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

Friday, May 31, 2019


Wikipedia Commons
Marriage of Heaven & Hell
Plate 3
Updated from August 2010.

June Singer, a Jungian psychologist, wrote several books on psychology but only one book on Blake. Her first book which developed from her thesis for her analysts diploma from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, is titled The Unholy Bible: Blake, Jung and the Collective Unconscious. Although most of the book is a psychological analysis of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, she provides insight into the later prophetic writings as well. In this passage she explains The Four Zoas in terms of individuation. The quote from Blake represents the reassembling of the pieces after 'all things are changd'.

"The long poem , The Four Zoas, describes the many aspects of man as they are differentiated from one another.The symbolism amazingly parallels the analytic process of differentiating the many unconscious contents from the other, and then gradually reintegrating them into a new and productive unity. The parallel is even more impressive when we consider that Blake uses the schema of nine nights of dreams, since dreams in analytical psychology provide the key to understanding the unconscious processes. It is with this key that Blake has unlocked 'the doors of perception' as he promised he would in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. At the end of the ninth night man beholds the infinite vision, and he sings the Ode to Joy (we recall the first two lines, first uttered by the enslaved wives and children of America): [Four Zoas, Page 138, (E 406)]

'The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy
Calling the Plowman to his Labour & the Shepherd to his rest
He walks upon the Eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice
Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day
That risen from the Sea of fire renewd walk oer the Earth

For Tharmas brought his flocks upon the hills & in the Vales
Around the Eternal Mans bright tent the little Children play
Among the wooly flocks The hammer of Urthona sounds
In the deep caves beneath his limbs renewd his Lions roar
Around the Furnaces & in Evening sport upon the plains
They raise their faces from the Earth conversing with the Man

How is it we have walkd thro fires & yet are not consumd
How is it that all things are changd even as in ancient times' " 

More from Singer (Page 214):
"It is as if though the writing of this book were a very private experience, like a dream that belonged to Blake alone. It was the working through of  the difficult union foretold in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. An inner marriage was taking place in the psyche which was more real than his conventional with Catherine. As masculine creative force, his energy spurted forth abundantly. As feminine receptive vessel, his anima aspect functioned in his work to contain and shape that stream. 
'The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.' It was a secret happening, a pregnancy, which could not be shown prematurely to the public. This is why, I believe,  Blake never engraved this book. Murry [John Middleton] states it well when he says, 'It is the travail of Blake's final rebirth.'" 

Thursday, May 30, 2019


Wikipedia Commons
Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Plate 16
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, PLATE 16, (E 40)
   "The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence
and  now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth. the causes
of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are,
the cunning of weak  and tame minds. which have power to resist
energy. according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong
in cunning.
   Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific. the other, the
Devouring:  to the devourer it seems as if the producer was in
his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions of existence
and fancies that the whole.
   But the Prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the
Devourer as a sea recieved the excess of his delights.
   Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I answer, God
only   Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.
   These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should
be enemies; whoever tries [PL 17] to reconcile them seeks to
destroy existence.   
   Religion is an endeavour to reconcile the two.
   Note.  Jesus Christ did not wish to unite but to seperate
them, as in  the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not
to send Peace  but a Sword.
   Messiah or Satan or Tempter was formerly thought to be one of
the  Antediluvians who are our Energies."

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 656)
"Reynolds: The mind is but a barren soil; a soil which is soon
exhausted, and will produce no crop, . . . 
Blake:The Mind that could have produced this Sentence must have
been Pitiful a Pitiable Imbecillity.  I always thought that the
Human Mind was the most Prolific of All Things & Inexhaustible  I
certainly do Thank God that I am not like Reynolds" 

June Singer, in The Unholy Bible, made this statement:
"What Blake seems to be saying here is that with the development of ego consciousness, a sense of identity as 'I,' man takes the place of the giant. Man differs from the giant in that the prolific and devouring aspects in man are separated, whereas in the giant they were combined as two portions of one being. The two aspects are expressed, according to Blake's thinking, in two types of men, in whom either one or the other of these aspects predominates." (Page 141)

Singer saw the Prolific as the poet, and the Devourer as the conventional or reasonable man. In the New Testament book of Matthew we see a division between two irreconcilable beings. There is final resolution in which the sheep are divided from the goats. It is the sheep who inherit and receive the Father's blessing while the goats are cast out. 

