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

Thursday, February 27, 2014


The place that the picture Newton assumes in the series called the Large Color Prints is to emphasize the dual functions that science might play in the development of man's consciousness. Although Blake spoke of 'single vision' as 'Newton's sleep', he ends the Four Zoas with the beginning of the reign of 'sweet Science.'
Large Color Printed Drawings
Along with Bacon and Locke, Newton became a symbol for Blake of the particular temptations faced by man in his own age. For Blake it was through the philosophies of these three men that the society had transitioned itself from orthodox Christianity to Deism, and from traditional agrarian organization to industrialization. Blake was not against change, but the change he desired was toward the development of the imagination to enable man to become more human. Blake saw changes brought about by the philosophies of Bacon, Locke and Newton chaining man to a materialistic, mechanistic and impoverished worldview.

To Blake who saw the holiness in everything, science, although of infinite value, was in his day being put to the wrong use. Meant to be a servant of man it was becoming his master.

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536) 
"Visions of these eternal principles or characters of human
life appear to poets, in all ages; the Grecian gods were the
ancient Cherubim of Phoenicia; but the Greeks, and since them the
Moderns, have neglected to subdue the gods of Priam.  These Gods
are visions of the eternal attributes, or divine names, which,
when erected into gods, become destructive to humanity.
They ought to be the servants, and not the masters of man, or of
society.  They ought to be made to sacrifice to Man, and not man
compelled to sacrifice to them; for when separated from man or
humanity, who is Jesus the Saviour, the vine of eternity, they
are thieves and rebels, they are destroyers."

Four Zoas, Night III, Page 38, (E 326)
"O Prince the Eternal One hath set thee leader of his hosts
Page 39 
Leave all futurity to him Resume thy fields of Light  
Why didst thou listen to the voice of Luvah that dread morn
To give the immortal steeds of light to his deceitful hands
No longer now obedient to thy will thou art compell'd
To forge the curbs of iron & brass to build the iron mangers
To feed them with intoxication from the wine presses of Luvah
Till the Divine Vision & Fruition is quite obliterated
They call thy lions to the fields of blood, they rowze thy tygers
Out of the halls of justice, till these dens thy wisdom framd
Golden & beautiful but O how unlike those sweet fields of bliss  
Where liberty was justice & eternal science was mercy
Then O my dear lord listen to Ahania, listen to the vision
The vision of Ahania in the slumbers of Urizen
When Urizen slept in the porch & the Ancient Man was smitten 

The Darkning Man walkd on the steps of fire before his halls 
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber" 

Song of Los, Plate 4, (E 68)
"Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave
Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more
And more to Earth: closing and restraining:                      
Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete
Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions
Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery: 
That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men.
And Science is divided into Bowlahoola & Allamanda."

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 139, (E 407) 
"The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los                
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns           

                  End of The Dream"                

Reading this passage from Norhtrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry we can see that in the image Blake created of Newton, he intended to keep open the possibility that man's consciousness might evolve to the level of vision.
Fearful Symmetry, Page 259-60:
"Man stands at the level of conscious life: immediately in front of him is the power to visualize the eternal city and garden he is trying to regain; immediately behind him is an unconscious, involuntary and cyclic energy, much of which still goes on inside his own body. Man is therefor a Luvah or form of life subject to two impulses, one the prophetic impulse leading him forward to vision, the other the natural impulse which drags him back to unconsciousness and finally to death.
The imagination says that man is not chain-bound but muscle-bound; that he is born alive, and is everywhere dying in sleep; and that when the conscious imagination in man perfects the vision of the world of consciousness, at that point man's eyes will necessarily be open.
Every advance of truth forces error to consolidate itself in a  more obviously erroneous form, and every advance of freedom has the same effect on tyranny...The evolution comes in the fact that the opposition grows sharper each time, and will one day present a clear-cut alternative of eternal life or extermination."  


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Although the return journey had begun with this image of the Night of Enitharmon's Joy, progress would be slow. The eighteen Christian centuries from the birth of Christ to Blake's day were ruled by the outward feminine will. When the message of Jesus was subverted by organized religious institutions, Enitharmon began her reign. It is she who spread the doctrines that 'Woman's love is Sin' and that the return to Eternity takes place only after death.
The error that Enitharmon represented could not be ended until man had experienced it to the degree that he was convinced of its futility. Blake tells us that the imagination, man's ability to perceive intuitively, had taken 'his rest.' His power had been transferred to the 'Eternal Female' who exercised her intuition to please herself and control men. Until man was able to behold the truth of his own intuitive abilities he would subject himself to control by the female will.

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Error is Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round 
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it." 

Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
"Again the night is come  
That strong Urthona takes his rest,                              
And Urizen unloos'd from chains                                  
Glows like a meteor in the distant north
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep."

Europe, Plate 4, (E 62)
"Arise O Orc from thy deep den,                                   
First born of Enitharmon rise!
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine;
For now thou art bound;
And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest born.

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

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

My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but

Jerusalem, Plate 87, (E 246)    
"Enitharmon answerd [Los]. No! I will sieze thy Fibres & weave
Them: not as thou wilt but as I will, for I will Create
A round Womb beneath my bosom lest I also be overwoven
With Love; be thou assured I never will be thy slave          
Let Mans delight be Love; but Womans delight be Pride
In Eden our loves were the same here they are opposite
I have Loves of my own I will weave them in Albions Spectre
Cast thou in Jerusalems shadows thy Loves! silk of liquid
Rubies Jacinths Crysolites: issuing from thy Furnaces. While   
Jerusalem divides thy care: while thou carest for Jerusalem
Know that I never will be thine:"
 John 4
[24] "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." 

