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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The Songs of Innocence was completed and published while Songs of Experience was still being written. Preliminary drafts for poems of both collections can be found in Blake's Notebook (otherwise known as the Rossetti Manuscript.)

The poem which Blake most often used as the concluding song of Innocence is On Anothers Sorrow. Andrew Lincoln in William Blake, The Illuminated Books, Volume II, tells us that, "This song echoes many of the preceding poems, and elaborates some of the central themes of Innocence." 

He cites these Bible verses as inspiring Blake's imagery:

Matthew 10:29
[29] Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Revelation 7:17
[17] For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Isaiah 53:3-4
[3] He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
[4] Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

John 16:20
[20] Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

Andrew Lincoln:
"This song reveals not only the emotional appeal of this state of the soul, but also its limitations. The speaker's vision of comfort is presented in terms that seem to exclude the possibility of parental indifference, of callous disregard for suffering, or of a world where children might be chimney sweeps or slaves. The woes remain undefined, seen only in relation to the sympathy they should elicit. The vision seems to leave no room for moral outrage. For this we have to leave the state of Innocence, and enter the turbulent state of Experience." Page 170  

British Museum
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Plate 13, Copy A
Songs of Innocence, Plate 27, (E 17)
"On Anothers Sorrow 
Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear--
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small birds grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear--

And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infants tear. 

And not sit both night & day,
Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

He doth give his joy to all. 
He becomes an infant small.
He becomes a man of woe
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy maker is not by.
Think not, thou canst weep a tear,
And thy maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled & gone
He doth sit by us and moan"
Perhaps the greatest impact can be gained from the poem by reading it from an emotional point of view. Throughout the poem we are asked to look upon the sorrow of others, or empathize with those who bear the sorrows of others. It is the innocent who bear the woes, and those who love them who weep over them. Innocence does not protect the children, the parents, the birds, or the infants. The reversal of their condition must come from beyond the natural world. To Blake the source of one's comfort is given in the present by the God who is also a Man. The ever present companion who bears our grief and shares the joy of Eternity, is to  be experienced as man's difficult journey continues. 

Monday, April 28, 2014


British Museum 
Songs of Innocence & of Experience 
Plate 50, Copy T
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Plate 51, E(29) 
 "A Little GIRL Lost

 Children of the future Age,
Reading this indignant page;
Know that in a former time.
Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime. 

In the Age of Gold,
Free from winters cold:
Youth and maiden bright,
To the holy light,
Naked in the sunny beams delight.

Once a youthful pair
Fill'd with softest care:
Met in garden bright,
Where the holy light,
Had just removd the curtains of the night.

There in rising day,
On the grass they play:
Parents were afar:
Strangers came not near:
And the maiden soon forgot her fear.

Tired with kisses sweet
They agree to meet,
When the silent sleep
Waves o'er heavens deep;
And the weary tired wanderers weep.

To her father white 
Came the maiden bright:
But his loving look,
Like the holy book,
All her tender limbs with terror shook.

Ona! pale and weak!
To thy father speak:
O the trembling fear!
O the dismal care!
That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair"
In his poem from Songs of Experience named, A Little GIRL Lost, Blake asks us to look at the situation of youthful love from the perspective of three different ages: the golden age, present age and future age. He also introduces three psycho/social attitudes to the situation he presents. Before the law youthful sexual behavior may be consider a crime. Viewed by one's social group such behavior may be viewed as shameful. If such behavior is considered a violation of one's own standard by the superego, infractions produce guilt feelings.

In the age of gold everything is holy; there is no crime, shamefulness, or guilt. This is the age of complete innocence or Eden. There is no knowledge of evil or good. In Genesis this is presented as Adam and Eve not knowing that they were naked before they ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The youthful pair in the poem were not in a state of innocence because the 'curtain of night' had been lifted. They felt no shame in their playing in the grass and kissing because they were undetected by parents or strangers. There was a latent sense of guilt which produced fear but it was overcome by pleasure.

However the superego began to activate the sense of guilt when they agreed to meet under cover of darkness. With potential observers asleep the constraints of the shame of being discovered would not inhibit them. However the girl could not escape her own conscience when she was in the presence of her father and the holy book through which her superego had been developed.

The last verse is an appeal for openness. Errors and failing will lose their power to create fear and depression if they are brought into consciousness through self awareness and confession. Standards of behavior need to be examined in the light of circumstances and consequences. Blake foresees an age when love will be understood and practiced in such a way the there could be no objections to it. In the meantime Blake is appalled by the conditions which remove the joy from youth.

The ancient golden age is renewed for Luvah and Vala as Blake's Four Zoas is drawing to a conclusion with the awakening of the Eternal Man. 

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 126, (E 395)
"Luvah & Vala descended & enterd the Gates of Dark Urthona
And walkd from the hands of Urizen in the shadows of Valas Garden
Where the impressions of Despair & Hope for ever vegetate        
In flowers in fruits in fishes birds & beasts & clouds & waters
The land of doubts & shadows sweet delusions unformd hopes
They saw no more the terrible confusion of the wracking universe
They heard not saw not felt not all the terrible confusion
For in their orbed senses within closd up they wanderd at will   
And those upon the Couches viewd them in the dreams of Beulah
As they reposd from the terrible wide universal harvest
Invisible Luvah in bright clouds hoverd over Valas head
And thus their ancient golden age renewd for Luvah spoke
With voice mild from his golden Cloud upon the breath of morning 

Come forth O Vala from the grass & from the silent Dew
Rise from the dews of death for the Eternal Man is Risen

She rises among flowers & looks toward the Eastern clearness
She walks yea runs her feet are wingd on the tops of the bending grass
Her garments rejoice in the vocal wind & her hair glistens with dew    

She answerd thus Whose voice is this in the voice of the nourishing air
In the spirit of the morning awaking the Soul from its grassy bed" 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


The dream state is a mental condition which differs from others. Time consciousness is distorted. Rationality is abandoned. Inconsistencies are accepted. Each entity represents more than is stated. Emotion can overwhelm. The dream allows into consciousness hidden material. For many the dream is entry point into an experience of the imagination.

