Friday, April 30, 2010

LARK / ANGEL

VLJ (E 565)
"Mental Things are alone Real what is Calld Corporeal Nobody Knows
of its Dwelling Place is in Fallacy & its Existence an
Imposture Where is the Existence Out of Mind or Thought Where is
it but in the Mind of a Fool."

Milton, Plate 36 (E 135)
"Thus are the Messengers dispatchd till they reach the Earth again
In the East Gate of Golgonooza, & the Twenty-eighth bright
Lark. met the Female Ololon descending into my Garden
Thus it appears to Mortal eyes & those of the Ulro Heavens
But not thus to Immortals, the Lark is a mighty, Angel.

For Ololon step'd into the Polypus within the Mundane Shell
They could not step into Vegetable Worlds without becoming
The enemies of Humanity except in a Female Form
And as One Female, Ololon and all its mighty Hosts
Appear'd: a Virgin of twelve years nor time nor space was
To the perception of the Virgin Ololon but as the
Flash of lightning but more quick the Virgin in my Garden
Before my Cottage stood for the Satanic Space is delusion"

Blake always asks us to go at least one step farther. If we reach the point where we can see the Lark as the messenger of Los, he wants us to see the Angelic presence in the Lark. And to see that the Lark is a delusion as is everything in our mind created world. He would that we may see as 'the flash of lightening.'

I think that he means that we have access to the phenomenal world through our mental images. Our senses provide input from the exterior, but mental processing creates the image we form. If we think that what we sense is reality we are delusional.

Concerning Blake's poem 'To Tirzah' from Songs of Experience, Damon (William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols, Page 281) writes:

"Blake undoubtedly wrote this poem when trying to interpret the unfilial remark of the child Jesus in the Temple: 'Woman, what have I to do with thee?' (John ii. 4). Blake's conclusion was that Jesus was interrupted in his consideration of spiritual matters by the intrusion of her who bound him to the corporeal world. This is the case with every man. For the mortal body is of the earth, and will return to it, a temporary delusion; the true body is the spiritual body: a distinction made by Paul (I Cor. xv. 44 - which is quoted by Blake in the marginal decorations to this poem)."

If Blake sees all life in this world as a temporary delusion, the Lark too is part of this delusion. The Angel is from Eternity, so has another level of existence, but is only a carrier of the message.

Although Blake believed that 'every thing that lives is Holy', the holiness comes from the Eternal nature not from the temporal or perishable nature.

The point is that Blake's sentence "The Lark is a Mighty Angel", points beyond the Lark to the Angel, its identity in Eternity. But that isn't the end of the chain of reference. The answer to every question is another question. We are finite, we cannot grasp the Infinite. But we can continue to approach. If we stop at the Lark or the Angel we miss what lies beyond.

Image to Mortal Eyes

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gates of Paradise Picture 7

Here is Picture 7.
Click on it to get an enlargement.
It came from the Library of Congress
Rosenwald Collection 1814

The inscription reads: What are these? Alas! the Female Martyr
Is She also the Divine Image

Pretty tricky text! In this picture like many others single vision will tell us virtually nothing about Blake's thoughts and intentions here.

Here is the text which Blake associated with this picture:
"7. One dies! Alas! the Living and Dead!
One is slain! and One is fled!"

(The inscription on the picture, shown above, tells us more.)

The picture shows three figures: the large young man emanating joy, and two smaller ones: one dead and the other fleeing into the skies. All three are attributes of Blake (and you and me!).

Summarizing Digby (37-39) the picture shows our attitude toward the "grains of sand", the "Wild Flower" the "golden wings" of the last post. Digby cited another poem:
"He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy.
He who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity's sunrise."

I can cite the same idea from my own experience with Henry Wieman's Source of Human Good : Wieman, a naturalistic theologian (a school to which I belong!) pointed out two basic realities: the creative good and the creative event. You should be able to judge 'which was which' in the picture above.

Quoting Digby (37): "This is the art of life to which so few have found the secret. Either we miss what the moment offers, and it flies away forever; or, by trying to bend it to our will and purpose, we destroy it."

Choosing the Creative Event we may go through life enjoying it (called Living Eternally); or we may allow the Selfhood to rob us of it.

But there is a "deeper problem" (p.38) expressed in the inscription: " What are these? Alas! the Female Martyr
Is She also the Divine Image?"

The Divine Image represents the union of the two contraries: the answer to the above question is YES: the female (emanation) gives herself willing, and the male likewise, exemplified in Milton's return from Paradise "to redeem the female shade" (plate 36) while "the happy female joy is only actualized in self-sacrifice (Digby 38). For this principle Jerusalem Plate 96 is well worth reading carefully. It is the Moment of redemption, salvation, of union of the two into one and collectively the Brotherhood, for which Jesus prayed in John 17. Here is the text of Plate 96 :

"[Jesus said to Albion] if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love: As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

GRAIN OF SAND

Auguries of Innocence

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour"

'Thy golden wings are my delight'

Eternity as we have said before is not distant in time or space; it can be experienced whenever we are able to be open and receptive to it. The tiniest, most humble things may act as the catalyst for opening or cleansing the doors of perception.

We as humans are made to receive Eternity, because God is within us. And yet we are barred from entering the gates which are provided. Blake tells us that the 'dread Og and Anak guard the gates.'

Anak, says Damon in A Blake Dictionary is one of an Old Testament race of giants. He is one of four - Anak, Og, Sihon and Satan - who are designated to 'oppose Man's progress towards Eternity.' Og and Anak are the guards of the gates which open into Golgonooza (the city of Imagination). 'They are also responsible for the looms, mills, prisons and workhouses which prevent man from leading a spiritual life.'

On the level of the psyche there are blockages (Og and Anak) which lock us out of the ability to perceive things as they are. These barriers are different for each person. By looking within and facing the 'giants' these gates may be opened.

