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

Monday, September 30, 2013

PAUL PREACHING

Following his experience at the Truchsessian Gallery when the light which he had enjoyed in his youth returned to him, Blake began to express the new-found appreciation that the depiction of light might play in his painting. Blake felt that he was returning to a style in which he had originally painted and which reflected the "true light that enlightens every man."
 

 Blake's St Paul Preaching at Athens, one of the Biblical watercolors for Thomas Butts executed in 1803, is an example of the simplicity, directness and transparent symbolism which characterize his re-enlightened approach. 
 

  Notice the light that surrounds St Paul, the presence of multiple generation is his audience, and the reactions displayed by various characters. In Blake's picture St Paul looks out at  the audience whom he wishes to address not at those gathered around him. The unadorned simplicity of the picture is congruent with the same quality in Luke's account in Acts.
 
 
Acts 17
[14] Then the brethren immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there.
[15] Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
[16] Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.
[17] So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there.
[18] Some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers met him. And some said, "What would this babbler say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities" -- because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.
[19] And they took hold of him and brought him to the Are-op'agus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you present?
[20] For you bring some strange things to our ears; we wish to know therefore what these things mean."
[21] Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
[22] So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op'agus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
[23] For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, `To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
[24] The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man,
[25] nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.
[26] And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation,
[27] that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us,
[28] for `In him we live and move and have our being';
as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.'
[29] Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man.
[30] The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent,
[31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."
[32] Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We will hear you again about this."
[33] So Paul went out from among them.
[34] But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionys'ius the Are-op'agite and a woman named Dam'aris and others with them.

Letters, To Thomas Butts, (E 723)
"Patience! if Great things do not turn out it is because
such things depend [xxxx] on the Spiritual & not on the
Natural World & if it was fit for me I doubt not that I should be
Employd in Greater things & when it is proper my Talents shall be
properly exercised in Public. as I hope they are now in private.
for till then.  I leave no stone unturnd & no path unexplord that
tends to improvement in my beloved Arts.  One thing of real
consequence I have accomplishd by coming into the country. which
is to me consolation enough, namely.  I have recollected all my
scatterd thoughts on Art & resumed my primitive & original ways
of Execution in both painting & Engraving. which in the confusion
of London I had very much lost & obliterated from my mind.  But
whatever becomes of my labours I would rather that they should be
preservd in your Green House (not as you mistakenly call it dung
hill). than in the cold
gallery of fashion.--The Sun may yet shine & then they will be
brought into open air."
 
 Blake was familiar with this picture by Raphael of St Paul Preaching in Athens. His admiration for Raphael notwithstanding, he followed his own leading whatever the consequence. 
.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

JOY & WOE

Auguries of Innocence (E491)
...
"It is right it should be so
Man was made for Joy & Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro the World we safely go
Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine
Under every grief & pine
Runs a joy with silken twine
The Babe is more than swadling Bands
Throughout all these Human Lands"
 
In these few line Blake tells us a lot about his system: his means of organizing or giving meaning to life as it has come to him. He recognizes that our minds operate through dualistic processing. It is right that we experience and understand things by splitting them into opposites. But here is a danger in identifying an aspect of the divided world as 'the good' and another as the 'not good'. The opposites should be woven together and recognized as not the reality itself, but as the garment that clothes the Identity which is Eternal. In this world we are inclined to see the outer woes and miss the inner joys which are hidden beneath them. Within each of us of is a 'Babe' prepared to develop its spiritual nature which allows one to live Eternally even when bound in the clothes of time and matter.

....................Contraries......................
Joy________ Woe
Imagination__ Reason and Emotion
Eternity_____ This World
Innocence___ Experience



The 'Babe' is neither joy nor woe, but 'that of God in everyone' (Quaker), 'Christ in you' (Paul), the 'Divine Humanity' (Blake) or the 'Divine Child' (Jung).



God Becomes as We Are

There is No Natural Religion (E 3)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BLAKE & JOHNSON

From the archives of the New York Public Library we find this Biographical/Historical Note on an associate of William Blake:
"Joseph Johnson, bookseller and publisher, lived in London from 1761 until the last few years of his life. A Dissenter, known for his progressive political views and for his role in bringing together many of the leading intellectuals of his time, Johnson was notable for publishing such writers as Maria Edgeworth, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Paine, and Mary Wollstonecraft."


Wikimedia
Illustration for Original Stories from Real Life
In 1796 Blake's engraving skills were engaged by Johnson to illustrate a volume by Mary Wollstonecraft titled Original Stories from Real LIfe; with Conversations, Calculated to Regulate the Affections and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness.

Wollstonecraft's  reputation was built on writing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman which was published in 1792. She was among a group of influential writers including William Cowper, Thomas Paine, Henry Fuseli, William Godwin, and Joseph Priestly who gathered around Johnson's book shop in St Paul's Churchyard

 
In 1791 Johnson seemed to have been prepared to publish Blake's The French Revolution since a copy of a proof of the work exists. However the political situation seems to have been too precarious for publication of such a work.

 

The French Revolution, (E 285)
                       "THE
                 FRENCH REVOLUTION.  
                      A POEM,
                  IN SEVEN BOOKS.

                  BOOK THE FIRST.

           LONDON: Printed for J. Johnson, No 72,
              St Paul's Church-yard. MDCCXCI.
                 (Price One Shilling.)

PAGE [iii]

                    ADVERTISEMENT.

   The remaining Books of this Poem are finished, and will be
                published in their Order.

PAGE [1]
                 THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

                   Book the First.

The dead brood over Europe, the cloud and vision descends over chearful France;
O cloud well appointed! Sick, sick: the Prince on his couch, wreath'd in dim
And appalling mist; his strong hand outstetch'd, from his shoulder down the bone
Runs aching cold into the scepter too heavy for mortal grasp. No more
To be swayed by visible hand, nor in cruelty bruise the mild flourishing mountains.