Matthew 25
[31] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
[32] And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
[33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
[34] Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

[41] Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Singer observed that Blake was involved in a lifelong struggle taking place in himself between his 'freely flowing energies' which welled up from his imagination, and the 'binding restraints' required by society. Singer asks us to consider if Blake may have done well to resolve these two sides of himself in order to make his productive side more acceptable to conventional norms. Apparently Blake found that a compromise he was unwilling to make.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


Northrop Frye's first book was Fearful Symmetry, his study of William Blake's poetry in "a broad literary context." Frye presented Blake in Fearful Symmetry "as an illustration of the poetic process." On page 426 Frye states that the whole purpose of his book was "to establish Blake as a typical poet and his thinking as typically poetic thinking."

" Of course a poet may give many useful suggestions about his own work, but we read the poem not the poet, except by a figure of speech. Hence the primary activity of all communication with the poet is to establish the unity of his poem in our minds. We have quoted Blake as saying that every poem is necessarily a perfect unity. This unity has two aspects: a unity of words and a unity of images." (Page 113)
 "Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is
peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of
Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a
part, but a principal part of Homers subject
  But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the
Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon
  As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of
knavery  Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out
with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters
are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do
with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are
Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree
still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is
its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.
  It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness 
of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil.
  The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that
Desolate Europe with Wars."
In Frye's introduction to a subsequent book, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, he makes a statement about teaching which may be applicable of the writer and reader of poetry as well:  

"The ideal of the scholar is to convey what he knows as clearly and fully as he can: he lays down his hand and remains dummy, so to speak, while the reader plays it. The teacher may do the work of the scholar on a popularizing level, retailing established information to less advanced students. This conception of teaching as secondhand scholarship is common among academics, but I regard it as inadequate.

The teacher, as had been recognized at least since Plato's Meno, is not primarily someone instructing someone who does not know. He is rather someone who attempts to re-create the subject in the student's mind, and his strategy in doing this is first to get the student to recognize what he already potentially knows, which includes breaking up the powers of repression in his mind that keeps him from knowing what he knows. That is why it is the teacher, rather than the student, who asks most of the questions. The teaching element in my own books has caused some resentment among my readers, a resentment often motivated by loyalty to different teachers. This is connected with a feeling of deliberate elusiveness on my part, prompted mainly by the fact that I am not dispensing with the quality of irony that all teachers since Socrates have found essential. Not all elusiveness, however is merely that. Even the parables of Jesus were ainoi, fables with a riddling quality. In other areas,such as Zen Buddhism, the teacher is a man who shows his qualifications to teach by refusing to answer questions, or by brushing  them off with a paradox...Unless something is kept in reserve, suggesting the possibility of better and fuller questions, the students mental advance is blocked."  (Page xv)

Wikipedia Commons
Watercolor Illustrations for Blair's The Grave
Object 5

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Robert N. Essick edited a book of articles on William Blake's Art and Aesthetics, titled The Visionary Hand. Essick contributed the essay Blake and the Traditions of Reproduction Engraving which explores the development of Blake's use of his engraving techniques as an adjunct of his commitment to reconcile contraries. Following Blake's career from his apprenticeship as a reproductive engraver through the Illustrations of the Book of Job, produced near the end of his life, Essick gives visual evidence of the application of Blake's philosophy of Art to the meaning he conveyed in his poetic expression.

Since Blake earned his living through producing reproductions for commercial publications, he was compelled to engrave in the accepted style of reproductive engravers. The pictures used to illustrate books were copies of drawings or paintings which required shading to convey the image. The repetitive strokes created a net to convey light and shadow, dimension and form.    

