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

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Luke 7
[36] And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
[37] And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
[38] And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
[39] Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
[40] And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
[41] There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
[42] And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
[43] Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
[44] And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
[45] Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
[46] My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
[47] Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
[48] And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

Enlarged image in
Blake Archive.

Mary Magdalene Washing Christ's Feet
Although the the woman in this story is unnamed, she is frequently associated with Mary Magdalene who was among Jesus' most faithful disciples. Mary's awareness of her need for forgiveness enabled her to accept the unconditional love that Jesus offered her. She responded with extravagant gratitude to and love of her benefactor. Jesus sought to engender in his followers not righteousness but love through which forgiveness is multiplied.  

To Blake forgiveness was the essence of the teaching of Jesus:
Songs and Ballads, (E 477) 
"Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity

& Throughout all Eternity                     
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said                                   
This the Wine & this the Bread"
Link to Philadelphia Museum

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Luke 9
[28] And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
[29] And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
[30] And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
[31] Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
[32] But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
[33] And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
[34] While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
[35] And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
[36] And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

View image in Blake Archive.

Original in Victoria and Albert Museum
Image from the Blake Society
The Transfiguration
Two threads of Judaism can be represented by Elijah and Moses - prophecy and the law. The appearance of Elijah and Moses on the mount where the countenance of Jesus was altered, points to the fulfilment of the Old Testament in the New. Jesus puts off the physical body and assumes the radiant spiritual body. He converses with his predecessors about the continuation of God's revelation of Truth which will climax in Jerusalem. The words pronounced at the baptism of Jesus are repeated at this critical juncture: "This is my beloved son."

Blake's illustration of the scene follows the Biblical accounts including the two men with whom Jesus talked appearing both in their bodily forms and the glory of their Eternal forms.

1ST Corinthians 15
[42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
[43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
[44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Jerusalem, Plate 76, (E 231)
"But Jesus breaking thro' the Central Zones of Death & Hell
Opens Eternity in Time & Space; triumphant in Mercy"

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd
By the lost Sheep that he hath found & Albion knew that it
Was the Lord the Universal Humanity, & Albion saw his Form     
A Man. & they conversed as Man with Man, in Ages of Eternity
And the Divine Appearance was the likeness & similitude of Los"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Mark 10
[42] But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
[43] But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
[44] And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
[45] For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
[46] And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
[47] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
[48] And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
[49] And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
[50] And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
[51] And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
[52] And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Yale Center for British Art
Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus
Blake chose to illustrate another biblical incident of healing in his picture of Christ Giving Sight to  Bartimaeus. The event which is told only in Mark's gospel appears immediately following the explanation Jesus gives to the disciples of the difference between worldly authority and authority among his followers. The healing of Bartimaeus is a demonstration of the type of servanthood which should be practised by those who would be great among his disciples. The blind man sought mercy, he responded to the call from Jesus, he unencumbered himself, he asked for what he needed, he exercised faith and he responded to Jesus's gift by following the master. 

The physical blindness of Bartimaeus did not result in spiritual blindness. Through faith he cried out and was made whole. Blake shows in his illustration (as does Mark) that the faith of the three disciples may still be in question. 

The Everlasting Gospel, (E 522)
"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       
Then Rolld the shadowy Man away
From the Limbs of Jesus to make them his prey
An Ever devo[u]ring appetite
Glittering with festering Venoms bright
Crying Crucify this cause of distress        
Who dont keep the secrets of Holiness
All Mental Powers by Diseases we bind
But he heals the Deaf & the Dumb & the Blind
Whom God has afflicted for Secret Ends
He comforts & Heals & calls them Friends"   

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Mead Art Museum Amherst College
Christ Raising Jairus' Daughter

Jesus desired to heal those who sought his help. We see contrasted in this story those who were receptive to what Jesus could provide and those who were predisposed to expect failure. Those who denied, doubted and scorned were not admitted to the room where the young girl lay; nor were they admitted to Blake's picture of the healing. Faith formed a circle which included Christ, the young maiden and her Mother and Father. Peter, James and John whose faith still needed strengthening stand outside the circle as observers and disciples of Jesus.