Sick the mountains, and all their vineyards weep, in the eyes of the kingly mourner;
Pale is the morning cloud in his visage. Rise, Necker: the ancient dawn calls us
To awake from slumbers of five thousands years. I awake, but my soul is in dreams;
From my window I see the old mountains of France, like aged men,fading away.

Troubled, leaning on Necker, descends the King, to his chamber of council; shady mountains
In fear utter voices of thunder; the woods of France embosom the sound;
Clouds of wisdom prophetic reply, and roll over the palace roof heavy,
Forty men: each conversing with woes in the infinite shadows of his soul,
Like our ancient fathers in regions of twilight, walk, gathering round the King;
Again the loud voice of France cries to the morning, the morning prophecies to its clouds."
 

A 36 page thesis titled Joseph Johnson and William Blake is
    available from the Oxford University Research Archive.
.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WINTER

William Blake was engaged to provide paintings to adorn the fireplace in Yaxham Rectory which was rebuilt in 1820. The rectory was to be occupied by Rev. John Cowper Johnson who served as rector of St Peter's Church. Johnson was a cousin of William Cowper the hymn writer, so Blake's acquaintance with him was through Hayley who was the biographer of Cowper.

The commission included three pictures: Evening and Winter illustrating lines from Cowper's poem The Task, and a landscape of the Olney bridge.

Lines for Blake's Winter from The Task by William Cowper:
Winter
 

"O Winter! ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapt in clouds.
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A slïding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seemest,
And dreaded as thou art."

Blake's poem To Winter written in his youth and included in Poetical Sketches uses some of the same images to portray winter as does Cowper.


Poetical Sketches, To Winter, (E 410)         
"O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs,
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep    
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain'd; sheathed
In ribbed steel, I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear'd his sceptre o'er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks: 
He withers all in silence, and his hand       
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch! that deal'st
With storms; till heaven smiles, and the monster  
Is driv'n yelling to his caves beneath mount Hecla"
In Songs of Innocence and of Experience Blake began to use winter as an image for the absence of the human dimension. Winter became the state in which the love and grace associated with innocence was withdrawn leaving a bleak and joyless existence. 

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 33, (E 19)
"Holy Thursday
Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty! 

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill'd with thorns.
It is eternal winter there."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 38, (E 23)
"NURSES Song                                 
When the voices of children, are heard on the green
And whisprings are in the dale:
The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind,       
My face turns green and pale.

Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Your spring & your day, are wasted in play
And your winter and night in disguise."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 53, (E 31)
"The School Boy  
O! father & mother, if buds are nip'd,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip'd
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and cares dismay, 

How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear,
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear."
Later winter became for Blake the condition in which change can begin. Conscious of the birth of Jesus in mid-winter, Blake used the season of greatest hardship and despair to bring forth the greatest promise of hope.

Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
     "The deep of winter came;                                    
     What time the secret child,
Descended thro' the orient gates of the eternal day:
War ceas'd, & all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes.

Then Enitharmon saw her sons & daughters rise around.            
Like pearly clouds they meet together in the crystal house:
And Los, possessor of the moon, joy'd in the peaceful night:
Thus speaking while his num'rous sons shook their bright fiery wings"

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 57, (E 339)
"He stood trembling & Enitharmon clung around his knees
Their senses unexpansive in one stedfast bulk remain
The night blew cold & Enitharmon shriekd on the dismal wind      
Page 58 
Her pale hands cling around her husband & over her weak head
Shadows of Eternal death sit in the leaden air

But the soft pipe the flute the viol organ harp & cymbal
And the sweet sound of silver voices calm the weary couch
Of Enitharmon but her groans drown the immortal harps           
Loud & more loud the living music floats upon the air
Faint & more faint the daylight wanes. The wheels of turning darkness
Began in solemn revolutions. Earth convulsd with rending pangs
Rockd to & fro & cried sore at the groans of Enitharmon   
Still the faint harps & silver voices calm the weary couch      
But from the caves of deepest night ascending in clouds of mist
The winter spread his wide black wings across from pole to pole
Grim frost beneath & terrible snow linkd in a marriage chain
Began a dismal dance. The winds around on pointed rocks
Settled like bats innumerable ready to fly abroad            
The groans of Enitharmon shake the skies the labring Earth
Till from her heart rending his way a terrible Child sprang forth
In thunder smoke & sullen flames & howlings & fury & blood"  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BLAKE AT FELPHAM

When Blake lived at Felpham he worked closely with William Hayley who was engaged in writing a biography of the poet William Cowper. An engraving by Blake which appears in the appendix of Volume 2 of Hayley's The Life, and Posthumous Writings, of William Cowper requires some explanation. The Internet Archive provides the full text of "Cowper and Blake : a paper read at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Cowper Society, held at the Mansion House, London, 23rd April 1913". We read:

"In the second volume there are engravings of the portrait of 
Cowper done in 1793, and an original design by Blake 
of the " Weather House " mentioned in The Task : 

Peace to the Artist whose ingenious thought 
Devised the Weather-house, that useful toy ! 
Fearless of humid air and gathering rains 
Forth steps the man — an emblem of myself ! 
More delicate his timorous mate retires. 

Below this delicately drawn and quaint picture is another 
showing, " A cottage .... perched upon the green hill 
top," and "close environed with a ring of branching elms " 
called by Cowper the " Peasant's Nest "; while in the 
foreground are seen the poet's tame hares. Puss, Tiney 
and Bess." 
British Museum
Further explanation of the images in the engraving is found at the website of the Cowper and Newton Museum:

"The most likely explanation could be that the subject of the weather-house simply appealed to Blake, and it does reflect his dualistic view of the world - good and evil, darkness and light. His Songs of Innocence and Experience were published in 1794, and the Weather-house drawing could almost serve as an illustration of their subtitle: ‘Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul’. So he drew it as one of the six designs commissioned for the biography, perhaps adding the roundel of the hares as an afterthought, and then engraved it, adding the line ‘Publish’d Novr 5 1802 by J Johnson St Pauls Church Yard’. Since there was no logical position for the engraving in the main text of the biography, Hayley must have decided to drop it in as an appendix. In the absence of other evidence,this may have been the sequence of events.The plates having been drawn and engraved, the next step was to print them. Giving a fascinating insight into his working methods and the key part played by Mrs Blake, Blake writes to his brother at this time,

My Wife has undertaken to Print the whole number of the Plates for Cowper’s work, which she
 
does to admiration, & being under my own eye the prints are as fine as the French prints and please everyone. 