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Each of the images in the Large Color Printed Drawings includes paradox. In the House of Death we confront the sorrows of disease and torture and despair as described in Milton's Paradise Lost which this image is said to represent.
Paradise Lost
, Book XI, Line 477
"Immediately a place
Before his eyes appeard, sad, noysom, dark,
A Lazar-house it seemd, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies
Of gastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualmes
Of heart-sick Agonie, all feavorous kinds,
Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs,
Intestin Stone and Ulcer, Colic pangs,
Daemoniac Phrenzie, moaping  Melancholie
And Moon-struck madness, pining Atrophie
Marasnus and wide-wasting Pestilence,
Dropsies, and Asthma's, and Joint-racking Rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair
Tended the sick busiest from Couch to Couch;
And over them triumphant Death his Dart
Shook, but delaid to strike, though oft invokt
With vows, as thir chief good, and final hope."
British Museum
Large Color Printed Drawings
House of Death
But Blake tells us that these afflictions are of the mortal body which passes away when man is born is his spiritual body.

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 564)
"Many Persons such as Paine & Voltaire with some
of the Ancient Greeks say we will not Converse concerning Good
& Evil we will live in Paradise & Liberty   You may do so in
Spirit but not in the Mortal Body as you pretend till after the
Last Judgment for in Paradise they have no Corporeal & Mortal
Body that originated with the Fall & was calld Death & cannot be
removed but by a Last judgment while we are in the world of
Mortality we Must Suffer   The Whole Creation Groans to be
deliverd there will always be as many Hypocrites born as Honest
Men & they will always have superior Power in Mortal Things   You
cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral
Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that
half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue" 
Blake used the image of Nebuchadnezza when he had fallen into the form of a beast to represent man when he had fallen to the limit of his descent from Eden. This I take to be a statement about the Limit of Contraction. Man has been given the form of Adam, a human form. Taking the form of a beast was a turning point allowing him to reverse directions and recover a vision of Eternity.
When nature, the outer world, competes its descent it takes the form of death. Blake speaks of this as the Limit of Contraction or Satan. It is the natural or physical body which is susceptible to death. When man recognizes himself as a spirit which is immortal, he transcends the Limit of Contraction and frees himself from the power of Satan and his offspring death.

From William Blake's Circle of Destiny by Milton O Percival, Page 233:
"Satan and Adam have not been 'fixed,' Christ has not taken on the body of death, to make permanent the limitations of fallen man. The sexual religion will not permanently replace the Divine Vision. Such a hypothesis is the assumption of the unbeliever.

'Voltaire insinuates that these Limits are the cruel work of God
Mocking the Remover of Limits & the Resurrection of the Dead'  (E 228)
On the contrary the limits, like other fixations under Los's hammer, have their ultimate end the removal of all limitations. Christ appears in the mortal form of man that man may take on the immortal form of Christ."
Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 189)
 "There is a limit of Opakeness, and a limit of Contraction;
In every Individual Man, and the limit of Opakeness,             
Is named Satan: and the limit of Contraction is named Adam.
But when Man sleeps in Beulah, the Saviour in mercy takes
Contractions Limit, and of the Limit he forms Woman: That
Himself may in process of time be born Man to redeem
But there is no Limit of Expansion! there is no Limit of Translucence.   
In the bosom of Man for ever from eternity to eternity.
Therefore I break thy bonds of righteousness; I crush thy messengers!
That they may not crush me and mine: do thou be righteous,
And I will return it; otherwise I defy thy worst revenge:
Consider me as thine enemy: on me turn all thy fury              
But destroy not these little ones, nor mock the Lords anointed:
Destroy not by Moral Virtue, the little ones whom he hath chosen!" 
Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 56, (E 337)
 "Such were the words of Beulah of the Feminine Emanation 
The Empyrean groand throughout All Eden was darkend
The Corse of Albion lay on the Rock the sea of Time & Space
Beat round the Rock in mighty waves & as a Polypus
That vegetates beneath the Sea the limbs of Man vegetated      
In monstrous forms of Death a Human polypus of Death

The Saviour mild & gentle bent over the corse of Death
Saying If ye will Believe your Brother shall rise again   
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" 
Romans 8 
18] I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
[19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 
[20] for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 
[21] because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 
[22] We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 
[23] and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 

First Corinthians 15
[21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 
[22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  
[23] But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 
[24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 
[25] For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 
[26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Daniel 4
[29] At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,
[30] and the king said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?"
[31] While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnez'zar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,
[32] and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; and you shall be made to eat grass like an ox; and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will."
[33] Immediately the word was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnez'zar. He was driven from among men, and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.
[34] At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnez'zar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives for ever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

Nebuchadnezzar stood at the pinnacle of success and power as the ruler of an empire. He attributed to his own strength and wisdom all that belonged to him. But he was unaware of things in his life to which he had not given attention. There were unclaimed aspects of his psyche which needed to be acknowledged. When we read the quote from the Book of Daniel we realize that when his conscious mind laid claim to all of his achievements, another part of his mind, his unconscious, drove him into a dark and terrifying place. That surface patina of ego-consciousness was overwhelmed by the behavior of a beast of the field. His condition became that of one suffering from what we now call mental illness. 

