Sunday, October 31, 2010

MILTON'S TRACK

Picture from the Rosenwald Collection of the Library of Congress


On Plate 36 of Milton, Blake presents a diagram of Milton's descent into the world from Eternity. So we are able to see the globes of the four universes as they are positioned and overlap, the location of the earth and of Los' mundane egg. We see Adam at the center of the earth and Satan within the sphere of Urizen. We see the fiery chaos within the egg and flames outside of the Four Universes. Milton's track leads him past Satan to Adam.

In The Illuminated Blake (Page 252), Erdman describes the picture:
"Milton's track enters the universes at the intersection of the
eastern globe of Luvah and the southern globe of Urizen and carries
him into the Egg, close to the center of Satan's realm of fire and into
the earth circle - the drawing of this circle is obscured by paint in D
- that fits the smaller end of the egg, with its center marked "Adam." Note that the earth, often overlooked in discussions of this diagram, is wholly within the realm of Urthona (Los), wholly outside of the realm of Urizen, and only fractionally within those of Tharmas and Luvah. (But though Urthona is earth-owner, his realm is not confined to earth. In [copy] D where the spheres are differentiated, his contains most of the blue sky.)"

In the Blake Archive you can compare four versions of this plate.

Here are some of the word pictures from Blake describing the world and Milton's descent into it:
Milton, PLATE 19 [21], (E 112)
"All fell towards the Center in dire ruin, sinking down.
And in the South remains a burning fire; in the East a void.
In the West, a world of raging waters; in the North a solid,
Unfathomable! without end. But in the midst of these,
Is built eternally the Universe of Los and Enitharmon:
Towards which Milton went
, but Urizen oppos'd his path."

Milton, PLATE 34 [38], (E134)
"Around this Polypus Los continual builds the Mundane Shell
Four Universes round the Universe of Los remain Chaotic
Four intersecting Globes, & the Egg form'd World of Los
In midst; stretching from Zenith to Nadir, in midst of Chaos.
One of these Ruind Universes is to the North named Urthona
One to the South this was the glorious World of Urizen
One to the East, of Luvah: One to the West; of Tharmas.
But when Luvah assumed the World of Urizen in the South
All fell towards the Center sinking downward in dire Ruin

Here in these Chaoses the Sons of Ololon took their abode
In Chasms of the Mundane Shell which open on all sides round
Southward & by the East within the Breach of Miltons descent
To watch the time, pitying & gentle to awaken Urizen
They stood in a dark land of death of fiery corroding waters
Where lie in evil death the Four Immortals pale and cold
And the Eternal Man even Albion upon the Rock of Ages[.]
Seeing Miltons Shadow, some Daughters of Beulah trembling
Returnd, but Ololon remaind before the Gates of the Dead"

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 116)
"But saw them not, for the blue Mundane Shell inclosd them in.
And they lamented that they had in wrath & fury & fire
Driven Milton into the Ulro; for now they knew too late
That it was Milton the Awakener: they had not heard the Bard,
Whose song calld Milton to the attempt; and Los heard these
laments.
He heard them call in prayer all the Divine Family;
And he beheld the Cloud of Milton stretching over Europe.

But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other
;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon.

Saying, Milton goes to Eternal Death! so saying, they groan'd in
spirit
And were troubled! and again the Divine Family groaned in spirit!

And Ololon said, Let us descend also, and let us give
Ourselves to death in Ulro among the Transgressors."

Milton, PLATE 21 [23] (E 115)
"also all men on Earth,
And all in Heaven, saw in the nether regions of the Imagination
In Ulro beneath Beulah, the vast breach of Miltons descent."

Search around and find these quotes in Blake's Milton.