Blake also names the 'manacles' which bind man in the outward world, the oppressive institutions (Og and Anak) which destroy bodies and deaden minds. In this world limits are set which constrict the downtrodden from seeing that 'world in a grain of sand' or 'heaven in a wild flower'.

Milton, Plate 20, (E 114)
"Seest thou the little winged fly, smaller than a grain of sand?
It has a heart like thee; a brain open to heaven & hell,
Withinside wondrous & expansive; its gates are not clos'd,
I hope thine are not: hence it clothes itself in rich array;
Hence thou art cloth'd with human beauty O thou mortal man.
Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies:
There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old:
For every human heart has gates of brass & bars of adamant,
Which few dare unbar because dread Og & Anak guard the gates
Terrific! and each mortal brain is walld and moated round
Within: and Og & Anak watch here; here is the Seat
Of Satan in its Webs; for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion"

____________

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gates of Paradise Picture 6


This from the Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection; click on it to get a larger image

It isn't very easy to see the relationship between this picture and the accompanying text.

"6. I rent the Veil where the Dead dwell:
When weary Man enters his Cave,
He meets his Saviour in the grave.
Some find a Female Garment there,
And some a Male, woven with care;
Lest the Sexual Garments sweet
Should grow a devouring Winding-sheet."


Man! this one is deep. I can only (reading Digby 30-37) make an attempt to explicate it here.

With "where the Dead dwell" means those of us who assume the mortal state. Blake also sometimes used the term Eternal Death, as Milton's "And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!" (Milton plate 14 line 14; E108). And then at the beginning of Jerusalem: "Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through Eternal Death! and of the awakening to Eternal Life."

"The Redeemer is not only a God on High, but a seed hidden in the earth, in man himself" (Digby 34). Blake's God was above all imminent: "Seek not thy heavenly father then, beyond the skies" (Jerusalem plate 23, line 40).
"When weary Man enters his Cave": weary eternals do R and R in Beulah, then fall asleep (like Albion did) and enter the (platonic?) cave of mortal life.

The veil of course is what hides us from Eternity (and what hides the Eternals from mortal life). Christians including Blake believe of course that the Saviour is with us here always.

"Some find a Female Garment there,
And some a Male, woven with care;"

Blake doesn't mean two individuals, but the masculine and feminine dimension of each of us, in Jungian psychology the Eternal Youth, a "symbol of creative possibility" and the anima.

"Lest the Sexual Garments sweet
Should grow a devouring Winding-sheet", which is to say that without the Saviour's creative influence we simply sink deeper and "deeper into confusion and disillusion" (Digby 37).


Blake used garment to designate our physical bodies and everything else of a purely material nature.

Monday, April 26, 2010

IS THIS HEAVEN?

We've posted on each of Blake's four major cities: London, Galgoonoza, Babylon and Jerusalem but there is more to be said. London was Blake's outward experience, with all its errors and contradictions; Golgonooza, the city within London (which through imagination may correct errors through vision, forgiveness and spiritual gifts), was created to provide an escape from the merely physical; Babylon was the expression of the soulless, self-centered, mercenary city which grows when man fails to develop his inner riches; and Jerusalem was the spiritual city, the potential for the inner and outer realization of Eternal values.

Although we have already posted four time on subjects related to Golgonooza, more needs to be said.

Blake speaks frequently of Golgonooza:

Milton, PLATE 6, (E 99)
"From Golgonooza the spiritual Four-fold London eternal
In immense labours & sorrows, ever building, ever falling,
Thro Albions four Forests which overspread all the Earth,"
__________
Milton, Plate 17,(E 111)
"For travellers from Eternity. pass outward to Satans seat,
But travellers to Eternity. pass inward to Golgonooza."
__________
Milton, Plate 20, (E 113)
"for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion"
__________
Milton, Plate 24, E( 119)
"I the Fourth Zoa am also set
The Watchman of Eternity, the Three are not! & I am preserved
Still my four mighty ones are left to me in Golgonooza
Still Rintrah fierce, and Palamabron mild & piteous
Theotormon filld with care, Bromion loving Science"

You O my Sons still guard round Los. O wander not & leave me
__________
Milton, Plate 24, (E 120)
"But Golgonooza is namd Art & Manufacture by mortal men."
__________
Milton, Plate 29, (E 128)
"Then Los conducts the Spirits to be Vegetated, into
Great Golgonooza, free from the four iron pillars of Satans
Throne
(Temperance, Prudence, justice, Fortitude, the four pillars of
tyranny)
That Satans Watch-Fiends, touch them not before they Vegetate."
__________
Milton, Plate 35, (E 135)
"So spake Ololon in reminiscence astonishd, but they
Could not behold Golgonooza without passing the Polypus
A wondrous journey not passable by Immortal feet, & none
But the Divine Saviour can pass it without annihilation.
For Golgonooza cannot be seen till having passd the Polypus
It is viewed on all sides round by a Four-fold Vision
Or till you become Mortal & Vegetable in Sexuality
Then you behold its mighty Spires & Domes of ivory & gold"
__________
Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 153)
"Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza
Compelling his Spectre to labours mighty; trembling in fear
The Spectre weeps, but Los unmovd by tears or threats remains

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans
I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create"
__________
Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels.

Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold,
The great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north
And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west
Each within other toward the four points: that toward
Eden, and that toward the World of Generation,
And that toward Beulah, and that toward Ulro:
Ulro is the space of the terrible starry wheels of Albions sons:
But that toward Eden is walled up, till time of renovation:
Yet it is perfect in its building, ornaments & perfection.