The loose sheets of the plates would then have been delivered to the printer in Chichester, Joseph Seagrave, for binding up with the text, and the whole published in London a few weeks later under the imprint of Joseph Johnson. 

If any reader can throw further light on the origins of this drawing do get in touch. I shall explore the subject of Blake’s relationship to Cowper further in a later issue of The Bulletin. 

Tony Seward"

Letters, To Mr Butts, (E 716)
"September 11.  1801
... but my Principal labour at this time is Engraving Plates for
Cowpers Life a Work of Magnitude which Mr Hayley is now
Labouring with all his matchless industry & which will be a most
valuable acquisition to Literature not only on account of Mr
Hayleys composition but also as it will contain Letters of Cowper
to his friends Perhaps or rather Certainly the very best letters
that ever were published
     My wife joins with me in Love to You & Mrs Butts hoping
that her joy is now increased & yours also in an increase of
family & of health & happiness
I remain Dear Sir
Ever Yours Sincerely
WILLIAM BLAKE"

Letters, To James Blake, (E 726)
"Felpham Jany 30--1803.
Dear Brother
...  However this I know will set you at Ease.  I am now so full
of work that I have had no time to go on with the Ballads, & my
prospects of more & more work continually are certain.  My Heads
of Cowper for Mr H's life of Cowper have pleasd his Relations
exceedingly & in Particular Lady Hesketh & Lord Cowper  
Lady H was a doubtful chance who almost adord her Cousin
the poet & thought him all perfection & she writes that she is
quite satisfied with the portraits & charmd by the great Head in
particular tho she never could bear the original Picture
     But I ought to mention to you that our present idea is.  To
take a house in some village further from the Sea Perhaps
Lavant. & in or near the road to London for the sake of
convenience--I also ought to inform you that I read your letter
to Mr H & that he is very afraid of losing me & also very afraid
that my Friends in London should have a bad opinion of the
reception he has given to me But My Wife has undertaken to Print
the whole number of the Plates for Cowpers work which she does to
admiration & being under my own
eye the prints are as fine as the French prints & please every
one. in short I have Got every thing so under my thumb that it is
more profitable that things should be as they are than any other
way, tho not so agreeable because we wish naturally for
friendship in preference to interest.--The Publishers are already
indebted to My Wife Twenty Guineas for work deliverd this is a
small specimen of how we go on. then fear nothing & let my Sister
fear nothing because it appears to me that I am now too old &
have had too much experience to be any longer imposed upon only
illness makes all uncomfortable & this we must prevent by every
means in our power"
. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NEWTON'S LAWS

Newton's Laws of Motion:
Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.
 

Law II: The alteration of motion is ever proportional to the motive force impress'd; and is made in the direction of the right line in which that force is impress'd.
 

Law III: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.
 
I wonder if Blake was reacting to Newton's statement of the three laws of motion when he make his statements about the relationships among the soul, the body, the senses, reason, energy and eternal delight in The Marriage of Heaven & Hell.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34)
  "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"

Library of Congress
Marriage of Heaven & Hell
Plate 4, Copy D

Newton postulated his laws based on physical matter and forces which could be measured with physical instruments. Blake introduced the soul as inseparable from from the body. Split from the soul the body is only the aspect of man that can be discerned by those totally unreliable and distorting receptors which are called the five senses. Energy for Blake is not forces that move matter but the life force which abides in the body and is only limited when Reason defines and circumscribes it. Energy partakes of the Eternal which cannot be encompassed by laws and rules and definitions. The Delight which epitomizes the exercise of creative imagination is the signature of Blake's understanding of energy.

 
 
 
Songs and Ballads, Notebook, (E 477)
"Mock on Mock on Voltaire Rousseau
Mock on Mock on! tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind
And the wind blows it back again

And every sand becomes a Gem                          
Reflected in the beams divine
Blown back they blind the mocking Eye   
But still in Israels paths they shine

The Atoms of Democritus
And Newtons Particles of light          
Are sands upon the Red sea shore
Where Israels tents do shine so bright"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

VOICE OF BATH

The city of Bath is singled out by Blake for its wisdom, benevolence and healing abilities. She is called  the Healing City which is apropos for a city whose springs were reputed for their medicinal powers since ancient times. Who better to turn to heal Albion 'our brother' who is 'sick to death?'
Courtesy of Wikimedia
Jerusalem
Plate 45

In Plate 40 [45] of Jerusalem the voice of Bath is heard calling to Albion, asking him to recognize his 'dread disease' and accept the healing offered by Jesus. Allbion's disease is incurable except by 'mercy interposing.' Blake implies the God's mercy is required, but Albion's mercy is required also. His problem is that 'his machines are woven with his life.' These machines are the implements of war and the mental attitude which makes war acceptable. Britain has become accustomed to being at war and accumulating benefits for the 'military industrial complex' at the expense of the health and welfare of the people who suffer from wounds and neglect.

David Erdman finds in this plate in Jerusalem reference to two anti-war sermons preached by Richard Warner who was curate of St James, Bath from 1795 to 1817. (This church was lost to bombing in WWII.) The first sermon was occasioned by the Day of General Fast ordered by the King to be observed in all churches on May 25th, 1804. Richard Warner chose to observe the occasion by preaching and publishing a sermon titled: War Inconsistent with Christianity.

