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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

UNLESS I DIE

British Museum
Illustrations to Blair's The Grave
Death's Door
Thoughts are nobody's property. The are among the archetypal realities that exist in the realm of Eternity. They may be passed from mind to mind, or spirit to spirit. Or they may enter the mind directly through a gate that has been opened in a receptive mind.

The idea that death and life are intertwined in a complex matrix through which we both feed and are fed, was first recorded by Heraclitus. The idea was seminal and reached the minds of a string of thinkers.

Blake found it somewhere and used it as an ingredient in the poetic expression he was creating. But with the content of the thought, he found also the paradigm for thinking in a non-rational, non-linear way which he recognized as reflecting the greater mind to which he was related.

Edwin Ellis wrote an early book containing Blake's poetry and background information together with William Butler Yeats who was a major poet in his own right. We pick up here the thread of thought from Heraclitus which had illuminated Blake, and then became an 'obsession' to Yates.

The website of the Charles Williams Society provides information on the influence of Heraclitus on Yeats and on Williams: "Yeats came across Heraclitus in 1909, when he recorded the third and fourth of those above in his Journal" 
 
[These are the two aphorisms of Heraclitus which Yeats wrote in his journal]:
"War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some
men, some bound and some free.
The immortals are mortal, the mortals immortal, each living in the others’ death
and dying in the others’ life. "

Continuing quoting from the website:
"Yeats did not publish this Journal, but the final phrase of the fragment, in the form ‘dying the other’s life, living the other’s death’, became an obsession with him in his
middle years."
"A Vision is Yeats’s book of occult wisdom. It was first published in 1925, in an
edition of 600 signed copies ‘privately printed for subscribers only’. It was therefore not
an easy book to find, and it is a testimony to [Charles] Williams’s interest in Yeats that he did obtain it, and praised it in his 1930 essay on Yeats as ‘that learned and profound work’"

"The phrase which interested him [Williams] occurs first in one of Yeats’s characteristic
discussions of gyres, those interpenetrating cones which occur only in discussions of
Yeats, but there turn up all the time. After a particularly tangled and abstruse passage we
come across: It is as though the first act of being, after creating limit, was to divide itself into male and female, each dying the other’s life living the other’s death."

In the following poem, Charles Williams uses the same phrases from Heraclitus in describing a central formulation of his thought: that humans, like Christ, are called to bear one another's burdens through 'substitution':

Taliessin Through Logres, The Region on the Summer Stars, Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis, Page 154: 

The Region of the Summer Stars 

The Founding of the Company
...
"The Company's second mode bore farhter
the labour and fruition; it exchanged the proper self
and whatever need was drew daily breath
in another's place, according to the grace of the Spirit
'dying each other's life, living each other's death'.
Terrible and lovely is the general substitution of souls
the Flesh-taking ordained for its mortal images 
in its first creation, and now Its sublime self
shows, since deigned to be dead in the sted of each man." 

Turning now to Blake's poetry we find ways he found that man and man, and man and God are related through the interplay of living and dying.


Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 27, (E 16)  
"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."

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 7, (E 36)
"The most sublime act is to set another before you."

Milton, Plate 11 [12], (E 105)
"And it was enquir'd: Why in a Great Solemn Assembly           
The Innocent should be condemn'd for the Guilty? Then an Eternal rose

Saying. If the Guilty should be condemn'd, he must be an Eternal Death
And one must die for another throughout all Eternity."

Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 155)
"Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me            
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not

So Jesus spoke! the Covering Cherub coming on in darkness
Overshadowd them & Jesus said Thus do Men in Eternity
One for another to put off by forgiveness, every sin

Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious          
Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood
I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend

Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee
And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself           
Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love:
As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death
In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood"
 
The French Revolution, Prophetic Works Unegraved, (E 294) 
"But go, merciless man! enter into the infinite labyrinth of another's brain
Ere thou measure the circle that he shall run. Go, thou cold recluse, into the fires
Of another's high flaming rich bosom, and return unconsum'd, and write laws.
If thou canst not do this, doubt thy theories, learn to consider all men as thy equals,
Thy brethren, and not as thy foot or thy hand, unless thou first fearest to hurt them."


LEARN MORE:

Charles Williams (Arthurian Poets) by Charles Williams and David L. Dodds (Aug 1991)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HERACLITUS

Milton Percival traces in Blake's work some of the influences of Heraclitus, the 5th century BC Greek philosopher. 

William Blake's Circle of Destiny, Page 48
"_ the quickening period of spring and the fallow autumn. In these two seasons are the energy and repose of the spiritual world. They bear witness to Heraclitus's doctrine of the continual alternation of the contraries. Blake expressed this in the Marriage of Heaven & Hell. 'Without contraries ,' he writes 'is no progression. 
Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.' This fundamental antimony which underlies all life and gives it its cyclic character corresponds to the sexual duality already noted in Albion and the Zoas. The energy and repose of the spiritual world are masculine and feminine. Eden, the world of energy is masculine; Beulah, the world of repose, is feminine. Together they constitute the heavenly and earthly paradise."


Page 90-91 
"Possibly Heraclitus, the reputed father of the doctrine of contraries, cannot be called a mystic. Nevertheless the mystical tradition is steeped in this doctrine. Swedenborg. Boehme, Hermes, the Gnostics, Philo, the Kabbalah - the list reads like the line of Blake's spiritual ancestry - all recognize but reconcile life's apparent duality by a mystical union of contraries.
Blake's philosophy rests squarely on this tradition." 