If you are curious about the text on the plate with the diagram, find it here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blake's Everlasting Gospel

Here's what he thought of the Establishment Gospel:

Using the Blake Concordance I found only two occurrences of the word, idol; it led me to two plates (
60 and 61) in Jerusalem. Together they represent a central tenet of Blake's gospel; it concerns forgiveness:
Jerusalem, Plate 60:

"The clouds of Albions Druid Temples rage in the eastern heaven
While Los sat terrified beholding Albions Spectre who is Luvah
Spreading in bloody veins in torments over Europe & Asia;
Not yet formed but a wretched torment unformed & abyssal
In flaming fire; within the Furnaces the Divine Vision appeard

On Albions hills: often walking from the Furnaces in clouds
And flames among the Druid Temples & the Starry Wheels
Gatherd Jerusalems Children in his arms & bore them like
A Shepherd in the night of Albion which overspread all the Earth

I gave thee liberty and life O lovely Jerusalem
And thou hast bound me down upon the Stems of Vegetation
I gave thee Sheep-walks upon the Spanish Mountains Jerusalem
I gave thee Priams City and the Isles of Grecia lovely!
I gave thee Hand & Scofield & the Counties of Albion:
They spread forth like a lovely root into the Garden of God:
They were as Adam before me: united into One Man,
They stood in innocence & their skiey tent reachd over Asia
To Nimrods Tower to Ham & Canaan walking with Mizraim
Upon the Egyptian Nile, with solemn songs to Grecia
And sweet Hesperia even to Great Chaldea & Tesshina
Following thee as a Shepherd by the Four Rivers of Eden
Why wilt thou rend thyself apart, Jerusalem?
And build this Babylon & sacrifice in secret Groves,
Among the Gods of Asia: among the fountains of pitch & nitre
Therefore thy Mountains are become barren Jerusalem!
Thy Valleys, Plains of burning sand. thy Rivers: waters of death
Thy Villages die of the Famine and thy Cities
Beg bread from house to house, lovely Jerusalem
Why wilt thou deface thy beauty & the beauty of thy little-ones
To please thy Idols, in the pretended chastities of Uncircumcision[?]
Thy Sons are lovelier than Egypt or Assyria; wherefore
Dost thou blacken their beauty by a Secluded place of rest.
And a peculiar Tabernacle, to cut the integuments of beauty
Into veils of tears and sorrows O lovely Jerusalem!
They have perswaded thee to this, therefore their end shall come
And I will lead thee thro the Wilderness in shadow of my cloud
And in my love I will lead thee, lovely Shadow of Sleeping
Albion.

This is the Song of the Lamb, sung by Slaves in evening time.

But Jerusalem faintly saw him, closd in the Dungeons of Babylon
Her Form was held by Beulahs Daughters. but all within unseen
She sat at the Mills, her hair unbound her feet naked
Cut with the flints: her tears run down, her reason grows like
The Wheel of Hand. incessant turning day & night without rest
Insane she raves upon the winds hoarse, inarticulate:
All night Vala hears. she triumphs in pride of holiness
To see Jerusalem deface her lineaments with bitter blows
Of despair. while the Satanic Holiness triumphd in Vala
In a Religion of Chastity & Uncircumcised Selfishness
Both of the Head & Heart & Loins, closd up in Moral Pride.

But the Divine Lamb stood beside Jerusalem. oft she saw
The lineaments Divine & oft the Voice heard, & oft she said:
O Lord & Saviour, have the Gods of the Heathen pierced thee?
Or hast thou been pierced in the House of thy Friends?
Art thou alive! & livest thou for-evermore? or art thou
Not: but a delusive shadow, a thought that liveth not.
Babel mocks saying, there is no God nor Son of God
That thou O Human Imagination, O Divine Body art all
A delusion. but I know thee O Lord when thou arisest upon
My weary eyes even in this dungeon & this iron mill.
The Stars of Albion cruel rise; thou bindest to sweet influences:
For thou also sufferest with me altho I behold thee not;
And altho I sin & blaspheme thy holy name, thou pitiest me;
Because thou knowest I am deluded by the turning mills.
And by these visions of pity & love because of Albions death.

