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

Sunday, January 25, 2015


John Bunyan and William Blake both adopted the image of Beulah from the Book of Isaiah in which there is the only biblical reference to Beulah. Isaiah associates Beulah with a future state of blessedness where divisions will be resolved. The people and their land joined together will be prepared for salvation or redemption.

Isaiah 62
[1] For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
[2] And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
[3] Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
[4] Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
[5] For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
[10] Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
[11] Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
[12] And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Bunyan's vision of Beulah incorporates the idea of a gentle place of rest and safety for the pilgrim before the final ascent up the mountain.

Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan
"Now I saw in my dream, that by this time the Pilgrims were
got over the Enchanted Ground, and entering into the country of
Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant, the way lying directly
through it, they solaced themselves there for a season.  Yea, here
they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the
flowers appear on the earth, and heard the voice of the turtle in
the land.  In this country
the sun shineth night and day; wherefore this was beyond the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair,
neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle.
Here they were within sight of the city they were going to, also
here met them some of the inhabitants thereof; for in this land
the Shining Ones commonly walked, because it was upon the borders
of heaven.  In this land also, the contract between the bride and
the bridegroom was renewed; yea, here, "As the bridegroom rejoiceth
over the bride, so did their God rejoice over them."  
Here they had no want of corn and wine; for in this place they met
with abundance of what they had sought for in all their pilgrimage. 
Here they heard voices from out of the city, loud voices,
saying, "'Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation
cometh!  Behold, his reward is with him!'  Here all the inhabitants
of the country called them, 'The holy people, The redeemed of the
Lord, Sought out'" 
Wikimedia Commons
Gates of Paradise
In an earlier post we looked at some of what Blake implied in his development of Beulah as a symbol:
Through Los, generation supplies belief in the Eternal values using reason and the senses, (although confined in the illusion of time and space). Beulah supplies knowledge of the Eternal through the imagination which can transcend material limits. Beulah like generation is a world of the sexes, but in Beulah the male and female are married, each plays a role and accepts the designed functions. Beulah is a place of rest and repose where the contraries are equally true. The active nature of the male is in abeyance and the female is obedient. The delicate balance of Beulah however is maintained through illusion which is not to be taken for reality. Reality is unified as in Eden; Beulah maintains the illusion of duality.

Page 86: " long as love remains self-sacrificing, man retains his faith in a spiritual reality beyond the world of appearance. When, however, love fails, faith is lost and the finite mind seeks for reality within the finite form." Milton Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny

Man is not meant to remain in Beulah for it is a place of retreat and renewal. Upward to Eden or downward to Generation are the options offered. A desire to remain in Beulah destroys the beautiful balance and sends man backward. Beulah shares with Eden evanescence, fluidity the ability to escape time and space. Love and forgiveness are the methods of maintaining Beulah as the environs of Eden.

On page 42 of Dark Figures in the Desired Country, Gerda Norvig introduces some of the psychic implications of Blake's Beulah:

"Blake's Beulah likewise becomes the place of sleep, of dreams, but for him it takes on the uncanny and ambivalent value of self-centered personal unconscious - a realm of the psyche that harbors defenses and illusions as well a prophetic thought, painful as well a joyous memories, latent as well as manifest meanings, strategies of evil as well as strategies of good. Further, the Beulah of Blake functions not simply as a one-way route to eternity, but as a gateway back, too, into the distorting light of the everyday where Blake saw lurking the delusive forms of material generation. For Blake, then, Beulah was a threshold state, a place of rest and renewal for the imagination, yet one where through fantasies and dreams individuals blurred the boundaries between what Lacan calls the imaginary and the symbolic registers, experiencing their attachment to both in an unconscious and sometimes inflexibly literalistic way."

Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E 129)
"There is a place where Contrarieties are equally True
This place is called Beulah, It is a pleasant lovely Shadow
Where no dispute can come. Because of those who Sleep.
Into this place the Sons & Daughters of Ololon descended
With solemn mourning into Beulahs moony shades & hills           
Weeping for Milton: mute wonder held the Daughters of Beulah
Enrapturd with affection sweet and mild benevolence

Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district       
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

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