Wikimedia Commons
Museum  of Fine Arts Boston
Large Color Printed Drawings

  Blake's image of Nebuchadnezzar shows him deprived of human characteristics. In the sequence of the Large Color Prints which we have been following this represents a further descent from man's state in Eden. He had lost the ability to perceive the Divine Image and therefore appears as less than human. Blake used the term Ulro for the level of existence at which all memory of Eternity had been eradicated.  

Notice in the passage from Daniel that after seven times passed over Nebuchadnezzar three things happened: he lifted his eyes to heaven, his reason returned, and he blessed the Most High. Lifting his eyes to heaven is recognition of God as the source of all things. His reason returns when he has learned to process and put into order the content of both the conscious and unconscious levels of his mind. He reorders his life since he now knows what comes from himself and what comes from God and he is grateful.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 135, (E 403)
"Attempting to be more than Man We become less said Luvah
As he arose from the bright feast drunk with the wine of ages
His crown of thorns fell from his head he hung his living Lyre
Behind the seat of the Eternal Man & took his way
Sounding the Song of Los descending to the Vineyards bright      
His sons arising from the feast with golden baskets follow
A fiery train as when the Sun sings in the ripe vineyards
Then Luvah stood before the wine press all his fiery sons
Brought up the loaded Waggons with shoutings ramping tygers play
In the jingling traces furious lions sound the song of joy       
To the golden wheels circling upon the pavement of heaven & all
The Villages of Luvah ring the golden tiles of the villages
Reply to violins & tabors to the pipe flute lyre & cymbal
Then fell the Legions of Mystery in maddning confusion
Down Down thro the immense with outcry fury & despair            
Into the wine presses of Luvah howling fell the Clusters
Of human families thro the deep. the wine presses were filld
The blood of life flowd plentiful Odors of life arose
All round the heavenly arches & the Odors rose singing this song
Page 136 
O terrible wine presses of Luvah O caverns of the Grave
How lovely the delights of those risen again from death
O trembling joy excess of joy is like Excess of grief

So sang the Human Odors round the wine presses of Luvah"

When man associates the contents of his conscious mind with good, and of the unconscious mind with evil he is in danger of an eruption of his buried or shadow side. The rejected content may surface as uncontrolled outbursts, moods of depression, or feelings of worthlessness. But when he retrieves from his shadow side discarded remnants from a totality which needs both darkness and light to define its outlines, he may indeed feel he is 'risen again from death.'

The following quote is from Meeting the Shadow, The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams:

"British Jungian analyst and astrologer Liz Greene points to the paradoxical nature of the shadow as both the container of darkness and the beacon pointing toward the light: “It is the suffering, crippled side of the personality which is both the dark shadow that won't change and also the redeemer that transforms one's life and alters one's values. The redeemer can get hidden treasure or win the princess or slay the dragon because he's marked in some way –he's abnormal. The shadow is both the awful thing that needs redemption, and suffering redeemer who can provide it."


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Genesis 4
[19] And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
[20] Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle.
[21] His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.
[22] Zillah bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Na'amah.
[23] Lamech said to his wives: "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.

Museum Syndicate
Large Color Printed Drawings
Lamech and his Two Wives
Having left Eden, man set forth as a divided psyche. But the divisions and threats he encountered were experienced as external not internal. Man had programed himself to misunderstand what was going on within and around himself. 

In the outer world Lamech had killed men for striking or wounding him. He resorted to murder when reconciliation may have sufficed. Blake's Four Zoas operate within the psyche of man as the four functions operate in the psyche described by Jung. The passage from Jerusalem, Plate 37 starts with the Zoas 'in terrible combustion clouded rage'. The Spectre has control of the mind removing all possibility of respect and cooperation among the Zoas. The Spectre turns virtues into vices and redefines holiness as every destructive tendency.   

Lameck has fallen under the dominion of the Spectre in killing fellow human beings. Although he regrets his violence he feels trapped in the cycle of vengeance which started with the jealousy of Abel by Cain.

In the previous image Adam and God were both seen to be wounded by the separation between them. Lameck and God are both pulled down by involvement in vengeful behaviors. Blake traces vengeance among the Zoas as they fall further away from their original attitudes of faith, reason, love and imagination.

Jerusalem, Plate 37 [41], (E 183)
"The Four Zoa's in terrible combustion clouded rage
Drinking the shuddering fears & loves of Albions Families
Destroying by selfish affections the things that they most admire
Drinking & eating, & pitying & weeping, as at a trajic scene.
The soul drinks murder & revenge, & applauds its own holiness   

They saw Albion endeavouring to destroy their Emanations.  

[inscription in reversed writing] 
'Each Man is in
his Spectre's power
Until the arrival
of that hour,
When his Humanity
And cast his Spectre
into the Lake'
Plate 38 [43]
They saw their Wheels rising up poisonous against Albion
Urizen, cold & scientific: Luvah, pitying & weeping
Tharmas, indolent & sullen: Urthona, doubting & despairing
Victims to one another & dreadfully plotting against each other
To prevent Albion walking about in the Four Complexions."      