Essick explains on page 499:

"The benefits derived from the eighteenth-century reproductive system are clear. The engraver could learn a repertoire of a dozen or so linear patterns, master their quick execution, and construct an economically advantageous and rational system whereby several workers, each proficient in one particular technique but all schooled in the same basic style, could work in assembly line fashion...All engravings so produced would be of uniform quality acceptable to a public which had come to believe in the validity of linear syntax as a truthful method of reproducing works of art."
[Blake's] revolt against this system manifests itself in three imaginative forms:
[1] separate plates and book illustrations designed and executed for aesthetic purposes beyond the commercial,
[2] relief etching,
[3] and prophetic narratives in which the abstracting process of reproductive engraving become basic metaphors of a myth of creation, fall and entrapment."   

Continuing on page 517:
"I have attempted to demonstrate here that the struggle between the commercial engraver and the visionary poet-painter must be included among these Blakean contraries where opposition is true friendship. I hope that I have indicated the broad outline of this dialectical structure and a few of the more important ways it influenced Blake's graphic art and the imagery of his poetry...It ends with the synthesis of discordant, styles of tradition and imaginative vision, that shapes the Job engravings."

Blake knew himself to be subject to the same limitations which prevailed in the culture in which he lived. Engraving engendered its own limitations including using a net of lines to give definition to form. Blake recognized that the net so formed obscured the identity which might be revealed in clear, defined outlines. As he developed he reached a point in his engraving ability where he used the traditional engraving techniques to convey the obscuring patterns of thought which contrasted with the clear well-defined truth of vision or imagination. In his art he had brought together paradoxical elements with which he struggled. "He liberat[ed] the artist from engraving by means of engraving."

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 155) 
Yet why despair! I saw the finger of God go forth 
Upon my Furnaces, from within the Wheels of Albions Sons: 
Fixing their Systems, permanent: by mathematic power 
Giving a body to Falshood that it may be cast off for ever. 
With Demonstrative Science piercing Apollyon with his own bow!"
To see minute detail, right click on image and open in a new window, click again for even more detail. Close window to return to post. 

 Book of Urizen, Plate 25, (E 82)
9. And all calld it, The Net of Religion
           Chap: IX
1. Then the Inhabitants of those Cities:
Felt their Nerves change into Marrow
And hardening Bones began                                  
In swift diseases and torments,
In throbbings & shootings & grindings
Thro' all the coasts; till weaken'd
The Senses inward rush'd shrinking,
Beneath the dark net of infection. "                          
Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 185)
"But here the affectionate touch of the tongue is closd in by deadly teeth
And the soft smile of friendship & the open dawn of benevolence  
Become a net & a trap, & every energy renderd cruel,
Till the existence of friendship & benevolence is denied:
The wine of the Spirit & the vineyards of the Holy-One.
Here: turn into poisonous stupor & deadly intoxication:
That they may be condemnd by Law & the Lamb of God be slain!" 

Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 190)
"And Los drew his Seven Furnaces around Albions Altars
And as Albion built his frozen Altars, Los built the Mundane Shell,
In the Four Regions of Humanity East & West & North & South

Till Norwood & Finchley & Blackheath & Hounslow, coverd the whole Earth.
This is the Net & Veil of Vala, among the Souls of the Dead."

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 29, (E 319)
"The threads are spun & the cords twisted & drawn out; then the weak   
Begin their work; & many a net is netted; many a net
Spread & many a Spirit caught, innumerable the nets
Innumerable the gins & traps; & many a soothing flute
Is form'd & many a corded lyre, outspread over the immense
In cruel delight they trap the listeners, & in cruel delight
Bind them, condensing the strong energies into little compass"   