This little poem named A Dream Blake sometimes included in Songs of Innocence and sometimes he put it in Songs of Experience. He was aware of the dream state and how it could transform one's realities.     

Wikimedia CommonsOriginal in Yale Center for British Arts
Songs of Innocence
Plate 26, Copy F
Songs of Innocence, Plate 26, (E 16)
  "A Dream 
Once a dream did weave a shade,
O'er my Angel-guarded bed,
That an Emmet lost it's way
Where on grass methought I lay.

Troubled wilderd and folorn   
Dark benighted travel-worn,
Over many a tangled spray
All heart-broke I heard her say.

O my children! do they cry
Do they hear their father sigh.   
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.

Pitying I drop'd a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near:
Who replied. What wailing wight   
Calls the watchman of the night.

I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetles hum,
Little wanderer hie thee home." 

So this dream of which he wrote was of an emmet (ant), a glow-worm and a beetle. Hidden in the foliage of Blake's illumination you may find these little creatures. You will also see the London night watchman, the glow-worm in his human form carrying a lantern for light, in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Now if you look further at the words, you read of a weary traveler heart-broken as she weeps over her children. If you are as familiar with the Bible as Blake was, you may be remembering Jesus, weary from walking, as he approached Jerusalem for the last time. He heard the cry of Jerusalem's children and offered a light and a word which could lead them home.

The poem led me to thoughts of Jesus and his wanting to gather Jerusalem's children as a hen gathers her brood under he wings. From there my attention was drawn to the words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," presented as a quotation. I followed that lead to First Samuel where I read of the youthful David saying, "but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts".
Luke 13
[31] The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
[32] And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
[33] Nevertheless I must walk to day, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
[34] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
[35] Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

1 Samuel 17
[41] And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.
[42] And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.
[43] And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
[44] And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.
[45] Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
[46] This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
[47] And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands.
[48] And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
[49] And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.
[50] So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

So you can focus on the glow-worm acting as a watchman for the ant, or the London night watchman providing a light and humming sound as he patrols the dark streets of the city, or you can focus on the son of David who came into the world to enlighten every man. Blake offers a dream, and a dream state, and an opportunity to transcend ordinary consciousness and mount your own fiery chariot.
A Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 560)
  "If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy"

Here are more Biblical passages apropos for a full understanding of the poem:
John 1
[4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
[5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
[7] He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
[8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
[9] The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
[10] He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
[11] He came to his own home, and his own people received him not

Luke 19
[37] And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
[38] Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
[39] And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
[40] And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
[41] And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,

Luke 23
[26] And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
[27] And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
[28] But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


British Museum
Songs of Experience
Plate 30, Copy T 
 Songs of Experience, Plate 30, (E 18)

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees
Whose ears have heard,
The Holy Word,
That walk'd among the ancient trees.

Calling the lapsed Soul
And weeping in the evening dew:
That might controll,
The starry pole;
And fallen fallen light renew! 

O Earth O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass, 
Turn away no more:
Why wilt thou turn away
The starry floor
The watry shore
Is giv'n thee till the break of day." 
 British Museum
Songs of Experience
Plate 31, Copy T 
  Songs of Experience, Plate 30, (E 18)
"EARTH'S Answer.        

Earth rais'd up her head,
From the darkness dread & drear.
Her light fled:        
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair. 

Prison'd on watry shore
Starry jealousy does keep my tent
Cold and hoar
Weeping o'er
I hear the Father of the ancient men

Selfish father of men
Cruel jealous selfish fear 
Can delight
Chain'd in night                    
The virgins of youth and morning bear. 

Does spring hide its joy            
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower?                      
Sow by night?
Or the plowman in darkness plow? 

Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!                       
That free Love with bondage bound." 

The Introduction to Songs of Experience and Earth's Answer are closely related poems. The Bard of the Introduction is asking Earth to return: to arise from her condition of being within the watery symbols of Tharmas: 'weeping', the 'evening dew', the 'dewy grass' and the 'watery shore'. But it is not only Tharmas controlling Earth; Urizen is present too in the 'starry pole', the 'fallen light', the 'slumberous mass', and the 'starry floor'.

Earth's reply to the predicament is offered in the following poem Earth's Answer. Blake indicates the bedrock of Earth's inability to respond to the Bard's appeal for Earth to return from the status of suffering as a 'lapsed soul'. Man's instinctual nature, his Tharmas, is unable to express itself freely. The fundamental source of man's psychic energy is stifled by the prohibitions on sexual expression. 
The role that jealousy plays in in this scenario is Urizen's attempt to adopt the position of God, the single controlling authority in the psyche. Desire, the impulse to live and procreate, originates with the body. Urizen is jealous of Tharmas' access to that source of energy. Blake sees that the release of the psychic energy controlled by the instincts, or Tharmas, will open the gate through which man may begin his return to Eden.

