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

Thursday, January 31, 2013


William Blake and George Cumberland maintained a relationship of mutual respect and appreciation over a period of close to 50 years. In their early friendship they shared a revolutionary zeal which waned after the Gordon Riots. Both men wished to promote the appreciation and availability of art to the British public. Cumberland was an early supporter of a National Gallery. He urged the formation of a National Gallery in 1793; thirty years later the collection was begun. One project on which the two men worked together was the publication of Cumberland's book Thoughts on Outline in 1796. Blake made eight of the engravings for the book. As reported in William Blake: The Critical Heritageedited by G.E. Bentley Jnr., Cumberland expressed his appreciation in these words:  

"one thing may be asserted of this work, which can be said of few others that have passed the hands of an engraver, which is, that Mr. Blake has condescended to take upon him the laborious office of making them, I may say fac-similes of my originals: a compliment, from a man of his extraordinary genius and abilities, the highest, I believe, I shall ever receive: - and I am indebted to his generous partiality for the instruction which encouraged me to execute a great part of the plates myself; enabling me thereby to reduce considerably the price of the book."

British Museum
Illustration to Thoughts on Outline
Cupid and Psyche
The value which Cumberland placed on Blake's work is indicated by the fact that he owned copies of seven of Blake's illuminated books: Book of Thel, Gates of Paradise, America, Europe, Song of Los, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, and Songs of Innocence & Experience. (Wiki)
Perhaps it was in conjunction with the production of Thoughts in Outline that Blake offered the following advice to Cumberland on preparing and engraving the copper plate, apparently at his request:  
Letters, (E 699) 
"G Cumberland Esqr, Bishopsgate
near Egham, Surrey

Lambeth, 6 Decembr 1795 
Dear Sir
     I congratulate you not on any atchievement. because I
know. that the Genius that produces. these Designs can execute
them in any manner. notwithstanding the pretended Philosophy
which teaches that Execution is the power of One & Invention of
Another--Locke says it i[s the] same faculty that
Invents Judges, & I say he who can Invent can Execute.

     As to laying on the Wax it is as follows
     Take a cake of Virgins wax <([if it can be found] [if
such be]< I dont know what animal produces it>)> & stroke it
regularly over the surface of a warm Plate. (the Plate must be
warm enough to melt the Wax as it passes over) then immediately
draw a feather over it & you will get all even surface which when
cold will recieve any impression minutely
     Note   The danger is in not covering the Plate All over
     Now You will I hope shew all the family of Antique Borers,
that Peace & Plenty & Domestic Happiness is the Source of Sublime
Art, & prove to the Abstract Philosophers--that Enjoyment & not
Abstinence is the food of Intellect.
Yours sincerely

     Health to Mr Cumberland & Family
     The pressure necessary to roll off the lines is the same
as when you print, or not quite so great.  I have not been able
to send a proof of the bath tho I have done the corrections. my
paper not being in order."
That Blake's final engraving was made at the request of George Cumberland 
in 1827 is testimony to closeness they enjoyed.

Other posts on Cumberland:
Last Supper

Reading Blake

This Foolish Body

Monday, January 28, 2013


Yale Center for British Art
Jerusalem, Plate 73
Blake's eye was acutely attuned to the production and criticism of art as well as being an instrument used to access the world of vision. Of course it was the ability to portray the inner life of man in the light of visionary realities which interested him. But this required a sensitivity to the image as it was produced by the artist. Michelangelo had been an influence on Blake since his childhood when he first began scrutinizing and collecting prints. Blake saw in the Florentine the qualities he admired and wanted to emulate. He saw that the ability of the artist to accurately draw a figure using a sure and definite line was the foundation of the work of art.    

Blake was less forthcoming in expressing his opinions about the subject matter of other artists but, judging from his tastes, he did not admire frivolous or superficial artwork, whatever the reputation of the artist. Michelangelo met all his criteria for great art: ability to portray the body with subtlety and accuracy, command of his media to apply color convincingly, and awareness of the spiritual dimension which made the supreme effort of the artist worthwhile.   
Slideshare: Michelangelo and Titian

Descriptive Catalogue, PREFACE, (E 529)                        
 "THE eye that can prefer the Colouring of Titian and Rubens to
that of Michael Angelo and Rafael, ought to be modest and to
doubt its own powers.  Connoisseurs talk as if Rafael and Michael
Angelo had never seen the colouring of Titian or Correggio: They
ought to know that Correggio was born two years before Michael
Angelo, and Titian but four years after.  Both Rafael and Michael
Angelo knew the Venetian, and contemned and rejected all he did
with the utmost disdain, as that which is fabricated for the
purpose to destroy art.
  Mr. B. appeals to the Public, from the judgment of those
narrow blinking eyes, that have too long governed art in a dark
corner.  The eyes of stupid cunning never will be pleased
with the work any more than with the look of self-devoting
genius.  The quarrel of the Florentine with the Venetian is not
because he does not understand Drawing, but because he does not
understand Colouring.  How should he? he who does not know how to
draw a hand or a foot, know how to colour it.
  Colouring does not depend on where the Colours are put, but
on where the lights and darks are put, and all depends on Form or
Out-line.  On where that is put; where that is wrong, the Colouring
never can be right; and it is always wrong in Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt.  Till we get rid of Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt, We never shall equal Rafael and
Albert Durer, Michael Angelo, and Julio Romano."