Jerusalem, Plate 47, (E 196)
"And the Veil of Vala, is composed of the Spectres of the Dead

Hark! the mingling cries of Luvah with the Sons of Albion
Hark! & Record the terrible wonder! that the Punisher
Mingles with his Victims Spectre, enslaved and tormented         
To him whom he has murderd, bound in vengeance & enmity
Shudder not, but Write, & the hand of God will assist you!
Therefore I write Albions last words. Hope is banish'd from me.
Plate 48
These were his last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages. Then, surrounded with a Cloud:
In silence the Divine Lord builded with immortal labour,         
Of gold & jewels a sublime Ornament, a Couch of repose,
With Sixteen pillars: canopied with emblems & written verse.
Spiritual Verse, order'd & measur'd, from whence, time shall reveal.
The Five books of the Decologue, the books of Joshua & Judges,
Samuel, a double book & Kings, a double book, the Psalms & Prophets 
The Four-fold Gospel, and the Revelations everlasting
Eternity groan'd. & was troubled, at the image of Eternal Death!" 
Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 152)
"And this is the manner of the Sons of Albion in their strength
They take the Two Contraries which are calld Qualities, with which

Every Substance is clothed, they name them Good & Evil
From them they make an Abstract, which is a Negation             
Not only of the Substance from which it is derived
A murderer of its own Body: but also a murderer
Of every Divine Member: it is the Reasoning Power
An Abstract objecting power, that Negatives every thing
This is the Spectre of Man: the Holy Reasoning Power             
And in its Holiness is closed the Abomination of Desolation

Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza
Compelling his Spectre to labours mighty; trembling in fear
The Spectre weeps, but Los unmovd by tears or threats remains

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans           
I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create"

Monday, February 17, 2014


There are two titles to this picture: God Speaking to Adam and God Judging Adam. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil they knew that they had separated themselves from the Unified Presence. With the knowledge they had gained they had removed themselves from the ability to remain in Eden. A world would be created for them reflecting the divided state of mind which they had achieved. This picture depicts the awful moment for God and man when that aspect of God who is represented by man, goes forth to seek his path through a perilous experience.

In this picture in the Large Color Prints Blake created an image whose meaning is not easy to penetrate. For years the title given to this picture was Elijah in the Fiery Chariot. When we see the two figures as God and Adam rather than Elijah, we look for Biblical encounters between God and man to shed light on its meaning. Adam comes before God in the garden after the encounter with the serpent. The consciousness of Adam and Eve have been altered and their relationship to God disturbed.

Genesis 3
[7] Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
[8] And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
[9] But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"

In the Book of Exodus a later stage of the interaction between God and man in the Old
Testament was told as Moses was invited to meet God in the cloud on the top of the mountain. On this occasion Moses received from God the law which would guide man as a substitute for the direct guidance of the inner spirit. Notice the book in the lap of God in Blake's picture.

Exodus 24
[12] The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction."
[13] So Moses rose with his servant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.
[14] And he said to the elders, "Tarry here for us, until we come to you again; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a cause, let him go to them." [15] Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.
[16] The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
[17] Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.
[18] And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Large Color Prints
God Judging Adam 
In this image Blake reveals several aspects of encounters between God and man. We see God in a circle of fire suggesting that God is that energetic force which brings about change when change has been made possible through openings (Kairos). Some of God's energy seems to have flowed to man because the horses which pull God's chariot appear beside Adam. In Blake's myth the horses of Urizen (reason) fell into the control of Luvah (emotion) and dislocated the whole psychic structure. The opposite exchange is implied in this picture: the horses of a Urizenic God are released to man who wears 'Luvah's Robes of Blood.' 

We further notice in the picture that Adam and God have the same appearance. Adam was made in God's image; as man is changed by the Fall, God is changed too. Man has been broken by the divisions: between man and God, between man and woman, and through knowledge of good and evil. God has been broken by the retreat of man from Eden, by man's continual disobedience, and by the necessity of issuing the law to limit man's fall.

Blake tells us of the journey undertaken by man and woman in the world of time and space when their undifferentiated minds were fractured by divisions. 

Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 111)                                            
"And Tharmas Demon of the Waters, & Orc, who is Luvah

The Shadowy Female seeing Milton, howl'd in her lamentation
Over the Deeps. outstretching her Twenty seven Heavens over Albion

And thus the Shadowy Female howls in articulate howlings
For I will put on the Human Form & take the Image of God
Even Pity & Humanity but my Clothing shall be Cruelty    
And I will put on Holiness as a breastplate & as a helmet
And all my ornaments shall be of the gold of broken hearts
And the precious stones of anxiety & care & desperation & death
And repentance for sin & sorrow & punishment & fear
To defend me from thy terrors O Orc! my only beloved!            

Orc answerd. Take not the Human Form O loveliest. Take not
Terror upon thee! Behold how I am & tremble lest thou also
Consume in my Consummation; but thou maist take a Form
Female & lovely, that cannot consume in Mans consummation
Wherefore dost thou Create & Weave this Satan for a Covering[?]  
When thou attemptest to put on the Human Form, my wrath  

Burns to the top of heaven against thee in Jealousy & Fear.
Then I rend thee asunder, then I howl over thy clay & ashes
When wilt thou put on the Female Form as in times of old
With a Garment of Pity & Compassion like the Garment of God      
His garments are long sufferings for the Children of Men
Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely
Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey."

Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 151)
"Hand has absorbd all his Brethren in his might
All the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Plate 9
Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death.
His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:                   
Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
I saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion     
By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of religion:          
Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:
I saw terrified; I took the sighs & tears, & bitter groans:
I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
That lays open the hidden heart: I drew forth the pang
Of sorrow red hot: I workd it on my resolute anvil:              
I heated it in the flames of Hand, & Hyle, & Coban
Nine times; Gwendolen & Cambel & Gwineverra
Are melted into the gold, the silver, the liquid ruby,
The crysolite, the topaz, the jacinth, & every precious stone,
Loud roar my Furnaces and loud my hammer is heard:               
I labour day and night, I behold the soft affections
Condense beneath my hammer into forms of cruelty
But still I labour in hope, tho' still my tears flow down.
That he who will not defend Truth, may be compelld to defend
A Lie: that he may be snared and caught and snared and taken     
That Enthusiasm and Life may not cease: arise Spectre arise!" 
There are unintended consequences to the small steps toward a higher consciousness which man took in the garden. The work on the inner being will go through outer trials. 

Northrop Frye reminds us of how the process takes place:
"...once a man takes his mind off his own eternal Being and begins to concentrate on the world of time he is instantly kidnapped by his natural death-impulses.
...once separated from creative and imaginative ends, the instrumental becomes an end in itself, its criteria for use and value are make absolute principles, its media such as money, become more important than the things they circulate, and vast complications of tools and machines are produced out of the sheer automatic compulsion to produce them.
...What begins as a pursuit of the instrumental and mechanical for its  own sake ends in war and in a overproduction of luxurious and dangerous toys; and what begins as an intensification of moral virtue of temporal activity ends as a natural beehive society of unthinking workers, unworking drones and periodic massacres." (Fearful Symmetry, Page 294-5) 


Friday, February 14, 2014


Genesis 2
[9] And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;
[17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." 

The drama which took place in the Garden of Eden revolved around the tree which bore the fruit which if eaten would provide knowledge of Good & Evil. Without that knowledge nothing was of greater or lesser value. Thinking as Blake did that man could return to Eden at any time, this knowledge of Good & Evil became a pivotal point for him. 

As Blake worked it out, man, as a consequence of dualistic thinking, named an opposed characteristics to each entity he identified. Then he compounded his error by declaring one of the pair good and the other evil. Himself and what he preferred, he identified with the good, and the other object, person, idea or word he identified with evil. From this description it is apparent that good and evil are arbitrary. 

In the two previous posts on the Large Color Prints, the Fall of man was seen as the consequence of division: man dividing from God, then man dividing from woman. In the Good & Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child we see that the process of division has come to permeate everything. And that the divisions lead to contentions between two sides seeking dominance. To Blake the dualistic thinking which leads to the labels of good and evil is the root of the whole process of accusation, condemnation and vengeance. Brotherhood cannot come until the other is not seen as evil. 
The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child

In the Editors' Notes for this picture in the Blake Archive we read:
"The color print may also indicate the fall into the errors of the good/evil, body/soul, energy/reason dualities. The child may thus represent humanity caught between these contending oppositions."

A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 554)
                   For the Year 1810
        Additions to Blakes Catalogue of Pictures &c

     "The Last Judgment when all those are Cast away who trouble
Religion with Questions concerning Good & Evil or Eating of the
Tree of those Knowledges or Reasonings which hinder the Vision of
God turning all into a Consuming fire  Imaginative Art &
Science & all Intellectual Gifts all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
are [despisd] lookd upon as of no use & only Contention
remains to Man then the Last Judgment begins & its Vision is seen
by the [Imaginative Eye] of Every one according to the
situation he holds"

A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 562)
"Here they are no longer talking of what is Good &
Evil or of what is Right or Wrong & puzzling themselves in Satans
[Maze] Labyrinth But are Conversing with Eternal
Realities as they Exist in the Human Imagination   We are in a
World of Generation & death & this world we must cast off" 

A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 563)
 "By this it will be seen that I do not consider either the Just
or the Wicked to be in a Supreme State but to be every one of
them States of the Sleep which the Soul may fall into in its
Deadly Dreams of Good & Evil when it leaves Paradise
[with]  the Serpent" 

A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 564)
"Nothing is displeasing to God but Unbelief & Eating of the Tree
of Knowledge of Good & Evil 
 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"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Genesis 2
[21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh;
[22] and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
[23] Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones ad flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

Genesis 3
[2] And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
[3] but God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
[4] But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die.
[5] For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
[6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. 

Wikipedia Commons
Large Color Printed Paintings
Satan Exaulting Over Eve
The name Satan does not appear in the book of Genesis. Eve's tempter is the serpent. We owe to Milton's Paradise Lost much of the imagery involving Satan in the Fall. Satan is rarely mentioned in the Old Testament outside of the book of Job where he is assigned by God the role of testing Job.
In Blake's picture Satan Exaulting Over Eve we see Eve lying prone with Satan in the air above her. Satan is the active figure, armed with spear and shield, held aloft by powerful wings, surrounded by energetic flames. Eve lies sleeping with the fruit in her hand and the serpent twining her body.

To Blake the two phases of man's consciousness, the active and passive, are balanced in the unified man. When man, through Creation, is divided from the unifying principle which is God, he undergoes a further division which can be expressed as various contraries, one of which is active and passive. The passive becomes the female or emanation or outer expression. The creation of Eve implies that the Fall has already been initiated because man has been divided from his emanation.

Although we may have been taught that the Fall was an event in which Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Blake sees the Fall as the accumulation of actions which draw man farther from the unity which he experienced in Eternity. 