Blake's image in the Blake Archive.

Mark 5
22] And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
[23] And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
[24] And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

35] While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
[36] As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
[37] And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
[38] And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
[39] And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
[40] And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
[41] And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
[42] And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
[43] And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat. 

Milton, Plate 25 [27], (E 122)
"The Elect is one Class: You
Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemd,       
Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect"
Satiric Verses and Epigrams, (E 501)
"You dont believe I wont attempt to make ye
You are asleep I wont attempt to wake ye
Sleep on Sleep on while in your pleasant dreams
Of Reason you may drink of Lifes clear streams
Reason and Newton they are quite two things         
For so the Swallow & the Sparrow sings
Reason says Miracle. Newton says Doubt
Aye thats the way to make all Nature out        
Doubt Doubt & dont believe without experiment
That is the very thing that Jesus meant         
When he said Only Believe Believe & try         
Try Try & never mind the Reason why"

Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"He who Doubts from what he sees
Will neer Believe do what you Please
If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out"  

Here is a post on a daughter who was sacrificed.  

Friday, December 21, 2012


Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood
Picture in the Blake Archive
Much of Jesus' teaching came through his healing ministry. In the fifth chapter of Mark and the eighth chapter of Matthew we find accounts of two healings which are linked by a common time frame. The healing of the woman with the flow of blood occurs while Jesus is accompanying Jairus to minister to his dying daughter.
This post will treat the healing of the woman and the next post on the Life of Christ will follow the healing of Jairus' daughter.

This incident concerns itself with realities which are not natural but spiritual. Jesus felt the touch of the woman because they were joined in spirit as the healing energy flowed to supply her need and make her whole. Jesus is pictured among a group of people but most of them make no contact with him; their eyes are averted, or are cast down, or stare blankly. Only the children look through their eyes rather than with their eyes and see the potential of Jesus for love and healing. The woman who knew her need and his power reached out to touch the hem of his garment because the troubles she endured made her receptive to seeking his blessing in the simplest and most humble way.   

Mark 5

[25] And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
[26] And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
[27] When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
[28] For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
[29] And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
[30] And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
[31] And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
[32] And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
[33] But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
[34] And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.  

Milton, Plate 26 [28], (E 124)
"So they are born on Earth, & every Class is determinate
But not by Natural but by Spiritual power alone, Because         
The Natural power continually seeks & tends to Destruction
Ending in Death: which would of itself be Eternal Death
And all are Class'd by Spiritual, & not by Natural power.

And every Natural Effect has a Spiritual Cause, and Not
A Natural: for a Natural Cause only seems, it is a Delusion      
Of Ulro: & a ratio of the perishing Vegetable Memory."

Letters, to Thomas Butts, (E 728)
"Accept of my thanks for your kind & heartening Letter You
have Faith in the Endeavours of Me your weak brother & fellow
Disciple. how great must be your faith in our Divine Master.  You
are to me a Lesson of Humility while you Exalt me by such
distinguishing commendations.  I know that you see certain merits
in me which by Gods Grace shall be made fully apparent & perfect
in Eternity. in the mean time I must not bury the Talents in the
Earth but do my endeavour to live to the Glory of our Lord &
Saviour & I am also grateful to the kind hand that endeavours to
lift me out of despondency even if it lifts me too high--"
Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye"  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Yale Center for British Art
Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

c 1822-25
In his ministry Jesus taught through parables. When teaching his disciples of the coming of the end times he used the analogy of women waiting for the coming of the bridegroom to a wedding feast.