And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North,
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever."
__________
Jerusalem, Plate 14, (E 157)
"Around Golgonooza lies the land of death eternal; a Land
Of pain and misery and despair and ever brooding melancholy:"
__________
Jerusalem, Page 87, (E 368)
"Los performd Wonders of labour
They Builded Golgonooza Los labouring builded pillars high
And Domes terrific in the nether heavens for beneath
Was opend new heavens & a new Earth beneath & within
Threefold within the brain within the heart within the loins
A Threefold Atmosphere Sublime continuous from Urthonas world
But yet having a Limit Twofold named Satan & Adam"
__________
Jerusalem, Page 100, (E 372)
"And upon Enitharmon & the Divine Countenance shone
In Golgonooza Looking down the Daughters of Beulah saw
With joy the bright Light & in it a Human form
And knew he was the Saviour Even Jesus & they worshipped

Astonishd Comforted Delighted in notes of Rapturous Extacy
All Beulah stood astonishd Looking down to Eternal Death
They saw the Saviour beyond the Pit of death & destruction
For whether they lookd upward they saw the Divine Vision
Or whether they lookd downward still they saw the Divine Vision
Surrounding them on all sides beyond sin & death & hell"
__________
Four Zoas, Page 103, (E 376)
"In Golgonoozas Furnaces among the Anvils of time & space
Thus forming a Vast family wondrous in beauty & love
And they appeard a Universal female form created
From those who were dead in Ulro from the in Spectres of the dead"
__________

In Golgoonooza: City of Imagination, Kathleen Raine sees Golgonooza as an attempt to make visible the archetypal city of Eternity by those who remember Eternal things. Lovers of wisdom, poets, painters, architects - those with imagination - are the agents (Los and his sons) for building Golgonooza. Within London the the spiritual Four-fold eternal city is to take form as multiple pathways or gates into Great Eternity.

Kathleen Raine: "Jerusalem can never, in the very nature of time and change be fully realized on earth , yet Jerusalem has in Golgoonoza, her refugees, her 'secret chambers' in the houses of London's inhabitants, and among these Blake's own house in 'lovely Lambeth', where he and Catherine lived in the early years of their
marriage, where a vine grew unpruned in their small garden."

Image from the British Museum
____________
Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
"I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land."

Footnote: Field of Dreams; "Is this heaven?", "No, it's Iowa".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gates of Paradise Pictures 2-5

In this section Blake has recourse to an old, old truth; the four elements were basic in ancient philosophy ; for example Empedocles' philosophy is best known for being the origin of the "cosmogenic theory of the four Classical elements." (wikipedia).

Read Gates of Paradise as a pdf file in the Library of Congress.

Digby on pages 24-30 casts light on Blake's intentions in this part of our poem:

2. Doubt self-jealous, Watery folly:
Water is the province of Tharmas (related to the function Jung called sensation).

3. Struggling thro' Earth's melancholy:
Earth belongs to Urthona (Los) - the center of intuition which comes from 'down below'. Urthona in the person of Los works at bringing the creative seed out of the earth into the active plant.

4. Naked in Air, in shame and fear; Urizen belongs here; note the inscription ("on cloudy doubts and reasoning cares"). Urizen has come forth with the law, but he's sure as heck nervous about it (we read in Night 2 of The Four Zoas
" No more Exulting for he saw Eternal Death beneath
Pale he beheld futurity; pale he beheld the Abyss"

(FZ2-23.14-15; E313). In Blake's poems the stars (as shown here) represent Urizenic order.

5. Blind in Fire, with shield and spear; Emotion! Love, Desire, Hate, you name it. Luvah of course!

Perhaps this series led to Blake's choice of the four zoas, the primary basis of his psychology. Carl Jung also picked up on this reality, having read Blake as well as Empedocles and Blake's other readings.
Jung came up with sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

JERUSALEM

For Blake, the development of the Symbol - Jerusalem - begins in the Old Testament as the center of the people of Israel, the location of the Temple and the Holy City. Continuing in the New Testament, Jerusalem is the location of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The symbolic Biblical meaning culminates in the vision of a New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.

Blake also read and studied Swedenborg and had a temporary association with Swedenborg's church before Blake created his 'own system'.

"According to Swedenborg, the New Jerusalem described in the Bible is a symbol for a new dispensation that was to replace/restore Christianity. Also according to these books, this New Jerusalem began to be established around 1757. This stems from their belief that Jerusalem itself is a symbol of the Church, and so the New Jerusalem in the Bible is a prophetic description of a New Church."

The rich symbol of Jerusalem which Blake inherited became richer as he used it in his mythopoeic poetry.

Used by Blake, Jerusalem is such a complex symbol that it can't be pinned down to a single meaning or complex of meanings. What it represents is within every individual and manifest in the world as a city and a temple. As an image of the search for completeness, she is the holy wanderer; as the fruition of man's search she is Liberty. As the spiritual principle of life she is the provider of souls. She is the emanation of the Universal Man, the giant Albion; the portion that seeks regeneration while Albion sleeps. She is the bride of the Lamb of God, the heavenly city of Revelation descending from heaven. The meaning of her name is Peace.

As a city to Blake, Jerusalem is not of this world. She is the pattern for the London which Blake could envision.

In the end of Blake's Jerusalem, she has become an all-inclusive image of the manifestations of Eternity.

Jerusalem, PLATE 99, (E 258)
"All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.

And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem

The End of The Song
of Jerusalem"

In the following passage we see Blake building his image and incorporating aspects of Jerusalem into a multidimensional, elusive but inclusive, paradigm. As we build our image of Jerusalem, we master the activities of imagination that are essential to Blake's process of building Jerusalem itself. This is the process which he is trying to teach us even though it takes incessant building and destroying at the anvil of Los.