Descriptions of Last Judgment, (E 560)
"Both in Art & in Life General Masses
are as Much Art as a Pasteboard Man is Human Every Man has Eyes
Nose & Mouth this Every Idiot knows but he who enters into &
discriminates most minutely the Manners & Intentions the
[Expression] Characters in all their branches is the
alone Wise or Sensible Man & on this discrimination All Art is
founded.  I intreat then that the Spectator will attend to the
Hands & Feet to the Lineaments of the Countenances they are all
descriptive of Character & not a line is drawn without intention
& that most discriminate & particular  much less an
Insignificant Blur or Mark>" 
On his website Robert Genn quotes from the biographer Giorgio Vasari: 
"When Michelangelo was introduced to Titian, he said... that Titian's 
colouring and his style much pleased him, but that it was a pity that in 
Venice men did not learn to draw well from the beginning, and that 
those painters did not pursue a better method in their studies."

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Blake makes a distinction between the eye as we experience it in the natural world and the visionary eye. In the Book of Urizen we see how the senses became limited when man entered the material world as a created being. What appeared to the shrunken eye was not clear nor did it provide a wide range of information. Science tells us that the eye can process only a small band of wave lengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. The rest of radiated energy is unknown and useless to the eye. Perhaps Blake was able to imagine that humans could be capable of receiving and assimilating far more sensory data than seemed to be available to them. But Blake was less interested in sensory capability than with spiritual acuity.

He came to associate the expanded quantity of data with communications from the Spiritual or Eternal World. The natural eye became a metaphor for the visionary eye. If the eye had been modified to be less able to discern eternal truth as it became part of the material creation, it could again be modified to be an instrument for seeing the unseen world of infinity and eternity. When Blake talks of seeing through the eye he is proposing that the eye be used to see through the layers of obfuscating, distorting filters which are created by our minds and our preconceived structures of reasoning.  

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 9, (E 37)
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the
     beard of earth.

Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Title Page, (E 45)   
  "The Eye sees more than the Heart knows."

Book of Urizen, Plate 25, (E 82)
"The Senses inward rush'd shrinking,
Beneath the dark net of infection.                           
2. Till the shrunken eyes clouded over
Discernd not the woven hipocrisy
But the streaky slime in their heavens
Brought together by narrowing perceptions
Appeard transparent air; for their eyes                
Grew small like the eyes of a man"

Milton, Plate 12, (E 156) 
And the Eyes are the South [reason], and the Nostrils are the East [emotion].
And the Tongue is the West [sensation], and the Ear is the North [imagination].            

Mental Traveller, (E 485)
"The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball"

Songs and Ballads, Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)

British Museum
Night Thoughts, Edward Young

"Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day"

There is a birth to night in which the Soul is asleep without realizing it. The sleeping, dreaming state deceives the dreamer by hiding reality thereby creating a lie. Awaking to the light of day allows man to look through his eye to see the Eternal Great Humanity Divine of which he partakes.

Everlasting Gospel, (E 520)
"In Doubt which is Self Contradiction
Humility is only Doubt
And does the Sun & Moon blot out
Rooting over with thorns & stems     
The buried Soul & all its Gems
This Lifes dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to Believe a Lie
When you see with not thro the Eye   
That was born in a night to perish in a night
When the Soul slept in the beams of Light."

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Discord & injustice were recognized by Blake not only as external conditions which could not be altered by more discord and greater injustice; he saw them too as internal conditions which became visible in society when projected outwardly. Internal strife, the explosive conflicts of the demands by aspects of the psyche with one another, requires constant surveillance. The Id, the Superego and the Ego often do not mildly accept the roles assigned to them. There is a man in our neighborhood who spews out his bitter condemnation of anyone who is unlike him or gets in his way, considering himself to have a corner on righteousness. There is a war within him between his Id (Luvah) and Superego (Urizen) which defies control by his Ego (Los). He creates external conflict because of his inner war.  

Blake offered an alternative to killing the tyrant who perpetuated war and oppression. His way is to look within to find the indigent who suffers, and the master who judges, accuses and punishes. In Plate 11 of his series of Illustration of the Book of Job, Blake shows a man who becomes aware of the tyranny which his own image of God had exercised in his psyche. Job was able to alter his God image from that of an accuser to that of a merciful God who is not the source of vengeful arbitrary punishment. He was brought into the family of God where 'mutual forgiveness' opens the Gates of Paradise.   