Thus spake Jerusalem, & thus the Divine Voice replied.
Mild Shade of Man, pitiest thou these Visions of terror & woe!
Give forth thy pity & love. fear not! lo I am with thee always.
Only believe in me that I have power to raise from death
Thy Brother who Sleepeth in Albion: fear not trembling Shade"

Jerusalem, Plate 61:
"Behold : in the Visions of Elohim
Jehovah, behold Joseph & Mary
And be comforted O Jerusalem
in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim
She looked & saw Joseph the Carpenter in Nazareth & Mary
His espoused Wife. And Mary said,
if thou put me away from thee
Dost thou not murder me?
Joseph spoke in anger & fury.
Should I Marry a Harlot or an Adulteress?
Mary answerd, Art thou more pure
Than thy Maker who forgiveth Sins & calls again Her that is Lost
Tho She hates. he calls her again in love. I love my dear Joseph
But he driveth me away from his presence. yet I hear the voice of God
In the voice of my Husband. tho he is angry for a moment,
he will not Utterly cast me away.
if I were pure, never could I taste the sweets
Of the Forgive[ne]ss of Sins! if I were holy! I never could behold the tears Of love!
of him who loves me in the midst of his anger in furnace of fire.
Ah my Mary: said Joseph: weeping over & embracing her closely in His arms:
Doth he forgive Jerusalem & not exact Purity from her who is
Polluted. I heard his voice in my sleep O his Angel in my dream:
Saying, Doth Jehovah Forgive a Debt only on condition that it shall Be Payed?
Doth he Forgive Pollution only on conditions of Purity
That Debt is not Forgiven! That Pollution is not Forgiven
Such is the Forgiveness of the Gods, the Moral Virtues of the
Heathen, whose tender Mercies are Cruelty. But Jehovahs
Salvation Is without Money & without Price,
the Continual Forgiveness of Sins
In the Perpetual Mutual Sacrifice in Great Eternity! for behold!
There is none that liveth & Sinneth not! And this is the Covenant
Of Jehovah: If you Forgive one-another, so shall Jehovah Forgive You:
That He Himself may Dwell among You.
Fear not then to take To thee Mary thy Wife,
or she is with Child by the Holy Ghost

Then Mary burst forth into a Song! she flowed like a River of
Many Streams in the arms of Joseph & gave forth her tears of joy
Like many waters, and Emanating into gardens & palaces upon
Euphrates & to forests & floods & animals wild & tame from
Gihon to Hiddekel, & to corn fields & villages & inhabitants
Upon Pison & Arnon & Jordan."

Here's what he thought of the establishment gospel:
"Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briers my joys and desires" (from The Garden
of Love); Erdman 26)


And how like the famous Spectre:

"Seven of my sweet loves thy knife
Has bereaved of their life
Their marble tombs I built with tears
And with cold & shuddering fears

Seven more loves weep night & day
Round the tombs where my loves layt
And seven more loves attend each night
Around my couch with torches bright"

Blake worked with the Everlasting Gospel (Erdman 518-24) for years trying to explain how his gospel differed from the Establishment one; what came forth is (certainly not lucid), ambiguous, tortured English; the Spirit simply doesn't lend itself to our words. Here are the last few lines:
"The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my Visions Greatest Enemy
Thine has a great hook nose like thine
Mine has a snub nose like to mine
Thine is the Friend of All Mankind
Mine speaks in parables to the Blind
Thine loves the same world that mine hates
Thy Heaven doors are my Hell Gates
Socrates taught what Melitus Loathd as a Nations bitterest Curse
And Caiphas was in his own Mind
A benefactor of Manking
Both read the Bible day & night

But thou readst black where I read white"

Reading it 'white' is what all true Blakeans strive to do.

Friday, October 29, 2010

BLAKE'S MIND

I think that Blake's IQ was off the charts. His mind was capable of maximum development in multiple fields of endeavor. Obviously his senses were acutely capable of receiving and processing more data than most of us can handle. He was sensitive to ethical and philosophical issues as well as religious and aesthetic ones. His sexual responses were so acute that he recognized them as an avenue to the Divine. Intellectually he could have gone in any direction he chose.