Jerusalem, PLATE 86, (E 244)
"And this is the Song of Los, the Song that he sings on his Watch

O lovely mild Jerusalem! O Shiloh of Mount Ephraim!
I see thy Gates of precious stones: thy Walls of gold & silver
Thou art the soft reflected Image of the Sleeping Man
Who stretchd on Albions rocks reposes amidst his Twenty-eight
Cities: where Beulah lovely terminates, in the hills & valleys of
Albion
Cities not yet embodied in Time and Space: plant ye
The Seeds O Sisters in the bosom of Time & Spaces womb
To spring up for Jerusalem: lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion
Why wilt thou rend thyself apart & build an Earthly Kingdom
To reign in pride & to opress & to mix the Cup of Delusion
O thou that dwellest with Babylon! Come forth O lovely-one

I see thy Form O lovely mild Jerusalem, Wingd with Six Wings
In the opacous Bosom of the Sleeper, lovely Three-fold
In Head & Heart & Reins, three Universes of love & beauty
Thy forehead bright: Holiness to the Lord, with Gates of pearl
Reflects Eternity beneath thy azure wings of feathery down
Ribbd delicate & clothd with featherd gold & azure & purple
From thy white shoulders shadowing, purity in holiness!
Thence featherd with soft crimson of the ruby bright as fire
Spreading into the azure Wings which like a canopy
Bends over thy immortal Head in which Eternity dwells
Albion beloved Land; I see thy mountains & thy hills
And valleys & thy pleasant Cities Holiness to the Lord
I see the Spectres of thy Dead O Emanation of Albion.

Thy Bosom white, translucent coverd with immortal gems
A sublime ornament not obscuring the outlines of beauty
Terrible to behold for thy extreme beauty & perfection
Twelve-fold here all the Tribes of Israel I behold
Upon the Holy Land: I see the River of Life & Tree of Life
I see the New Jerusalem descending out of Heaven

Between thy Wings of gold & silver featherd immortal
Clear as the rainbow, as the cloud of the Suns tabernacle"

A paradox of Blake's Jerusalem is that within her outer manifestations can be seen the Lamb of God, the vision of whom can initiate the process of redemption which will transform Jerusalem.

Four Zoas, PAGE 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376)
"And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire

Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us"


Plate 92, Jerusalem______Christ and Mary from Paradise Regained

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gates of Paradise Pictures 1


Here is the first of the sixteen pictures used in Gates of Paradise to illustrate the gnomic content of Blake's text. Associated with this picture Blake wrote three couplets:

"My Eternal Man set in repose,
The Female from his darkness rose;
And she found me beneath a Tree,
A Mandrake, and in her Veil hid me.
Serpent Reasonings us entice
Of good and evil, virtue and vice"
'My Eternal Man is Blake's perception
of himself before the Fall or of Albion (who fell asleep) or of you or me in our spiritual essence.

The darkness of his sleep leads to the rise (within him) of the female, the age old symbol of materialist 'reality' under the moon, and of the dust. So the Eternal Man symbolizes the image of God within us and the 'female', the dust from which we are made.

"she found me beneath a Tree,
A Mandrake, and in her Veil hid me."

The mandrake is associated with sexual activity; the 'woman' is associated with generation or clothing mortals with materiality. The Tree represents here our ancestry, our biological inheritance, the culture in which we are born. Remember there were two trees in the Garden. Blake has a lot to say about trees throughout his works.

The veil is another ubiquitous symbol in Blake's poetry. Remember Vala, veiled, as she stands beside Jerusalem. Jerusalem of course represents the Eternal and Vala the mortal.

"Serpent Reasonings us entice
Of good and evil, virtue and vice"
An apt description of what happened in the Garden. We eat the apple; we become dominated by our ideas of good and evil, very often far from the mark. Blake had no use of good and evil; he preferred truth and error, to confess our errors and undergo the 'Last Judgment' (this may come up very slowly or not at all); forgiven we move up higher:

"What are all the Gifts of the Spirit but Mental Gifts whenever any Individual Rejects Error & Embraces Truth a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual" (E561).

(All of the above summarizes Digby pages 20-24.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BABYLON

Blake takes the city of Babylon from Old Testament history and uses it symbolically. Judah was held captive in Babylon under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The book of Daniel tells of the exploits of Nebuchadnezzar including his being afflicted with mental illness for seven years until he submitted to God. Not only did Blake use Babylon as an image for the purely material earthly city in contrast to Jerusalem the heavenly city, he used an image of Nebuchadnezzar to show the ultimate state of man who falls away from connection with spirit.

Here is some of what Kathleen Raine in Golgonooza: City of Imagination, (Page 106) has to say about Blake's use of Babylon:

"In contrast with Jerusalem, mother of souls and bride of 'Jesus, the Imagination' - for the soul must be wedded to the spirit - is Babylon, city of this world. Blake's Babylon is the 'cruel' Goddess Nature - the world of generation seen as the supreme and only power. The laws of men understand men and women as no more than their mortal selves. The morality of Jerusalem is based on Imagination, immortal and boundless; Babylon knows only a moral law imposed on the natural man. Imagination can 'distinguish between the man and his present state', for men pass on while 'states' are mere stages on the way.

'Every Harlot was a Virgin once,
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan.' (K 771)

"Kate and Nan are unique souls, neither harlot or virgin, which are 'states' Kate or Nan may pass through. In Babylon forgiveness has no such ground, a sinner is a sinner and incurs the punishment of the moral law which belongs to the natural order.When the spiritual vision closes, then the Moral Worm 'Brings forth Moral Virtue & the cruel virgin Babylon', an external code, 'cruel' because it can only condemn and pass judgment. Babylon is always, in Blake's prophetic mythology, called a 'virgin' because she does not receive God in a 'marriage' of love, but is self-righteous, and can only be redeemed, through reconciliation with Jerusalem, the soul, Jerusalem will 'give her into the arms of God, your Lord and Husband'. The 'virginity' of Babylon is the self-righteous moral virtue as against the love of the 'Universal Savior', the God within. Blake continually denounces the 'cruelty' of natural law, the Deism of his day and the 'selfish virtues of the natural heart'.
Babylon is the 'mother of war', the ultimate moral sanction of competing nations: where the kingdom of the Imagination unites, natural morality is self-centered and divisive. In Babylon Jerusalem's love and forgiveness is condemned, as protecting sinners, and Jerusalem becomes 'a wandering harlot in the streets', condemned to suffer in prison, or to labor 'at the mills' where the Soul has no recourse against the powers of this world."