Blake's image of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins combines the ideas of the women with lamps waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom and the impending crisis which would be announced by the sounding of the last trumpet. The foolish women are more than just disappointed; they are fearful, anguished, alarmed, and mournful. They are responding to the angel in the sky above sounding the trumpet. The wise women are confident that they are prepared for the Son of Man to usher in the Kingdom of God

Matthew 24
[29] Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
[30] And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
[31] And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 25
[1] Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
[2] And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
[3] They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
[4] But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
[5] While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
[6] And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
[7] Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
[8] And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
[9] But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
[10] And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
[11] Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
[12] But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
[13] Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

First Corinthians 15
[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Revelation 8
[2] And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

[6] And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

[13] And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Milton, PLATE 23 [25],(E 118)
"Awake thou sleeper on the Rock of Eternity Albion awake
The trumpet of Judgment hath twice sounded: all Nations are awake
But thou art still heavy and dull: Awake Albion awake! 
Lo Orc arises on the Atlantic. Lo his blood and fire
Glow on Americas shore: Albion turns upon his Couch
He listens to the sounds of War, astonishd and confounded:
He weeps into the Atlantic deep, yet still in dismal dreams
Unwakend! and the Covering Cherub advances from the East:        
How long shall we lay dead in the Street of the great City"
Milton, Plate 25 [27], (E 121)
"And Los stood & cried to the Labourers of the Vintage in voice of awe.

Fellow Labourers! The Great Vintage & Harvest is now upon Earth
The whole extent of the Globe is explored: Every scatterd Atom
Of Human Intellect now is flocking to the sound of the Trumpet
All the Wisdom which was hidden in caves & dens, from ancient    
Time; is now sought out from Animal & Vegetable & Mineral

The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe! the Vision of God is fulfilled
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,"

Monday, December 17, 2012


Paradise Regained
Andrew and Simon Peter Searching for Christ
In this picture Blake draws on the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John and Milton's Paradise Regained to capture a decisive instant in the development in the story of Christ. The synoptics tell us of the temptation of Jesus after his baptism. The Gospel of John tells of the recognition by John the Baptist and two of his disciples of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Milton's Paradise Regained tells of the ambivalence the two disciples felt when Jesus disappeared from their sight as he entered the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. The interval when Jesus was temped, Blake shows as a corresponding event for Andrew and Peter.  

The moment between the realisation of Andrew and Peter that Jesus is the Christ and their committing themselves to follow him was their struggle with temptation. The spiritual nature of this event is shown through the two angels who support and encourage the two men. The call of Christ for followers is not for men to be his corporeal friends but spiritual friends; to enter into a relationship where their hearts and minds are laid open to transformation through the unifying brotherhood of Man with Man, and God with Man.     

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.
[30] This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
[31] And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
[32] And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
[33] And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
[34] And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
[35] Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
[36] And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
[37] And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
[38] Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
[39] He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
[40] One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
[41] He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
[42] And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Paradise Regained, Book II
John Milton
"Meanwhile the new-baptiz'd, who yet remain'd
At Jordan with the Baptist, and had seen
Him whom they heard so late expressly call'd
Jesus Messiah Son of God declar'd,
And on that high Authority had believ'd,
And with him talkt, and with him lodg'd, I mean
Andrew and Simon, famous after known
With others though in Holy Writ not nam'd,
Now missing him thir joy so lately found,
So lately found, and so abruptly gone,
Began to doubt, and doubted many days,
And as the days increas'd, increas'd thir doubt:
Sometimes they thought he might be only shewn,
And for a time caught up to God,"

Final lines of Paradise Regained:
Book IV
"Hail Son of the most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan, on thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save mankind.
Thus they the Son of God our Saviour meek
Sung Victor, and, from Heavenly Feast refresht
Brought on his way with joy; hee unobserv'd
Home to his Mothers house private return'd."

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
" I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.   
  Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more.  The Apostles knew of no other Gospel.  What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in
Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing
to Man?" 