Judging from the issues he treats in his mature writing, he felt that his intellect might overbalance the development of his other gifts to the detriment of expressing his total being. Perhaps Blake's early unfinished prose satire, An Island in the Moon, with its frivolous, clever approach, represents a succumbing to the temptation to allow the intellect to have free rein to dominate and go in directions that his identity would not choose, and which would quash the development of imagination and desire.

In his student days, Blake scholar Joseph Viscomi adapted the satire for a production which was presented at Cornell University. Read the manuscript of Island in the Moon in Blake's complete works or learn more about it on Wikisource.

Blake did not pursue the avenue of writing, thinking or entertainment displayed in An Island in the Moon. His fans believe that he went on to other and better things.

Morning Chasing Away the Phantoms
from Milton's Paradise Regained

Sensation, reason, and emotion are all subject to being overvalued, distorted and corrupted. Blake's desire to 'cleanse the doors of perception' represented the efforts he put into removing the impediments from expressing the Identity. Through attempting continually to annihilate the Selfhood, Blake tried to avoid allowing the fallen sensation and intellect to mar or replace the Eternal intellect and sensation which he trusted and valued.


Vision of the 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 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"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blake's Symbolic Thought and Language

The Perennial Philosophy was about as good a description of Blake's thought as we can find. Not trained and conditioned to the Enlightenment philosophy of radical materialism, he used for it his favorite metaphor, Bacon, Newton, and Locke.

Blake was steeped with the wisdom of the ages; that was in poor repute to cultured people of his day. At its apogee the radical materialists became logical positivists; they considered statements of anything not measureable in height or weight to be meaningless; they frowned on emotion and considered it enthusiasm (a pejorative).

The cultured people of that day tended to be primarily deistical and purely materialistic: God created the world and wound it up like a clock and thereafter had no interest in what went on in this planet.

Blake had his problems with God, but he knew that the word indicated something other than that; he despised the Deists. In Plate 52 at the beginning of his Chapter Three of Jerusalem (To the Deists) he told them what's what. Read it, and get a fuller grasp of Blake's faith.

The traditional symbols make up the stuff of poetry; 18th century English poetry by and large can be seen as peurile. Blake initiated the Romantic movement in poetry leading to the Romantic poets and artists; they were rich in the symbolism of tradition.

You may trace the deterioration of 18th Century English poetic thought through Shakespeare, Spencer, and Milton to William Hayley. At that low ebb Blake and the other Romantics intervened to bring about another renaissance.

Society was utterly commercial, especially in things like marriage (the first 50 pages of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend show to what lengths they went even in his day.)

Blake revolted emphatically against materialistic attitudes to the disgust of the materialists who made up his age. So he spent his creative life in obscurity, his brilliance largely unrecognized. (There are others like that, the general consequence of caring more for art than money.)

He was excluded because his thought forms were too radical; his language lacked the comfortable familiarity of the conventional majority. More than that he was too deep: completely beyond comprehension to the positivists, and just too dense for everyone. They called him mad!

Until today! Blake is coming alive in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TRUST II


MARY AT HER DISTAFF WATCHED OVER BY TWO ANGELS
from Milton's Paradise Regained

What may one trust (see post TRUST):

In contrast to things which Blake thought that we could not trust, there were things in which he placed implicit trust. These were the manifestations of the Spirit which increased in his consciousness as he traveled his journey.
_________________________________________________
The Eternal Realities

Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], (E 180)
"We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
"

Jerusalem, Plate 71, (E 225)
"For all are Men in Eternity. Rivers Mountains Cities Villages,
All are Human & when you enter into their Bosoms you walk
In Heavens & Earths; as in your own Bosom you bear your Heaven
And Earth, & all you behold, tho it appears Without it is Within
In your Imagination of which this World of Mortality is but a
Shadow."

___________________________________________
The Imagination

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"Judge then of thy Own Self: thy Eternal Lineaments explore
What is Eternal & what Changeable? & what Annihilable!
The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself
Affection or Love becomes a State, when divided from Imagination
The Memory is a State always, & the Reason is a State
Created to be Annihilated & a new Ratio Created "

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
"I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.
Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more."