Damon states in A Blake Dictionary that: "the division of the Emanation from the Individual is a split in the personality, a stage in the Fall of Man, symbolized in Genesis by the extraction of Eve from the side of sleeping Adam...
The separated Emanation takes the female form, an event which horrifies the Eternals. Man is left 'a dark Spectre', of perhaps only in his Spectre's power. Worse yet, the Emanation acquires a will of her own, which by definition is turned against her consort." (Page 121)  

Spectre of Urthona speaks to Shade of Enitharmon: 
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 84, (E 359)
"This thou well rememberest listen I will tell
What thou forgettest. They in us & we in them alternate Livd
Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood. One dread morn
Listen O vision of Delight One dread morn of goary blood
The manhood was divided for the gentle passions making way
Thro the infinite labyrinths of the heart & thro the nostrils issuing
In odorous stupefaction stood before the Eyes of Man
A female bright. I stood beside my anvil dark a mass
Of iron glowd bright prepard for spades & plowshares. sudden down
I sunk with cries of blood issuing downward in the veins
Which now my rivers were become rolling in tubelike forms
Shut up within themselves descending down I sunk along,
The goary tide even to the place of seed & there dividing
I was divided in darkness & oblivion thou an infant woe
And I an infant terror in the womb of Enion
My masculine spirit scorning the frail body issud forth
From Enions brain In this deformed form leaving thee there
Till times passd over thee but still my spirit returning hoverd
And formd a Male to be a counterpart to thee O Love
Darkend & Lost In due time issuing forth from Enions womb
Thou & that demon Los wert born Ah jealousy & woe
Ah poor divided dark Urthona now a Spectre wandering
The deeps of Los the Slave of that Creation I created

I labour night & day for Los but listen thou my vision
I view futurity in thee I will bring down soft Vala
To the embraces of this terror & I will destroy
That body I created then shall we unite again in bliss"


Monday, February 10, 2014


Genesis 2
[4]These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
[5] when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up -- for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;
[6] but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground --
[7] then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
[8] And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
[9] And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Wikimedia Commons
Elohim Creating Adam
The Life of William Blake  by Alexander Gilchrist provides comments on the series of images known as The Large Color Printed Paintings and on the first image 'Elohim creating Adam':
"No two proofs were identical, as the variations of the stamped colour ever led the artist's brush into fresh inventions.
As these curious works, half printed, half painted, represent Blake's highest achievement in technique, so are they also among the mightiest of his designs.
In the grand composition, " Elohim creating Adam," he enters the lists with his life-long idol, Michael Angelo, yet avoids comparison by the complete originality of his conception.
In the "Creation" of Michael Angelo—perhaps the noblest picture the world possesses—God sweeps past upborne by Cherubim and, with a touch of His extended finger, kindles life in man.
Blake, on entirely different lines, sets before us an almost equally haunting vision.
A weary God, spent with ages of labour, broods over Adam on flagging wings. Virtue is gone out of Him and, as the great sun of the Sixth Day sinks below the newmade world, for the drawing of a breath He pauses before the final effort is made.
Michael Angelo represents the Creation of Man by the Deity. Blake shows the mystery of all Creations; the birth of anything or of everything, born of the Maker's Agony and leaving Him weary—for God rested the Seventh Day.
Beneath His hands the first man takes shape and is resolved out of the elements; a piteous, helpless creature, marl-stained and almost without form, his weak limbs wrapped about by a monstrous worm.
Beyond the two figures the golden disk of the setting sun shoots forth dark purple rays across blue tracts of sky, lighting the overhanging cloud-canopies with a dim radiance. The great wings of God are golden, tinged here and there with crimson, the colour throughout the picture is somberly magnificent."

It might be said that Blake looked at creation from the perspective of Adam and Michelangelo viewed from God's perspective. Events for Blake took place within the mind. Creation was the rending of the unity which the mind experienced before it was torn from infinity.  

Blake's first imaging of Genesis was rendered in the Book of Urizen. The overall impression of the account is of violence and pain which leads to man's isolation in a dualistic material world.  

Book of Urizen, Plate 15, (E 77)
"I. In terrors Los shrunk from his task:          
His great hammer fell from his hand:
His fires beheld, and sickening,
Hid their strong limbs in smoke.
For with noises ruinous loud;
With hurtlings & clashings & groans             
The Immortal endur'd his chains,
Tho' bound in a deadly sleep.

2. All the myriads of Eternity:
All the wisdom & joy of life:
Roll like a sea around him,                   
Except what his little orbs
Of sight by degrees unfold.

3. And now his eternal life
Like a dream was obliterated

4. Shudd'ring, the Eternal Prophet smote         
With a stroke, from his north to south region
The bellows & hammer are silent now
A nerveless silence, his prophetic voice
Siez'd; a cold solitude & dark void
The Eternal Prophet & Urizen clos'd"           

Northrop Frye provides further understanding of the nature of creation and its relationship to mankind as portrayed by Blake:

Fearful Symmetry, Page 41
"In Blake there are certain modifications in the orthodox account of the Fall. One is that as all reality is  mental, the fall of man's mind involved a corresponding fall of the physical world. Another is, that as God is Man, Blake follows some of the Gnostics and Boehme in believing that the fall of man involved a falling of part of the divine nature. Not all, for then there would there would be no imagination left to this one; but part, because it is impossible to derive a bad world from a good God, without a great deal of unconvincing special pleading and an implicit denial of the central fact of Christianity, the  identity of God and Man. The conclusion for Blake and the key to much of his symbolism, is that the fall of  man and the creation of the physical world is the same event."
Page 44
"The particular 'Giant form' or 'Eternal' to which we belong, the aggregate of spirits we call mankind or humanity and Blake calls Albion (Adam in Blake has his regular place as the symbol of the physical body or the natural man). When Albion or mankind fell, the unity of man fell too, and although our imagination tells us we belong to some larger organism even if we cannot see it as God, in the meantime we are locked up in separated opaque scattered bodies. If the whole of mankind were once more integrated in a single spiritual body the universe as we see it would burst."  


