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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Yale Center for British Art Book of Urizen
Plate 4, copy C
In Blake and Tradition, Kathleen Raine's chapter The Shadowy Female traced similarities of Blake's Vala and traditional representations of the shadowy or veiled female from Isis to Boehme's Aurora. Raine demonstrates that Blake was in the mainstream of literature which conveys eternal truth through symbolic language. Blake like Raine immersed himself in the esoteric tradition which built, over aeons, a language of symbols to covey the meaning for which the soul hungers. 


These quotes from Raine and the passages she cited in Blake give a flavor of Blake's use of the traditional images in his poetry:
Blake and Tradition, Vol 2, Page 181
"Vala likewise, becomes the object of the love of the Eternal Man when he sinks into the sleep, or death, from eternity. He falls in love with phenomenal appearances, the 'delusions of Vala,' and from this follows every evil of the Fall and Urizen's immense and fruitless labors to order a world which is essentially unreal."

Jerusalem, Plate 83, (E 241)
"According as they weave the little embryon nerves & veins     
The Eye, the little Nostrils, & the delicate Tongue & Ears
Of labyrinthine intricacy: so shall they fold the World
That whatever is seen upon the Mundane Shell, the same
Be seen upon the Fluctuating Earth woven by the Sisters.

And sometimes the Earth shall roll in the Abyss & sometimes 
Stand in the Center & sometimes stretch flat in the Expanse,
According to the will of the lovely Daughters of Albion.
Sometimes it shall assimilate with mighty Golgonooza:
Touching its summits: & sometimes divided roll apart.
As a beautiful Veil so these Females shall fold & unfold      
According to their will the outside surface of the Earth
An outside shadowy Surface superadded to the real Surface;
Which is unchangeable for ever & ever Amen: so be it!
Page 183
"As the veil deludes the fallen man, so he takes a hand in the weaving of it, realizing the horrible nightmare he creates - profane cities:

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 191)
"Till Norwood & Finchley & Blackheath & Hounslow, coverd the whole Earth.
This is the Net & Veil of Vala, among the Souls of the Dead."
Page 184
"The veil is also a net that catches the souls that have sunk into the waters of materialism; for it is these who are ensnared by the seeming substantiality of appearances:

Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 208) 
"For the Veil of Vala which Albion cast into the Atlantic Deep
To catch the Souls of the Dead: began to Vegetate & Petrify
Around the Earth of Albion. among the Roots of his Tree"
Page 184
"We are here reminded of the genesis of the veil of Enion's 'filmy woof' in the sea of matter; but this passage continues:

Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 208) 
"Thus in process of time it became the beautiful Mundane Shell,
The Habitation of the Spectres of the Dead & the Place
Of Redemption & of awaking again into Eternity"
Page 185
"Frozen, the 'fluctuating' veil of appearance become solid and substantial, until release comes when 'I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell.' The dead dwell in the 'Veil,' because thy dwell in the illusory world of phenomenal appearances. This rending has something of the awful significance of the rending of the veil of the Temple on the day of the Crucifixion, when Mystery was at an end in the triumph of Christ.

THE GATES of PARADISE, For The Sexes, The Keys, (E 268 )
"6    I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell   
     When weary Man enters his Cave
     He meets his Saviour in the Grave"

The veil which we weave is the outer world of experience which is assigned to be the substantial or real world. It replaces the mind or soul from which it is derived. Our eternal nature falls in love with the productions of time. The veil assumes an independent existence uncontrolled by the mind which was its origin. The mind allows the veil to perpetuate itself, leading to consequences which seem alien to the mind. The veil becomes more distant from its origin in the mind until it assumes the title of objective reality. Each stage if its development tightens the snare of the materialistic outlook. The situation is not resolved until the grip of the phenomenal world on the Eternal Man is relaxed.

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 137, (E 405)
"Urthona calld his Sons around him Tharmas calld his sons
Numrous. they took the wine they separated the Lees
And Luvah was put for dung on the ground by the Sons of Tharmas & Urthona
They formed heavens of sweetest wo[o]d[s] of gold & silver & ivory 
Of glass & precious stones They loaded all the waggons of heaven
And took away the wine of ages with solemn songs & joy

Luvah & Vala woke & all the sons & daughters of Luvah
Awoke they wept to one another & they reascended
To the Eternal Man in woe he cast them wailing into              
The world of shadows thro the air till winter is over & gone

But the Human Wine stood wondering in all their delightful Expanses
The Elements subside the heavens rolld on with vocal harmony

Then Los who is Urthona rose in all his regenerate power"

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