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

Saturday, October 22, 2016


British Museum
Small Book of Designs
From Plate 20, Marriage of Heaven and Hell
 There are two ways of living in the material world: one is to be immersed in the phenomena which are perceived by the senses; the other is to 'see' from the perspective of spiritual reality. One condemns man into living in a world of threat and fear. The other engenders a confidence that there is a higher order which transcends the apparent brutality and discomfort represented by Leviathan. In the material world Leviathan has power because man gives him power over his mind and emotions. When man sees that ultimate power resides in the creator not in the destroyer, he repents of his misinterpretation and is released from his preoccupation with a destroying, punishing God.

Job 40
[1] Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
[2] Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
[3] Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
[4] Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
[5] Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
[6] Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
[7] Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
[8] Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
Job 41
[1] Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
[2] Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
[3] Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
[4] Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
[33] Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
[34] He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
Job 42
[1] Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
[2] I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
[3] Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
[4] Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
[5] I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
[6] Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
[7] And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Wikipedia Commons
The Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan
However long man gives power to Leviathan he will be enfolded in the writhings of the great serpent. The power of Leviathan over man is produced by the fears that he himself will be destroyed by the external forces of nature. His fear spreads when he engages in war to eradicate his supposed enemies. In his image of The Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan, Blake pictured the nations of Europe encircled in the coils of Leviathan. Nelson, the British Admiral who in his physical form had defeated the navy of Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar, in his spiritual form was distanced from the conflicts which raged around him. Leviathan had no power him. Perhaps Blake was urging Britain to distance herself from the wars engulfing her neighbors.

We learn more about the nature of Blake's conception of Leviathan in plates 18 and 19 of Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake demonstrated that the fear encountered by the Angel and spread to his Devil friend, was of his own making. It was dispelled when he ceased to behold it. The metaphysics of the Angel was that his life and comfort were threatened by the convolutions of the material world. When the Angel withdrew he took with him the image of the world produced by his fears that the Eternal could be overwhelmed by the manifestations in time and space.

Blake conceived that it was the reasoning mind that falsely constructed the metaphysics which supported the power that kept man in the bonds of the selfish fear that he would be consumed by the image which he created. The Fearful Symmetry of Leviathan resembled that of the Tyger. His power to do harm was undeniable, but his energy was only potential. Man's creative energy was the other side of the equation and had more than enough weight to tip the balance in the direction of the Human Form Divine.

Descriptive Catalogue, PAGE 1, (E 530)        
"The spiritual form of Nelson guiding Leviathan, in whose 
wreathings are infolded the Nations of the Earth."  

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 18, (E 41)
 "By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke 
of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance was the sun,
black but shining[;] round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd
vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew or rather
swum in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals
sprung from corruption. & the air was full of them, & seemd
composed of them; these are Devils. and are called Powers of the
air, I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said,
between the black & white spiders 
  But now, from between the black & white spiders a cloud and
fire burst and rolled thro the deep blackning all beneath, so
that the nether deep grew black as a sea & rolled with a terrible
noise: beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest,
till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a
cataract of blood mixed with fire and not many stones throw from
us appeard and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent.
at last to the east,distant about three degrees appeard a fiery
crest above the waves slowly it reared like a ridge of golden
rocks till we discoverd two globes of crimson fire. from which
the sea fled away in clouds of smoke, and now we saw, it was the
head of Leviathan. his forehead was divided into streaks of green
& purple like those on a tygers forehead: soon we saw his mouth &
red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep
with beams of blood, advancing toward [PL 19] us with all the
fury of a spiritual existence.
  My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill;
I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found
myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light
hearing a harper who sung to the harp. & his theme was, The man
who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
reptiles of the mind.
  But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my
Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped?
  I answerd.  All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: for
when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing
a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you
Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251)
"So Los cried at his Anvil in the horrible darkness weeping!

The Spectre builded stupendous Works, taking the Starry Heavens
Like to a curtain & folding them according to his will
Repeating the Smaragdine Table of Hermes to draw Los down
Into the Indefinite, refusing to believe without demonstration[.]
Los reads the Stars of Albion! the Spectre reads the Voids
Between the Stars; among the arches of Albions Tomb sublime
Rolling the Sea in rocky paths: forming Leviathan
And Behemoth: the War by Sea enormous & the War
By Land astounding: erecting pillars in the deepest Hell,     
To reach the heavenly arches; Los beheld undaunted furious
His heavd Hammer; he swung it round & at one blow,
In unpitying ruin driving down the pyramids of pride
Smiting the Spectre on his Anvil & the integuments of his Eye
And Ear unbinding in dire pain, with many blows,            
Of strict severity self-subduing, & with many tears labouring.

Then he sent forth the Spectre all his pyramids were grains
Of sand & his pillars: dust on the flys wing: & his starry
Heavens; a moth of gold & silver mocking his anxious grasp
Thus Los alterd his Spectre & every Ratio of his Reason       
He alterd time after time, with dire pain & many tears
Till he had completely divided him into a separate space." 

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