Courtesy of Wikimedia
Illustrations of the Book of Job
Plate 11
Words from David Bindman, William Blake: His Art and Times:
"The turning point in the series is Job's recognition of the true origin of his suffering. Lying on his bed tormented by visions, he perceives for the first time the cloven hoof of Jehovah, who is wrapped around by a serpent and points to the Decalogue, the  Moral Law of the Old Testament. He realizes that it is Satan, who 'is transformed into an Angel of Light & His Ministers into Ministers of Righteousness', and that he has worshiped one who exalted himself above the true God." (
Page 175)
Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 150)
"And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the destruction
Of Jerusalem, become her covering, till the time of the End.
O holy Generation! [Image] of regeneration!  
O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies!
Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!
The Dead despise & scorn thee, & cast thee out as accursed:
Seeing the Lamb of God in thy gardens & thy palaces:
Where they desire to place the Abomination of Desolation.   
Jerusalem, Plate 49 ,(E 198)
"In one night the Atlantic Continent was caught up with the Moon,
And became an Opake Globe far distant clad with moony beams.     
The Visions of Eternity, by reason of narrowed perceptions,
Are become weak Visions of Time & Space, fix'd into furrows of death;
Till deep dissimulation is the only defence an honest man has left
O Polypus of Death O Spectre over Europe and Asia
Withering the Human Form by Laws of Sacrifice for Sin            
By Laws of Chastity & Abhorrence I am witherd up.
Striving to Create a Heaven in which all shall be pure & holy
In their Own Selfhoods, in Natural Selfish Chastity to banish Pity
And dear Mutual Forgiveness; & to become One Great Satan
Inslavd to the most powerful Selfhood: to murder the Divine Humanity   
Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203)
"In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings.
And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion"  
Gates of Paradise, For the Sexes, Prologue, (E 259)                 
"Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice
Such are the Gates of Paradise
Against the Accusers chief desire
Who walkd among the Stones of Fire
Jehovahs Finger Wrote the Law   
Then Wept! then rose in Zeal & Awe
And the Dead Corpse from Sinais heat 
Buried beneath his Mercy Seat        
O Christians Christians! tell me Why
You rear it on your Altars high"    
Job 19
[23] Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
[24] That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
[25] For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
[26] And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
[27] Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Songs and Ballads, (E 489)
          The Grey Monk                    
"I die I die the Mother said
My Children die for lack of Bread          
What more has the merciless Tyrant said
The Monk sat down on the Stony Bed         

The blood red ran from the Grey Monks side 
His hands & feet were wounded wide
His Body bent his arms & knees
Like to the roots of ancient trees

His eye was dry no tear could flow
A hollow groan first spoke his woe 
He trembled & shudderd upon the Bed        
At length with a feeble cry he said

When God commanded this hand to write
In the studious hours of deep midnight
He told me the writing I wrote should prove
The Bane of all that on Earth I lovd       

My Brother starvd between two Walls
His Childrens Cry my Soul appalls
I mockd at the wrack & griding chain    
My bent body mocks their torturing pain 

Thy Father drew his sword in the North
With his thousands strong he marched forth
Thy Brother has armd himself in Steel     
To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel    

But vain the Sword & vain the Bow 
They never can work Wars overthrow
The Hermits Prayer & the Widows tear
Alone can free the World from fear

For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing        
And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King 
And the bitter groan of the Martyrs woe    
Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow

The hand of Vengeance found the Bed 
To which the Purple Tyrant fled
The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head 
And became a Tyrant in his stead" 
Courtesy of

Mercy and Truth are met together, 
Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other
Original in Victoria & Albert Museum
Illustration of Psalm 85
If Peace & Justice prevailed the world would be transformed. Blake found that war and injustice were linked; they had their origins in the 'merciless Tyrant' who was as insensible to the pain of the starving child as to the victims of war. But we are in error if we oppose war with the use of force or oppose oppression with oppressive measures. The use of force leaves in its wake broken lives in whom the seeds of war have been planted. Peaceful means can heal the wounds and produce a crop that nourishes.

Psalms 85
[9] Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
[10] Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
[11] Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
[12] Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

Matthew 5
[11] Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
[37] But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
[39] But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
[45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Romans 12
[14] Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
[17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
[18] If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
[21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Metropolitan Museum
The Death of the Good Old Man
from The Grave, a Poem by Robert Blair
From Flicker
The Death of the Good Old Man
Watercolor original
When Blake created his image of the Resurrection of Christ he had to be recalling his own experience of the ascent of his brother Robert's spirit as it left his body when he died. Blake was attuned to the spiritual world whose outlines were not obscured to his spiritual eye. The image of his beloved brother leaving his body and beginning his journey to the Father would have been indelibly imprinted on William's imagination. Having seen his brother's ascent he could picture the ascent of Jesus in a most convincing and inspiring way.