On Page 477 of Prophet Against Empire Erdman quotes from Warner's sermon:,
"However brilliant the successes are with which their arms shall be crowned; whatever acquisitions of territory conquest may unite to their ancient empire, ... War is the GREATEST CURSE with which a nation can be afflicted, and ... all its imaginary present advantages, or future contingent benefits, are but as 'the dust in the balance,' and 'chaff before the wind'.

Blake states: "however high Our palaces and cities, and however fruitful are our fields, In Selfhood, we are nothing: but fade away in mornings breath."

Learn more in this note included on page 204 of William Blake: Jerusalem edited by Morton D Paley.
Jerusalem, Plate 39 [44], (E 187) 
"They wept into the deeps a little space at length was heard
The voice of Bath, faint as the voice of the Dead in the House of Death
Plate 40 [45]
Bath, healing City! whose wisdom in midst of Poetic
Fervor: mild spoke thro' the Western Porch, in soft gentle tears

O Albion mildest Son of Eden! clos'd is thy Western Gate
Brothers of Eternity! this Man whose great example
We all admir'd & lov'd, whose all benevolent countenance, seen  
In Eden, in lovely Jerusalem, drew even from envy
The, tear: and the confession of honesty, open & undisguis'd
From mistrust and suspition. The Man is himself become
A piteous example of oblivion. To teach the Sons
Of Eden, that however great and glorious; however loving    
And merciful the Individuality; however high
Our palaces and cities, and however fruitful are our fields
In Selfhood, we are nothing: but fade away in mornings breath,
Our mildness is nothing: the greatest mildness we can use
Is incapable and nothing! none but the Lamb of God call heal   
This dread disease: none but Jesus! O Lord descend and save!
Albions Western Gate is clos'd: his death is coming apace!
Jesus alone can save him; for alas we none can know
How soon his lot may be our own. When Africa in sleep
Rose in the night of Beulah, and bound down the Sun & Moon     
His friends cut his strong chains, & overwhelm'd his dark
Machines in fury & destruction, and the Man reviving repented
He wept before his wrathful brethren, thankful & considerate
For their well timed wrath. But Albions sleep is not
Like Africa's: and his machines are woven with his life       
Nothing but mercy can save him! nothing but mercy interposing
Lest he should slay Jerusalem in his fearful jealousy
O God descend! gather our brethren, deliver Jerusalem
But that we may omit no office of the friendly spirit
Oxford take thou these leaves of the Tree of Life: with eloquence
That thy immortal tongue inspires; present them to Albion:
Perhaps he may recieve them, offerd from thy loved hands.

So spoke, unheard by Albion. the merciful Son of Heaven
To those whose Western Gates were open, as they stood weeping
Around Albion: but Albion heard him not; obdurate! hard!      
He frown'd on all his Friends, counting them enemies in his sorrow

And the Seventeen conjoining with Bath, the Seventh:
In whom the other Ten shone manifest, a Divine Vision!
Assimilated and embrac'd Eternal Death for Albions sake.

And these the names of the Eighteen combining with those Ten 
Plate 41 [46]
Bath, mild Physician of Eternity, mysterious power
Whose springs are unsearchable & knowledg infinite."

Friday, September 13, 2013

ROOTS OF WAR

Glasgow University Library
Europe
Plate 6, Copy B
War was not a theoretical issue for Blake; it was the condition with which Europe, Britain, London and each individual was preoccupied from the years 1775 when America's War for Independence began until 1815 when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. Blake's attitude to conflict is a major topic of David Erdman's book Blake: Prophet Against Empire. Erdman traces in Blake's poetry events on the world stage which were affecting the daily lives of the British people. In Jerusalem Erdman considers that Blake was asking what were the roots of the war which stretched on for years. Willingness to sacrifice individuals to the demands of Empire is revisited many times as a possible answer underlying Albion's failure to become the embodiment of the brotherhood of man.       

Erdman writes on page 469:
"The Blakean reversal here is typical: oppressors talking of casting pearls before the swinish multitude; Blake 'saw' that the people were the pearls and that they had been 'hardened' by the contempt of those who treated them like swine and who cast forth 'all the tenderness of the soul...  as filth & mire.' Here was the core of his answer.
He could not help 'looking on Albions City with many tears,' for the continental war was reaching a climax and the danger was imminent that Albion [Britain] would impose a conqueror's peace on Luvah [France] and perpetuate the cycle of 'deadly war (the fever of the human soul).'"


Jerusalem, Plate 45 [31], (E 194)
"But Los
Searchd in vain: closd from the minutia he walkd, difficult.
He came down from Highgate thro Hackney & Holloway towards London
Till he came to old Stratford & thence to Stepney & the Isle     
Of Leuthas Dogs, thence thro the narrows of the Rivers side
And saw every minute particular, the jewels of Albion, running down
The kennels of the streets & lanes as if they were abhorrd.
Every Universal Form, was become barren mountains of Moral
Virtue: and every Minute Particular hardend into grains of sand:
And all the tendernesses of the soul cast forth as filth & mire,
Among the winding places of deep contemplation intricate
To where the Tower of London frownd dreadful over Jerusalem:
A building of Luvah builded in Jerusalems eastern gate to be
His secluded Court: thence to Bethlehem where was builded   
Dens of despair in the house of bread: enquiring in vain
Of stones and rocks he took his way, for human form was none:
And thus he spoke, looking on Albions City with many tears"

Jerusalem, Plate 33 [37], (E 179)
"So Los spoke: But when he saw blue death in Albions feet, 
Again he join'd the Divine Body, following merciful;
While Albion fled more indignant! revengeful covering
Plate 34 [38]
His face and bosom with petrific hardness, and his hands
And feet, lest any should enter his bosom & embrace
His hidden heart; his Emanation wept & trembled within him:
Uttering not his jealousy, but hiding it as with
Iron and steel, dark and opake, with clouds & tempests brooding: 
His strong limbs shudderd upon his mountains high and dark.

