents to the annihilation of all that can be annihilated. This cleanses his mind, frees his spirit, releases his relationships, and alters his perception.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Songs of Innocence
The Echoing Green
British Museum

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It is easy to get discouraged when reading Blake's longer poems because of the lack of continuity and the introduction of multiple unfamiliar metaphors in close proximity. Jerome McGann in his chapter in Blake's Sublime Allegory, Essays on The Four Zoas, Milton and Jerusalem, Edited by Curran and Wittreich, gives an explanation of the reasoning behind the unfamiliar structure and composition encountered in the Four Zoas, Milton and Jerusalem. But we have to assume that Blake did not arrive at his way of writing poetry through his reasoning power but through the faculty he is trying to develop in his reader - the Imagination.

Quoting Jerome McGann on page 16:
"Fourfold vision is not rest but activity. Its first demand is that all things be forsaken, since only by fostering a condition of total perceptual indigence can one begin the preparation for infinite vision. Possessing nothing one finds that all things are possible. But to describe fourfold vision in this way is almost to parody it, Blake's poems resort to enactment and dramatization. However this is done it always comes in the "Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find" (M 35: 42). (Note how Blake's statement assures us that such visionary, timeless moments are continually borne to us through fallen time, even by Satan's 'Watch Fiends' themselves.) Between the pulsation of an artery, suspended from time in time, such a moment contains an experience of dying to an old form of thought and gaining a new world of perception.

New York Public Library
Plate 16
Blake's poems aim to establish the conditions which will rouse the faculties of his readers to this very death and release. He sets out contrarious perceptions of the universe, and by violent acts of juxtaposition forces us to 'To build the Universe stupendous: Mental forms Creating' (M 30: 20). The demand is that we set the poem's terms into successively different types of relations with each other. Blake's art is a sort of Glass-Bead Game. To 'make sense' of his words we establish in and for them different forms of order based on shifting sets of dissociations and associations, contrasts and analogies. To cease the act of creating these sets of relations, or of ironically unbuilding them again, is to lapse into single vision...As far as Blake is concerned, the process is infinite."   

Milton, PLATE 35 [39], (E 135)
"O how the Starry Eight rejoic'd to see Ololon descended!
And now that a wide road was open to Eternity,                   

By Ololons descent thro Beulah to Los & Enitharmon,

For mighty were the multitudes of Ololon, vast the extent
Of their great sway, reaching from Ulro to Eternity

Surrounding the Mundane Shell outside in its Caverns
And through Beulah. and all silent forbore to contend            
With Ololon for they saw the Lord in the Clouds of Ololon

There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find
Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, but the Industrious find
This Moment & it multiply. & when it once is found
It renovates every Moment of the Day if rightly placed[.]        
In this Moment Ololon descended to Los & Enitharmon
Unseen beyond the Mundane Shell Southward in Miltons track"

Milton, PLATE 30 [33], (E 129)
"Lo the Eternal Great Humanity            
To whom be Glory & Dominion Evermore Amen
Walks among all his awful Family seen in every face
As the breath of the Almighty. such are the words of man to man
In the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration,
To build the Universe stupendous: Mental forms Creating          

But the Emanations trembled exceedingly, nor could they
Live, because the life of Man was too exceeding unbounded
His joy became terrible to them they trembled & wept
Crying with one voice. Give us a habitation & a place
In which we may be hidden under the shadow of wings              
For if we who are but for a time, & who pass away in winter
Behold these wonders of Eternity we shall consume
But you O our Fathers & Brothers, remain in Eternity
But grant us a Temporal Habitation."
Perhaps we have a tendency to plead along with the Emanations for a temporal habitation when the Wars of Eternity become too intense for our comprehension.

Monday, October 8, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his sixth illustration to Il Penseroso: 
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

" And may at last my weary Age 
Find out the peaceful Hermitage 
The hairy Gown the mossy Cell 

Where I may sit & rightly spell 

Of every Star that heavn doth shew 

And every Herb that sips the dew 

Till old Experience do attain 

To somewhat like Prophetic strain" 

Blake wrote: 
"Milton in his Old Age sitting in his Mossy Cell Contemplating the Constellations. surrounded by the Spirits of the Herbs & Flowers. bursts forth into a rapturous Prophetic Strain"

The lower part of illustration six of Il Penseroso can be thought of as showing Milton's achievements in life. The lower right hand corner shows a nursing mother and two infants. The lower left shows a woman being drawn from the earth by another woman who reaches for heaven. In the center are a man and woman entwined in loving embrace below garlands of flowers. Beside Milton is his open book resting on a golden stand. A candle of illumination burns beside the book.