Descriptive Catalog, PAGE 39, (E 575)
    " I do not condemn Rubens Rembrant or Titian because they did
not understand Drawing but because they did not Understand
Colouring how long shall I be forced to beat this into Mens Ears
I do not condemn Bartolozzi Strange or Woolett
because they did not understand Drawing but because they did not
understand Graving I do not condemn Pope or Dryden because they
did not understand Imagination but because they did not
understand Verse. Their Colouring Graving & Verse can never be
applied to Art     That is not either colouring Graving or Verse
which is Unappropriate to the Subject     He who makes a Design must
know the Effect & Colouring Proper to be put to that Design &
will never take that of Rubens Rembrandt or Titian to
turn that which is Soul & Life into a Mill or Machine" 
Descriptive Catalog, PAGE 62, (E 576)
     "I have heard many People say Give me the Ideas.  It is no
matter what Words you put them into & others say Give me the
Design it is no matter for the Execution.  These People know
Enough of Artifice but Nothing Of Art.  Ideas cannot be Given
but in their minutely Appropriate Words nor Can a Design be made
without its minutely Appropriate Execution. The unorganized
Blots & Blurs of Rubens & Titian are not Art nor can their Method
ever express Ideas or Imaginations any more than Popes
Metaphysical jargon of Rhyming. Unappropriate Execution is the
Most nauseous affectation & foppery   He who copies does
not Execute he only Imitates what is already Executed Execution
is only the result of Invention"

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Yale Center for British Art       Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

On page 384 of The Visionary Hand, edited by Robert N. Essick, we read of Blake's approach to illustrating Young's Night Thoughts:
"When Young wrote Night Thoughts in the middle of the eighteenth century, he considered he was offering 'plain truths' with which his readers would agree. But when Blake illustrated the Night Thoughts at the end of the century, he found ideas with which he was in confirmed opposition.
The immediate basis for Blake's picture [122] is the lines, 'Where Sense runs Savage, broke from Reason's chain,/ And sings false Peace, till smother'd by the Pall.'
Blake's girl personifying Sense is not 'running savage,' but does wear the manacle of Reason's chain, appears to be singing, and is about to be smothered by the pall of Death.
[Seen in the context of Young's poetry] Blake's picture seems to embody a conception of literature. Sense now represents the aesthetic pleasure of those poets whose creative or imaginative energy Young rejects.Young hopes to restrain imaginative energy with Reason's chain, but a central theme of all Blake's work celebrates the liberation of Imagination from domineering reason. Young is suspicious of Apollo, but Blake asserts that 'One power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision.'"  

Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems, (E 465)
"PREFACE  [PAGE viii] 
The powers requisite for the production of
poetry are, first, those of observation and description. . . .
whether the things depicted be actually present to the senses, or
have a place only in the memory. . . . 2dly, Sensibility, . . .
One Power alone makes a Poet.-Imagination The Divine Vision" 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


British Museum              Illustrations to Young's Night Thought
Matthew 10
[26] Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
[27] What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
[28] And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
[29] Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
[30] But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
[31] Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
[32] Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
[33] But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
[34] Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
[35] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
[36] And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
[37] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
[38] And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
[39] He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

It seems that Blake discerned that true friendship involved contention. Differences needed to be exposed and have their validity recognized. If uniformity were the goal there need be no interaction. Variety results not from cloning existing individuals but for combining disparate individuals.

Think of the elements which you became aware of in Chemistry class. Although there are a limited number of elements, when they interact they produce the complexity which comprises the material world of our acquaintance. When elements have opposite characteristics they combine to produce compounds which are unlike either of the originals.

Marriage of Heaven& Hell, Plate 21, (E 43)
 "When he had so spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out
his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose
as Elijah.
  Note.  This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my
particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its
infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they
behave well  
  I have also: The Bible of Hell: which the world shall have
whether they will or no.

  One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression"

Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E129)
               "MILTON: BOOK THE  SECOND
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" 
Milton, Plate 41 [50], (E 143)
"Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Feminine Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female      
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I            
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into
PLATE 42 [49]    
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee"
Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43],(E 185)
"And the two Sources of Life in Eternity[,] Hunting and War,
Are become the Sources of dark & bitter Death & of corroding Hell:
The open heart is shut up in integuments of frozen silence
That the spear that lights it forth may shatter the ribs & bosom
A pretence of Art, to destroy Art: a pretence of Liberty      
To destroy Liberty. a pretence of Religion to destroy Religion
Oshea and Caleb fight: they contend in the valleys of Peor
In the terrible Family Contentions of those who love each other:
The Armies of Balaam weep---no women come to the field
Dead corses lay before them, & not as in Wars of old.        
For the Soldier who fights for Truth, calls his enemy his brother:
They fight & contend for life, & not for eternal death!
But here the Soldier strikes, & a dead corse falls at his feet
Nor Daughter nor Sister nor Mother come forth to embosom the Slain!
But Death! Eternal Death! remains in the Valleys of Peor."   