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 541)
"The Prophets describe what they saw in Vision
as real and existing men whom they saw with their imaginative and
immortal organs; the Apostles the same; the clearer the organ the
more distinct the object.  A Spirit and a Vision are not, as the 
modern philosophy supposes, a cloudy vapour or a
nothing: they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all
that the mortal and perishing nature can produce."
Milton, Plate 4, (E 98)
"(Mark well my words! Corporeal Friends are Spiritual Enemies)"

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The Baptism of Christ
Original in Asmolean Museum, Oxford
Luke 3
[2] Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
[3] And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
[4] As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
[5] Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
[6] And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
[7] Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
[8] Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
[15] And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
[16] John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
[21] Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
[22] And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
[23] And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph,
Luke 4
[1] And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
[2] Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

We can make a comparison of three image of the baptism of Jesus by Blake. The first, a tempera in the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum
can be viewed in the Blake Archive. It includes the most detail. (Click on picture for enlargement and scan to observe detail.) Notable is the Divine family in the heavenly realm. The bearded old man through which Blake represented Urizen, Job and Jehovah kneels in the water to the left of John. This picture includes others besides Jesus availing themselves of John's baptism. In each of the pictures we see that 'the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.'

The watercolor picture in the Ashmolean at Oxford is available through the website named William Blake: The Complete Works

The watercolor picture illustating Milton's Paradise Regained is available through Wikimedia Commons. The original is in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. The image was used in our post Illustrating Milton. 

Blake descriptions of his illustration of the Last Judgment include some of what we see in these three pictures. 

Letters, To Ozias Humphry, 1808, (E 553)
 "On the Right hand of the Throne of Christ is Baptism On
the left is the Lords Supper the two introducers
into Eternal Life Women with Infants approach the Figure of an
aged Apostle which represents
Baptism & on the left hand the Lords Supper is administerd by
Angels from the hands of another Apostle these
kneel on each side of the Throne which is surrounded by a Glory
many Infants appear in the Glory
representing the Eternal Creation flowing from the Divine
Humanity in Jesus who opens the Scroll of Judgment upon his knees
before the Living & the Dead
     Such is the Design which you my Dear Sir have been the cause
of my producing & which but for you might have slept till the
Last Judgment"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 562)
" On the Side next Baptism are seen those calld in the Bible
Nursing Fathers & Nursing Mothers <they have Crowns the
Spectator may suppose them to be the good Kings  & Queens
of England> they represent Education   On the Side
next the Lords Supper.  The Holy Family consisting of Mary Joseph
John the Baptist Zacharias & Elizabeth recieving the Bread & Wine
among other Spirits of <the> Just  
made perfect. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Image in Blake Archive

Another of Blake's pictures of the child Jesus appearing in a situation not mentioned in the bible is called the Christ Child Asleep on a Cross. The obvious implication of the picture is a reminder of the crucifixion which would befall Jesus in later life. By creating this image Blake interweaves occurrences in time with those in eternity. It was Blake's belief that provision was made for man's return to his original bliss even as he was expelled from the garden. In the New Testament letters the cross became a symbol of Jesus' submission to death as a prelude to life eternal.    

Christ Child Asleep on a Cross
Blake used this picture as a way of tying together multiple ways in which we experience God's gift of the birth to Eternal Life. First in the birth of the Christ child in our hearts and minds. Second in the symbol of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Third in a symbol of the transforming power which the cross became for believers. And fourth as an indication that through Christ and his resurrection man may gain experiential knowledge of his own Eternal Life.  

Titus 1
[1] Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
[2] In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Philippians 2
[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
[7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

1st John 5
[11] And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
[13] These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
[20] And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Blake's own words add further dimensions to the meaning we may search for in this picture.

Milton, Plate 4, (E 98)
"Satan was going to reply, but Los roll'd his loud thunders.   

Anger me not! thou canst not drive the Harrow in pitys paths.
Thy Work is Eternal Death, with Mills & Ovens & Cauldrons.
Trouble me no more. thou canst not have Eternal Life

So Los spoke! Satan trembling obeyd weeping along the way.
Mark well my words, they are of your eternal Salvation      

Between South Molton Street & Stratford Place: Calvarys foot
Where the Victims were preparing for Sacrifice their Cherubim
Around their loins pourd forth their arrows & their bosoms beam
With all colours of precious stones, & their inmost palaces
Resounded with preparation of animals wild & tame          
(Mark well my words! Corporeal Friends are Spiritual Enemies)
Mocking Druidical Mathematical Proportion of Length Bredth Highth
Displaying Naked Beauty! with Flute & Harp & Song
Plate 5                                             
Palamabron with the fiery Harrow in morning returning
From breathing fields. Satan fainted beneath the artillery
Christ took on Sin in the Virgins Womb, & put it off on the Cross

All pitied the piteous & was wrath with the wrathful & Los heard it."