Page 198
"When Heraclitus declared that all thing are in a state of constant flux, and that the original fire descends from the ethereal plane through air and water to earth, and reascends, cycle-wise, through water and air to join the fire-source, he laid, without knowing it, one of the foundation stones of alchemy."
 

Perhaps the greatest debt that Blake owed to Heraclitus related to the interplay of death and life. The statement: 'We live their death, we die their life,' is attributed to Heraclitus. To Blake entry into earthly life was a death because it entailed forgetting the much richer Eternal Life that it replaced. The return to Eternity, although a return to life, required that man undergo a death to the limitations of life in time and space.    

Wikimedia Commons
Soul Hovering Over the Body
Illustrations to Blair's The Grave
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
 "Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more.  The Apostles knew of no other Gospel.  What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in
Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing
to Man? O ye Religious discountenance every one among
you who shall pretend to despise Art & Science! I call upon you
in the Name of Jesus! What is the Life of Man but Art & Science?
is it Meat & Drink? is not the Body more than Raiment? What is
Mortality but the things relating to the Body, which Dies? What
is Immortality but the things relating to the Spirit, which Lives
Eternally! What is the joy of Heaven but Improvement in the
things of the Spirit? What are the Pains of Hell but Ignorance,
Bodily Lust, Idleness & devastation of the things of the
Spirit[?]" 

Letters, 7 June 1825, (E 774)
"but perhaps & I
verily believe it Every Death is an improvement of the State of
the Departed."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

UNIVERSAL HAND

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts 
Blake gives us a key to understanding ourselves through following the development of man as he is seen from different perspectives. We are inclined to view ourselves as individuals with particular characteristics and abilities. But this is only part of the story for we get involved in routines or behaviors which thwart our movement along the path we would like to follow. Neither the particular individual, or the state through which he travels tells the complete story. There is an archetypal level of existence in which exist the eternal patterns which manifest in the lives of individuals. 

Life is so constructed that man is given guidance so that he can identify himself as an individual; he can learn to recognize the states for the transitory experiences they are; and he can perceive that ordinary experience is a reflection of the eternal, invisible, infinite world which is beyond rational knowledge.
The individual - peculiar wisdom - individuality
 
Milton, Plate 4, (E 97)   
"Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty
In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan
Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell
Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven
The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold 
If you account it Wisdom when you are angry to be silent, and
Not to shew it: I do not account that Wisdom but Folly.
Every Mans Wisdom is peculiar to his own Individ[u]ality
O Satan my youngest born, art thou not Prince of the Starry Hosts
And of the Wheels of Heaven, to turn the Mills day & night?  
Art thou not Newtons Pantocrator weaving the Woof of Locke
To Mortals thy Mills seem every thing & the Harrow of Shaddai
A scheme of Human conduct invisible & incomprehensible
Get to thy Labours at the Mills & leave me to my wrath,"

Jerusalem, Plate 54, (E 203)
"In Great Eternity, every particular Form gives forth or Emanates
Its own peculiar Light, & the Form is the Divine Vision
And the Light is his Garment This is Jerusalem in every Man
A Tent & Tabernacle of Mutual Forgiveness Male & Female Clothings.
And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion 

But Albion fell down a Rocky fragment from Eternity hurld
By his own Spectre, who is the Reasoning Power in every Man
Into his own Chaos which is the Memory between Man & Man"

All Religions are One, (E 1) 
"No man can think write or speak from his heart,
but he must intend truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from
the Poetic Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every
individual"

The states he passes through

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 210)
"Why wilt thou deface thy beauty & the beauty of thy little-ones
To please thy Idols, in the pretended chastities of Uncircumcision[?]    
Thy Sons are lovelier than Egypt or Assyria; wherefore
Dost thou blacken their beauty by a Secluded place of rest.
And a peculiar Tabernacle, to cut the integuments of beauty
Into veils of tears and sorrows O lovely Jerusalem!
They have perswaded thee to this, therefore their end shall come 
And I will lead thee thro the Wilderness in shadow of my cloud
And in my love I will lead thee, lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion.

This is the Song of the Lamb, sung by Slaves in evening time."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 131)
"And thus the Seven Angels instructed him & thus they converse.

We are not Individuals but States: Combinations of Individuals   
We were Angels of the Divine Presence: & were Druids in Annandale
Compelld to combine into Form by Satan, the Spectre of Albion,
Who made himself a God &, destroyed the Human Form Divine."

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die."

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 170) 
"Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals
     Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 171)
"But many doubted & despaird & imputed Sin & Righteousness       
To Individuals & not to States, and these Slept in Ulro."

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 189)
"here 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"

The eternal archetypes which are permanent - universality

Jerusalem, Plate 90, (E 250)
"When the Individual appropriates Universality
He divides into Male & Female: & when the Male & Female,
Appropriate Individuality, they become an Eternal Death.
Hermaphroditic worshippers of a God of cruelty & law!"   

Annotations to Watson, (E 615)
"The Bible or  Word of God, Exclusive of Conscience
or the Word of God Universal, is that Abomination which like the
Jewish ceremonies is for ever removed & henceforth every man may
converse with God & be a King & Priest in his own house" 

Jerusalem, Plate 40 [45], (E 187)
"Man is adjoind to Man by his Emanative portion:
Who is Jerusalem in every individual Man: and her
Shadow is Vala, builded by the Reasoning power in Man        
O search & see: turn your eyes inward: open O thou World
Of Love & Harmony in Man: expand thy ever lovely Gates." 