The expression on Milton's face betrays his hearing the 'rapturous Prophetic Strain'. A line in Il Penseroso not quoted by Blake mentions Milton's desire to 'Dissolve me into exstasies, And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.' Blake shows Milton not with the eyes of a blind man but with eyes that see the world of vision, not in the cave, not in the sky, but in the dimension which illumines the infinite, and eternal.

Milton's cave is filled with the ornaments of a successful life, but he is still portrayed in a cave; even with the ability to perceive the visionary world Milton has not been released from the cave of his mind into the ever expanding World of Eternity. He has not been able: 
"To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes 
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity 
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination", Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)

Milton wrote the following sonnet after the onset of his blindness and before the compositions of his great poetic works. Blake pictures Milton as having learned to watch and wait and serve as were the goals he expressed in his poem.

"When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best, his state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Important psychological work is accomplished in the deep caverns of the unconscious. This image may imply that Milton's work is incomplete, that he is still gathering together the 'scatterd portions of his immortal body'. When Jesus restored Lazarus to life it occurred in three stages, the last of which was to come forth from the sepulchre. Picturing Milton both as a man who travelled a great distance on the journey to wholeness, but who remained trapped in his limited confines, speaks to the condition of man waiting for the final revelation and redemption. 

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 114, (E 384)
"Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave 

PAGE 114 [110] 
The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery soon to return
In Clouds & Fires around the rock & the Mysterious tree
As the seed waits Eagerly watching for its flower & fruit
Anxious its little soul looks out into the clear expanse
To see if hungry winds are abroad with their invisible army 
So Man looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast
Collecting up the scatterd portions of his immortal body
Into the Elemental forms of every thing that grows
He tries the sullen north wind riding on its angry furrows
The sultry south when the sun rises & the angry east 
When the sun sets when the clods harden & the cattle stand
Drooping & the birds hide in their silent nests. he stores his thoughts
As in a store house in his memory he regulates the forms
Of all beneath & all above   & in the gentle West
Reposes where the Suns heat dwells   he rises to the Sun
And to the Planets of the Night & to the stars that gild
The Zodiac & the stars that sullen stand to north & south
He touches the remotest pole & in the Center weeps
That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget & return
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew
In pain he sighs in pain he labours in his universe
Screaming in birds over the deep & howling in the Wolf
Over the slain & moaning in the cattle & in the winds
And weeping over Orc & Urizen in clouds & flaming fires    
And in the cries of birth & in the groans of death his voice 
Is heard throughout the Universe whereever a grass grows
Or a leaf buds   The Eternal Man is seen is heard   is felt
And all his Sorrows till he reassumes his ancient bliss

Such are the words of Ahania & Enion. Los hears & weeps    
And Los & Enitharmon took the Body of the Lamb 
Down from the Cross & placd it in a Sepulcher which Los had hewn
For himself in the Rock of Eternity trembling & in despair 
Jerusalem wept over the Sepulcher two thousand Years"

Saturday, October 6, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his sixth illustration to Il Penseroso

Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)
"And may at last my weary Age 
Find out the peaceful Hermitage   
The hairy Gown the mossy Cell 
Where I may sit & rightly spell
Of every Star that heavn doth shew
And every Herb that sips the dew 
Till old Experience do attain 
To somewhat like Prophetic strain"

Blake wrote: 
"Milton in his Old Age sitting in his Mossy Cell Contemplating the Constellations. surrounded by the Spirits of the Herbs & Flowers. bursts forth into a rapturous Prophetic Strain"
This illustration is divided practically in half, between the cave in which Milton sits and the outside in which the signs of the Zodiac are personified in the night sky. Since there is a lot that can be said about this image, only the upper part will be treated here.

Blake has pictured four constellations of the Zodiac in the sky. Cancer - the crab, Gemini - the twins, Taurus - the bull, and Aries - the ram. These are the first four signs of the Zodiac and appear in the winter sky. An astrology website describes them thus:

"One is the force or impulse of life itself (Aries) and can represent both collective (God) or singular (drop or ray of God) oneness. Two is base matter (Taurus), duality, or the feminine-receptive principle that uses or absorbs spirit to give it life and mind. Some would say that matter is condensed or slowed-down spirit and therefore represents the dying or degenerative principle. Three is mental activity or consciousness (Gemini) or the result of raw spirit or force (Aries) interacting with pure matter (Taurus). Aries is the father, Taurus is the mother, and Gemini is the child. Four is primal soul or memory (Cancer) or the result of spirit's infusion into matter."