Everlasting Gospel [Notes], (E 877)
     "It was when Jesus said to Me
     Thy Sins are all forgiven thee
     The Christian trumpets loud proclaim
     Thro all the World in Jesus name
     Mutual forgiveness of each Vice
     And oped the Gates of Paradise
     The Moral Virtues in Great fear
     Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear
     And the Accuser standing by
     Cried out Crucify Crucify
     Our Moral Virtues neer can be
     Nor Warlike pomp & Majesty
     For Moral Virtues all begin
     In the Accusations of Sin" 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Luke 1
80] And the child [John] grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Luke 2

33] And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him [Jesus].
34] And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35] (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36] And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37] And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38] And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39] And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40] And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Blake's illustrations to the New Testament follow his inclination to present his own response to biblical accounts. Blake includes pictures from Jesus' childhood which are not included in the Bible. Because the stage of childhood in man's life represented the age of innocence which was of particular interest to him, Blake chose to represent that stage in the life of Jesus. 

The Virgin Hushing the Young Baptist
Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with St. John
The child John appears with the child Jesus in two pictures. These two boys would grow up to play prophetic roles for their society and meet violent deaths because of their resistance to the established culture. Mary in the two pictures may be attempting to protect her son from what she suspects may be rebelliousness in Jesus' slightly older cousin John. In the one image Mary hushes the exuberance of John as he approaches the sleeping Jesus. In the second image Mary steadies Jesus as he rides a lamb, Blake's symbol for gentleness. As an innocent Jesus clings to his mother but points to John as if desiring to join him. But not to be ignored is the reference to the eventual association of Jesus with the Lamb of God as the Divine Vision who prevents man's fall into Eternal Death.

There was reason for Mary to believe that John may grow up to be a rebellious boy because of the indulgence of his older mother and the rigid conformity of his priestly father. Her inclination was to raise her own son so that he would avoid the dangers that confrontations with the religious and military authorities would create.

Blake used Mary to represent the natural side of Jesus rather than the spiritual side in his poem
To Tirzah. On Plate 61 of Jerusalem, however, her spiritual side is shown for it is Mary who convinces Joseph that God's forgiveness does not demand purity but is through 'Continual Forgiveness of Sins In the Perpetual Mutual Sacrifice in Great Eternity.'

Monday, December 10, 2012


Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar wrote a book, Who's Afraid of Schrodinger's Cat, to explain the concepts of the new physics in the context of classical science. This quote crosses the dividing line between physics and cosmology:

"In Quantum Field Theory, things existing in the universe are conceived of as patterns of dynamic energy. The ground state of energy in the universe, the lowest possible state, is known as the quantum vacuum. It is called a vacuum because it cannot be measured directly; it is empty of "things." When we try to perceive the vacuum directly we are confronted with a "void", a background without features that therefore seems to be empty. In fact the vacuum is filled with every potentiality of everything in the universe.
"...Unseen and not directly measurable, the vacuum exerts a subtle push on the surface of existence, like water pushing on things immersed in it . ... It is as though all surface things are in constant interaction with a tenuous background of evanescent reality. ...The universe is not "filled" with the vacuum. Rather it is "written on" it or emerges out of it."

__________________________Illustration for Milton's Paradise Lost

The following passages scattered through Blake's writing give the impression that the 'weeping babe' or 'weeping infant' is man in his potential form holding all possibilities. Like the Quantum Vacuum mentioned above the babe does not contain but 'allows the patterns of dynamic energy' to take form. The babe cannot be measured or defined but awaits 'fill[ing] with every potentiality of everything in the universe.' Into this babe we become immersed and become expressed through his potential.