Jerusalem, Plate 91 (E 251)
"I have tried to make friends by corporeal gifts but have only    
Made enemies: I never made friends but by spiritual gifts;
By severe contentions of friendship & the burning fire of thought.
He who would see the Divinity must see him in his Children
One first, in friendship & love; then a Divine Family, & in the midst
Jesus will appear; so he who wishes to see a Vision; a perfect Whole        
Must see it in its Minute Particulars; Organized & not as thou
O Fiend of Righteousness pretendest; thine is a Disorganized
And snowy cloud: brooder of tempests & destructive War"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 554)
     "The Last Judgment when all those are Cast away who trouble
Religion with Questions concerning Good & Evil or Eating of the
Tree of those Knowledges or Reasonings which hinder the Vision of
God turning all into a Consuming fire When Imaginative Art &
Science & all Intellectual Gifts all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
are [despisd] lookd upon as of no use & only Contention
remains to Man then the Last Judgment begins & its Vision is seen
by the [Imaginative Eye] of Every one according to the
situation he holds"

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 20, (E 42)
 So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou oughtest to be ashamed.
  I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time
to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.

                 Opposition is true Friendship."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130]
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd
With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife"  

Milton, Plate 49, (E 199)
"Learn therefore O Sisters to distinguish the Eternal Human
That walks about among the stones of fire in bliss & woe
Alternate! from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels:
This is the only means to Forgiveness of Enemies              
Therefore remove from Albion these terrible Surfaces
And let wild seas & rocks close up Jerusalem away from
The Atlantic Mountains where Giants dwelt in Intellect;
Now given to stony Druids, and Allegoric Generation
To the Twelve Gods of Asia, the Spectres of those who Sleep:
Sway'd by a Providence oppos'd to the Divine Lord Jesus:
A murderous Providence! A Creation that groans, living on Death. 
Where Fish & Bird & Beast & Man & Tree & Metal & Stone
Live by Devouring, going into Eternal Death continually:
Albion is now possess'd by the War of Blood! the Sacrifice
Of envy Albion is become, and his Emanation cast out:
Come Lord Jesus, Lamb of God descend! for if; O Lord!"            

Jerusalem, Plate 74, (E 229)
I walk up and down in Six Thousand Years: their Events are present before me
To tell how Los in grief & anger, whirling round his Hammer on high  
Drave the Sons & Daughters of Albion from their ancient mountains
They became the Twelve Gods of Asia Opposing the Divine Vision

The Sons of Albion are Twelve: the Sons of Jerusalem Sixteen
I tell how Albions Sons by Harmonies of Concords & Discords
Opposed to Melody, and by Lights & Shades, opposed to Outline    
And by Abstraction opposed to the Visions of Imagination 
By cruel Laws divided Sixteen into Twelve Divisions
How Hyle roofd Los in Albions Cliffs by the Affections rent
Asunder & opposed to Thought, to draw Jerusalems Sons
Into the Vortex of his Wheels. therefore Hyle is called Gog      
Age after age drawing them away towards Babylon
Babylon, the Rational Morality deluding to death the little ones

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
    "Forgiveness of Sin is only at the Judgment Seat of Jesus the
Saviour where the Accuser is cast out. not because he Sins but
because he torments the Just & makes them do what he condemns as
Sin & what he knows is opposite to their own Identity 
     It is not because Angels are Holier than Men or Devils that
makes them Angels but because they do not Expect Holiness from
one another but from God only"
Your time will be well spent in reading this Thesis presented to the Department of English at McGill University by Donna Lynn George: The Severe Contentions of Friendship: Blake's System of Contraries and Negations in Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Milton, and Jerusalem.