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 555)
  "The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just [as]  the Imaginative Image
returns [according to]  the seed of Contemplative
Thought the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556)
"it ought to be understood that the Persons
Moses & Abraham are not here meant but the States Signified by
those Names the Individuals being representatives or Visions of
those States as they were reveald to Mortal Man in the Series of
Divine Revelations. as they are written in the Bible these
various States I have seen in my Imagination when distant they
appear as One Man but as you approach they appear
Multitudes of Nations." 
 
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536)
"Thus the reader will observe, that
Chaucer makes every one of his characters perfect in his kind,
every one is an Antique Statue; the image of a class, and not of
an imperfect individual."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556) 
"Eternal Identity is one thing & Corporeal
Vegetation is another thing Changing Water into Wine by Jesus &
into Blood by Moses relates to Vegetable Nature also" 

Summation 

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376)
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire

Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said 
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us
Is aught but death In individual weakness sorrow & pain"    
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Friday, July 25, 2014

CHARIOT OF FIRE

The familiar lines of Blake's best known poem continue to yield stimulation to our imaginations.
Milton Plate 1,(E 95)
     "Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
     Bring me my Arrows of desire:                     
     Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
     Bring me my Chariot of fire!

     I will not cease from Mental Fight,
     Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
     Till we have built Jerusalem,                     
     In Englands green & pleasant Land."

Focusing on 'my Chariot of fire' we can have a look at Blake's use of the term in another context.

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   General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too.  Both in Art & in Life General Masses
are as Much Art as a Pasteboard Man is Human Every Man has Eyes
Nose & Mouth this Every Idiot knows but he who enters into &
discriminates most minutely the Manners & Intentions [P 83] the
[Expression] Characters in all their branches is the
alone Wise or Sensible Man & on this discrimination All Art is
founded.  I intreat then that the Spectator will attend to the
Hands & Feet to the Lineaments of the Countenances they are all 
descriptive of Character & not a line is drawn without intention
& that most discriminate & particular  much less an
Insignificant Blur or Mark> 
...
    By the side of Seth is Elijah he comprehends all the
Prophetic Characters he is seen on his fiery Chariot bowing
before the throne of the Saviour." 
Blake has derived his image of the chariot of fire from the character of Elijah in the Old Testament. Blake considers Elijah to be the prophet who best represents the prophetic character. The prophets acted as intermediaries between God and man. Through their intuitive visionary connection, the word of God was perceived through contemplation. The imagination of Blake was inspired by the account in the book of Second Kings of Elijah ascending to heaven in the whirlwind riding his chariot of fire.

2nd Kings 2
[7] Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan.
[8] Then Eli'jah took his mantle, and rolled it up, and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.
[9] When they had crossed, Eli'jah said to Eli'sha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you." And Eli'sha said, "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit."
[10] And he said, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so."
[11] And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli'jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
[12] And Eli'sha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more.Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.
[13] And he took up the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
[14] Then he took the mantle of Eli'jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Eli'jah?" And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli'sha went over.

Image from the Blake Society
Transfiguration
Jesus, too, experienced Elijah as representative of the prophetic character when he was joined by Moses (who brought the law) and Elijah (the prophet) on the mount of transfiguration. The continuity of the prophetic function, of listening to the inner voice through which God speaks and delivering the message to those with ears to hear, is passed down through the generations. Blake accepted the function of a prophet and echoed the desire of Moses that 'all the Lord's people were Prophets'.

Milton, Plate 1, (E 96) 
"Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets. Numbers XI. ch 29 v." 

Numbers 11 
[29] But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!"

Matthew 17
[1] And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.
[2] And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.
[3] And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him.
[4] And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."
[5] He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
[6] When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.   

Blake's appeal to the Lord was 'Bring me my Chariot of fire!' 

.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GOLGONOOZA

Metropolitan Museum
Angel of the Divine Presence Bringing Eve to Adam
Blake didn't intend to be pinned down to a single interpretation of his images. He developed the image Golgonooza from scratch and added layers of meaning as his imagination enriched an expanding panoramic vision.
 
Analytically we can say that Golgoonoza is:
 
>the city of art & Manufacture,
>spiritual Four-fold London eternal,
>the place where souls of the dead are given bodies,
>the internal organs of the human body,
>the printing house in Lambeth where William and Catherine produced books,
>the location of the furnaces of Los and the looms of Enitharmon,
>our own spiritual activities which contribute to the building the Kingdom of God.    

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
 "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.   
  Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more." 

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 120)
"But Golgonooza is namd Art & Manufacture by mortal men.          
In Bowlahoola Los's Anvils stand & his Furnaces rage;
Thundering the Hammers beat & the Bellows blow loud
Living self moving mourning lamenting & howling incessantly
Bowlahoola thro all its porches feels tho' too fast founded
Its pillars & porticoes to tremble at the force                  

Of mortal or immortal arm: and softly lilling flutes
Accordant with the horrid labours make sweet melody
The Bellows are the Animal Lungs: the hammers the Animal Heart
 The Furnaces the Stomach for digestion. terrible their fury" 
Milton, Plate 26 [28], (E 123)
"And every Generated Body in its inward form,
Is a garden of delight & a building of magnificence,
Built by the Sons of Los in Bowlahoola & Allamanda
And the herbs & flowers & furniture & beds & chambers
Continually woven in the Looms of Enitharmons Daughters          
In bright Cathedrons golden Dome with care & love & tears
For the various Classes of Men are all markd out determinate"