The Pickering Manuscript, The Crystal Cabinet, (E 488)
"I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

A weeping Babe upon the wild
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind"

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 214)
"And Jehovah stood in the Gates of the Victim, & he appeared
A weeping Infant in the Gates of Birth in the midst of Heaven"

Jerusalem, Plate 63, (E 214)
"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"

Jerusalem, Plate 81, (E 239)
"Humanity is become
A weeping Infant in ruind lovely Jerusalems folding Cloud:
In Heaven Love begets Love! but Fear is the Parent of Earthly
Plate 82, (E 239)
"the mighty Hyle is become a weeping infant;
Soon shall the Spectres of the Dead follow my weaving threads."
Plate 82, (E 240)
"She drew aside her Veil from Mam-Tor to Dovedale
Discovering her own perfect beauty to the Daughters of Albion
And Hyle a winding Worm beneath [her Loom upon the scales.
Hyle was become a winding Worm:] & not a weeping Infant.
Trembling & pitying she screamd & fled upon the wind:
Hyle was a winding Worm and herself perfect in beauty:
The desarts tremble at his wrath: they shrink themselves in fear."

Four Zoas, PAGE 27, (E 317)
"And I commanded the Great deep to hide her in his hand
Till she became a little weeping Infant a span long
I carried her in my bosom as a man carries a lamb
I loved her I gave her all my soul & my delight
I hid her in soft gardens & in secret bowers of Summer
Weaving mazes of delight along the sunny Paradise
Inextricable labyrinths, She bore me sons & daughters
And they have taken her away & hid her from my sight"

Thel, PLATE 4, (E 6)
"Then Thel astonish'd view'd the Worm upon its dewy bed.

Art thou a Worm? image of weakness. art thou but a Worm?
I see thee like an infant wrapped in the Lillys leaf:
Ah weep not little voice, thou can'st not speak. but thou can'st
Is this a Worm? I see thee lay helpless & naked: weeping,
And none to answer, none to cherish thee with mothers smiles.

The Clod of Clay heard the Worms voice, & raisd her pitying head;
She bowd over the weeping infant, and her life exhal'd
In milky fondness, then on Thel she fix'd her humble eyes.

O beauty of the vales of Har. we live not for ourselves,
Thou seest me the meanest thing, and so I am indeed;
My bosom of itself is cold. and of itself is dark,"

Four Zoas, PAGE 35, (E 324)
"The deep lifts up his rugged head
And lost in infinite hum[m]ing wings vanishes with a cry
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"


Sunday, December 9, 2012


Matthew 1
[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
[19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
[20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
[21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Luke 2
[3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
[5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Blake's tempera image of the Nativity painted on copper in 1799 for Thomas Butts belongs to the Philadelphia Museum. An enlargement of the image can be viewed in the Blake Archive.

Wikipedia Commons
The Nativity
Most striking in this image is the portrayal of the infant Jesus. The child is seen as a spiritual rather than a physical being. He is not subject to the force of gravity for he is suspended in the air. There is no need for additional light in the stable for he is the source of light which radiates to his surroundings. He has left his father and mother and is moving toward Elizabeth who holds her promised son, the infant John, on he lap. Blake's first illustration to Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity is an expansion of this picture but the all important soaring Christ Child appears in both. In another post he is identified with the weeping babe.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Angel Appearing to Zacharias
Luke 1
[5] There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
[6] And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
[7] And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
[8] And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
[9] According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
[10] And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
[11] And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
[12] And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
[13] But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
[14] And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
[15] For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
[17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Blake's image of the Angel appearing to Zacharias is among the more literal of his images. Along with the two figures Blake shows the menorah, the altar of incense and the shewbread. Zacharias is the epitome of one in the priestly role, within the sanctuary of the temple and wearing the elaborate vestments of his office. In spite of the dramatic encounter it represents, the picture is particularly rigid and static. 

