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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

LIFE OF CHRIST XVI

 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 william-blake.org
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

PLATE 61
Behold: in the Visions of Elohim Jehovah, behold Joseph & Mary   
And be comforted O Jerusalem in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim"
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