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 153)
"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

So Los, in fury & strength: in indignation & burning wrath
Shuddring the Spectre howls. his howlings terrify the night
He stamps around the Anvil, beating blows of stern despair
He curses Heaven & Earth, Day & Night & Sun & Moon               
He curses Forest Spring & River, Desart & sandy Waste
Cities & Nations, Families & Peoples, Tongues & Laws
Driven to desperation by Los's terrors & threatning fears

Los cries, Obey my voice & never deviate from my will
And I will be merciful to thee"

Commentary from Northrop Frye in Fearful Symmetry:

Page 252
"Los is the builder of the eternal form of human civilization, and is therefore a smith, a worker in metal and fire, the two great instruments of civilized life.
Page 253
"If we combine the fact that Los is a blacksmith with the fact that Orc is his medium, we get the furnace as a symbol of the natural body. On the level of a conscious will to live the hammer is the heart-beat, the bellows the lungs and the furnace the whole metabolism of a warm-blooded animal. The same is true of the risen or spiritual body, but that body is part of Golgonooza, which is conceived a huge machine shop or foundry, a vast cubicle into which the whole physical world has to be thrown before the refined gold of the New Jerusalem can emerge from it. There are seven furnaces in Los's smithy, corresponding to the Seven Eyes, and they are associated with wheels in a way which we shall explain more fully later. In them are to be found Ezekiel's 'wheels within wheels,' imaginative energy as opposed to the interlocking compulsions of nature which we see represented in physical machinery. The allusions of the finger of God touching the seventh furnace refer of course to the coming of Jesus."
 
Earlier posts with the label Golgonooza.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

BLAKE & MACDONALD II

The son of George MacDonald became an admirer of William Blake as was his father. Greville MacDonald had grown up under the influence of his imaginative father and the literary associates who visited his home. He did not however follow his father's profession but entered the field of medicine. He tried his hand a various endeavors as well, including writing a defense of William Blake's unconventional system of thought, and body of work. Aware that Blake has been considered by some of his contemporaries as 'mad', he entitled his book the Sanity of William Blake.
British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Exerpts from Sanity of William Blake, 1907: "And one remarkable point of distinction between these two classes is this : that the sane majority find the language provided for them by their country's traditions vastly in excess of their needs, while the insane minority are for ever discontent with their native tongue because of its total insufficiency to express what they feel and know, the visions they see and believe in. These, though they have the whole wealth of culture at command, are nevertheless for ever seeking and finding new forms of expression, but often only to discard them because they fail to express the truth. It is these who paint uplifting pictures the wealthy can never possess, whatever they pay for them ; who sing divine songs, as did William Blake, for fashion to laugh at ; who make wooden fiddles wail passionately, as did Joachim, whom even the quite sane applaud." ... "In what he leaves unsaid,' declared Schiller, 'I discover the master of Style.' This is very near to Blake's 'seeing through, and not with the eye.' And if style is indicated by what is left unsaid, imagination is indicated by the perception of what is not seen, and often but pointing to it, rather than telling it. So the idealist Blake discards the algebraical equation, the logical argument; and in place of them his only method of teaching is Appeal. Appeal to what? To that very consciousness in man of deeps in his existence which science has not fathomed, but which the greatest teachers touch with their poetry, their music, their paintings, and call into conscious life." ... " When thou seest an eagle thou seest a portion of genius ; lift up thy head ! " In other words, do not dare to think you can cage an eagle. It cannot be done ; for an eagle caged is but divine energy prosti- tuted to the tyranny of man ; it ceases to be a portion of genius and is become a product of constraint, and a lie to the living truth. It is life robbed of purpose. Everywhere Blake is crying the same truth in the wilder- ness, and no one hears. Life robbed of liberty to fulfil breeds pestilence : this is the key to The Daughters of Albion. The glory of all desire, of all inspiration, is its purpose ; and if you seek to restrain these tigers of fire by the " horses of instruction," they become "tigers of wrath." This is the key to the books of Los and of Urizen. And both must be opened if we would enter the disordered treasure-house of the Jeru- salem. Blake is absolutely and persistently assertive of the truth of life's purpose." ... "Reason is minister to the imagination, and must never become its master." ... "And this much must be confessed, that the more patiently we study Blake, the more clearly are we convinced of his consistency. We find, if we keep close to him as he leads us through the jungle, the abyss, the empyrean, that the path is certain to him, and that he is guided by the stars no less than by the pitfalls he would have us fathom. He has but one purpose: to lead us out of the eternal jungle of our individual warfare with death. Of the path he is sure, and in his purpose he never falters or misses the light. Nevertheless the jungle is as much the outcome of natural law as pleasant pastures; in their subjection to human purpose lies the difference. So what appears unprofitable in Blake's luxuriant imagination is but unprofitable perhaps from the point of view of our matter-of-fact utilitarian minds. He is but running wild like a child who feels that nursery restrictions are altogether immoral when judged from the standpoint of his need to live in the full vigour of delight ; who feels that he must show the wise old people how they have forgotten the glory of life."
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 6, (E 35)
  "A Memorable Fancy.                     
   As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the 
enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and
insanity. I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as
the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs
of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any
description of buildings or garments.
   When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a
flat  sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty
Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock,
with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now
percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.   
   How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
   Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"
. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BLAKE & MACDONALD

George MacDonald was an author who resonated to the same eternal strains played on the heavenly harp as did Blake.