Saturday, February 8, 2014


In 1795 the creative juices were flowing so copiously in William Blake that he hadn't finished one project before he started another. The printings of illuminated books led to his creating the series of painting know as The Large Color Printed Drawings. The group is held together by their large size, in the range of dimensions of 12 to 24 inches, compared to the illuminated books whose pages were typically under 9 inches in size, sometimes only 4 or 5 inches. In addition the method of production was unusual and fairly uniform for the group. The technique was that of a monoprint, although two or three prints were made from each painted drawing created. This was facilitated by the additional work Blake put into the image after it was pulled from the painted surface which made it into a highly finished painting. 
Although the paintings are much admired, there has been little agreement on the theme which Blake intended in deciding on the subject matter of particular images. Individual pictures are associated with Shakespeare, Milton, the Old and New Testament of the Bible, and events of Blake's own time.

By arranging the series from creation to resurrection it is possible to see in the series the habitual structure of creation, fall and return which Blake discerns as the paradigm of human or spiritual development. The order I will follow in later posts is:

1. Elohim Creating Adam
2. Satan Exaulting Over Eve
3. The Good  and Evil Angels
4. God Judging Adam
5. Lamech and His Two Wives
6. Nebuchadnezzar
7. The House of Death
8. Hecate or The Night of Enitharmon's Joy
9. Newton
10. Naomi Entreating Ruth
11. Pity
12. Christ Appearing to the Apostles

Blake uses the term fresco to refer to his painting in watercolor harkening back to Michelangelo's technique on plaster.

Public Address, (E 577)
 "Fresco Painting is properly Miniature, or Enamel Painting;
every thing in Fresco is as high finished as Miniature or Enamel,
although in Works larger than Life.  The Art has been lost: I
have recovered it.  How this was done, will be told, together
with the whole Process, in a Work on Art, now in the Press.  The
ignorant Insults of Individuals will not hinder me from doing my
duty to my Art.  Fresco Painting, as it is now practised, is like
most other things, the contrary of what it pretends to be.
  The execution of my Designs, being all in Water-colours,
(that is in Fresco) are regularly refused to be exhibited by the
Royal Academy, and the British Institution has, 
this year, followed its example, and has effectually excluded me 
by this Resolution; I therefore invite those Noblemen and 
Gentlem[e]n, who are its Subscribers, to inspect what they have 
excluded: and those who have been told that my Works are
but an unscientific and irregular Eccentricity, a Madman's
Scrawls, I demand of them to do me the justice to examine before
they decide.
  There cannot be more than two or three great Painters or
Poets in any Age or Country; and these, in a corrupt state of
Society, are easily excluded, but not so easily obstructed.  They
have ex[c]luded Watercolours; it is therefore become necessary
that I should exhibit to the Public, in an Exhibition of my own,
my Designs, Painted in Watercolours.  If Italy is enriched and
made great by RAPHAEL, if MICHAEL ANGELO is its supreme glory, if
Art is the glory of a Nation, if Genius and Inspiration are the
great Origin and Bond of Society, the distinction my Works have
obtained from those who best understand such things, calls for my
Exhibition as the greatest of Duties to my Country."
May 15. 1809
                                             WILLIAM BLAKE
Yale Center for British Art
Plate 40
In The Illuminated Blake, Erdman tells us that in the right border of this plate we can see William and Catherine Blake at work creating the designs we so enjoy. "These two are Los and Enitharmon working in line and color, but in their mundane vehicles ... i.e. William and Catherine Blake...Here he is walking in the line...which his right foot sends down to Catherine's arms and feet. This leaves the poet's writing arm free while his sixfold printing arm can fill the sky with grape leaves in three color varieties and spin a tight wiery coil of communication to break past its limit...Catherine's influence turns the vine to green ribbons; a spare paintbrush with five red dipped fingers and a flower brush curls at her other side." 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Blake's series of prints know as the Large Color Printed Drawings consists of twelve designs with one to three copies of each. The print "Lamech and his Two Wives " may be less familiar than others in the series. If we look at the source for the image we begin to understand why Blake thought it important enough to be included with other images representing essential facets of his teaching.

Blake's early biographer Alexander Gilchrist, in his The Life of William Blake, found little to recommend it other than technique. Gilchrist comments:

"'Lamech and his Two Wives' as a design will, perhaps, be regarded as the least interesting of the series, but in the actual printing will be found well worthy of study. Lamech, in the centre of the picture, turns with a gesture of horror, tearing his hair as he looks upon the body of the young man he has slain. His robe is of shadowed white. Beside him his goldenhaired wives cling together, the nearer in a drapery of pale lilac, her companion in white.

They stand upon a hill-top covered with green moss, and beyond are black mountain ranges fringed with wan light which fades above into dismal storm clouds, against which the figures glare in ominous pallor." (Page 410)

The book of Genesis has short mention of Lamech but considering Blake's feeling about vengeance, significant. 