The irony of the situation is that the chaining of 'free love' does not release the soul from bondage but prevents her escape from watery materiality. In Songs of Experience Blake continues his exploration of the consequences of the dislocation of the Four Zoas. Day cannot break until Urthona provides imaginatiion, Tharmas provides the senses, Urizen provides reason and Luvah provides emotions.

Assistance in understanding this imagery is provided by S Foster Damon in A Blake Dictionary:

"The WEST is one of the four compass-points. It is assigned to Tharmas, who symbolizes the five senses; thus the west is the body, that 'portion of the Soul discerned by the five Senses.' It is the Circumference. The strongest of the senses is Touch, which is the sexual instinct (symbolized by Enion, Tharmas' Emanation). In the healthy man, sex is counterbalanced by love (Luvah, in the East). The western Element is Water, which symbolizes matter." (Page 444)

"The EARTH is the body, or the subconscious, from which all energy comes" ( Page 113)
 Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34)
                 "The voice of the Devil
  All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
following Errors.
  1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
  2. That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
  3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
  But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
  3 Energy is Eternal Delight" 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Wikimedia Commons
Originals in Metropolitan 
The songs on the two plates of Night in Blake's Songs of Innocence offer contrasting images of the protection man receives as he passes through stages. In the first poem there is an angel who intervenes when any danger approches. The birds in their nest and the animals in their dens are as protected as a child is in his cradle. The whole ecological system cooperates to see that there is no harm or sorrow. Such unblemished innocence in the natural world is foreign to our experience.
On the second plate Blake introduces the treat to the innocent world which contains no suffering or doubt. The angel may not be able to ward off the wolf or tiger seeking prey. The angel seeks to calm the beasts not combat their violence. A new world is entered if the sheep falls prey to the tiger or wolf. The protective element in  the new world is the lion whose strength and gentleness do not fail.
Innocence does not endure, harsh experience is encountered, but beyond experience is a state where there is no separation between the lamb and the lion. Each becomes both lamb and lion and the protective element for the flock    

Isaiah 11
[6] The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
[7] And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
[8] And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
[9] They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


The appearance of Los depends on the perspective from which one looks. Los must be a destroying, cleansing force in Ulro to remove the misconceptions to which man is subject when he turns outward instead of inward. This is his status in Ulro according to Milton O Percival in William Blake's Circle of Destiny

"Man's reason has declined in Ulro to the level of dependence on sense impressions and phenomena, that is to say, upon the feminine and outward. Its inward illumination is gone, hence the opaqueness of the landscape. With  the light and warmth of fertility gone, hence the sandy desert. The Urizen who is the  'God of this world' is blind , aged and impotent. The reason he represents cannot believe beyond demonstration, and demonstration means experiment and logic; hence the Satanic mills. This reason does not cherish the 'minute particulars,' as imagination does; on the contrary it abstracts and dissipates. Under its disintegrating influence the once articulate feminine emotions are 'scattered abroad like a cloud of smoke' among the Satanic wheels. The vengeful emotions, which are dominant in Ulro, are figured in the pits of bitumen burning. Of these passions and prejudices Urizen is the rational ally. The 'iron laws, the pretenses and the hypocrisies out of which the social net is woven are to be associate with the mills of Satan and Beelzeboul which stand beside the lake of Udan Adan and round  the roots of Albion's tree. With no faith in himself or in his fellow man, with no ideas to build with except those deduced from his own identity, Urizen builds a world in which  'man is by nature the enemy of man,' a world with no principle of cohesion except mutual hatred." (Page 69)

Jerusalem, Plate 13, (E 157)
"The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell   
And there it meets Eternity again, both within and without,
And the abstract Voids between the Stars are the Satanic Wheels. 

There is the Cave; the Rock; the Tree; the Lake of Udan Adan;
The Forest, and the Marsh, and the Pits of bitumen deadly:
The Rocks of solid fire: the Ice valleys: the Plains             
Of burning sand: the rivers, cataract & Lakes of Fire:
The Islands of the fiery Lakes: the Trees of Malice: Revenge:
And black Anxiety; and the Cities of the Salamandrine men:
(But whatever is visible to the Generated Man,
Is a Creation of mercy & love, from the Satanic Void.)           
The land of darkness flamed but no light, & no repose:
The land of snows of trembling, & of iron hail incessant:
The land of earthquakes: and the land of woven labyrinths:
The land of snares & traps & wheels & pit-falls & dire mills:
The Voids, the Solids, & the land of clouds & regions of waters:
With their inhabitants: in the Twenty-seven Heavens beneath  Beulah:
Self-righteousnesses conglomerating against the Divine Vision:
A Concave Earth wondrous, Chasmal, Abyssal, Incoherent!
Forming the Mundane Shell: above; beneath: on all sides surrounding
Golgonooza: Los walks round the walls night and day." 

Yale Center for British Arts
Plate 16
The 'mighty Demon' as Los appears to those in Ulro assumes another appearance as a Messenger to Eden. He becomes the unassuming, inconspicuous plant growing high on a rock beside a spring. We are reminded of the 'still small voice' through which God spoke to Elijah following the demonstration of God's power in the 'earthquake, wind and fire.'