Turning from Universal Love petrific as he went,
His cold against the warmth of Eden rag'd with loud
Thunders of deadly war (the fever of the human soul)"

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

So spoke Los, travelling thro darkness & horrid solitude:" 
. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SAMSON II

Continuation of Samson I.
The Biblical Samson resembles the hero character commonly portrayed in the literature of ancient cultures. His birth was foretold by an angel; he exhibited  supernatural powers of strength including overcoming a lion barehanded; he defied his father; he was betrayal by a female; and he endured punishments including blinding by his enemies. His final achievement was destroying his enemies by demolishing their temple through undermining the pillars that supported it. His feats put him in the category with Hercules and innumerable heroes.
Judges 16
[20] And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free." And he did not know that the LORD had left him.
[21] And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison.
[22] But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
[23] Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, "Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand."
[25] And when their hearts were merry, they said, "Call Samson, that he may make sport for us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he made sport before them. They made him stand between the pillars;
[26] and Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them."
[27] Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport.
[28] Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be avenged upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes."
[29] And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other.
[30] And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines." Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.
[31] Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Esh'ta-ol in the tomb of Mano'ah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years. 


Blake did not return to a direct account of Samson in his poetry but Blake's hero, John Milton, wrote Samson Agonistes as perhaps his last poem. Blake mentions Samson in Milton in conjunction with Swedenborg whom Blake saw as a failed hero. Blake felt that Swedenborg like Samson had lost his strength when he allowed worldly considerations to replace commitment to the truth he had been given.

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 117)
"They perverted Swedenborgs Visions in Beulah & in Ulro;
To destroy Jerusalem as a Harlot & her Sons as Reprobates;
To raise up Mystery the Virgin Harlot Mother of War,
Babylon the Great, the Abomination of Desolation!
O Swedenborg! strongest of men, the Samson shorn by the Churches!

Shewing the Transgresors in Hell, the proud Warriors in Heaven:
Heaven as a Punisher & Hell as One under Punishment:
With Laws from Plato & his Greeks to renew the Trojan Gods,
In Albion; & to deny the value of the Saviours blood.
But then I rais'd up Whitefield, Palamabron raisd up Westley,"    
An association of Albion with the Biblical Samson and with Milton's Samson Agonistes is apparent in the inscription which Blake included on the reengraved plate of the jubilant Albion which is known as Glad Day or Albion Rose

Inscription, (E 671)
"Albion rose from where he labourd at the Mill with Slaves
Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death"

 

The phrase 'at the mill with slaves' is quoted from Milton as he represented Samson's condition before he regained his strength and rose from his captivity to the Philistines. The idea that Samson goes to his physical death along with his captors, as he returns to spiritual life by self-sacrifice, is implied by Blake in his caption for the portrayal of Albion.    

Samson Agonistes
by John Milton
"Design'd for great exploits; if I must dye Betray'd, Captiv'd, and both my Eyes put out,
Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in Brazen Fetters under task               [ 35 ]
With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't
Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him   [ 40 ]

Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke;" 
 
Blake recalls experiencing himself the despair of feeling enslaved to forced labor in this letter:
Letter to  Hayley, 1804, (E 756)
"I speak with
perfect confidence and certainty of the fact which has passed
upon me.  Nebuchadnezzar had seven times passed over him; I have
had twenty; thank God I was not altogether a beast as he was; but
I was a slave bound in a mill among beasts and devils; these
beasts and these devils are now, together with myself, become
children of light and liberty, and my feet and my wife's feet are
free from fetters."  
The release from slavery in the mill provides one of the metaphors for the rebirth near the end of the Four Zoas.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 134, (E 402)
"Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field
Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air
Let the inchaind soul shut up in darkness & in sighing           
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years
Rise & look out his chains are loose his dungeon doors are open"
Wikimedia
Sketch for Illustrations of the Book of Job
Page 3








As illustrated by Blake the disaster which befell the sons of Job is reminiscent of the destruction of the temple by Samson.







Monday, September 9, 2013

SAMSON I

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Samson Bringing Down the Temple
The book of Blake's early poems which was published by his friends with the title Poetical Sketches contains an interpretation of the story of Samson from the Biblical book named Judges. The young Blake was seeing the mythopoeic dimension of the Biblical account as an example of the energy which entered the world to initiate change. Blake would develop his character Orc as an example of the forces which destroy the old order under the influence of the sinister female.

Blake's final illustration to Blair's Night Thoughts vividly portrays the destruction on Dagon's temple by the fury of Samson's wrath. 

This is the quote from Young which Blake was illustrating with his image:
"Awake, then; thy Philander calls: awake!
Thou, who shalt wake, when the creation sleeps;
When, like a taper, all these suns expire;
When Time, like him of Gaza in his wrath,
Plucking the pillars that support the world,
In Nature’s ample ruins lies entomb’d;
And Midnight, universal Midnight! reigns."

Poetical Sketches, ( E 443)  