Jerusalem, Plate 24, (E 169)
"I have turned my back upon thee into the Wastes of Moral
Law:

There Babylon is builded in the Waste, founded in Human
desolation.
O Babylon thy Watchman stands over thee in the night
Thy severe judge all the day long proves thee O Babylon
With provings of destruction, with giving thee thy hearts
desire.

But Albion is cast forth to the Potter his Children to the
Builders
To build Babylon because they have forsaken Jerusalem
The Walls of Babylon are Souls of Men: her Gates the Groans
Of Nations: her Towers are the Miseries of once happy
Families.

Her Streets are paved with Destruction, her Houses built
with
Death
Her Palaces with Hell & the Grave; her Synagogues with
Torments

Of ever-hardening Despair squard & polishd with cruel
skill"


Babylon 'is the city of Vala, of Natural Religion, or
Deism, the Goddess Nature.' (Damon)

Babylon is the worst side of London, the oppressors and
exploiters. It is the the materialists who have turned away
from a Vision of the Eternal and who impede others in their
search for Vision and Imagination.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gates of Paradise - Prologue

After the Frontispiece comes the Prologue:
(Gates of Paradise like everything else that Blake wrote is basically autobiographical (of his inner thoughts and feelings); It's also generic in the sense that it applies to the psyche of everyone (even you and me)).
We have here five couplets (without a picture):
"Mutual Forgiveness of each vice,Such are the Gates of Paradise"
Mutual Forgiveness is a threefold process:
We must forgive ourselves
We must forgive God
We must forgive one another, which is to say everyone.

To forgive yourself you must know yourself-- the hardest thing you will ever do. It may be something like the end of Mad Song:
"Like a fiend in a cloud
With howling woe,
After night I do croud,
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east,
From whence comforts have increas'd;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain."

It may mean 'frantic pain' to really know yourself, or are you truly who you think you are? In Jung's terms there's a world of difference between your selfhood and your self. But we may face that 'dark night of the soul' now or afterwards.

"Against the Accuser's chief desire,
Who walk'd among the stones of fire.
The Accuser of course is Satan, by Blake's side all his life (and yours? mine?) We've already written about the stones of fire.

"Jehovah's Finger wrote the Law;
Then wept; then rose in zeal and awe,
And the dead corpse, from Sinai's heat,
Buried beneath His Mercy-seat."
These two couplets might be seen as Blake's idea of the Old and New Testaments.

"O Christians! Christians! tell me why
You rear it on your altars high?"
Blake deplores the fact that Church too often was about sin and wrath rather than mutual forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LONDON

Blake pictures London as an old man being led by a child. This intimates that London incorporates contradictions. The aged man represents the pain and sorrow of the city, its failures and poverty, its violence and cruelty, its blindness and decay. Leading the elder is a child: the hope and promise of the future tied to the past as a voluntary guide and assistant. Blake experienced his city, London, as incorporating the range of human experience from exploitation to community. The Innocent and the Experienced as well as the 'travellers from Eternity' were at home in Blake's London.

London, the place in England where he lived and worked, where he grew up and grew old, became to Blake an image of all other possibilities for cities. His visions of Babylon, Golgonooza and Jerusalem grew out of his experience of London.

In speaking of London in Golgoonoza: City of Imagination, Kathleen Raine says: "For Blake a city is a living organism, 'a Human awful wonder of God', as he wrote; it is the inner lives of the inhabitants as they act and interact upon one another. Of this invisible city, composed of a multitude of lives; the city of stone and bricks, of streets and buildings, of palaces and churches, is only the image and expression. For Blake, a Londoner born, his city is above all human:

I behold London; a Human awful wonder of God!
He says: Return, Albion, return! I give myself for thee:
My Streets are my, Ideas of Imagination.
Awake Albion, awake! and let us awake up together.
My Houses are Thoughts: my Inhabitants; Affections,
The children of my thoughts, walking within my blood-vessels,"
Jerusalem, PLATE 34 [38], (E 180)

The sorrow Blake felt for the pain experienced within his city is expressed in Songs of Experience in his poem London:
SONGS 46 (E 26)

LONDON

"I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse"

London spoke to Blake - he listened, he heard, he saw, he felt, he wrote.

Jerusalem, PLATE 34 [38],(E 180)
"So spoke London, immortal Guardian! I heard in Lambeths shades:
In Felpham I heard and saw the Visions of Albion
I write in South Molton Street, what I both see and hear
In regions of Humanity, in Londons opening streets."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gates of Paradise - Introduction

From 1947 to 1972 George Wingfield Digby was Keeper of the Department of Textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum; he was a man of very broad interests; one of them was Symbol and Image in William Blake. That is the name of a book he published at Oxford in 1957.

Digby was no professional literary critic; he wrote as an amateur and hence in a language easily understood by laymen like you and me. His descriptive material about the Gates of Paradise could easily be the subject of many posts.

In 1793 Blake came forth with For the Children, Gates of Paradise; 25 years later he produced For the Sexes, Gates of Paradise. The second production has additional textual material and two additional pictures.

What follows here will be primarily about Digby's explanatory notes:

The Frontispiece shows two figures on two leaves: a caterpillar is eating one, and a human like infant wrapped in a cocoon lies cradled in the other one. What is Blake saying?

The first figure represents  a worm of 60 winters creeping on the dusky ground (Tiriel, 8.11, E 285), which is to say a person who goes through life with no spiritual consciousness, a purely material animal living a natural life and eating only what he can get from nature.

Beneath the Picture:
"What is Man
The Suns Light when he unfolds it
Depends on the Organ that beholds it"

And this from Jerusalem (Plate 30 Lines 56-8 E177):
"If the Perceptive Organs close: their Objects seem to close also:
Consider this O mortal Man! O worm of sixty winters said Los
Consider Sexual Organization & hide thee in the dust."

The caterpillar represents this deadly dull man living without any spiritual consciousness.