Jerusalem, Plate 31 [34], (E 131) 
"Thou percievest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours! 
And none can tell how from so small a center comes such sweets 
Forgetting that within that Center Eternity expands Its ever during doors, that Og & Anak fiercely guard. 
First eer the morning breaks joy opens in the flowery bosoms 
Joy even to tears, which the Sun rising dries; first the Wild Thyme" 

Jerusalem, Plate 35 [39], (E 136) 
"The Wild Thyme is Los's Messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon 
Terrible deadly & poisonous his presence in Ulro dark 
Therefore he appears only a small Root creeping in grass 
Covering over the Rock of Odours his bright purple mantle 
Beside the Fount above the Larks nest in Golgonooza 
Luvah slept here in death & here is Luvahs empty Tomb 
Ololon sat beside this Fountain on the Rock of Odours."

1Kings 19
[11] And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
[12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
[13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?


Friday, April 18, 2014


Blake was much aware of spiritual friendship: relationships built on eternal considerations rather than material ones. He numbered Butts, Cumberland and Linnell among his spiritual friends and conversed with them on topics relating to his visionary experience. William Blake A Vision: The Inspiration of the Poet
(Elisha in the Chamber on the Wall)
In an atypical picture by Blake, thought to have been produced around 1820, he pictured a  prophet who can be identified by his surroundings. The little room with its bed, table, stool and candlestick are those of Elisha, provided by a woman who recognized  him as a spiritual friend with whom she could share her material comforts. A second person is in the room with Elisha; we can assume that this is a messenger from God carrying a visionary experience to Elisha.

2 Kings 4
[8] And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
[9] And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.
[10] Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
[11] And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.

A spiritual friend is one who supports you on your spiritual journey. Blake could talk with the three men mentioned above about his visions, his failures and setbacks, his openings to the light, and the direction the Imagination was leading him. The relationship was reciprocal, Blake gave these men encouragement and enlarged their abilities to perceive the immortal, invisible world which was so available to him. 

Descriptive Catalog, (E 535)
Sir Jeffery Chaucer and the nine and twenty Pilgrims on
their journey to Canterbury.

"The principal figure in the next groupe, is the Good 
Parson; an Apostle, a real Messenger of Heaven, sent in every 
age for its light and its warmth.  This man is beloved and 
venerated by all, and neglected by all: He serves all, and is 
served by none; he is, according to Christ's definition, the 
greatest of his age.  Yet he is a Poor Parson of a town.  Read 
Chaucer's description of the Good Parson, and bow the head and 
the knee to him, who, in every age sends us such a burning and a 
shining light.  Search O ye rich and powerful, for these men and 
obey their counsel, then shall the golden age return: But 
alas! you will not easily distinguish him from the Friar or the 
Pardoner, they also are "full solemn men," and their counsel, you 
will continue to follow."
Letters, (E 703)
"Mr Cumberland, Bishopsgate, Windsor Great Park

Hercules Buildings, Lambeth. Augst 26. 1799
Dear Cumberland

"Pray let me intreat you to persevere in your Designing it is
the only source of Pleasure   all your other pleasures depend
upon It.  It is the Tree Your Pleasures are the Fruit.  Your
Inventions of Intellectual Visions are the Stamina of every thing
you value.  Go on if not for your own sake yet for ours who love
& admire your works. but above all For the Sake of the Arts.  Do
not throw aside for any long time the honour intended you by
Nature to revive the Greek workmanship.  I study your outlines as
usual just as if they were antiques.
     As to Myself about whom you are so kindly Interested.  I
live by Miracle.  I am Painting small Pictures from the Bible.
For as to Engraving in which art I cannot reproach myself with
any neglect yet I am laid by in a corner as if I did not Exist &
Since my Youngs Night Thoughts have been publishd Even Johnson &
Fuseli have discarded my Graver.  But as I know that He who Works
& has his health cannot starve.  I laugh at Fortune & Go on &
on.  I think I foresee better Things than I have ever seen.  My
Work pleases my employer & I have an order for Fifty small
Pictures at One Guinea each which is Something better than mere
copying after another artist.  But above all I feel myself happy
& contented let what will come having passed now near twenty
years in ups & downs I am used to them & perhaps a little
practise in them may turn out to benefit.  It is now Exactly
Twenty years since I was upon the ocean of business & Tho I laugh
at Fortune I am perswaded that She Alone is the Governor of
Worldly Riches. & when it is Fit She will call on me till then I
wait with Patience in hopes that She is busied among my Friends.
     With Mine & My Wifes best compliments to Mr Cumberland
I remain
Yours sincerely

Letters, (E 781)
"Mr Linnell, Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
[February 1827]
Dear Sir
     I thank you for the Five Pounds recievd to Day am getting
better every Morning but slowly. as I am still feeble &
tottering. tho all the Symptoms of
my complaint seem almost gone as the fine weather is very
beneficial & comfortable to me I go on as I think improving my
Engravings of Dante more & more & shall soon get Proofs of these
Four which I have & beg the favor of you to send me the two
Plates of Dante which you have that I may finish them
sufficiently to make some Shew of Colour & Strength
     I have Thought & Thought of the Removal. & cannot get my
Mind out of a State of terrible fear at such a step. the more I
think the more I feel terror at what I wishd at first & thought
it a thing of benefit & Good hope you will attribute it to its
right Cause Intellectual Peculiarity that must be Myself alone
shut up in Myself or Reduced to Nothing.  I could tell you of
Visions & dreams upon the Subject I have asked & intreated Divine
help but fear continues upon me & I must relinquish the step that
I had wished to take & still wish but in vain
     Your Success in your Profession is above all things to me
most gratifying. may it go on to the Perfection you wish & more
So wishes also Yours Sincerely