Blake with this picture sets the stage for the events which will follow. We see here the status quo which is to be disturbed by the child whose immanent appearance is announce by Gabriel. The theme of the birth of a child as the ushering in a series of changes which will alter history is widely recognized. The child who will be Zacharias' son is a step removed from the child who will transform the world; his role will be to prepare the way. But his path will be not that of the priest but of the prophet who will distance himself from the trappings of society and call for the radical reordering of the status quo.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Martin Nurmi wrote a chapter titled On The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in Discussions of William Blake, Edited by John E Grant. Nurmi considers that Blake's idea of 'spiritual sensation' is basic to the message he attempted to convey. It is through 'spiritual sensation' that man accesses the world of vision. It is not through the 'organs of perception' that Blake can identify Christ with the One Man, the Universal Family in whom we live and who lives in us. It is only when the doors of perception are cleansed and man sees the infinite that he may as Nurmi says: 'begin to know directly by perception that on Earth there are only shadows, that the Real is elsewhere.' 

There is No Natural Religion, (E 2)
  " I   Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he 
percieves more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover." 

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)  
" If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite. 
 For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."

Quotes from Nurmi in Discussions of William Blake on page 93-4:
"Blake is probably the most extreme humanist of all time. When he says 'God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is', he is not uttering a bit of vague piety; he means it literally. Man is not merely capable of divinity, but is, even in his fallen state, divine in essence.

British Museum
Illustration to Young's Night Thoughts
The Christian Triumph

The full measure of Blake's humanism, however, may be taken from his conception that the ultimate order of the cosmos, when perceived by the synoptic vision which perceives the grand order of all things at once, takes on the real or eternal form of 'One Man.' The identity of man and God is reinforced when we learn that the One Man is Christ:

Jerusalem, PLATE 34 [38], (E 180)
"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." 
... Blake makes the moral nature of man not only the center of the universe, but literally the universe itself.
This Christian-humanist cosmological idea - or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a grand archetype - is the closest thing we find to a 'first principle' in Blake's thought. All of his ideas can be related to it. Especially closely related to it is his conception of spiritual sensation, since only by spiritual sensation can we know the human character of the cosmos.".

On page 95 Nurmi points out that in consequences of reaching the fourfold vision of directly experiencing the oneness, an individual is returned to a state of innocence:

Letters, Oct 2, 1800, (E 717)
To Thomas Butts
    "I remaind as a Child
     All I ever had known
     Before me bright Shone"
"A vision like this is not, in the usual sense of the word, otherworldly. The significance of Blake's four-fold vision does not lie merely in it enabling us to transcend the limited sphere of practical life, but in revealing the order and unity of life as a whole, so that even our practical life is transformed by the knowledge that 'everything that lives is Holy'".    

Monday, December 3, 2012


J. Bronowski writes in William Blake and the Age of Revolution of Blake's commitment to the work of progressing through the contraries to arrive at a perception of the identity of man's inner and outer form. The outer world is changed through modifying the internal forces controlling the psyche. If man can come to realise that God expresses himself through humans who are joined together in one Body as well as one Soul, there are changes in the social, political and economic orders. Our senses tell us of surface phenomena; our imagination shows us 'the likeness of God in the body of man.'     

Page 183-4

"For Blake's ideal is not single and ascetic but is part of his lively dialectic. The crux of that dialectic is, that all societies fall short of man's good; but that man cannot be good, because they cannot be themselves, outside society. What is done always distorts what has been imagined. But what has been imagined must be given a shape by doing, and it is not fully imagined until it is done. This is the progression of innocence and experience, murdering one another. It is the progression between society and the way of living it seeks to fix. And it is the progression between the poem and the imagination. To take one side or other of these contraries: to hold that the social man is prompted by social forces alone; or that he who knows that the poem always speaks the thought awry must needs be dumb: this is to miss the movement of Blake's contraries to progression. Innocence returns to itself, greater, by way of experience. Blake's ideal is the imaginative soul. But the Divine Vision must work in the world: God cannot reveal himself without Urizen, the physical creator. 'God only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.' And though the ideal errs in the hypocrite world, 'to be an Error & to be Cast out is a part of God's design'.

Against the proliferation of error which the vegetable world renews, Blake saw a single soul in the imagination. It is to him the likeness of God in the body of man...