"It is interesting that Blake uses the term "friendship" to describe the ideal relationship between men and women for it implies a degree of equality which few men can admit for it goes far beyond the male ego level of development." (Page 72)

"Blake's system of contraries and negations is never conveniently summarized by Blake in one concise model. The complexity of the system must be experienced by the reader in the minute particulars of the entire canon. That this Herculean task is most probably never completed ironically demonstrates the manner in which Blake's non-system operates. Blake-Los is continually "Striving with Systems to deliver Individuals from those Systems" (Jerusalem Plate 11, 5, p. 630). The entelechy of any system is an abstract, olympianized, logical, operator; however, Blake never reached that heretical point because the bare bones of his message cannot be abstracted from the flesh they informed. It is always tempting to abstract a complete model of the doctrine of contraries but to do so is to discover the reasoning negation: "God forbid that Truth should be Confined to Mathematica1 Demonstration"·: (Annotations ~ Reynolds, p. 474). There is no state in Blake's system which transcends the "severe contentions/Of Friendship" (Milton Plate 41, 32-33, pp. 533-534) consisting in the dialectical relationship of an identity and his emanation, the ultimate contraries. (Page 77) 


Wednesday, May 8, 2019


British Museum
Illustrations to Young'g Night Thoughts 
Songs and Ballads, Blake's Notebook, (E496) 
             William Bond
"I wonder whether the Girls are mad 
And I wonder whether they mean to kill
And I wonder if William Bond will die 
For assuredly he is very ill

He went to Church in a May morning                   
Attended by Fairies one two & three
But the Angels Of Providence drove them away
And he returnd home in Misery

He went not out to the Field nor Fold
He went not out to the Village nor Town           
But he came home in a black black cloud
And took to his Bed & there lay down

And an Angel of Providence at his Feet
And an Angel of Providence at his Head
And in the midst a Black Black Cloud      
And in the midst the Sick Man on his Bed

And on his Right hand was Mary Green
And on his Left hand was his Sister Jane
And their tears fell thro the black black Cloud
To drive away the sick mans pain 
O William if thou dost another Love
Dost another Love better than poor Mary
Go & take that other to be thy Wife
And Mary Green shall her Servant be

Yes Mary I do another Love                          
Another I Love far better than thee
And Another I will have for my Wife
Then what have I to do with thee

For thou art Melancholy Pale
And on thy Head is the cold Moons shine               
But she is ruddy & bright as day
And the sun beams dazzle from her eyne

Mary trembled & Mary chilld
And Mary fell down on the right hand floor
That William Bond & his Sister Jane                    
Scarce could recover Mary more

When Mary woke & found her Laid
On the Right hand of her William dear
On the Right hand of his loved Bed
And saw her William Bond so near                       

The Fairies that fled from William Bond
Danced around her Shining Head
They danced over the Pillow white
And the Angels of Providence left the Bed

I thought Love livd in the hot sun Shine                 
But O he lives in the Moony light
I thought to find Love in the heat of day
But sweet Love is the Comforter of Night

Seek Love in the Pity of others Woe
In the gentle relief of anothers care               
In the darkness of night & the winters snow
In the naked & outcast Seek Love there"
To understand the reasoning of this poem I find it necessary to start from the end rather than from the beginning. In the last two verses Blake speaks openly of love, not the love of men and women for each other but the compassionate love that joins us together as the eternal brotherhood of humanity. This is not the love of passion or possession, but that of sharing in the joys and woes of the whole body of mankind. If William Bond is ill, it is with the sickness of directing his love according to the worldly principles of church doctrine or conventional norms.

The poem turns on the offer by Mary to be a servant rather than prevent William's love from being directed toward another woman. Mary as the earthly woman, like the moon lives by reflected light: 
"For thou art Melancholy Pale 
And on thy Head is the cold Moons shine" 
The heavenly woman like Jerusalem shines from her own internal light: 
"But she is ruddy & bright as day 
And the sun beams dazzle from her eyne"

If Mary will become the servant to William's wife or emanation, she not only is welcome to William's bed but becomes a vehicle for the fairies of imagination to dance around her head. Thus love is raised to another dimension, that of universal or inclusive love. 
"I thought Love livd in the hot sun Shine 
But O he lives in the Moony light 
I thought to find Love in the heat of day 
But sweet Love is the Comforter of Night
Seek Love in the Pity of others Woe
In the gentle relief of anothers care               
In the darkness of night & the winters snow
In the naked & outcast Seek Love there"
Love is no less in the 'Moony night' than in the 'hot sun Shine'. To find love one must offer oneself, and be willing to sacrifice to fulfil the need of another. As in the prayer of St Francis - in giving we recieve.