Letters, (E 728)
"Mr Butts, Grt Marlborough Street
Felpham April 25: 1803
My Dear Sir
 And now My Dear Sir Congratulate me on my return to London
with the full approbation of Mr Hayley & with Promise--But Alas!
     Now I may say to you what perhaps I should not dare to say
to any one else.  That I can alone carry on my visionary studies
in London unannoyd & that I may converse with my friends in
Eternity.  See Visions, Dream Dreams, & prophecy & speak Parables
unobserv'd & at liberty from the Doubts of other Mortals. perhaps
Doubts proceeding from Kindness. but Doubts are always pernicious
Especially when we Doubt our Friends Christ is very decided on
this Point.  "He who is Not With Me is Against Me" There is no
Medium or Middle state & if a Man is the Enemy of my Spiritual
Life while he pretends to be the Friend of my Corporeal. he is a
Real Enemy--but the Man may be the friend of my Spiritual Life
while he seems the Enemy of my Corporeal but Not Vice Versa
 I rejoice & I tremble "I am fearfully & wonderfully made".  I had
been reading the cxxxix Psalm a little before your Letter
Psalms 139
[12] Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
[14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
[15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
[16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Spiritual friends know one another as the Psalmist was aware that he was known by God. Spiritual friends share the knowledge that the essence of each has always been with God and is known by God in every particular. They know that their lives have been written by God to be joined in an exchange deeper than the accidents of time and place.

Ian Mulder, the friend to whom I am indebted for producing my Divine Economy blog as an e-book, has now issued an e-book of his own work: Wayfaring. You will find that his observations, and recollections stimulated by his walks near his home in Buckinghamshire, England reveal a world infused with light.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The prophet Elisha is not mentioned by name by Blake. However an experience of Elisha is a prototype of the awakening of Albion. We are signaled of this connection by the words 'he sneezed seven times' as Albion began to wake. The incident narrated in Second Kings tells of Elisha restoring life to a child by stretching his warm body on the cold body of the lifeless child. Albion begins to return to life when the 'limit of contraction' was fixed.

2 Kings 4
[31] Geha'zi went on ahead and laid the staff upon the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him, and told him, "The child has not awaked."
[32] When Eli'sha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed.
[33] So he went in and shut the door upon the two of them, and prayed to the LORD.
[34] Then he went up and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm.
[35] Then he got up again, and walked once to and fro in the house, and went up, and stretched himself upon him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
[36] Then he summoned Geha'zi and said, "Call this Shu'nammite." So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, "Take up your son."
[37] She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took up her son and went out.  

Blake provide two contrasting word pictures of Albion lying on his 'couch of death.' From his appearance to the natural eye Blake describes a corpse on a rock in the midst of watery materiality. To the spiritual eye the scene is of angels hovering over a sleeping man.

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 99, (E 371)
"Then All in Great Eternity Met in the Council of God           
as one Man Even Jesus upon Gilead & Hermon                     
Upon the Limit of Contraction to create the fallen Man
The Fallen Man stretchd like a Corse upon the oozy Rock        
Washd with the tides Pale overgrown with weeds    

That movd with horrible dreams hovring high over his head
Two winged immortal shapes one standing at his feet
Toward the East one standing at his head toward the west
Their wings joind in the Zenith over head                 
Such is a Vision of All Beulah hovring over the Sleeper     

The limit of Contraction now was fixd & Man began
To wake upon the Couch of Death   he sneezed seven times
A tear of blood dropped from either eye again he reposd
In the saviours arms, in the arms of tender mercy & loving kindness 
Then Los said I behold the Divine Vision thro the broken Gates 
Of thy poor broken heart astonishd melted into Compassion & Love
And Enitharmon said I see the Lamb of God upon Mount Zion      
Wondring with love & Awe they felt the divine hand upon them"   
Closer attention to the angels that Blake describes, reveals that these are the angels or cherubim whose place is above the mercy seat resting on the Ark of the Covenant. Blake is intimating that the mercy through which Albion awoke was provided by God as an eternal connection between God and man.    

Exodus 25
[1]The LORD said to Moses,
[16] And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.
[17] Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth.
[18] And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.
[19] Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends.
[20] The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.
[21] And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.
[22] There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

william-blake.orgThe Angels hovering over the body of 
Christ in the Sepulchre
Original in Victoria & Albert Museum

When Blake pictured the body of Christ in the sepuchure he replicated the image he had in his mind of the cherubim at the mercy seat and of the angels hovering over the body of Albion.   

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E 106) "The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet 
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour. 
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine 
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live. 
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death. 
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."

Monday, April 14, 2014


Although we are first struck by the resemblance of the motif of sleep in the myth of King Arthur and Blake's myth of Albion, there is another remarkable  correspondence. The female characters in the myth of Arthur are the source of much of the difficulties which destroy the kingdom. Arthur's queen Guenevere proves to be unfaithful to him. His half sister Morgan, together with her son lead the rebellion which results in the end of the fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table. Merlin loses his freedom and power to the woman who was his protege. Furthermore the motif of the virginal maiden who exercises dominion over and requires devotion from her knight is prominent in the story.

We see in Enitharmon, Vala and Enion the same characteristics displayed in the women of Camelot. Enitharmon, as the queen of heaven is most like Guenevere, queen of Camelot. They both turn from their own men to others. Enitharmon aligns herself with Urizen or the Spectre. Guenevere chooses Arthur's 'best knight' as her paramour. Each woman rules in a world where the characteristics of the female are designed to undermine the role which the male should play.
Vala like Morgan is bent on obscuring and subverting the culmination of the possibility for achieving the unifying vision.