MacDonald began his writing career in 1855 with a book of poems called Within and Without, a phrase which occurs twice in Blake's  Jerusalem. The two authors use the image of the couch of death with powerful results. In MacDonald's fantasy, Lilith, the couch of death is developed as a transitional stage in the process of regeneration. 

From MacDonald's Lilith, Chapter 7, The Cemetery:
 

"I soon perceived that we were walking along an aisle of couches, on almost every one of which, with its head to the passage, lay something asleep or dead, covered with a sheet white as snow. My soul grew silent with dread. Through aisle after aisle we went, among couches innumerable. I could see only a few of them at once, but they were on all sides, vanishing, as it seemed, in the infinite.--Was it here lay my choice of a bed? Must I go to sleep among the unwaking, with no one to rouse me? Was this the sexton's library? were these his books? Truly it was no half-way house, this chamber of the dead! 'One of the cellars I am placed to watch!' remarked Mr. Raven--in a low voice, as if fearing to disturb his silent guests. 'Much wine is set here to ripen!--But it is dark for a stranger!' he added.   

'The moon is rising; she will soon be here,' said his wife, and her clear voice, low and sweet, sounded of ancient sorrow long bidden adieu.   

Even as she spoke the moon looked in at an opening in the wall, and a thousand gleams of white responded to her shine. But not yet could I descry beginning or end of the couches. They stretched away and away, as if for all the disparted world to sleep upon. For along the far receding narrow ways, every couch stood by itself, and on each slept a lonely sleeper. I thought at first their sleep was death, but I soon saw it was something deeper still--a something I did not know."

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 135)
"Loud roll the Weights & Spindles over the whole Earth let down
On all sides round to the Four Quarters of the World, eastward on
Europe to Euphrates & Hindu, to Nile & back in Clouds
Of Death across the Atlantic to America North & South

So spake Ololon in reminiscence astonishd, but they
Could not behold Golgonooza without passing the Polypus
A wondrous journey not passable by Immortal feet, & none         
But the Divine Saviour can pass it without annihilation.
For Golgonooza cannot be seen till having passd the Polypus
It is viewed on all sides round by a Four-fold Vision
Or till you become Mortal & Vegetable in Sexuality
Then you behold its mighty Spires & Domes of ivory & gold        

And Ololon examined all the Couches of the Dead.
Even of Los & Enitharmon & all the Sons of Albion
And his Four Zoas terrified & on the verge of Death
In midst of these was Miltons Couch, & when they saw Eight
Immortal Starry-Ones, guarding the Couch in flaming fires        
They thunderous utterd all a universal groan falling down
Prostrate before the Starry Eight asking with tears forgiveness
Confessing their crime with humiliation and sorrow.

O how the Starry Eight rejoic'd to see Ololon descended!
And now that a wide road was open to Eternity,                   

By Ololons descent thro Beulah to Los & Enitharmon,

For mighty were the multitudes of Ololon, vast the extent
Of their great sway, reaching from Ulro to Eternity
Surrounding the Mundane Shell outside in its Caverns
And through Beulah. and all silent forbore to contend            
With Ololon for they saw the Lord in the Clouds of Ololon"

MacDonald paid tribute to Blake by choosing to adorn his bookplate with an image Blake created for Robert Blair's The Grave. It is no coincidence that the image MacDonald used is that of an old man giving up his earthly life and entering the door of death to be resurrected in the glorious light of day as a new man.

Blake's dedication of his illustrations to The Grave, (E 480):
"The Door of Death is made of Gold,
That Mortal Eyes cannot behold;
But, when the Mortal Eyes are clos'd,
And cold and pale the Limbs repos'd,
The Soul awakes; and, wond'ring, sees
In her mild Hand the golden Keys:
The Grave is Heaven's golden Gate,
And rich and poor around it wait;
O Shepherdess of England's Fold,
Behold this Gate of Pearl and Gold!"
Here is an essay on MacDonald's  Phantastes and Lilith by Colin Manlove.


British Museum
Illustration for Blair's The Grave
Death's Door
George MacDonald's Bookplate




Thursday, July 17, 2014

BLAKE & SOCRATES III

An extremely painful episode in Blake's life made him profoundly aware of the pressures suffered by Socrates, Jesus, early Christians, and dissenters from established religions. The means through which Blake personally encountered the accusation, trial and acquittal by the authorities of the King was a altercation with a soldier quartered a short distance from Blake's home in Felpham.
Blake included an account of the incident in a letter to his friend Thomas Butts:  