                                 SAMSON.
"Samson, the strongest of the children of men, I sing; how he was
foiled by woman's arts, by a false wife brought to the gates of
death!  O Truth, that shinest with propitious beams, turning our
earthly night to heavenly day, from presence of the Almighty
Father! thou visitest our darkling world with blessed feet,
bringing good news of Sin and Death destroyed!  O white-robed
Angel, guide my timorous hand to write as on a lofty rock with
iron pens the words of truth, that all who pass may read.--Now
Night, noon-tide of damned spirits, over the silent earth spreads
her pavilion, while in dark council sat Philista's lords; and
where strength failed, black thoughts in ambush lay.  Their
helmed youth and aged warriors in dust together ly, and
Desolation spreads his wings over the land of Palestine; from
side to side the land groans, her prowess lost, and seeks to hide
lier bruised head under the mists of night, breeding dark plots,
For Dalila's fair arts have long been tried in vain; in vain she
wept in many a treacherous tear.  "Go on, fair traitress; do thy
guileful work; ere once again the changing moon her circuit hath
performed, thou shalt overcome, and conquer him by force
unconquerable, and wrest his secret from him.  Call thine
alluring arts and honest-seeming brow, the holy kiss of love, and
the transparent tear; put on fair linen, that with the lily vies,
purple and silver; neglect thy hair, to seem more lovely in thy
loose attire; put on thy country's pride, deceit; and eyes of
love decked in mild sorrow, and sell thy Lord for gold."--For
now, upon her sumptuous couch reclined, in gorgeous pride, she
still intreats, and still she grasps his vigorous knees with her
fair arms.--"Thou lov'st me not! thou'rt war, thou art not love!
O foolish Dalila! O weak woman! it is death cloathed in flesh
thou lovest, and thou hast been incircled in his arms!--Alas, my
Lord, what am I calling thee?  Thou art my God!  To thee I pour
my tears for sacrifice morning and evening: My days are covered
with sorrow!  Shut up; darkened: By night I am deceived! Who says
that thou wast born Of mortal kind?  Destruction was thy father,
a lioness suckled thee, thy young hands tore human limbs, and
gorged human flesh! Come hither, Death; art thou not Samson's
servant?  'Tis Dalila that calls; thy master's wife; no, stay,
and let thy master do the deed: one blow of that strong arm would
ease my pain; then should I lay at quiet, and have rest.  Pity
forsook thee at thy birth!  O Dagon furious, and all ye gods of
Palestine, withdraw your hand! I am but a weak woman.  Alas, I am
wedded to your enemy!  I will go mad, and tear my crisped hair;
I'll run about, and pierce the ears o'th' gods!  O Samson, hold
me not; thou lovest me not!  Look not upon me with those deathful
eyes!  Thou wouldst my death, and death approaches fast."--Thus,
in false tears, she bath'd his feet, and thus she day by day
oppressed his soul: he seemed a mountain, his brow among the
clouds; she seemed a silver stream, his feet embracing.  Dark
thoughts rolled to and fro in his mind, like thunder
clouds, troubling the sky; his visage was troubled; his soul was
distressed.--"Though I should tell her all my heart, what can I
fear?  Though I should tell this secret of my birth, the utmost
may be warded off as well when told as now." She saw him moved,
and thus resumes her wiles.--"Samson, I'm thine; do with me what
thou wilt; my friends are enemies; my life is death; I am a
traitor to my nation, and despised; my joy is given into the
hands of him who hates me, using deceit to the wife of his bosom.
Thrice hast thou mocked me, and grieved my soul.  Didst thou not
tell me with green withs to bind thy nervous arms, and after
that, when I had found thy falshood, with new ropes to bind thee
fast?  I knew thou didst but mock me.  Alas, when in thy sleep I
bound thee with them to try thy truth, I cried, The Philistines
be upon thee, Samson!  Then did suspicion wake thee; how didst
thou rend the feeble ties!  Thou fearest nought, what shouldst
thou fear?  Thy power is more than mortal, none can hurt thee;
thy bones are brass, thy sinews are iron!  Ten thousand spears
are like the summer grass; an army of mighty men are as flocks in
the vallies; what canst thou fear?  I drink my tears like water;
I live upon sorrow!  O worse than wolves and tygers, what canst
thou give when such a trifle is denied me?  But O at last thou
mockest me to shame my over-fond inquiry!  Thou toldest me to
weave thee to the beam by thy strong hair; I did even that to try
thy truth: but when I cried, The Philistines be upon thee, then
didst thou leave me to bewail that Samson loved me not."--He sat,
and inward griev'd, he saw and lov'd the beauteous suppliant, nor
could conceal aught that might appease ber; then, leaning on her
bosom, thus he spoke: "Hear, O Dalila! doubt no more of Samson's
love; for that fair breast was made the ivory palace of my inmost
heart, where it shall lie at rest; for sorrow is the lot of all
of woman born: for care was I brought forth, and labour is my
lot: not matchless might, nor wisdom, nor every gift enjoyed, can
from the heart of man hide sorrow.--Twice was my birth foretold
from heaven, and twice a sacred vow enjoined me that I should
drink no wine, nor eat of any unclean thing, for holy unto
Israel's God I am, a Nazarite even from my mother's womb.  Twice
was it told, that it might not be broken, Grant me a son, kind
Heaven, Manoa cried; but Heaven refused!  Childless he mourned,
but thought his God knew best.  In solitude, though not obscure,
in Israel he lived, till venerable age came on: his flocks
increased, and plenty crowned his board: beloved, revered of man!
But God hath other joys in store.  Is burdened Israel his grief?
The son of his old age shall set it free! The venerable sweetner
of his life receives the promise first from Heaven.  She saw the
maidens play, and blessed their innocent mirth; she blessed each
new-joined pair; but from her the long-wished deliverer shall
spring.  Pensive, alone she sat within the house, when busy day
was fading, and calm evening, time for contemplation, rose from
the forsaken east, and drew the curtains of heaven; pensive she
sat, and thought on Israel's grief, 
and Silent prayed to Israel's God; when lo, an angel from the
fields of light entered the house!  His form was manhood in the
prime, and from his spacious brow shot terrors through the
evening shade!  But mild he hailed her--Hail, highly favoured!
said he; for lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son, and
Israel's strength shall be upon his shoulders, and he shall be
called Israel's Deliverer! Now therefore drink no wine, and eat
not any unclean thing, for he shall be a Nazarite to God.--Then,
as a neighbour when his evening tale is told, departs, his
blessing leaving; so seemed he to depart: she wondered with
exceeding joy, nor knew he was an angel.  Manoa left his fields
to sit in the house, and take his evening's rest from labour--the
sweetest time that God has allotted mortal man.  He sat, and
heard with joy, and praised God who Israel still doth keep.  The
time rolled on, and Israel groaned oppressed.  The sword was
bright, while the plow-share rusted, till hope grew feeble, and
was ready to give place to doubting: then prayed Manoa--O Lord,
thy flock is scattered on the hills!  The wolf teareth them,
Oppression stretches his rod over our land, our country is plowed
with swords, and reaped in blood! The echoes of slaughter reach
from hill to hill! Instead of peaceful pipe, the shepherd bears a
sword; the ox goad is turned into a spear!  O when shall our
Deliverer come? The Philistine riots on our flocks, our vintage
is gathered by hands of enemies! Stretch forth thy hand, and
save.--Thus prayed Manoa.  The aged woman walked into the field,
and lo, again the angel came!  Clad as a traveller fresh risen on
his journey, she ran and called her husband, who came and talked
with him.--O man of God, said he, thou comest from far! Let us
detain thee while I make ready a kid, that thou mayest sit and
eat, and tell us of thy name and warfare; that when thy sayings t
come to pass, we may honour thee.  The Angel answered, My name is
wonderful; enquire not after it, seeing it is a secret: but, if
thou wilt, offer an offering unto the Lord."