Enion like Nimue prevents the vision of wholeness from being revealed by withdrawing and fleeing.

Yale Center for British ArtJerusalem
Plate 54

Blake is speaking of more than the unpleasantness that results when men allow themselves to serve bossy women, he is writing about the consequences of the active, inner, spiritual principle becoming subservient to the passive, outer, material principle. 

Here is the situation as presented in William Blake's Circle of Destiny by Milton O Percival:

"It is easy to see, then, how great is the violence done to the divine plan when man, in his impiety, begins to reason about his apparently dual self and sets the feminine contrary above the masculine - the emanation above its spiritual source...The principles of life are thrown into reverse. The effect is taken as the cause. The emotional life takes precedence over the intellectual life. Beulah sets itself up as Eden. When this happens Eden and Beulah are both lost, and the sexual  strife of the sundered contraries is set up in Ulro. The struggle in Ulro takes many forms. It the emotions threatening to engulf the intelligence. It is outward nature threatening to extinguish the inner light. It is conventional technique warring against original genius. It is the moral ideal of a passive rather than an active good. In brief, the division is fourfold - of the head, heart, loins, and body, with all they imply." (Page 95)

Jerusalem, Plate 64, (E 215)
"Of the Mundane Shell which froze on all sides round Canaan on
The vast Expanse: where the Daughters of Albion Weave the Web
Of Ages & Generations, folding & unfolding it, like a Veil of Cherubim
And sometimes it touches the Earths summits, & sometimes spreads
Abroad into the Indefinite Spectre, who is the Rational Power. 
Then All the Daughters of Albion became One before Los: even Vala!
And she put forth her hand upon the Looms in dreadful howlings
Till she vegetated into a hungry Stomach & a devouring Tongue.
Her Hand is a Court of Justice, her Feet: two Armies in Battle
Storms & Pestilence: in her Locks: & in her Loins Earthquake.    
And Fire. & the Ruin of Cities & Nations & Families & Tongues

She cries: The Human is but a Worm, & thou O Male: Thou art
Thyself Female, a Male: a breeder of Seed: a Son & Husband: & Lo.
The Human Divine is Womans Shadow, a Vapor in the summers heat
Go assume Papal dignity thou Spectre, thou Male Harlot! Arthur   
Divide into the Kings of Europe in times remote O Woman-born
And Woman-nourishd & Woman-educated & Woman-scorn'd!

Wherefore art thou living? said Los, & Man cannot live in thy presence
Art thou Vala the Wife of Albion O thou lovely Daughter of Luvah
All Quarrels arise from Reasoning. the secret Murder, and        
The violent Man-slaughter. these are the Spectres double Cave
The Sexual Death living on accusation of Sin & judgment
To freeze Love & Innocence into the gold & silver of the Merchant
Without Forgiveness of Sin Love is Itself Eternal Death

Then the Spectre drew Vala into his bosom magnificent terrific"  
Jerusalem, Plate 88, (E 246)
"For Man cannot unite with Man but by their Emanations 
Which stand both Male & Female at the Gates of each Humanity
How then can I ever again be united as Man with Man
While thou my Emanation refusest my Fibres of dominion.
When Souls mingle & join thro all the Fibres of Brotherhood
Can there be any secret joy on Earth greater than this? 

Enitharmon answerd: This is Womans World, nor need she any
Spectre to defend her from Man. I will Create secret places
And the masculine names of the places Merlin & Arthur.
A triple Female Tabernacle for Moral Law I weave
That he who loves Jesus may loathe terrified Female love  
Till God himself become a Male subservient to the Female.

She spoke in scorn & jealousy, alternate torments; and
So speaking she sat down on Sussex shore singing lulling
Cadences, & playing in sweet intoxication among the glistening
Fibres of Los:" 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


British Museum
Plate 19

Descriptive Catalog, (E 543) 

"The giant Albion, was Patriarch of the Atlantic, he is the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world in the dark age, which the Romans never again recovered."

The mythology which is formative for the British is the Legend of King Arthur. Kathleen Raine's chapter The Sleep of Albion, in her book Golgonooza: City of Imagination connects King Arthur and Blake's Albion.
"Above all the Matter of Britain centres about a fifth-century, Romanized British king or warleader, King Arthur, his chivalry, his court at Camelot, his round table, and the mysterious sanctity, neither wholly Christian nor wholly pagan, of the  Holy Grail and its Quest." (Page 161)

"And finally there is the legend of Arthur's death-sleep, somewhere in a secret cave where, with his knights around him, he awaits the time when he will return to restore just rule to his kingdom and to repel its enemies." (Page 163)

"The unfamiliar supernatural figures are those 'gods' or archetypal energies Blake discerned within the national collective life; and the central figure, whose inner drama is the theme of the whole drama is 'the Giant Albion', the collective person, so to speak, of the nation...Albion  is the sleeping 'giant' (not a king, for the 'giant' is not one man but a nation) for whose re-awakening  the 'four Zoas' and the other persons of the myth, labor." (Page 167)

"Blake was versed in the Arthurian literature and traditions and it is plain that the Sleeping Arthur is the model of  the majestic sleeping form of the Giant Albion." (Page 167)

"But the 'sleep' of the Giant Albion is conceived by Blake not as the mere passage of time but as a state of apathy, of lowering of consciousness, of forgetfulness of higher things." (Page 171)

"Albion's state of 'eternal death' therefore is seen not in terms of some comfortable remote myth but clearly and precisely identified as the materialist ideology to which the West has succumbed." (Page 175)

Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203)
"But the Spectre like a hoar frost & a Mildew rose over Albion    
Saying, I am God O Sons of Men! I am your Rational Power!
Am I not Bacon & Newton & Locke who teach Humility to Man!
Who teach Doubt & Experiment & my two Wings Voltaire: Rousseau.
Where is that Friend of Sinners! that Rebel against my Laws!