Peter Ackroyd comments in Blake: A Biography on Blake's continued ability to see visions into his adulthood:

"One early biographer has explained how 'the Scripture  overawed his imagination' - to such an extent that he saw it materialising around him. It is not an uncommon gift and one friend, George Richmond, commented in the margin of Gilchrist's Life, 'He said to me that all children saw "Visions" and that the substance of what he added is that all men might see them but for worldliness or unbelief, which blinds the spiritual eye.' " (Page  35)

Blake's first biographer Alexander Gilchrist in The Life of William Blake (1863), writes of the relationship of William and Robert Blake until they were physically but not spiritually parted by Robert's death: 

"With Blake and with his wife, at the print shop in Broad Street, Robert for two happy years and a half lived in seldom disturbed accord. Such domestications, however, always bring their own trials, their own demands for mutual self-sacrifice. Of which the following anecdote will supply a hint, as well as testify to much amiable magnanimity on the part of both the younger members of the household. One day, a dispute arose between Robert and Mrs. Blake. She, in the heat of discussion, used words to him, his brother (though a husband too) thought unwarrantable. A silent witness thus far, he could now bear it no longer, but with characteristic impetuosity— when stirred—rose and said to her: "Kneel down and beg Robert's pardon directly, or you never see my face again!" A heavy threat, uttered in tones which, from Blake, unmistakably showed it was meant. She, poor thing! "thought it very hard," as she would afterwards tell, to beg her brother-in-law's pardon when she was not in fault! But being a duteous, devoted wife, though by nature nowise tame or dull of spirit, she did kneel down and meekly murmur, "Robert, I beg your pardon, I am in the wrong." "Young woman, you lie !" abruptly retorted he : "/ am in the wrong!"

At the commencement of 1787, the artist's peaceful happiness was gravely disturbed by the premature death, in his twenty-fifth year, of this beloved brother: buried in Bunhill Fields the nth of February. Blake affectionately tended him in his illness, and during the last fortnight of it watched continuously day and night by his bedside, without sleep. When all claim had ceased with that brother's last breath, his own exhaustion showed itself in an unbroken sleep of three days' and nights' duration. The mean room of sickness had been to the spiritual man, as to him most scenes were, a place of vision and of revelation ; for Heaven lay about him still, in manhood, as In Infancy it "lies about us" all. At the last solemn moment, the visionary eyes beheld the released spirit ascend heavenward through the matter-of-fact ceiling, "clapping its hands for joy"—a truly Blake-like detail.
No wonder he could paint such scenes! With him they were work'y-day experiences."
Page 60)
Letters, to Hayley, May 6 1800, (E 705)   
"I know that  our
deceased friends are more really with us than when they were
apparent  to our mortal part.  Thirteen years ago.  I lost a
brother & with his spirit I  converse daily & hourly in the
Spirit.  & See him in my remembrance in the  regions of my
Imagination.  I hear his advice & even now write from his
Dictate--Forgive me for expressing to you my Enthusiasm which I
wish all to  partake of Since it is to me a Source of Immortal
Joy even in this world by it  I am the companion of Angels.  May
you continue to be so more & more & to  be more & more perswaded. 
that every Mortal loss is an Immortal Gain.  The  Ruins of Time
builds Mansions in Eternity" 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Illustrations to Young's  Night Thoughts
Courtesy of wikipedia

To wrap up the posts on Blake's illustrations to the life of Jesus, here are links to several previous posts on the subject. But first here is a picture, text from the Bible and a related quote from Blake. 

John 20
[19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
[20] And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
[21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
[22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 256)
"So saying. the Cloud overshadowing divided them asunder
Albion stood in terror: not for himself but for his Friend     
Divine, & Self was lost in the contemplation of faith
And wonder at the Divine Mercy & at Los's sublime honour

Do I sleep amidst danger to Friends! O my Cities & Counties
Do you sleep! rouze up! rouze up. Eternal Death is abroad

So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction 
All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became
Fountains of Living Waters Flowing from the Humanity Divine
And all the Cities of Albion rose from their Slumbers, and All
The Sons & Daughters of Albion on soft clouds Waking from Sleep
Soon all around remote the Heavens burnt with flaming fires    
And Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona arose into
Albions Bosom: Then Albion stood before Jesus in the Clouds
Of Heaven Fourfold among the Visions of God in Eternity"

1 Virgin & Child

2 Carpenter shop

3 Mary & Martha

4 Last Supper

5 Magdalene at Sepulcher

6 Christ Appearing to His Apostles

7 Ascension


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


1 Timothy 2
[5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 8
[6] But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

1John 2
[1] My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
[2] And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

2 Corinthians 5
[1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
[17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
[18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
[20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
[21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

"Christ the Mediator":
 Christ Pleading Before the Father for St. Mary Magdalene
Jesus did not enter the world of creation to withdraw again to a distant world inaccessible to humanity. He entered our world to stay in it permanently as our brother and friend. He is known to us now as the Holy Spirit who is ever present beside us and within us. We need never feel alone and unaided in our joys or sorrows for we can draw near to God through Jesus who is our advocate.

Blake communicates this in the picture "Christ the Mediator": Christ Pleading Before the Father for St. Mary Magdalene. God is seated on His fiery chariot or the Mercy Seat, Christ stretches out his arms as if still on the cross, Mary bows in penitence. Angels express love and encouragement. The eyes of Jesus are focused not on the immediate scene but on infinity, implying the eternal dwelling not made with hands. This illustration is appropriate as the concluding one of the series on the Life of Christ because it implies that the Life of Christ is everlasting, that he continues his work of advocating, forgiving and reconciling without end. 