Genesis 4
[9] Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?"
[10] And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.
[11] And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
[12] When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."
[13] Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.
[14] Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me."
[15] Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.
[16] Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
[17] Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.
[18] To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad was the father of Me-hu'ja-el, and Me-hu'ja-el the father of Me-thu'sha-el, and Me-thu'sha-el the father of Lamech.
[19] And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
[20] Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle.
[21] His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.
[22] Zillah bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Na'amah.
[23] Lamech said to his wives: "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 
[24] If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold."
Genesis 6
[5] The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
[6] And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
[7] So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."

Museum Syndicate
Large Color Printed Drawings
Lamech and his Two Wives
Blake pictures the moment when Lamech reveals to his wives that he has killed a man. The anguish experienced by Lamech is seen in his face, his gestures and in his body. He has separated himself from those he loves by his act of violence. No vengeance taken against Lamech would have increased his suffering over the harm he had perpetrated. And yet he expected seventy-seven times the vengeance for his act.

This incident in Genesis takes us back to the first murder: that of Abel by Cain. God expelled Cain from his community and took away his ability to work the ground productively. But God ordered that vengeance not be taken against him. God reserved vengeance to himself. The thread of a God of vengeance permeates the Old Testament. But Jesus was sent to teach a better way. If man had a God of love revealed to replace the God of vengeance, man could grow a forgiving heart.
I Corinthians 12
[31] But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 14
[1]Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 

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:" 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


New York Public Library
Copy C, Plate 38

If any of Blake's images captures the world of generation on the brink of regeneration this may be it. This full page image without text is included as Plate 42 [38] in Blake's Milton. In The Illuminated Blake, Erdman discerns that the closest passage to illuminating the image is near the end of Jerusalem. The setting of the picture is the Sea of Time & Space with Albion resting on the Rock of Ages or Albion's rocky isle. Albion symbolizes the Eternal Man who through division has become the Fallen Man. His female counterpart is Brittannia, a name for England when she is married to Albion. When she awakes and realizes the dissension caused by her Jealousy, time comes to an end. The work of time and space in the world of generation is complete. The female is absorbed into the male. This reunion manifests in the appearance of Jesus as the incarnation of God in man.   

Milton, Plate 15 [17], (E 109)
"First Milton saw Albion upon the Rock of Ages,
Deadly pale outstretchd and snowy cold, storm coverd;
A Giant form of perfect beauty outstretchd on the rock
In solemn death: the Sea of Time & Space thunderd aloud
Against the rock, which was inwrapped with the weeds of death    
Hovering over the cold bosom, in its vortex Milton bent down
To the bosom of death, what was underneath soon seemd above.
A cloudy heaven mingled with stormy seas in loudest ruin;
But as a wintry globe descends precipitant thro' Beulah bursting,
With thunders loud and terrible: so Miltons shadow fell        
Precipitant loud thundring into the Sea of Time & Space."

 Jerusalem, Plate 94, (E 254)
"Albion cold lays on his Rock: storms & snows beat round him.
Beneath the Furnaces & the starry Wheels & the Immortal Tomb
Howling winds cover him: roaring seas dash furious against him
In the deep darkness broad lightnings glare long thunders roll

The weeds of Death inwrap his hands & feet blown incessant     
And washd incessant by the for-ever restless sea-waves foaming abroad
Upon the white Rock. England a Female Shadow as deadly damps
Of the Mines of Cornwall & Derbyshire lays upon his bosom heavy
Moved by the wind in volumes of thick cloud returning folding round
His loins & bosom unremovable by swelling storms & loud rending 
Of enraged thunders. Around them the Starry Wheels of their Giant Sons
Revolve: & over them the Furnaces of Los & the Immortal Tomb around
Erin sitting in the Tomb, to watch them unceasing night and day
And the Body of Albion was closed apart from all Nations.

Over them the famishd Eagle screams on boney Wings and around    
Them howls the Wolf of famine deep heaves the Ocean black thundering
Around the wormy Garments of Albion: then pausing in deathlike silence

Time was Finished! The Breath Divine Breathed over Albion
Beneath the Furnaces & starry Wheels and in the Immortal Tomb
And England who is Brittannia awoke from Death on Albions bosom 
She awoke pale & cold she fainted seven times on the Body of Albion

O pitious Sleep O pitious Dream! O God O God awake I have slain
In Dreams of Chastity & Moral Law I have Murdered Albion! Ah!
In Stone-henge & on London Stone & in the Oak Groves of Malden
I have Slain him in my Sleep with the Knife of the Druid O England     
O all ye Nations of the Earth behold ye the Jealous Wife
The Eagle & the Wolf & Monkey & Owl & the King & Priest were there 
Plate 95
Her voice pierc'd Albions clay cold ear. he moved upon the Rock
The Breath Divine went forth upon the morning hills, Albion mov'd
Plate 96     
As the Sun & Moon lead forward the Visions of Heaven & Earth
England who is Brittannia entered Albions bosom rejoicing

Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd"
Milton O Percival provides a key to understanding regeneration on page 218 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny:
"The process which brings into being the Christ who is to reveal the selfhood is Blake's world of experience. His own cup of wisdom had been filled at that bitter well. 'I have indeed fought thro a Hell of terrors & horrors (which none could know but myself.) in a Divided Existence now no longer Divided. nor at war with myself I shall travel on in the Strength of the Lord God as Poor Pilgrim says.' (E 758) Struggling with his artistic problems, Blake had come to the conclusion that no man can know true art until he has experienced and cast out false art. Albion's peace is dearly bought. Mankind and the individual arrive at their regeneration by the same path. 'To be an error and to be cast out is a part of God's design.'" (E 562)