Who teaches Belief to the Nations, & an unknown Eternal Life     
Come hither into the Desart & turn these stones to bread.
Vain foolish Man! wilt thou believe without Experiment?
And build a World of Phantasy upon my Great Abyss!
A World of Shapes in craving Lust & devouring appetite

So spoke the hard cold constrictive Spectre he is named Arthur   
Constricting into Druid Rocks round Canaan Agag & Aram & Pharoh

Then Albion drew England into his bosom in groans & tears
But she stretchd out her starry Night in Spaces against him. like
A long Serpent, in the Abyss of the Spectre which augmented
The Night with Dragon wings coverd with stars & in the Wings     
Jerusalem & Vala appeard: & above between the Wings magnificent
The Divine Vision dimly appeard in clouds of blood weeping."  

Arthur is not a hero to Blake but a state through which man travels; a stage of development which is demolished when man reaches the subsequent stage of development. The Spectre, man's rational power is here named Arthur perhaps in response to Arthur's failure to achieve the Holy Grail. Blake continues his list of British Royalty who created an empire through military, political and economic power but failed to give their people the liberty to develop their inner lives. To Blake it is the prophets and poets who create the conditions in which man's humanity can reach fruition.
Jerusalem, Plate 73, (E 228)    
"Voltaire insinuates that these Limits are the cruel work of God
Mocking the Remover of Limits & the Resurrection of the Dead     
Setting up Kings in wrath: in holiness of Natural Religion
Which Los with his mighty Hammer demolishes time on time
In miracles & wonders in the Four-fold Desart of Albion
Permanently Creating to be in Time Reveald & Demolishd
Satan Cain Tubal Nimrod Pharoh Priam Bladud Belin                
Arthur Alfred the Norman Conqueror Richard John
[Edward Henry Elizabeth James Charles William George]
And all the Kings & Nobles of the Earth & all their Glories
These are Created by Rahab & Tirzah in Ulro: but around

These, to preserve them from Eternal Death Los Creates           
Adam Noah Abraham Moses Samuel David Ezekiel
[Pythagoras Socrates Euripedes Virgil Dante Milton]  
Dissipating the rocky forms of Death, by his thunderous Hammer
As the Pilgrim passes while the Country permanent remains
So Men pass on: but States remain permanent for ever"       

Wikimedia and Yale Center for British Arts

Thursday, April 10, 2014


There is a passage in Jerusalem in we are introduced to Albion's Reactor without any preparation for his introduction. The passage is spoken by the Voice Divine, a term which is used only once in Blake's poetry. Blake uses this voice to speak of man's inability to recognize what is happening because of the limitations of his perspective.
Wikimedia Commons
Plate 26, Copy A
British Museum
But the Divine Voice knows the plan that was envisioned for mankind and how it was subverted by one aspect withdrawing from the unity. Because mankind is within creation he is unable to see the whole picture or recognize the force which is acting against the reunification of the Divine Humanity. Although the Reactor is not identified by the Divine Voice, we know that one of his names is Satan. He acts against: against receiving the Divine Vision; against reconciling the contraries; against enjoying the liberty which flows from exercising the Divine Arts of Imagination.
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E231)
"I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination." 
 Jerusalem, Plate 43, (E 191)
"And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion    

I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy.
The Reactor hath hid himself thro envy. I behold him.
But you cannot behold him till he be reveald in his System       
Albions Reactor must have a Place prepard: Albion must Sleep
The Sleep of Death, till the Man of Sin & Repentance be reveald.
Hidden in Albions Forests he lurks: he admits of no Reply
From Albion: but hath founded his Reaction into a Law
Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man[.]     
He hath compelld Albion to become a Punisher & hath possessd
Himself of Albions Forests & Wilds! and Jerusalem is taken!
The City of the Woods in the Forest of Ephratah is taken!
London is a stone of her ruins; Oxford is the dust of her walls!
Sussex & Kent are her scatterd garments: Ireland her holy place! 
And the murderd bodies of her little ones are Scotland and Wales
The Cities of the Nations are the smoke of her consummation
The Nations are her dust! ground by the chariot wheels
Of her lordly conquerors, her palaces levelld with the dust
I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return      
Fear not O little Flock I come! Albion shall rise again.

So saying, the mild Sun inclosd the Human Family."