You can view a larger image in the Blake Archive.
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 563)
"Such is the Last Judgment a Deliverance from Satans Accusation
Satan thinks that Sin is displeasing to God he ought to know that
Nothing is displeasing to God but Unbelief & Eating of the Tree
of Knowledge of Good & Evil 
     [PAGE 87] Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have
 governd their Passions or have No Passions but because
they have Cultivated their Understandings.  The Treasures of
Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect
from which All the Passions Emanate  in their Eternal
Glory   The Fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so
Holy.  Holiness is not The Price of Enterance into Heaven Those
who are cast out Are All Those who having no Passions of their
own because No Intellect.  Have spent their lives in Curbing &
Governing other Peoples by the Various arts of Poverty & Cruelty
of all kinds   Wo Wo Wo to you Hypocrites   Even Murder the
Courts of Justice  are compelld to
allow is not done in Passion but in Cool Blooded Design &
Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 211)
"But the Divine Lamb stood beside Jerusalem. oft she saw          
The lineaments Divine & oft the Voice heard, & oft she said:

O Lord & Saviour, have the Gods of the Heathen pierced thee?
Or hast thou been pierced in the House of thy Friends?
Art thou alive! & livest thou for-evermore? or art thou
Not: but a delusive shadow, a thought that liveth not. 
Babel mocks saying, there is no God nor Son of God
That thou O Human Imagination, O Divine Body art all
A delusion. but I know thee O Lord when thou arisest upon
My weary eyes even in this dungeon & this iron mill.
The Stars of Albion cruel rise; thou bindest to sweet influences:
For thou also sufferest with me altho I behold thee not;
And altho I sin & blaspheme thy holy name, thou pitiest me;
Because thou knowest I am deluded by the turning mills.
And by these visions of pity & love because of Albions death.

Thus spake Jerusalem, & thus the Divine Voice replied.

Mild Shade of Man, pitiest thou these Visions of terror & woe!
Give forth thy pity & love. fear not! lo I am with thee always.
Only believe in me that I have power to raise from death
Thy Brother who Sleepeth in Albion: fear not trembling Shade" 

Monday, January 14, 2013


John 19
[25] Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
[26] When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
[27] Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
[28] After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
[29] Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
[30] When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Image in the Blake Archive entitled The Crucifixion: "Behold Thy Mother".
Matthew 27
[50] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
[51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
[52] And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
[53] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
[54] Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
[55] And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
[56] Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
Image in Blake Archive entitled The Entombment.

Luke 24
[1] Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
[2] And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
[3] And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
[4] And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
[5] And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
[6] He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
[7] Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
[8] And they remembered his words,
[9] And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
[10] It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
[11] And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
[12] Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

The Three Maries at the Sepulchre
Image from myspace
In his life William Blake was surrounded by women named Catherine: his mother, his sister and his wife. Jesus was surrounded by women named Mary. There are more Maries in the gospels than I can sort out but three are prominent: Jesus' mother, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha. The varied ways in which the Maries reacted to Jesus were defined by the relationship they had to him. They attempted to protect, comfort, and support him. He was their teacher, healer and guide. There is little doubt that the women around Jesus loved, trusted and gave him more loyalty than did his male disciples. In his illustrations to the  Bible, Blake has women appear prominently as being able to perceive the message of Jesus.

Blake elevates the role of women in his system of thought. The Four Zoas are incomplete without their Emanations. Jerusalem acting as the Emanation of Albion ushers in the new day of 'Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.' Many of Blake's women are troublesome as a result of being split from their male counterparts. But like the three Maries they act, in the long run, as the facilitators of the momentous events that take place around them.   

Gates of Paradise, For the Sexes, The Keys, (E 269) 
"16  Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb 
     Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb 
     Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife
     And weeping over the Web of Life" 
 Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256)
"Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion
Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time
For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away

So spake the Vision of Albion & in him so spake in my hearing   
The Universal Father. Then Albion stretchd his hand into
And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen
Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold
Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright
Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought   
Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering.

And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love,
Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love
And the Hand of Man grasps firm between the Male & Female Loves"
 Jerusalem, PLATE 99, (E 258)     
"All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.

And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem"

Saturday, January 12, 2013


John 20
[1] The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
[2] Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
[3] Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
[4] So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
[5] And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
[6] Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
[7] And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
[8] Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
[9] For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
[10] Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
[11] But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
[12] And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
[13] And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
[14] And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
[15] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
[16] Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
[17] Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Fogg Art MuseumHarvard University
The way in which Blake uses the Bible is distinctive. Blake wrote and created images out of his own imagination through which he had access to archetypal realities. He linked his thoughts to the rich field of archetypal images he was familiar with in the Bible. His own characters are expanded by associating them with Biblical characters. But there is not a static shift in which a Biblical character is simply renamed in Blake's poetry. When an incident in the Bible will enrich the understanding Blake wants to convey he inserts names, places, or events to encourage his readers to see a larger context for his words than is overtly expressed.