                              THE END."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

FOURFOLD TIME

My previous post included these words from Theodore Roszak: "Ideas are integrating patterns that derive not from information but from experience". Throughout Blake's writings and images we find these integrating patterns, not concentrated in one location, but scattered so that they can be revisited and recognized as patterns which give order at the macro scale.
Kathleen Raine adds to the concept of the relationship of the parts to the whole in this passage from her biography Blake.

Page 158
"Blake's 'visions' do not belong to time, but to the timeless; they are related as parts to the whole, but as parts of the surface of the sphere, all equidistant from the center, rather than in the time sequence to which in this world we are normally confined. Like dreams, they come to him in single symbolic episodes, or images; there is some attempt at chronology, but the material does not lend itself to this order, any more than would a series of dreams, all relating to an unfolding situation, but not forming a consecutive narrative. Blake added to Jerusalem over many years, inserting passages which may be fine in themselves but which further destroyed the continuity."  

We can think of 'time' in the system of fourfold of which Blake was so fond.

 Dimensionless: Time is the isolated fleeting moment, the point without extension. This is the only time we possess, the now which is ours to use and lose.


Milton, Plate 28 [30], (E 127)
"Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period & value to Six Thousand Years.
Plate 29 [31]
For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery."

1 Dimension: Moments strung together give us the thread of time which records the passing of time. Thought identifies the personal span of time into before and after. The individual follows his thread without deviation.

Jerusalem, Plate 20, (E 165)
"Vala replied weeping & trembling, hiding in her veil.

When winter rends the hungry family and the snow falls:
Upon the ways of men hiding the paths of man and beast,
Then mourns the wanderer: then he repents his wanderings & eyes
The distant forest; then the slave groans in the dungeon of
     stone.    
The captive in the mill of the stranger, sold for scanty hire.
They view their former life: they number moments over and over;
Stringing them on their remembrance as on a thread of sorrow.
Thou art my sister and my daughter! thy shame is mine also!
Ask me not of my griefs! thou knowest all my griefs.         

Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys."
 
2 Dimensions: The thread of each individual's time line is not isolated. Other time lines have their simultaneous moments and movements. A fabric is woven which becomes a plane of moments in lives, forming a surface with contributions from multiple lives.

Jerusalem, Plate 83, (E 242)
"So Los spoke. to the Daughters of Beulah while his Emanation
Like a faint rainbow waved before him in the awful gloom
Of London City on the Thames from Surrey Hills to Highgate:
Swift turn the silver spindles, & the golden weights play soft
And lulling harmonies beneath the Looms, from Caithness in the north  
To Lizard-point & Dover in the south: his Emanation
Joy'd in the many weaving threads in bright Cathedrons Dome

Weaving the Web of Life for Jerusalem. The Web of Life
Down flowing into Entuthons Vales glistens with soft affections."

3 Dimensions: A matrix develops when to the two dimensions of the plane are added the past and future. To everywhere and everyone is added everytime. In Blake's matrix nothing is lost, everything is permanent.

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 117)
'I am that Shadowy Prophet who Six Thousand Years ago    
Fell from my station in the Eternal bosom. Six Thousand Years
Are finishd. I return! both Time & Space obey my will.
I in Six Thousand Years walk up and down: for not one Moment
Of Time is lost, nor one Event of Space unpermanent
But all remain: every fabric of Six Thousand Years               
Remains permanent: tho' on the Earth where Satan
Fell, and was cut off all things vanish & are seen no more
They vanish not from me & mine, we guard them first & last
The generations of men run on in the tide of Time
But leave their destind lineaments permanent for ever & ever.    

So spoke Los as we went along to his supreme abode."
 
End of Time: Time ends when it is swallowed up in Eternity. Enitharmon's loom no longer weaves the web of material life. Consciousness on longer resides in the minds of men, but the minds of men reside in the great consciousness from Eternity to Eternity.

Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252)
"So Los spoke. Enitharmon answerd in great terror in Lambeths Vale

The Poets Song draws to its period & Enitharmon is no more.
For if he be that Albion I can never weave him in my Looms
But when he touches the first fibrous thread, like filmy dew   
My Looms will be no more & I annihilate vanish for ever
Then thou wilt Create another Female according to thy Will.

Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease
To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon:" 
Tate River of Life

Thursday, September 5, 2013

WEB OF LIFE II



Courtesy of Wikimedia
Illustrations to the Book of Genesis
2nd Title Page
The mechanistic view of the world which was common in Blake's day was revisited when computers were proposed as the metaphor for the operation of the human brain. However the metaphor of the brain as a computer was found to be deficient. "Brains seem to operate on the basis of massive connectivity, storing information distributively and manifesting a self-organizing capacity that is nowhere to be found in computers."  (Page 71)
 
Fritjof Capra in, The Web of Life demonstrates the limitations of using the  computer as a model for the human brain. We find similarities to Blake's objections to allowing Urizen to assume control of the human psyche supplanting the emotions, the imagination, and the intelligence of the body. 
 