The contrasting 'infant' figure in turn represents the endless possibilities of the new born.

We have a stark either-or: one has learned to eat the heavenly manna or not. Digby displayed two contrasting pictures: the first generally called Glad Day and the other "a worm seventy inches long" (not available except in Digby's book). It shows an old man with a long scraggly white beard looking at himself in a mirror.

That's the difference between people with a spiritual consciousness and others. (Could you perhaps see yourself as somewhere between these two extremes?)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MAD SONG

Here is an article titled Method in Blake's "Mad Song" by F. R. Duplantier.

So many meanings can be attached to these few lines from Blake's Poetical Sketches that they become a Rorschach test revealing the observer more than the observed.

This is what I can see in "Mad Song"; I invite you to look carefully for what you see in the words and how you respond to them.

In the first verse the speaker invites into himself the world of fear and woe. He knows he is turning away from pleasant things: light and warmth and joy. The interplay of the contraries at the intersection of night and day create the movement, the dance, the catalytic reaction. The day is too calm, too bright; he chooses to stay at that turbulent intersection where the unexpected may take place. The uncertainty, the insecurity, the unpredictability may be painful but it allows his brain to be seized by the light which is beyond his control: the ever welcome vision.

Poetical Sketches, MAD SONG, (E 414)

"The wild winds weep,
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs infold:

But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling birds of dawn
The earth do scorn.

Lo! to the vault
Of paved heaven,
With sorrow fraught
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of night,
Make weep the eyes of day;
They make mad the roaring winds,
And with tempests play.

Like a fiend in a cloud
With howling woe,
After night I do croud,
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east,

From whence comforts have increas'd;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain."

This speaker has quite the opposite reaction to that of Thel when she withdrew from the opportunity to gain Experience.

'Like a fiend in a cloud'

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blake's Bible II

" Both read the Bible day & night
But thou readst black where I read white"
(Everlasting Gospel; Erdman 524)

The above quote most succinctly points out the way Blake differs from ordinary Bible Scholars-- like night and day. While most Christians have made an idol of the Bible (generally worshipping it from afar), Blake labored with no such disability. He loved it dearly-- and felt perfectly free to interpret it however it struck him.

Blake perceived the Bible to be poetry-- like his own, so whenever he referred to the Bible, it wasn't like a pious approach, it was like a poet speaking to a poet.
Poets make poetic statements using symbols, metaphors and images; the meaning is not precise (like scientific statements), but allusive; it depends as much upon the reader as the writer.

Conversation at its best is open ended, tentative, subjective. Blake had a conversation with the Bible writers and with you and me. Many of Blake's words (biblical and other) may seem completely opaque to one reader and perfectly plain to another.

This is what makes Blake's use of the Bible constantly fascinating and offers many chances for a fruitful discourse. This is what he meant by reading white.

For more on this subject check our Chapter Six .

Friday, April 16, 2010

ENTERING the VOID


This statement from an interview with Blake scholars was made by Morris Eaves the editor of The Cambridge Companion to William Blake.
"But my own experience jibes with Hazard Adams's: 'It is always interesting to observe,' he wrote in 1982, 'what is simply skipped over in commentaries on the prophecies' (400). And, as for the 'hope of a language being developed that will deal more successfully with Blake,' he concludes, 'I am not sure most of us know how to formulate the problem or even what it is' (401). Then, curiously but I would contend symptomatically, a page later he is saying that 'In the end, though, there is a message or there are messages in Blake, and Blake scholarship and criticism ought to be involved in making these messages available to a needy world' (402). Similarly, Blake himself issues lots of promises to readers to the effect that what he's saying is crucial and that if only they'll follow his illuminated golden string through the darkness they'll end up in heaven's gate built in Jerusalem's wall. But if anyone has been able to follow that string I don't know it.
"Two caveats: I don't mean to say that Blake is unreadable. He's eminently readable—just impossible to understand past a certain point. And I don't mean to say that scholarship and criticism have been ineffective in revealing the outlines or in filling in countless helpful details. I mean that the level of meaning that Blake allows, as far as I can tell, cannot be expected to support those important messages that Hazard mentioned, and that Blake certainly seems to claim he's delivering. But, as Hazard's comment shows, trying to make sense of Blake's work, stressful as it is, doesn't necessarily lead to despair. What Blake is, is thrilling to read. And the intensely participatory reading experience that Bob describes is what keeps the thrill alive. Together, that experience of reading on a high wire combined with the promise of rescuing a major artist from obscurity and oblivion have provided the impetus to keep readers reading and lookers looking ever since that group of Victorians showed how to make Blake audible and visible.

"Finally, I would never deny the possibility that the impossible dream may someday become possible after all."

Blake scholars never run out of something to study but it often seems that scholarly studies get further and further from the actual meaning that Blake was trying to convey. Perhaps this is a necessary consequence of the nature of Blake's content. He wasn't only interested in making significant poetry and impressive pictures. He was trying to 'open the minds of men to a perception of the infinite'. If he succeeds in that task, the questions of his technical skills and means through which he achieved his goal fades into insignificance. Blake's religion was that of personal inner mystical experience; not natural religion but revealed religion. Understanding the content of his message likewise is not the result of natural pursuits, but the result of a breakthrough to another level of experience.

Scholarship is helpful in learning Blake if it leads students into Blake's works so that they may take root and be assimilated. Scholarship that leads outward to innumerable influences and entanglements may only divert students from what Blake sought to do.