Mary Madelene plays a large role in the Gospel story. It is she who avoids stoning for the sin of adultery through the intervention of Jesus; she who washes the feet of Jesus with her tears and dries them with her hair; she who is first able to see him in his resurrected body. Blake's character Jerusalem resembles Magdalen but he inserts Mary the mother of Jesus into the narrative as well. In fact he insert the entire maternal line of Jesus into a passage in which Jesus calls himself the 'Resurrection & the Life.'

Blake's image of the resurrection is not however what Mary Magdalen saw or what Peter and the 'beloved disciple' saw because they did not see Christ ascending to the Father. Blake's image originated in his own imagination as he contemplated the Resurrection as it spoke directly to him.

Jerusalem, Plate 61, (E 212)
"Mary leaned her side against Jerusalem, Jerusalem recieved
The Infant into her hands in the Visions of Jehovah. Times passed on
Jerusalem fainted over the Cross & Sepulcher She heard the voice
Wilt thou make Rome thy Patriarch Druid & the Kings of Europe his
Horsemen? Man in the Resurrection changes his Sexual Garments at will
Every Harlot was once a Virgin: every Criminal an Infant Love!

Plate 62
Repose on me till the morning of the Grave. I am thy life.

Jerusalem replied. I am an outcast: Albion is dead!
I am left to the trampling foot & the spurning heel!
A Harlot I am calld. I am sold from street to street!
I am defaced with blows & with the dirt of the Prison!        

And wilt thou become my Husband O my Lord & Saviour?
Shall Vala bring thee forth! shall the Chaste be ashamed also?
I see the Maternal Line, I behold the Seed of the Woman!
Cainah, & Ada & Zillah & Naamah Wife of Noah.
Shuahs daughter & Tamar & Rahab the Canaanites:                  
Ruth the Moabite & Bathsheba of the daughters of Heth
Naamah the Ammonite, Zibeah the Philistine, & Mary
These are the Daughters of Vala, Mother of the Body of death
But I thy Magdalen behold thy Spiritual Risen Body
Shall Albion arise? I know he shall arise at the Last Day!
I know that in my flesh I shall see God: but Emanations
Are weak. they know not whence they are, nor whither tend.
Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception."

Everlasting Gospel, NOTEBOOK PAGE 120, (E 877)
     "Was Jesus Born of a Virgin Pure
     With narrow Soul & looks demure
     If he intended to take on Sin
     The Mother should an Harlot been
     Just such a one as Magdalen
     With seven devils in her Pen"
Reading Blake's phrase 'Seed of the Woman' and the list of Old Testament women from whom Jesus descended, brought to mind contemporary science's discovery of mitochondrial DNA. There is an element which is passed on through the maternal line to the human race which is distinct from what can be passed on through the male DNA. To Blake the female side was the 'Mother of the Body of death' or the physical nature of man but that aspect of the total man was as indispensable as the spiritual nature in comprising the complete human.    

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Matthew 27
[57] When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
[58] He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
[59] And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
[60] And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
[61] And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
[62] Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
[63] Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
[64] Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day,lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.   
Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels 
Blake distinguishes between the individual's physical body and his spiritual body. It was Jesus' physical body which was removed from the cross and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. Blake pictures a strange ethereal light within the tomb as the angels watch over the physical body of Jesus. In the Four Zoas Blake states  that Los and Enitharmon were "Terrified at Non Existence For such they deemd the death of the body." For Jesus there was no such fear for he  knew  himself to be an Eternal Spirit.

Blake tells us that it is not the crucified Jesus lying entombed in a sepulcher who has the power to give Life, but it is the Jesus who stands beside us as we are called  from the grave.

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 117, (E 386)
"And Los & Enitharmon builded Jerusalem weeping    
Over the Sepulcher & over the Crucified body
Which to their Phantom Eyes appear'd still in the Sepulcher
But Jesus stood beside them in the Spirit Separating
Their Spirit from their body. Terrified at Non Existence 
For such they deemd the death of the body. Los his vegetable hands
Outstretchd his right hand branching out in fibrous Strength
Siezd the Sun. His left hand like dark roots coverd the Moon
And tore them down cracking the heavens across from immense to immense
Then fell the fires of Eternity with loud & shrill 
Sound of Loud Trumpet thundering along from heaven to heaven
A mighty sound articulate Awake ye dead & come
To judgment from the four winds Awake & Come away
Folding like scrolls of the Enormous volume of Heaven & Earth

With thunderous noise & dreadful shakings rocking to & fro 
The heavens are shaken & the Earth removed from its place
The foundations of the Eternal hills discoverd
The thrones of Kings are shaken they have lost their robes & crowns
The poor smite their opressors they awake up to the harvest
The naked warriors rush together down to the sea shore 
Trembling before the multitudes of slaves now set at liberty
They are become like wintry flocks like forests stripd of leaves
The opressed pursue like the wind there is no room for escape
The Spectre of Enitharmon let loose on the troubled deep
Waild shrill in the confusion & the Spectre of Urthona