[1] And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
[2] And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
[3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
[4] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
[5] His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 


Sunday, May 5, 2019


Four Zoas, Night VIII
Page 109
Enion's final lament appears late in Night VIII. Her laments have been silent since Night III because she has been wandering 'into the deep Where never yet Existence came.' But her wanderings have not been unproductive. Unlike Thel she accepted the challenge to explore the grave and death by entering into them and gaining experience of them not as observer but as a participant. As a generator of natural life she knew that she was also a generator of death in the natural world. Through entering into this desolation she learned to embrace what had once been the source of her fear and despair. This experience became a gate leading to an awakening to a new Enion who knew that the consciousness of immortality replaced the fear of mortality.

Blake was making the distinction between death as it is experienced in the natural world and death as a spiritual experience of entry into Eternal Life. The Circle of Destiny is a term Blake used for the cyclical process through which the natural world renews itself through a repetition of birth, life and death. Enion who had introduced such a process became aware of its futility. She saw that the culmination of humanity's journey through life was not to begin again the same dull round but to be transformed to an eternal dimension beyond the confines of natural life.
Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 113 [109], (E 384) 
"Thus cries Ahania Enion replies from the Caverns of the Grave
Fear not O poor forsaken one O land of briars & thorns
Where once the Olive flourishd & the Cedar spread his wings 
Once I waild desolate like thee my fallow fields in fear
Cried to the Churchyards & the Earthworm came in dismal state
I found him in my bosom & I said the time of Love
Appears upon the rocks & hills in silent shades but soon
A voice came in the night a midnight cry upon the mountains 
Awake the bridegroom cometh I awoke to sleep no more
But an Eternal Consummation is dark Enion
The watry Grave. O thou Corn field O thou Vegetater happy
More happy is the dark consumer hope drowns all my torment
For I am now surrounded by a shadowy vortex drawing 
The Spectre quite away from Enion that I die a death
Of bitter hope altho I consume in these raging waters
The furrowd field replies to the grave I hear her reply to me
Behold the time approaches fast that thou shalt be as a thing
Forgotten when one speaks of thee he will not be believd 
When the man gently fades away in his immortality

When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away
And so become invisible to those who still remain
Listen I will tell thee what is done in the caverns of the grave 
PAGE 114 [110] 
The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery soon to return
In Clouds & Fires around the rock & the Mysterious tree
As the seed waits Eagerly watching for its flower & fruit
Anxious its little soul looks out into the clear expanse
To see if hungry winds are abroad with their invisible army 
So Man looks out in tree & herb & fish & bird & beast
Collecting up the scatterd portions of his immortal body
Into the Elemental forms of every thing that grows
He tries the sullen north wind riding on its angry furrows
The sultry south when the sun rises & the angry east 
When the sun sets when the clods harden & the cattle stand
Drooping & the birds hide in their silent nests. he stores his thoughts
As in a store house in his memory he regulates the forms
Of all beneath & all above   & in the gentle West
Reposes where the Suns heat dwells   he rises to the Sun
And to the Planets of the Night & to the stars that gild
The Zodiac & the stars that sullen stand to north & south
He touches the remotest pole & in the Center weeps
That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget & return 
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew
In pain he sighs in pain he labours in his universe
Screaming in birds over the deep & howling in the Wolf
Over the slain & moaning in the cattle & in the winds
And weeping over Orc & Urizen in clouds & flaming fires 
And in the cries of birth & in the groans of death his voice 
Is heard throughout the Universe whereever a grass grows
Or a leaf buds   The Eternal Man is seen is heard   is felt
And all his Sorrows till he reassumes his ancient bliss