JERUSALEM
The Emanation of The Giant Albion
1804 Printed by W. Blake Sth Molton St.
PLATE 1 [Above the archway deleted text]











"There is a Void, outside of Existence, which if enterd into
Englobes itself & becomes a Womb, such was Albions Couch
A pleasant Shadow of Repose calld Albions lovely Land

His Sublime & Pathos become Two Rocks fixd in the Earth
His Reason his Spectrous Power, covers them above
Jerusalem his Emanation is a Stone laying beneath
O [Albion behold Pitying] behold the Vision of Albion"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Natural Religion

After the Biblical Fall the Old Testament drama unfolds as a protracted struggle between two Gods. In every age the majority of Mankind have worshiped Mother Earth, Matter or the recurring cycle of vegetative life. She has many names; in the Bible one of the most common is Astarte. In our day "Astarte" exacts an acceptance of things as they are, an attempt to flow with the stream of Nature. The Bible called this "whoring after other gods".
Blake called it Natural Religion or Druidism. He meant by Natural Religion the worship of the principle of fallen life; those most conformed and faithful to it become the rulers of this world. Natural Religion involves choosing to remain at the level of the material, which Blake called vegetative life.
The believer in Natural Religion closes his mind to the reality of spiritual development; he turns his back upon the Spirit. Unable to endure the tension of struggling and waiting for spiritual evolution he erects a golden calf. He either acquiesces in or actively contributes to the brutishness and horror of a life that "lives upon death".
The Bible and Blake's poetry alike are filled with gory images of this ultimate horror, which comes from identifying life with the merely natural. T.S.Eliot said in The Sacred Wood that Blake's poetry is unpleasant, as all great poetry is unpleasant. It is "unpleasant" basically because Blake, like the Bible, insists on calling a spade a spade. Nowhere is Blake closer to the Bible than in his constant reiteration of the ultimate horror of unredeemed life, celebrated in page after page of minute particulars.
Blake and the Bible both insistently remind us that Nature is fallen , and that one flows with this fallen Nature to one's destruction. Abraham and Moses knew a higher God: he was above Nature; he was Spirit. He called men to rise above the natural and to become sons of a God opposed to everything Astarte stood for, to live by the laws, not of earth, but of heaven.
The children of Abraham tried to put this God first, but rarely with notable success. Instead at every opportunity they turned away from Jehovah "under every green tree", back to Nature. This inevitably led back to Captivity in the  iron furnaces of Egypt/Babylon/Rome, etc.

(For more of this subject go to Chapter Six )

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ANCIENT BRITONS

When Blake moved back to London from Felpham for a time he opened an exhibit of his paintings in the shop of his brother James. He wrote an extended Descriptive Catalogue of the works he was exhibiting. The quotes about Albion and Arthur in a previous post were from that catalogue. A picture which has been lost was the subject of the comments Blake made about Albion and Arthur.

Blake's picture according to his description was of three ancient Britons who were the sole survivors of a battle against the Romans. Descriptive Catalogue, NUMBER 5, (E 542-5):

" THE ANCIENT BRITONS--Three Ancient Britons overthrowing the Army of armed Romans; the Figures full as
large as Life--From the Welch Triades.
In the last Battle that Arthur fought, the most Beautiful was one
That return'd, and the most Strong another: with them also return'd
The most Ugly, and no other beside return'd from the bloody Field.

The most Beautiful, the Roman Warriors trembled before and worshipped:
The most Strong, they melted before him and dissolved in his presence:
The most Ugly they fled with outcries and contortion of their Limbs."

To Blake:

"The Strong man represents the human sublime. The Beautiful man represents the human pathetic, which was
in the wars of Eden divided into male and female. The Ugly man represents the human reason. They were originally one man, who was fourfold; he was self-divided, and his real humanity slain on the stems of generation, and the form of the fourth was like the Son of God. How he became divided is a subject of great sublimity and pathos. The Artist has written it under inspiration, and will, if God please, publish it; it is voluminous, and contains the ancient history of Britain, and the world of Satan and of Adam. In the mean time he has painted this Picture,"
...
"It will be necessary for the Painter to say something concerning his ideas of Beauty, Strength and Ugliness.
The Beauty that is annexed and appended to folly, is a lamentable accident and error of the mortal and perishing life; it does but seldom happen; but with this unnatural mixture the sublime Artist can have nothing to do; it is fit for the burlesque. The Beauty proper for sublime art, is lineaments, or forms and features that are capable of being the receptacles of intellect; accordingly the Painter has given in his beautiful man, his own idea of intellectual Beauty. The face and limbs that deviates or alters least, from infancy to old age, is the face and limbs of greatest Beauty and perfection.
The Ugly likewise, when accompanied and annexed to imbecility and disease, is a subject for burlesque and not for historical grandeur; the Artist has imagined his Ugly man; one approaching to the beast in features and form, his forehead small, without frontals; his jaws large; his nose high on the ridge, and narrow; his chest and he stamina of his make, comparatively little, and his joints and his extremities large; his eyes with scarce any whites, narrow and cunning, and every thing tending toward what is truly Ugly; the incapability of intellect.
The Artist has considered his strong Man as a receptacle of Wisdom, a sublime energizer; his features and limbs do not spindle out into length, without strength, nor are they too large and unwieldy for his brain and bosom. Strength consists in accumulation of power to the principal seat, and from thence a regular gradation and subordination; strength is compactness, not extent nor bulk.
The strong Man acts from conscious superiority, and marches on in fearless dependance on the divine decrees, raging with the inspirations of a prophetic mind. The Beautiful Man acts from duty, and anxious solicitude for the fates of those for whom he combats. The Ugly Man acts from love of carnage, and delight in the savage barbarities of war, rushing with sportive precipitation into the very teeth of the affrighted enemy."

Although there is no exact correlation between the three survivors and the Four Zoas, it is worth looking for some resemblances. The Strong Man is most like Tharmas, the physical body and source of man's energy. The Beautiful Man resembles Luvah who incorporates all the emotions and in his Eternal form is referred to a 'beauteous'. The Ugly man is Urizen who has become ugly through his hate, cruelty, and vengeance. The fourth man is like to the Son of God as was the fourth man in Daniel's fiery furnace. Los plays that role in Blake's myth since he is the force that initiates reunification.