Blake may have seen Urthona in Aries, Tharmas in Taurus, Luvah in Gemini, and Urizen in Cancer. The presence of the four Zoas in the heavens above Milton may be a symbol of maturity achieved by Milton in his old age.

Blake also pictures
the constellation Orion directly above Milton's head. The myth of Orion tells of a great hunter who was blinded by a vengeful king and had his sight restored by Helios the sun. Orion was assisted in seeking healing by Hephaestus, the smith and metalworker who resemble Blake's hero Los.  Milton who lost his natural sight when he was in his forties, had received the light of inspiration from God which allowed him to write his greatest poetry while sightless.

The women among the trees in the upper half of the picture are lamenting the fall from the Eternal realm which resulted in the creation of the stars. The stars for Blake were only the remnants of the light which had been lost when Albion turned away from his source. However, the stars and all creation although dimmed and obscured compared to Eternal realities are Sons of Los capable of '
Uttering prophecies & speaking instructive words to the sons Of men.'     

Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 208)
"For the Veil of Vala which Albion cast into the Atlantic Deep
To catch the Souls of the Dead: began to Vegetate & Petrify
Around the Earth of Albion. among the Roots of his Tree
This Los formed into the Gates & mighty Wall, between the Oak    
Of Weeping & the Palm of Suffering beneath Albions Tomb,
Thus in process of time it became the beautiful Mundane Shell,
The Habitation of the Spectres of the Dead & the Place
Of Redemption & of awaking again into Eternity

For Four Universes round the Mundane Egg remain Chaotic          
One to the North; Urthona: One to the South; Urizen:
One to the East: Luvah: One to the West, Tharmas;
They are the Four Zoas that stood around the Throne Divine
Verulam: London: York & Edinburgh: their English names" 
Milton, Plate 25 [27] (E 123)  
"While Los calld his Sons around him to the Harvest & the Vintage.

Thou seest the Constellations in the deep & wondrous Night
They rise in order and continue their immortal courses
Upon the mountains & in vales with harp & heavenly song
With flute & clarion; with cups & measures filld with foaming wine.
Glittring the streams reflect the Vision of beatitude,           
And the calm Ocean joys beneath & smooths his awful waves!
Plate 26 [28]
These are the Sons of Los, & these the Labourers of the Vintage
Thou seest the gorgeous clothed Flies that dance & sport in summer
Upon the sunny brooks & meadows: every one the dance
Knows in its intricate mazes of delight artful to weave:
Each one to sound his instruments of music in the dance,      
To touch each other & recede; to cross & change & return
These are the Children of Los; thou seest the Trees on mountains
The wind blows heavy, loud they thunder thro' the darksom sky
Uttering prophecies & speaking instructive words to the sons
Of men: These are the Sons of Los! These the Visions of Eternity 

But we see only as it were the hem of their garments
When with our vegetable eyes we view these wond'rous Visions"

Thursday, October 4, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his fifth illustration to Il Penseroso

Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

"There in close covert by some Brook 

Where no profaner Eye may look 

With such concert as they keep 

Entice the dewy featherd Sleep 

And let some strange mysterous 

Dream Wave on his Wings in airy stream 

Of liveliest Portraiture displayd 

On my Sleeping eyelids laid 

And as I wake sweet Music breathe 

Above; about: or underneath: 

Sent by some Spirit to Mortals good 

Or the unseen Genius of the Wood" 

Blake wrote: 

"Milton sleeping on a Bank. Sleep descending with a Strange Mysterious Dream upon his Wings of Scrolls & Nets & Webs unfolded by Spirits in the Air & in the Brook around Milton are Six Spirits or Fairies hovering on the air with Instruments of Music"

The wing of sleep dips into the water of materiality to bring images to Milton's dreaming self. Milton sleeps in what appears to be a grave; his hands cover his genitals warding off sexual involvement. 

The upper part of the picture is dominated by a circular rainbow in the center of which are the four fallen Zoas. The angel who brings the dream to Milton bears the Seven Eyes of God on his wings.

This illustration attempts to show a process of integration taking place. The dreaming man is receiving images from his unconscious which may resolve the conflicts which divide his psyche. He has the protection of the numinous forces to provide assistance in assimilating the experiences which have created entanglements in 'Scrolls & Nets & Webs'. He is surrounded in his sleep by 'his Sixfold Emanation' as 'Six Spirits or Fairies hovering on the air with Instruments of Music.'

The symbolic meaning of this illustration is closely related the conclusion of Blake's Milton and can be contrasted with the Epilogue to Gates of Paradise.

Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)
"Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence
Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent
Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep In torment!" 
Milton, Plate 33 [36], (E 132)
"Behold Milton descended to Redeem the Female Shade
From Death Eternal; such your lot, to be continually Redeem'd
By death & misery of those you love & by Annihilation
When the Sixfold Female percieves that Milton annihilates
Himself: that seeing all his loves by her cut off: he leaves     
Her also: intirely abstracting himself from Female loves
She shall relent in fear of death: She shall begin to give
Her maidens to her husband: delighting in his delight
And then & then alone begins the happy Female joy"
Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 141)
"Before Ololon Milton stood & percievd the Eternal Form
Of that mild Vision; wondrous were their acts by me unknown
Except remotely; and I heard Ololon say to Milton

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon."
Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 143)
"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.

Then as a Moony Ark Ololon descended to Felphams Vale
In clouds of blood, in streams of gore, with dreadful thunderings
Into the Fires of Intellect that rejoic'd in Felphams Vale
Around the Starry Eight: with one accord the Starry Eight became 
One Man Jesus the Saviour. wonderful! round his limbs
The Clouds of Ololon folded as a Garment dipped in blood
Written within & without in woven letters: & the Writing
Is the Divine Revelation in the Litteral expression:
A Garment of War, I heard it namd the Woof of Six Thousand Years 

And I beheld the Twenty-four Cities of Albion
Arise upon their Thrones to Judge the Nations of the Earth
And the Immortal Four in whom the Twenty-four appear Four-fold
Arose around Albions body: Jesus wept & walked forth
From Felphams Vale clothed in Clouds of blood, to enter into     
Albions Bosom, the bosom of death & the Four surrounded him
In the Column of Fire in Felphams Vale; then to their mouths the Four
Applied their Four Trumpets & them sounded to the Four winds" 
We went to the tennis court early this morning as usual but found something unusual: a moth clinging to the fence behind the court. Since I remembered from long ago that this was a particularly beautiful species of moth, I went for a closer look. I remembered the color - a pale luminous green, and the form - graceful wings with extended tails, but I had forgotten another feature - small well articulated 'eyes' on the wings. Since I had been looking at the wings of sleep covered with the Eyes of God, I was astonished to find eyes on the wings of a Luna moth. The name of the moth connects it with the moon, the feminine and Beulah. So Milton's Mysterious Dream is not far removed from the commonplace of ordinary life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his fourth illustration to Il Penseroso:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

"And when the Sun begins to fling 

His flaring Beams me Goddess bring 

To arched walks of twilight Groves 

And Shadows brown that Sylvan Coves" 

Blake wrote:
"Milton led by Melancholy into the Groves away from the Suns flaring Beams who is seen in the Heavens throwing his darts & flames of fire The Spirits of the Trees on each side are seen under the domination of Insects raised by the Suns heat" 

 To escape from the darts and beams of the sun Milton enters the grove led by Melancholy. The fierce energy of emotion impels Milton to retreat to the protection of a dimmed consciousness. The grove offers protection from the intensity of unscreened light, like the wilderness offered it to Jesus after his baptism. But the introspection in the wilderness is more that a retreat; it is an exploration of options leading in contrasting directions. The entrance into this state of indecision presupposes that there will be an exit as well. The unacceptable options, like the 'Insects raised by the Suns heat', may be discarded and strength may be gathered to 'bear the beams of love.'

Songs of Innocence, Song 9, (E 9)

"And we are put on earth a little space, 

That we may learn to bear the beams of love, 

And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face 

Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove."

In Blake's poetry, as in Milton's, poor choices were often made and led into labyrinths of affliction. A moment of decision in Blake's Europe does not lead to a return to the light but to the rise of Orc and the assumption of power by Enitharmon.
Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
"Again the night is come    
That strong Urthona takes his rest,                              
And Urizen unloos'd from chains                                  
Glows like a meteor in the distant north
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep.
PLATE 4     
The shrill winds wake                                            
Till all the sons of Urizen look out and envy Los:
Sieze all the spirits of life and bind
Their warbling joys to our loud strings                          

Bind all the nourishing sweets of earth                          
To give us bliss, that we may drink the sparkling wine of Los
And let us laugh at war,
Despising toil and care,
Because the days and nights of joy, in lucky hours renew.

Arise O Orc from thy deep den,                                   
First born of Enitharmon rise!
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine;
For now thou art bound;
And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest born.

The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire,
Whirling about in furious circles round the immortal fiend.

Then Enitharmon down descended into his red light,
And thus her voice rose to her children, the distant heavens reply. 
Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!                          
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?
That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion?"