Letters, (E 732)
[To] Mr Butts, Gr Marlborough St, London
Felpham August 16. 1803
...
 I am at Present in a Bustle to defend myself against a
very unwarrantable warrant from a justice of Peace in
Chichester. which was taken out against me by a Private in Captn
Leathes's troop of 1st or Royal Dragoons for an assault &
Seditious words.  The wretched Man has terribly Perjurd himself
as has his Comrade for as to Sedition not one Word relating to
the King or Government was spoken by either him or me.  His
Enmity arises from my having turned him out of my Garden into
which he was invited as an assistant by a Gardener at work
therein, without my knowledge that he was so invited.  I desired
him as politely as was possible to go out of the Garden, he made
me an impertinent answer I insisted on his leaving the Garden he
refused I still persisted in desiring his departure he then
threatend to knock out my Eyes with many abominable imprecations
& with some contempt for my Person it affronted my foolish Pride
I therefore took him by the Elbows & pushed him before me till I
had got him out. there I intended to have left him. but he
turning about put himself into a Posture of Defiance threatening
& swearing at me.  I perhaps foolishly & perhaps not, stepped out
at the Gate & putting aside his blows took him again by the
Elbows & keeping his back to me pushed him forwards down the road
about fifty yards he all the while endeavouring to turn round &
strike me & raging & cursing which drew out several
neighbours. at length when I had got him to where he was
Quarterd. which was very quickly done. we were met at the Gate by
the Master of the house.  The Fox Inn, (who is [my] the
proprietor of my Cottage) & his wife & Daughter. & the Mans
Comrade. & several other people My Landlord compelld the Soldiers
to go in doors after many abusive threats [from the]
against me & my wife from the two Soldiers but not one word of
threat on account of Sedition was utterd at that time.  This
method of Revenge was Plann'd between them after they had got
together into the Stable.  This is the whole outline.  I have for
witnesses. The Gardener who is Hostler at the Fox & who Evidences
that to his knowledge no word of the remotest tendency to
Government or Sedition was utterd,--Our next door Neighbour a
Millers wife who saw me turn him before me down the road & saw &
heard all that happend at the Gate of the Inn who Evidences that
no Expression of threatening on account of Sedition was utterd in
the heat of their fury by either of the Dragoons. this was the
womans own remark & does high honour to her good sense as she
observes that whenever a quarrel happens the offence is always
repeated.  The Landlord of the Inn & His Wife & daughter will
Evidence the Same & will evidently prove the Comrade perjurd who
swore that he heard me  at the Gate utter Seditious words
& D--- the K--- without which perjury I could not have been
committed & I had no witness with me before the Justices who
could combat his assertion as the Gardener remaind in my Garden
all the while & he was the only person I thought necessary to
take with me.  I have been before a Bench of Justices at
Chichester this morning. but they as the Lawyer who
wrote down the Accusation told me in private are compelld by the
Military to suffer a prosecution to be enterd into altho they
must know & it is manifest that the whole is a Fabricated
Perjury.  I have been forced to find Bail.  Mr Hayley was kind
enough to come forwards & Mr Seagrave Printer at Chichester.
Mr H. in 100L & Mr S. in 50L & myself am bound in 100L for
my appearance at the Quarter Sessions which is after Michaelmass.
...
Every one here is my Evidence for Peace & Good Neighbourhood &
yet such is the present state of things this foolish accusation
must be tried in Public.
...
 This is but too just a Picture of my Present state I pray
God to keep you & all men from it & to deliver me in his own good
time.
... 
Affectionately Yours
WILLIAM BLAKE" 
Sedition, the crime of which Blake stood accused, was punishable by imprisonment or death. Blake was brought to trial in January 1804. Through the testimony of neighbors who had witnessed the incident he was found not guilty by a jury of having said 'Damn the King.'

David Erdman in Prophet Against Empire devotes several pages to examining the particulars of Blake's encounter with the law. The least that can be said about it is that it was traumatic for William and Catherine Blake:
Page 410
"Whatever we make of the coincidence of some of the dragoon's charges with some of Blake's prophetic opinions, however, the trial was an ordeal for Blake."
Page 411
"Yet the wounds made by the accusation and the inarticulate trial never completely healed."

On Plate 93 of Jerusalem Blake pictured three accusers and labeled them 'Anytus Melitus & Lycon', the names of three men who were involved in the proceedings against Socrates which led to the guilty verdict and his subsequent death. Blake connects the condemnation of Socrates to that of Jesus by pointing out that the accusers of both men thought their victims 'Pernicious' men. Blake puts himself in the category with Socrates and Jesus by picturing in the image an imaginative representation not of men involved in his trial, but the three Hunt brothers, who destroyed his reputation as an artist and imputed insanity to him through their published criticism in the Examiner. The pointing hand, seen six times in the image, was associated with the Hunts, whom Blake personified as 'Hand' in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Plate 93, (E 253)
"Anytus Melitus & Lycon thought Socrates a
Very Pernicious Man   So Caiphas thought Jesus"

Wikimedia Commons Jerusalem, Plate 93
Detail from top of Plate
The trial of Jesus:
Matthew 26
[57]Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Ca'iaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.
[58] But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
[59] Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,
[60] but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward
[61] and said, "This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.'"
[62] And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?"
[63] But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."
[64] Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
[65] Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy.
[66] What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death."

The trial of Socrates:
"The accusers of Socrates proposed the punishment of death.  In proposing death, the accusers might well have expected to counter with a proposal for exile--a punishment that probably would have satisfied both them and the jury.  Instead, Socrates audaciously proposes to the jury that he be rewarded, not punished.  According to Plato, Socrates asks the jury for free meals in the Prytaneum, a public dining hall in the center of Athens.  Socrates must have known that his proposed "punishment" would infuriate the jury.  I. F. Stone noted that "Socrates acts more like a picador trying to enrage a bull than a defendant trying to mollify a jury."  Why, then, propose a punishment guaranteed to be rejected?  The only answer, Stone and others conclude, is that Socrates was ready to die."

Read more about Blake's trial in A New Kind of Man by Michael Davis.

.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BLAKE & SOCRATES II

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
 
Blake created another picture of Socrates for Young's Night Thoughts long before he drew the visionary head for Varley. He was illustrating this passage in Part II of YOUNG’S NIGHT THOUGHTS: THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED, PART II, CONTAINING THE NATURE, PROOF, AND IMPORTANCE OF IMMORTALITY.