Such are the words of Ahania & Enion. Los hears & weeps"  
In Blake's Four Zoas: The Design of a Dream, Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson emphasize that Enion is not referring to seasonal renewal in her fourth lament:

"Something starts things budding every spring, whether there is any point or not: something deathless stirs in mankind despite the grave, and that stirring promises human resurrection. But nature provides only an analogy, not a proof or a dynamic. The active force in renewal, according to both Shelley's and Blake's vision, is the human will acting on love whose ultimate source is imagination. The seeds of new life in the human world are small acts of goodness struggling, as in Enion's song, to grow; they flourish in spite of natural cycles, not because of them, and in defiance of the limits seemingly imposed by physical death.
Yet repeated failures like those described here are an indirect reminder that opportunities for regeneration are repeated, in fact are omnipresent. The blindness of instinct may be exactly what allows man to start over after failing again and again...Much of his laborious renewal comes through his identifying himself with the pain as well as the joy of the universe." (Page 203)

Wilkie and Johnson find that in the 15TH chapter of 1ST Corinthians Paul affirms the same insight: that our hope is the resurrection, new birth to a new life in Christ not a reappearance of the old man who died in the crucifixion.

First Corinthians 15 (RSV)
[12]Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
[13] But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;
[14] if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
[15] We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
[16] For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.
[17] If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
[18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
[19] If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
[20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 


Thursday, May 2, 2019


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Turning to the third lament of Enion which occurs near the end or Night III, we read words from 'the cold waters of despair.' One way that Blake expressed the situation in which Enion found herself was through the symbol of Atlantis, a lost continent which had been described by Plato. To Blake the deluge in which Tharmas and Enion were submerged could be represented by the mighty flood which wiped out a continent.
 In Fearful Symmetry Northrop Frye gives us implications of what Atlantis symbolized to Blake:
"The fall of Albion included a deluge in which the center of Atlantis was overwhelmed and only fragments of the British Isles were left. The settlement of America by the English and revolt of America against the dead hand of English tyranny is therefore the dawn of a new age in which Atlantis begins to appear above the waves. In the meantime England still exists in the spiritual world as Atlantis, and Blake's engraved poems are on its mountains." (Page 126)
Enion's Third Lament 
Four Zoas, Page 44, Night III, (E 330)
"These are the words of Enion heard from the cold waves of despair
O Tharmas I had lost thee. & when I hoped I had found thee
O Tharmas do not thou destroy me quite but let
A little shadow. but a little showery form of Enion
Be near thee loved Terror. let me still remain & then do thou
Thy righteous doom upon me. only let me hear thy voice           
Driven by thy rage I wander like a cloud into the deep
Where never yet Existence came, there losing all my life
I back return weaker & weaker, consume me not away
In thy great wrath. tho I have sinned. tho I have rebelld
Make me not like the things forgotten as they had not been       
Make not the thing that loveth thee. a tear wiped away" 
Enion's lament in Night III expresses the further disintegration of the unified psyche. Together Tharmas and Enion were the most basic building block of the psyche. When Enion become too distant from Tharmas to hear his voice or know that he sustained her existence she asked only to be remembered.
When we think of the instinctual aspect of our minds as the Id, the part that initially incorporates the desire to maintain life itself, we get an intimation of the function of Tharmas and Enion. If Tharmas holds the desire for life to be expressed and Enion the ability to express that desire, their integration into a unit is necessary to their existence. Tharmas without Enion is a chaotic flood which submerges Atlantis. It is as if the disorganized unconscious was threatening to withhold all psychic energy from other portions of the mind. Enion was the first to experience this loss by traveling farther and farther into nonexistence and finding it harder and harder to return.
If ordinary consciousness is lost when someone becomes mentally ill, the unconscious may gain control. Tharmas and Enion are what dominates the unconscious. For Enion to be completely lost to Tharmas would cut off any avenue to restoring order and consciousness. If Tharmas can remember Enion, she may draw him into a connection with the means of healing which the conscious mind may supply. 
British Museum
Small Book of Designs
Copy A, Plate 8