PAGE 118 (IX 26-66)
Recievd her in the darkning South their bodies lost they stood
Trembling & weak a faint embrace a fierce desire as when
Two shadows mingle on a wall they wail & shadowy tears
Fell down & shadowy forms of joy mixd with despair & grief
Their bodies buried in the ruins of the Universe 
Mingled with the confusion. Who shall call them from the Grave"
Luke 24
[1] Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
[2] And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.
[3] And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
[4] And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
[5] And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
[6] He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
[7] Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
[8] And they remembered his words 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Mark 15
[25] And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
[26] And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
[27] And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
[28] And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
[29] And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,
[30] Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
[31] Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
[32] Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
[33] And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

Christ Nailed to the Cross: the Third Hour
Wikimedia Commons
Original in
The Morgan Library
No one can take from you what you will freely give. Jesus is pictured as willing to give his life through suffering on the cross. Blake pictures him as relaxed and serene, offering himself for those who mock and revile him. To Blake this was not an expression of the humility of Jesus but of his supreme confidence in God and in his relationship to  God.

Blake sees Jesus as opposing religion that bars man from a direct and intimate relationship with God. He sees Jesus as opposing empire which has no respect for the value of the individual human. He sees Jesus as a man whose very integrity provokes a  reaction from men whose self-interest is threatened by the alternative that Jesus offers.

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 232)
"And I asked a Watcher & a Holy-One
Its Name? he answerd. It is the Wheel of Religion
I wept & said. Is this the law of Jesus
This terrible devouring sword turning every way    
He answerd; Jesus died because he strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its Name
Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death
Of sin, of sorrow, & of punishment;
Opposing Nature! It is Natural Religion            
But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin.

Go therefore, cast out devils in Christs name
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease           
Pity the evil, for thou art not sent
To smite with terror & with punishments
Those that are sick, like the Pharisees
Crucifying &, encompassing sea & land
For proselytes to tyranny & wrath,                
But to the Publicans & Harlots go!
Teach them True Happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace
For Hell is opend to heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free."

Everlasting Gospel, (E 519)
"If he had been Antichrist Creeping Jesus 
Hed have done any thing to please us
Gone sneaking into Synagogues

And not usd the Elders & Priests like dogs
But Humble as a Lamb or Ass
Obeyd himself to Caiaphas         
God wants not Man to Humble himself
This is the trick of the ancient Elf
This is the Race that Jesus ran          
Humble to God Haughty to Man
Cursing the Rulers before the People    
Even to the temples highest Steeple
And when he Humbled himself to God
Then descended the Cruel Rod
If thou humblest thyself thou humblest me
Thou also dwellst in Eternity       
Thou art a Man God is no more
Thy own humanity learn to adore
For that is my Spirit of Life
Awake arise to Spiritual Strife"

Sunday, January 6, 2013


 Matthew 27
[26] Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
[27] Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
[28] And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
[29] And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
[30] And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
[31] And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
[32] And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
[33] And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
[34] They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
[35] And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Psalms 22
[16] For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
[17] I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
[18] They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
[19] But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
[20] Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
[21] Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
[22] I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

Courtesy of wiki commons
Original in Fitzwilliam Museum
The Soldiers Casting Lots for Christ's Garments
In this picture the foreground is occupied by the Roman soldiers whose duty is to carry out the execution of Jesus as ordered by the political and religious authorities. The inscription on the cross identifying Jesus as King of the Jews was abbreviated in three languages: in the language of the military/political authority, in the language of the religious authority and in a common spoken language of the people. Blake includes three groups of people in his image, the soldiers in the foreground, the people who supported Jesus around the foot of the cross, and a shadowy group in the background who followed the religious leaders in rejecting Jesus.

Blake uses this picture in which the crucified Jesus is not himself visible, to emphasize the reaction that individuals make to the treatment that Jesus received from those who had the opportunity of watching him, hearing him and interacting with him. The prominence of the soldiers remind us of Blake's opposition to war and empire. Their activity of casting lots reminds us of his belief that choices should not be left to chance.

The image in the Blake Archive provides greater detail. Click on image to enlarge.

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 211)
"But the Divine Lamb stood beside Jerusalem. oft she saw          
The lineaments Divine & oft the Voice heard, & oft she said:

O Lord & Saviour, have the Gods of the Heathen pierced thee?
Or hast thou been pierced in the House of thy Friends?
Art thou alive! & livest thou for-evermore? or art thou
Not: but a delusive shadow, a thought that liveth not.  
Babel mocks saying, there is no God nor Son of God
That thou O Human Imagination, O Divine Body art all
A delusion. but I know thee O Lord when thou arisest upon
My weary eyes even in this dungeon & this iron mill.
The Stars of Albion cruel rise; thou bindest to sweet influences:
For thou also sufferest with me altho I behold thee not;
And altho I sin & blaspheme thy holy name, thou pitiest me;
Because thou knowest I am deluded by the turning mills.
And by these visions of pity & love because of Albions death.

