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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Wikipedia Commons
Job and His Family
Butts Set of Illustrations for the Book of Job
Original in Morgan Library
Blake's first excursion into illustrating works by other authors was in 1791 when he illustrated Mary Wollstonecraft's novel Original Stories from Real Life. As opportunities arose he continued to produce illustrations for existing works as requested by his patrons or for publication. In about 1805 Thomas Butts, for whom Blake had painted numerous illustrations of Biblical subjects, requested a series of illustrations of the Book of Job. Blake would move from the occasional illustrations of Job which he had done in the past, to telling Job's full story as it enacted a myth of developing consciousness which led to a truer image of God.

From the beginning of his series of illustrations to Job, Blake indicated that he would interpret the Biblical account in the light of his own personal vision of the divine benevolence. The setting sun symbolized the end of a day - a period of development which had been completed.  Way would be made for new dispensation not based on a understanding of God as a lawgiver who assigned punishments for disobedience. The character Job would be Blake's vehicle for confronting the internal constructs which were projected onto the Book of Job's image of God.

In the beginning of the Book of Job the man whose name was Job saw himself as righteous because of the rewards which he had received in the natural world. He felt he had followed the rules to the letter and had earned the blessings which had been bestowed on him. He said the proper prayers and made the prescribed sacrifices. An indication that all was not well is shown by pictures of musical instruments hanging in a tree instead of being played by Job's sons and daughters. There was something lacking in Job's image of God which prevented him from knowing God as a dynamic presence within which would nourish his soul rather than providing material prosperity. Words from the Lord's Prayer were inscribed on the setting sun which would sink out of sight until it returned on the final page of Blake's illustrations.

Job 1
[1] There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
[2] And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
[3] His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
[4] And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
[5] And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 36, (E 325) 
"It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity 
Thus could I sing & thus rejoice, but it is not so with me!" 
Book of Urizen, Plate 23, (E 81)
3. Most Urizen sicken'd to see
His eternal creations appear
Sons & daughters of sorrow on mountains                  
Weeping! wailing! first Thiriel appear'd
Astonish'd at his own existence
Like a man from a cloud born, & Utha
From the waters emerging, laments!
Grodna rent the deep earth howling                   
Amaz'd! his heavens immense cracks
Like the ground parch'd with heat; then Fuzon
Flam'd out! first begotten, last born.
All his eternal sons in like manner
His daughters from green herbs & cattle                   
From monsters, & worms of the pit.

4. He in darkness clos'd, view'd all his race,
And his soul sicken'd! he curs'd
Both sons & daughters; for he saw
That no flesh nor spirit could keep                        
His iron laws one moment.

5. For he saw that life liv'd upon death
The Ox in the slaughter house moans
The Dog at the wintry door
And he wept, & he called it Pity
And his tears flowed down on the winds"

Jerusalem, Plate 28, (E 174)
"The Tree spread over him its cold shadows, (Albion groand)
They bent down, they felt the earth and again enrooting
Shot into many a Tree! an endless labyrinth of woe!

From willing sacrifice of Self, to sacrifice of (miscall'd) Enemies  
For Atonement: Albion began to erect twelve Altars,
Of rough unhewn rocks, before the Potters Furnace
He nam'd them Justice, and Truth. And Albions Sons
Must have become the first Victims, being the first transgressors
But they fled to the mountains to seek ransom: building A Strong 
Fortification against the Divine Humanity and Mercy,
In Shame & Jealousy to annihilate Jerusalem!  
Micah 6
[6] Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
[7] Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
[8] He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Matthew 5
[43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

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