PREFACE, Page 187:
"Of all their heathen worthies, Socrates (it is well known) was the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed: yet this great master of temper was angry; and angry at his last hour; and angry with his friend; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? What could be the cause? The cause was for his honour; it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious, regard for immortality. For his friend asking him, with such an affectionate concern as became a friend, “where he should deposit his remains,” it was resented by Socrates, as implying a dishonourable supposition, that he could be so mean, as to have a regard for anything, even in himself, that was not immortal. 
 
This fact well considered, would make our infidels withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or make them endeavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory: and, consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impartiality; which is all I desire; and that, for their sakes: for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them. July 7, 1744."

There was no disagreement among Socrates, Young and Blake on the immortality of the soul. Young's hope was that doubters might be encouraged to perceive the truth of their immortality through his poem. In his illustrations Blake went further than Young in presenting the visionary experience which came to him not through thought or reasoning, or through second hand accounts, but which he perceived through spiritual sensation. Proof of spiritual realities through rational arguments, such as Socrates offered, were worse than useless to Blake because they inclined man to trust his Spectre instead of looking to vision.

The Spectre substitutes morality for a perception of the infinite. Jesus attempted to demonstrate that placing the law above human values did harm and not good. The law became an impediment to achieving the good which was sought. As St Paul said, "The good that I would I do not" (Romans 7:19). Blake's disagreement with Socrates was over the philosopher's affirmation that man being guided by the moral law could achieve goodness. 

Luke 6
[1] On a sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.
[2] But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath?"
[3] And Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
[4] how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?"
[5] And he said to them, "The Son of man is lord of the sabbath."
[6] On another sabbath, when he entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered.
[7] And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him.
[8] But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come and stand here." And he rose and stood there.
[9] And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?"
[10] And he looked around on them all, and said to him, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored.
[11] But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, (E 14)
Song 21 
"And there the lions ruddy eyes,
Shall flow with tears of gold:
And pitying the tender cries, 
And walking round the fold:
Saying: wrath by his meekness
And by his health, sickness,
Is driven away,
From our immortal day." 

Milton, Plate 15 [17],(E 109)
"As when a man dreams, he reflects not that his body sleeps,
Else he would wake; so seem'd he entering his Shadow: but
With him the Spirits of the Seven Angels of the Presence
Entering; they gave him still perceptions of his Sleeping Body;
Which now arose and walk'd with them in Eden, as an Eighth   
Image Divine tho' darken'd; and tho walking as one walks
In sleep; and the Seven comforted and supported him.

Like as a Polypus that vegetates beneath the deep!
They saw his Shadow vegetated underneath the Couch
Of death: for when he enterd into his Shadow: Himself:           
His real and immortal Self: was as appeard to those
Who dwell in immortality, as One sleeping on a couch
Of gold; and those in immortality gave forth their Emanations
Like Females of sweet beauty, to guard round him & to feed
His lips with food of Eden in his cold and dim repose!           

But to himself he seemd a wanderer lost in dreary night."

Milton, Plate 40 [46], (E 142)
"All that can be annihilated must be annihilated

That the Children of Jerusalem may be saved from slavery
There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary
The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries
The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal           
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination."

Jerusalem, Plate 36 [40], (E 182)
"O! how the torments of Eternal Death, waited on Man:     
And the loud-rending bars of the Creation ready to burst:
That the wide world might fly from its hinges, & the immortal mansion
Of Man, for ever be possess'd by monsters of the deeps:
And Man himself become a Fiend, wrap'd in an endless curse,
Consuming and consum'd for-ever in flames of Moral Justice.      

For had the Body of Albion fall'n down, and from its dreadful ruins
Let loose the enormous Spectre on the darkness of the deep,
At enmity with the Merciful & fill'd with devouring fire,
A nether-world must have recievd the foul enormous spirit,
Under pretence of Moral Virtue, fill'd with Revenge and Law."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BLAKE & SOCRATES

One of the visionary heads which Blake drew under the encouragement of Varley was of the Greek scholar and teacher Socrates. According to Crabb Robinson Blake felt closely akin to Socrates: 
 
"In this he seemed to explain humanly what he had done, but he at another time spoke of his paintings as being what he had seen in his visions. And when he said my visions it was in the ordinary unemphatic tone in which we speak of trivial matters that every one understands and cares nothing about. In the same tone he said repeatedly, the 'Spirit told me.' I took occasion to say—You use the same word as Socrates used. What resemblance do you suppose is there between your spirit and the spirit of Socrates?' The same as between our countenance.' He paused and added—'I was Socrates.' And then, as if correcting himself, 'A sort of brother. I must have had conversations with him. So I had with Jesus Christ. I have an obscure recollection of having been with both of them.'"


Yale Center for British Art
Visionary Head
Socrates


The reservations which Blake had about Socrates seemed to be that he presented himself as a philosopher not as a mystic. Blake could appreciate most enthusiastically one who acknowledged a debt to visionary experience as the source of his knowledge. Blake considered that philosophers dealt in abstract mental constructs rather than direct intuitive experience accessed through the imagination. To Blake morality as taught by Socrates was an impediment to spiritual development if it was not subservient to the indwelling Spirit through which man had direct and immediate access to the truth.
 