Minna Doskow, in William Blake's Jerusalem, gives this insight into Satan as an "erroneous cognitive concept or 'self-delusion'":

"The Divine Voice also supplies the imaginative view of Albion's separation from his Spectre Satan. First, he differentiates Satan's negativity from Albion's sleep, exemplifying the difference between a state and an individual within that state, and second, he shows how Albion's malfunctioning mind produces Satan, who absorbs and dominates him, exemplifying the difference between the creation and its creator. As pure negativity, Satan is the 'reactor' who can only oppose and deny like the Spector of Albion's sons in chapter 1. He also tries to destroy what is positive and grounds 'his Reaction into a law/Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man'. As negativity, Satan lacks independent concrete existence, so he establishes Albion's historical institutionalized religion in order to achieve such existence...Satan, however, unknowingly serves eternal purposes in his actions (as Los's Spectre does too), for negativity must first become concrete in order to be exposed and abolished. Satan must 'be revealed in his system', which is Albion's religion with its codes and laws before exiled humanity can return to its divinity...Falsehood must be embodied before it can be recognized as error and corrected. This is the constant imaginative truth which unifies all of existence, true of religious as well as rational error."  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Los, the Imagination, carries his globe of fire to provide light and energy to the intuitive mind which discerns the spiritual dimension. Urizen is likewise endowed with a globe of fire so that the mind might reason and understand through the intellect. No light is brighter than that of the Eternal Urizen before the fall. The role of reason is preeminent until Urizen, the Prince of Light, refuses to accept the role of guide to the newly created man.

British Museum
Small Book of Designs
Plate 7, Copy A
From Plate 22, Book of Urizen

Urizen continues to carry his globe of fire after his fall into the dark abyss. His fate is to explore with a dim light which leads him into erroneous pathways. He substitutes his books of descriptions and laws for his faith in the ever expanding light.

It was Blake's belief that if man's ability to reason led him to depend on his own powers to give structure and meaning to the world, he was sorely deceived. Reason is capable of discerning and manipulating the finite and material; Intuition or Imagination sees the Infinite and Eternal 
There is No Natural Religion, (E 2)
  "I  Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he
percieves more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover.
  II  Reason or the ratio of all we have already known. is not
the same that it shall be when we know more.
     Application.   He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God.  He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Book of  Urizen, Plate 20, (E 81)
"1. Urizen explor'd his dens
Mountain, moor, & wilderness,
With a globe of fire lighting his journey
A fearful journey, annoy'd
By cruel enormities: forms                                       
Plate 23
Of life on his forsaken mountains"

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 23,(E 313)
"Rising upon his Couch of Death Albion beheld his Sons
Turning his Eyes outward to Self. losing the Divine Vision
Albion calld Urizen & said. Behold these sickning Spheres  
Whence is this Voice of Enion that soundeth in my Porches  
Take thou possession! take this Scepter! go forth in my might    
For I am weary, & must sleep in the dark sleep of Death
Thy brother Luvah hath smitten me but pity thou his youth
Tho thou hast not pitid my Age   O Urizen Prince of Light"

Four Zoas, Night VI, Page 70, (E 346)
"Los brooded on the darkness. nor saw Urizen with a Globe of fire
Lighting his dismal journey thro the pathless world of death

Writing in bitter tears & groans in books of iron & brass
The enormous wonders of the Abysses once his brightest joy

For Urizen beheld the terrors of the Abyss wandring among        
The ruind spirits once his children & the children of Luvah
Scard at the sound of their own sigh that seems to shake the immense
They wander Moping in their heart a Sun a Dreary moon
A Universe of fiery constellations in their brain
An Earth of wintry woe beneath their feet & round their loins  
Waters or winds or clouds or brooding lightnings & pestilential plagues
Beyond the bounds of their own self their senses cannot penetrate
As the tree knows not what is outside of its leaves & bark
And yet it drinks the summer joy & fears the winter sorrow
So in the regions of the grave none knows his dark compeer       
Tho he partakes of his dire woes & mutual returns the pang
The throb the dolor the convulsion in soul sickening woes"

Brian Wilke and Mary Lynn Johnson comment on Urizen's Globe of Fire in their book Blake's Four Zoas, The Design of a Dream:
" By the light of his 'Globe of F
ire' - common daylight, which is all that remains of his brilliant intelligence - Urizen surveys his accursed universe, an 'Ab
yss' of dissociated entities, and he methodically records his observations in books of iron and brass." (Page 128)

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Wikimedia Commons Jerusalem
Frontispiece, Copy B 
Los is forever entering the door of the dark underground carrying his illumination. He enters the interior of Albion and finds the expressions of his Divine Humanity distorted by a hidden influence. In this passage the light of his globe of fire reveals a hardening of the minute particulars into grains of sand. No action that Los can take can remove the damage he sees.

He sees that the problems he encounters are connected to the exercise of the moral law which hardens men against their brothers. The moral law is a system which sustains itself by allowing vengeance in return for offenses. Reaction to the system involves one in the system which is the source of the damage.

Los with his globe of fire must continue his journey through the dark places making known the disastrous consequence that man inflicts upon himself by turning against the Divine Vision. 
Jerusalem, Plate 44 [30], (E 194)
"So Los in lamentations followd Albion, Albion coverd, 
Plate 45 [31]
His western heaven with rocky clouds of death & despair.

Fearing that Albion should turn his back against the Divine Vision
Los took his globe of fire to search the interiors of Albions
Bosom, in all the terrors of friendship, entering the caves
Of despair & death, to search the tempters out, walking among 
Albions rocks & precipices! caves of solitude & dark despair,
And saw every Minute Particular of Albion degraded & murderd
But saw not by whom; they were hidden within in the minute particulars
Of which they had possessd themselves; and there they take up
The articulations of a mans soul, and laughing throw it down   
Into the frame, then knock it out upon the plank, & souls are bak'd
In bricks to build the pyramids of Heber & Terah. 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

What shall I do! what could I do, if I could find these Criminals
I could not dare to take vengeance; for all things are so constructed    
And builded by the Divine hand, that the sinner shall always escape,
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:"  
Hebrews 4 
[12] For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
[13] And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.