Since the original picture is lost, I have tried to find images which may resemble the three men Blake describes.
Strong
Beautiful
Ugly

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blake's Prayers

People relate to and address God in a variety of ways:

1. The most common way is probably profanely, just using God terms as expletives, such as Oh my God or Jesus Christ.  I don't think you'll find that form of address in Blake's poetry.

2. In formal worship, such as "Our Father which art in Heaven".

3. In a familiar address such as "God, why did you let that happen?"

4.  In the third person such as the four year old Blake describing a personal experience of seeing an angry God in his window, or

5.  In personal prayer.

Another way to approach Blake's prayer life is with the general types of Prayer as Praise, Thanksgiving, Confession, Intercession Petition.

To get a handle on Blake's prayer life you might put God, Saviour, Jesus, Christ, Father in the Concordance.  Here are a few interesting occurrences:

In the Four Zoas the Saviour is mentioned several times, several times in Milton and many times in Jerusalem. In the letters he is addressed in:

#26 to Butts (April 03; E728)"
"Saviour & I am also grateful to the kind hand that endeavours to lift me out of despondency even if it lifts me too high--"

Reading this letter it seems obvious that Butts' encouragement had brought out the best in Blake, a strong faith that had been overlaid by so much worldly pressure from his supposed sponsor, Hayley.

Butts appears to be Blake's confessor, the one person in his acquaintance that he could express fully his true self.

With Hayley no longer breathing over him Blake found it easy to be civil and appreciative, as we can see in Letter #34 (Jan 04 E739):
"God our Saviour watch over you & preserve you".

By 1805 he had gained enough emotional distance from Hayley even to instruct him in the value of spirituality:

#61 Dec. 1805; Erdman 767):
....I throw Myself & all that I have on our..
Saviours Divine Providence. O What Wonders are the Children of Men! Would to God that they would Consider it That they would Consider their Spiritual Life Regardless of that faint Shadow Calld Natural Life. & that they would Promote Each others Spiritual Labours."

In this passage we see another form of address:
"Would to God.." One of these: ("Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets") is actually a paraphrase of Numbers 11:29.

Monday, April 12, 2010

ALBION & ARTHUR

THE SLEEP OF ALBION is a chapter in Kathleen Raine's book, Golgoonoza: City of Imagination. In it Raine explores the relationship between King Arthur and Albion (the oldest name for Great Britain) in the mind of the British. She shows how Blake's Albion partakes of the legends surrounding King Arthur. As the legends of King Arthur end, he is entombed but not dead, sleeping until he is called to return to 'restore just rule to his kingdom and repel its enemies'.

Blake writes:
(Descriptive Catalogue, Number V, (E 543)):
"The giant Albion, was Patriarch of the Atlantic, he is
the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks
called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of
Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who
conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world
in the dark age, which the Romans never again
recovered."

In Jerusalem, it is the Giant Albion who is "imagined in the similitude of Arthur". Albion's sleep is the sleep of Arthur. Raine says, "in recounting the 'acts of Albion' [Blake] considered himself to be recounting the sacred history - the inner history of the British nation from ancient times, with prophetic foresight of that future when Albion, like Arthur, is to wake from sleep."

To Raine the 'sleep' of Albion "is conceived by Blake not as the mere passage of time but as a state of apathy, of lowering of consciousness, of forgetfulness of higher things...Blake tells the story of how the nation has come to lapse into spiritual ignorance and forgetfulness...

"Blake is quite specific in his diagnosis of England's national disease: it is precisely that secular materialism ... upon which modern Western civilization is founded...

"Our society is forever thinking in terms of changing our circumstances; Blake's revolution will come when we change ourselves. From inner awakenings outer changes will follow...

"When Albion awakens he will find himself in his lost kingdom restored to its former glory; for the kingdom is ourselves...

"Paradise is not a place but a state of being, the lost kingdom to which the sleepers of Albion must someday awake."

Descriptive Catalogue, NUMBER V, (E 542)

The Ancient Britons:

"In the last Battle of King Arthur only Three Britons
escaped,
these were the Strongest Man, the
Beautifullest Man, and the
Ugliest Man; these three
marched through the field unsubdued, as
Gods,
and the Sun of Britain s[e]t, but shall arise again with

tenfold splendor when Arthur shall awake from sleep,
and resume
his dominion over earth and ocean."

Jerusalem, Plate19, Albion 'in pain & tears'

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stones of Fire

Stones

A very prominent symbol in the Bible, 'stones' occurs
161 times in the Old and New Testaments. One that
Blake especially loved occurred in Ezekiel 28:

"13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every
precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz,
and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper,
the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold:
the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was
prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I
have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of
God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the
stones of fire."

The covering cherub! the stones of fire!

Blake may be best understood as an expander of the
Bible. He made very good use of the two symbols
mentioned above, and amplified the meanings used by
Ezekiel:

Stones of Fire appears in the Prologue
The Gates of Paradise:

"Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice
Such are the Gates of Paradise
Against the Accusers chief desire
Who walkd among the Stones of Fire" (E 258)

Now what in the world does that mean??? We get a clue
from 1 Kings 18:38:
"Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt
sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust,
and licked up the water that was in the trench."

This is from the account of Elijah's contest with the
prophets of Baal.

Notice how the fire consumed the stone. We know the
fire was from God, the stone a symbol of matter: Spirit
burns up matter.

That's Blake's message in a nutshell: spirit takes the
place of matter. In our pilgrimage through life the
material is gradually superseded by the spirit (God,
Heaven).

Stones of fire represents a conjunction of matter and
spirit. Ezekiel was speaking of a brilliant, successful
potentate of his day, who had achieved greatly, but
would be brought down by God. One such as Lucifer,
associated by Ezekiel, and by Blake with the Covering
Cherub.

You remember the "Cherubims, and a flaming sword which
turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24)
Blake didn't like him; he foresaw that the cherub would
be 'brought down'. In the words of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

"For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite, and holy whereas it now appears finite & corrupt."


And at the end of MHH we read "For everything that lives in Holy."

Reunion of Body & Soul