Laocoon, (E 275) 
"If Morality was Christianity Socrates was the Saviour"
Song of Los, Plate 3, (E 67)
"When Rintrah gave Abstract Philosophy to Brama in the East:
(Night spoke to the Cloud!
Lo these Human form'd spirits in smiling hipocrisy. War
Against one another; so let them War on; slaves to the eternal Elements)
Noah shrunk, beneath the waters;                                 
Abram fled in fires from Chaldea;
Moses beheld upon Mount Sinai forms of dark delusion:

To Trismegistus. Palamabron gave an abstract Law:
To Pythagoras Socrates & Plato.

Times rolled on o'er all the sons of Har, time after time        
Orc on Mount Atlas howld, chain'd down with the Chain of Jealousy
Then Oothoon hoverd over Judah & Jerusalem
And Jesus heard her voice (a man of sorrows) he recievd
A Gospel from wretched Theotormon.

The human race began to wither, for the healthy built            
Secluded places, fearing the joys of Love
And the disease'd only propagated:
So Antamon call'd up Leutha from her valleys of delight:
And to Mahomet a loose Bible gave.
But in the North, to Odin, Sotha gave a Code of War,             
Because of Diralada thinking to reclaim his joy.
Plate 4
These were the Churches: Hospitals: Castles: Palaces:
Like nets & gins & traps to catch the joys of Eternity
     And all the rest a desart;
Till like a dream Eternity was obliterated & erased."
. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

RETURN TO JERUSALEM

Metropolitan Museum of Art
metmuseum.org
The Angel Gabriel Appearing to Zacharias

Although the phrase, 'the eyes of God', occurs only once in the Old Testament, the context in which it appears, reinforces the significance Blake attached to it. When the Hebrews were released from the captivity in Babylon by Darius the Great of Persia they returned to the promised land to reestablish their culture and rebuild their temple at Jerusalem. Two of the names associated with the leadership of the Hebrews during this process were Zerubbabel and Jeshua the son of Jo'zadak. It was to Zerubbabel that the Lord spoke the words:

 
"For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth."
 
The scenario of the Hebrews being returned from captivity supplied symbolic meaning which enhanced Blake's myth. Divine Guidance being provided; the activity of the eyes of God throughout the earth; and the temple being successfully rebuilt were aspects of the return from Babylon which contributed to Blake's myth of fall and return.

 
Although Blake does not mention Zechariah as one on his Old Testament sources, Ezra is named as a prophet who influenced his childhood. Ezra like Zechariah recounts the story of the struggle to rebuild Jerusalem and regain independence. The period of the Babylonian Captivity was over 50 years.

 
Ezra 3
[1]When the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem.
[2] Then arose Jeshua the son of Jo'zadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerub'babel the son of She-al'ti-el with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings upon it, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

 
Ezra 9
[8] But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant, and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage.
[9] For we are bondmen; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem.

 
Zechariah 3
[9] For behold, upon the stone which I have set before Joshua, upon a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day.
[10] In that day, says the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree.

 
Zechariah 4
[4] And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?"
[5] Then the angel who talked with me answered me, "Do you not know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord."
[6] Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerub'babel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
[7] What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerub'babel you shall become a plain; and he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of `Grace, grace to it!'"
[8] Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
[9] "The hands of Zerub'babel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
[10] For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerub'babel."These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth."


Here is a quote from the Wikipedia entry for Zerubbabel.

"According to the Book of Ezra chapter 2, Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem in the first wave of liberated exiles under the decree of King Cyrus of Persia in 538 BCE. The mention of Zerubbabel in the book of Ezra primarily serves the purpose of describing the return to Judah following the exile from Babylon and the construction of the Second Temple."

Letters, (E 707)
"To My Dearest Friend John Flaxman
     these lines

I bless thee O Father of Heaven & Earth that ever I saw Flaxmans face
Angels stand round my Spirit in Heaven. the blessed of Heaven are my friends upon Earth 
When Flaxman was taken to Italy. Fuseli was giv'n to me for a season
And now Flaxman hath given me Hayley his friend to be mine such my lot upon Earth
Now my lot in the Heavens is this; Milton lovd me in childhood & shewd me his face
Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand
Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me. terrors appeard in the Heavens above" 
Milton, Plate 6, (E 99)
"The Surrey hills glow like the clinkers of the furnace: Lambeths Vale
Where Jerusalems foundations began; where they were laid in ruins

Where they were laid in ruins from every Nation & Oak Groves rooted

Dark gleams before the Furnace-mouth a heap of burning ashes
When shall Jerusalem return & overspread all the Nations
Return: return to Lambeths Vale O building of human souls
Thence stony Druid Temples overspread the Island white      
And thence from Jerusalems ruins.. from her walls of salvation
And praise: thro the whole Earth were reard from Ireland
To Mexico & Peru west, & east to China & Japan; till Babel
The Spectre of Albion frownd over the Nations in glory & war
All things begin & end in Albions ancient Druid rocky shore  
But now the Starry Heavens are fled from the mighty limbs of Albion" 

Jerusalem, Plate 43 [29], (E 191)
"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.

Forthwith from Albions darkning [r]ocks came two Immortal forms 
Saying We alone are escaped. O merciful Lord and Saviour,
We flee from the interiors of Albions hills and mountains!       
From his Valleys Eastward: from Amalek Canaan & Moab:
Beneath his vast ranges of hills surrounding Jerusalem." 

Here are other posts concerning the Eyes of God.
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