Page 68
"Recent developments in cognitive science have made it clear that human intelligence is utterly different from machine intelligence. The human nervous system does not process any information (in the sense of discrete elements existing ready-made in the outside world,to be picked up by the cognitive system), but it interacts with the environment by continually modulating its structure. Moreover, neuroscientists have discovered strong evidence that human intelligence, human memory, and human decisions are never completely rational but are always colored by emotions as we know from experience. Our thinking is always accompanied by bodily sensations and processes. Even if we often tend to suppress them,we always think also with our bodies; and since computers do not have such a body, truly human problems will always be foreign to their intelligence.
These considerations imply that certain tasks should never be left to computers...These tasks include all those that require genuine human qualities such as wisdom, compassion, respect, understanding and love. Decisions and communications that require those qualities will dehumanize our lives if they are made by computers."
 
Page 70
"As Theodore Roszak shows in detail in The Cult of Information, information does not create ideas: ideas create information. Ideas are integrating patterns that derive not from information but from experience."

 
Page 296
"To regain our full humanity, we must regain our experience of connectedness with the entire web of life. This reconnecting, religio in Latin, is the very essence of the spiritual grounding of deep ecology."  


The battles among Urizen, Los, Luvah and Tharmas will continue to appear in various forms among philosophical approaches to epistemology until all are brought together and see ourselves reflected in every face.

Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 257)
"And every Man stood Fourfold, each Four Faces had. One to the West
One toward the East One to the South One to the North. the Horses Fourfold
And the dim Chaos brightend beneath, above, around! Eyed as the Peacock
According to the Human Nerves of Sensation, the Four Rivers of the Water of Life

South stood the Nerves of the Eye. East in Rivers of bliss the Nerves of the
Expansive Nostrils West, flowd the Parent Sense the Tongue. North stood
The labyrinthine Ear. Circumscribing & Circumcising the excrementitious
Husk & Covering into Vacuum evaporating revealing the lineaments of Man
Driving outward the Body of Death in an Eternal Death & Resurrection   
Awaking it to Life among the Flowers of Beulah rejoicing in Unity
In the Four Senses in the Outline the Circumference & Form, for ever
In Forgiveness of Sins which is Self Annihilation. it is the Covenant of Jehovah

The Four Living Creatures Chariots of Humanity Divine Incomprehensible
In beautiful Paradises expand These are the Four Rivers of Paradise   
And the Four Faces of Humanity fronting the Four Cardinal Points
Of Heaven going forward forward irresistible from Eternity to Eternity

And they conversed together in Visionary forms dramatic which bright
Redounded from their Tongues in thunderous majesty, in Visions
In new Expanses, creating exemplars of Memory and of Intellect  
Creating Space, Creating Time according to the wonders Divine
Of Human Imagination, throughout all the Three Regions immense
Of Childhood, Manhood & Old Age[;] & the all tremendous unfathomable Non Ens
Of Death was seen in regenerations terrific or complacent varying
According to the subject of discourse & every Word & Every Character
Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or
Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space
Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked
To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen
And seeing: according to fitness & order. And I heard Jehovah speak 
Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine
On Chariots of gold & jewels with Living Creatures starry & flaming
With every Colour, Lion, Tyger, Horse, Elephant, Eagle Dove, Fly, Worm,
And the all wondrous Serpent clothed in gems & rich array Humanize
In the Forgiveness of Sins according to the Covenant of Jehovah. They Cry

Where is the Covenant of Priam, the Moral Virtues of the Heathen
Where is the Tree of Good & Evil that rooted beneath the cruel heel
Of Albions Spectre the Patriarch Druid! where are all his Human Sacrifices
For Sin in War & in the Druid Temples of the Accuser of Sin: beneath
The Oak Groves of Albion that coverd the whole Earth beneath his Spectre
Where are the Kingdoms of the World & all their glory that grew on Desolation
The Fruit of Albions Poverty Tree when the Triple Headed Gog-Magog Giant
Of Albion Taxed the Nations into Desolation & then gave the Spectrous Oath

Such is the Cry from all the Earth from the Living Creatures of the Earth
And from the great City of Golgonooza in the Shadowy Generation 
And from the Thirty-two Nations of the Earth among the Living Creatures

PLATE 99
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"

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

7 PERSPECTIVES


The seven writers who have been of the most help to me in attempting to understand Blake's poetry and thought have dramatically different perspectives on discerning the meaning in Blake's work.

Northrup Frey, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake - reveals the symbolic language of Blake within a literary context.

David V. Erdman, Blake: Prophet against Empire - explores historical and political significance of Blake's writing.

Milton O. Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny - relates Blake's myth to esoteric symbols, including those in the Bible, Alchemy, and Astrology.

George Wingfield Digby, William Blake: Symbol and Image - sheds light on psychological implications and symbolic meanings through commentary on The Gates of Paradise and the Arlington Tempera.

John Middleton Murry, William Blake - expounds the teachings of Blake and includes the influence of Blake's personal experience on his work.

S. Foster Damon, A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake - provides information on the major ideas in Blake's writing with references to locations of passages where they occur.

Kathleen Raine, Blake and Tradition - shows classical and literary sources and influences for Blake's ideas and images by placing him within traditional metaphysics.

It is because Blake thought and wrote over as broad a field of intellectual knowledge as was possible in London in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, that scholars have been able to study his work from so many points of view. These authors have immersed themselves in the whole body of Blake's work and found themselves able to focus on specific areas where their interest and expertise could shed light onto what Blake communicated. There are more books to be written, perhaps you will write one.

You are invited to read Larry Clayton's unpublished book, Ram Horn'd with Gold, focusing on Blake's spiritual development.