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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The British Museum, the Center for British Art at Yale, and the Library of Congress make access to their copies of Jerusalem available as digital images. I became curious about the copy in the collection of Lord Cunliffe, Copy B, which along with Copy E at Yale contains color images. 
Copy B is not a complete copy but contains only the first chapter, To The Public. When the Blake Trust published a later edition in 1973 of the Trianon Press' 1950 facsimile edition of Blake's Jerusalem, images from Copy B were added along with facsimiles of proofs of four prints from Jerusalem. The limited run of these books makes them rare today. From WORLDCAT you may learn where they may be seen - primarily in university libraries. Advertisements by dealers for the sale of copies of these books occasionally display images which are not available to the public elsewhere. 

Although the Blake Archive does not supply images from Copy B, it offers information on the provenance because Copy B was for a time bound with copies of America and Europe. The first owner would have been Thomas Griffiths Wainewright with whom Blake was acquainted. The present owner is Lord Cunliffe in whose family the book has been since the middle of the 19th century. 
Compare images from the Frontispiece of several copies of Jerusalem.

Plate 47 of Jerusalem as it appears in available images:

Copy A in the British Museum

Copy B in the collection of Lord Cunliffe (said to be 25 plates, some colored)


Copy C in unidentified private collection
Copy D in Houghton Library  of Harvard University

Copy E in Yale Center for British Art



Copy F  in Morgan Library and Museum
Copy G untraced

Copies H, I and J are posthumous copies (Copy I is in the Library of Congress)


, (E 728)

[To] Mr Butts, Grt Marlborough Street
Felpham April 25: 1803

My Dear Sir
  But none can know the Spiritual Acts of my three years
Slumber on the banks of the Ocean unless he has seen them in the
Spirit or unless he should read My long Poem descriptive of those
Acts for I have in these three years composed an immense number
of verses on One Grand Theme Similar to Homers Iliad or Miltons
Paradise Lost the Person & Machinery intirely new to the
Inhabitants of Earth (some of the Persons Excepted) I have
written this Poem from immediate Dictation twelve or sometimes twenty or
thirty lines at a time without Premeditation & even against my
Will. the Time it has taken in writing was thus renderd Non
Existent. & an immense Poem Exists which seems to be the Labour
of a long Life all producd without Labour or Study.  I mention
this to shew you what I think the Grand Reason of my being
brought down here"

Letters, (E 729)
[To Thomas Butts]

"Felpham July 6. 1803
Thus I hope that all our three years trouble Ends in
Good Luck at last & shall be forgot by my affections & only
rememberd by my Understanding to be a Memento in time to come &
to speak to future generations by a Sublime Allegory which is now
perfectly completed into a Grand Poem. I may praise it since I
dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors
are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This
World Contains.  Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers
while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is
My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry. it is also somewhat in
the same manner defind by Plato.  This Poem shall by Divine
Assistance be progressively Printed & Ornamented with Prints &
given to the Public--But of this work I take care to say little
to Mr H. since he is as much averse to my poetry as he is to a
Chapter in the Bible   He knows that I have writ it for I have
shewn it to him & he had read Part by his own desire & has lookd
with sufficient contempt to enhance my opinion of it.  But I do
not wish to irritate by seeming too obstinate in Poetic pursuits
But if all the World should set their   faces against This.  I
have Orders to set my face like a flint.  Ezekiel iii C   9 v.
against their faces & my forehead against their foreheads"

Letters, (E 783)
"[To] George Cumberland Esqre, Culver Street, Bristol

N 3 Fountain Court Strand 12 April 1827
Dear Cumberland
"You are desirous I know to dispose of some of my Works & to
make them Pleasing, I am obliged to you & to all who do so
But having none remaining of all that I had Printed I cannot
Print more Except at a great loss for at the time I printed those
things I had a whole House to range in now I am shut up in a
Corner therefore am forced to ask a Price for them that I
scarce expect to get from a Stranger.  I am now Printing a Set of
the Songs of Innocence & Experience for a Friend at Ten Guineas
which I cannot do under Six Months consistent with my other Work,
so that I have little hope of doing any more of such things. the
Last Work I produced is a Poem Entitled Jerusalem the Emanation
of the Giant Albion, but find that to Print it will Cost my Time
the amount of Twenty Guineas One I have Finishd It contains 100
Plates but it is not likely that I shall get a Customer for it
     As you wish me to send you a list with the Prices of these
things they are as follows
                                    L    s  d
     America                  6.   6. 0
     Europe                    6.   6. 0
     Visions &c               5.   5. 0
     Thel                         3.   3. 0
     Songs of Inn. & Exp. 10.  10. 0
     Urizen                      6.   6. 0
     The Little Card I will do as soon as Possible but when you
Consider that I have been reduced to a Skeleton from which I am
slowly recovering you will I hope have Patience with me.
     Flaxman is Gone & we must All soon follow every one to his
Own Eternal House Leaving the Delusive Goddess Nature & her Laws
to get into Freedom from all Law of the Members into The Mind in
which every one is King & Priest in his own House God Send it so
on Earth as it is in Heaven
I am Dear Sir Yours Affectionately

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