Thus spake Jerusalem, & thus the Divine Voice replied.           

Mild Shade of Man, pitiest thou these Visions of terror & woe!
Give forth thy pity & love. fear not! lo I am with thee always.
Only believe in me that I have power to raise from death
Thy Brother who Sleepeth in Albion: fear not trembling Shade

Behold: in the Visions of Elohim Jehovah, behold Joseph & Mary   
And be comforted O Jerusalem in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim"

Friday, January 4, 2013


From Wikipedia:
 "The acronym INRI (Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum) represents the Latin inscription which in English reads as "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews and John 19:20  states that this was written in three languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek during the crucifixion of Jesus. The Greek version reads ΙΝΒΙ, representing Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων."

Luke 23
[36] And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
[37] And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
[38] And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
[39] And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
[40] But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
[41] And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
[42] And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
[43] And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
[44] And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
[45] And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
[46] And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
[47] Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.

Fogg Art Museum
Harvard University
Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves 

 ("Lord Remember Me")

Blake represents in this picture of the crucifixion not the suffering of Jesus but the continuation of his ministry of healing through forgiveness. The malefactor who knew his own guilt came to see the blamelessness of Jesus. He reached out and asked to be included in the Lord's kingdom. The gifts of forgiveness and Eternal Life were offered freely when his eyes were opened.

Romans 6
[23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   

Milton, Plate 5, (E 98)
"Christ took on Sin in the Virgins Womb, & put it off on the Cross" 
Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 117)
"Faith in God the dear Saviour who took on the likeness of men:
Becoming obedient to death, even the death of the Cross"
Everlasting Gospel,from Blake's Notebook (E 876)
     "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"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Reposted from July 28, 2012 
Luke 22
[39] And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
[40] And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
[41] And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
[42] Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
[43] And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
[44] And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
[45] And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
[46] And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
[47] And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

Agony in the Garden
Art Resource
In Blake's image called 'Agony in the Garden' the two central figures, Jesus and the comforter, are in the light. The disciples who accompanied Jesus are barely visible in the surrounding shadows. The title of the picture aptly describes the state of mind of Jesus as he struggles to understand and accept the role he is to play in the redemption of humanity. But the figure reaching down to support Jesus is portrayed as equally central to the dynamic event. We may name this figure, who is in the human form although reaching out of a cloud and the source of radiating  energy and light, the Holy Spirit.

Many times Blake reiterated the theme that man is not alone in his situation no matter how bleak the circumstances look. God has made provisions for the return of man to the eternal condition of unity, forgiveness and brotherhood. 

Four Zoas, Page 56, (E 338)
"And first he found the Limit of Opacity & namd it Satan
In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand
And next he found the Limit of Contraction & namd it Adam
While yet those beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil

Then wondrously the Starry Wheels felt the divine hand. Limit
Was put to Eternal Death
Los felt the Limit & saw
The Finger of God touch the Seventh furnace in terror
And Los beheld the hand of God over his furnaces
Beneath the Deeps in dismal Darkness beneath immensity
And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;"

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213) 
"Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception. Luvah must be Created                  
And Vala; for I cannot leave them in the gnawing Grave.
But will prepare a way for my banished-ones to return
Come now with me into the villages. walk thro all the cities.
Tho thou art taken to prison & judgment, starved in the streets
I will command the cloud to give thee food & the hard rock       
To flow with milk & wine, tho thou seest me not a season
Even a long season & a hard journey & a howling wilderness!
Tho Valas cloud hide thee & Luvahs fires follow thee!
Only believe & trust in me, Lo. I am always with thee!" 
Jerusalem, Plate 82, (E 241)
"Los saw & was comforted at his Furnaces uttering thus his voice. 
I know I am Urthona keeper of the Gates of Heaven,
And that I can at will expatiate in the Gardens of bliss;
But pangs of love draw me down to my loins which are
Become a fountain of veiny pipes: O Albion! my brother!
Plate 83
Corruptibility appears upon thy limbs, and never more 
Can I arise and leave thy side, but labour here incessant
Till thy awaking! yet alas I shall forget Eternity!
Against the Patriarchal pomp and cruelty, labouring incessant
I shall become an Infant horror. Enion! Tharmas! friends      
Absorb me not in such dire grief: O Albion, my brother!
Jerusalem hungers in the desart! affection to her children!
The scorn'd and contemnd youthful girl, where shall she fly?
Sussex shuts up her Villages. Hants, Devon & Wilts
Surrounded with masses of stone in orderd forms, determine then 
A form for Vala and a form for Luvah, here on the Thames
Where the Victim nightly howls beneath the Druids knife:
A Form of Vegetation, nail them down on the stems of Mystery:
O when shall the Saxon return with the English his redeemed brother!
O when shall the Lamb of God descend among the Reprobate!"

Much of Blake's vision is the ability to recognize and understand the 'ways of God' as he provides the means that man may perceive his own Divine Humanity. For Blake the spirit is always reaching down and lifting up and becoming one with his beloved mankind.