In other words Blake saw the soul as that which is lasting and common in men, of which their common shape is one form: the Human Form Divine. The soul within is as the body without, that which makes man himself and not another animal. Blake looked for man's fulfilment in that which at last makes him man alone, and alone makes him man: the sum of his mind, his feelings, his dignity, his knowledge of truth and of love, his reason in the widest meaning: his belief in his own imagination."
Wikimedia Commons
Large Color Printed Drawings
"The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness
The Argument    As the true method of knowledge is experiment
the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which
experiences.  This faculty I treat of.
  PRINCIPLE 1st  That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic
Genius.  Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from
their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit
& Demon.
  PRINCIPLE 2d  As all men are alike in outward form, So (and
with the same infinite variety) all are alike in the Poetic
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 3, (E 34)
  "Without Contraries is no progression.  Attraction and
Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to
Human existence.
  From these contraries spring what the religious call Good &
Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason[.] Evil is the active
springing from Energy.
  Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.
                 The voice of the Devil
  All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
following Errors.
  1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
  2. That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
  3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
  But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
 3 Energy is Eternal Delight" 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


In Fearful Symmetry, Northrop Frye expands and enhances our understanding of the message that Blake attempted to convey with his multi-dimensional art. Blake's work as Frye sees it is directed toward making accessible to his readers consciousness of the unifying principle which to Frye is the 'single visionary synthesis' that affords a work of art its genuineness.

All Religions are One, (E 1)

"The Religions of all Nations are derived from each

Nations different reception of the Poetic Genius which is every where call'd the Spirit of Prophecy."

Page 416
"The two Units of art, to Blake, are the audible unit, which is the word in poetry and the visible unit, which is the image or outlined form."

Page 417

"At the end of the sixth chapter we suggested that the combination of musical, pictorial and poetic characteristics in Blake's prophecies made them unified visions of the three major arts, presented to the individual as the musical drama, the Greek play with its chorus, the Elizabethan play with its songs, or the modern opera, oratorio or ballet, present them to an audience...Blake moves toward undifferentiated art, art not addressed to the sense but to the mind that opens the senses."

British Museum

Plate 13

Page 418
"All Blake's own art, therefore, is at the same time an attempt to achieve absolute clarity of vision and a beginners guide to the understanding of an archetypal vision of which it forms a part. We cannot understand Blake without understanding how to read the Bible, Milton, Ovid and the Prose Edda at least as he read them, on the assumption that an archetypal vision, which all great art without exception shows forth to us, really does exist. If he is wrong, we have merely distorted the meaning of these other works of prophecy; if he is right the ability we gain by deciphering him is transferable, and the value of studying him extends far beyond our personal interest in Blake himself."      

Page 420-21

"Such a cultural revolution would absorb not only the Classical but all other cultures into a single visionary synthesis, deepen and broaden the public response to art, deliver the artist from the bondage of a dingy and nervous naturalism called, in a term which is a little masterpiece of question-begging, 'realism', and restore him to him the catholicity of outlook that Montaigne and Shakespeare possessed. And though that one religion would be, as far as Blake is concerned, Christianity, it would be a Christianity equated with the broadest possible vision of life...
The great value of Blake is that he insists so urgently on this question of imaginative iconography, and forces us to learn so much of its grammar in reading him. He differs from other poets only in the degree to which he compels us to do this."

Page 226

" is the poetic articulation, the imaginative unity, of Blake's ideas that is important... the primary impression which the real poet makes on the reader is not that of comparative greatness, but of positive goodness or genuineness. And this sense of genuineness is the unity of the positive impression we receive. We are back at Blake's doctrine of 'Every Poem must have a perfect unity,' with which we began. When we try to express the 'quality' of a poem we usually refer to one of its attributes. Blake teaches us that a poem's quality is its whatness, the unified pattern of its words and images."

Works in Illuminated Printing, (E 269)
Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is
peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of
Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a
part, but a principal part of Homers subject
  But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the
Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon
  As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of
knavery  Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out
with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters
are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do
with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are
Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree
still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is
its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.
  It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness
of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil.
  The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that
Desolate Europe with Wars."

Contemporary thinkers too teach us that the message is the medium and that the whole is greater than the parts.