_________________________________________________
The Identity in oneself and in others


Vision of the Last Judgment, Page 80, (E 556)
"These States Exist now Man Passes on but States remain for Ever he passes thro them like a traveller who may as well suppose that the places he has passed thro exist no more as a Man may suppose that the States he has passd thro exist no more Every Thing is Eternal In Eternity one Thing never Changes into another Thing Each Identity is Eternal"

Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 185)
"Swelld & bloated General Forms, repugnant to the Divine-
Humanity, who is the Only General and Universal Form
To which all Lineaments tend & seek with love & sympathy
All broad & general principles belong to benevolence
Who protects minute particulars, every one in their own identity."

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 205)
"The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity
Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falshood
continually"
________________________________________________
Our own ability to discern God's presence within Humanity

Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E 129)
"Lo the Eternal Great Humanity
To whom be Glory & Dominion Evermore Amen
Walks among all his awful Family seen in every face
As the breath of the Almighty. such are the words of man to man
In the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration,
To build the Universe stupendous: Mental forms Creating "

Milton, Plate 20 [22], (E 114)
"It has a heart like thee; a brain open to heaven & hell,
Wthinside 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:"

If we reject or destroy the verities on which we have relied without a means of replacing them, we are left with a void to fill. If we do not have Truth to fill the emptiness, fear and falsehood will invade the empty space. Blake offered alternatives to those who came to reject their reliance on sense data, rationalization, following authority and accepting systems of deception.

Reliance on sense data is to be replaced with awareness of the Eternal Realities.
Reliance on the reasoning mind is to be replaced by the ability to use the Imagination.
Reliance on established authority is to be replaced by the ability to discern God's presence in humanity
The reliance on systems created by others is to be replaced by the ability to recognize the Identity in oneself and others.

In vision Blake was able to see the new world which could replace this fallen existence:

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 555)
"There Exist in that Eternal
World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing which we
see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature All
Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the
Divine body of the Saviour the True Vine of Eternity
The Human Imagination who appeard to Me as Coming to
Judgment. among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal
that the Eternal might be Establishd."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blake's War

"For we wrestle not against principalities ... (in Hebrew or Greek), page 4 of The Four Zoas, a guote from Ephesians 6:12)

Like most sigificant words war has a number of meanings to Blake. Basically there are two kinds of war: corporeal and "War & Hunting: the Two Fountains of the River of Life" (Milton 35.2; Erdman 135)

1. In describing spiritual warfare Blake followed closely biblical guidance such as:
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" (Ephesians 6:13-15).

And this from Blake:"As the breath of the Almighty, so are the words of man to man in the great Wars of Eternity" (Damon 441, quoting Milton 30.18)

And "Our wars are wars of life, and wounds of love with intellectual spears and long winged arrows of thought" (Jerusalem 38.14)

(Much of the post is owing to Damon's valuable Blake Dictionary.)

But the "'two Fountains of the River of Life' are become Fountains of bitter Death and corroding Hell, till Brotherhood is changed into a Curse" (Milton 35.2)
____________________________________

2. Blake lived in an era of almost continuous warfare on the part of the United Kingdom. As a young man, like many other Brits, he applauded the American War for Independence. His America a Prophecy fleshed out his strong feelings against the King's imperial actions.

He also showed great symphathy for the French Revolutionaries and wore the symbolizing red hat-- until the Reign of Terror came along; at that point he renounced all forms of War.

Of course Blake (and everyone else) equated War with imperial dynasties like "Alexanders & Caesars, the Lewis's & Fredericks" (Jerusalem plate 52) (and of course King George).

In The Monk of Charlemaine Blake in the last three verses (Jer 52, lines 82-93) very aptly contrasts the two kinds of War; he included all of the 'Churches' (from the time of Christ to the present), because he well understood, like too few of us today, how closely the Churches have been allied with the warring imperial regimes; they are in effect its propaganda arm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

TRUST

In reading Blake one frequently encounters the idea that there are things that one may not trust. Among these are:
___________________________________________________
The senses

MHH, Plate 5, (E 35)
"How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"

Book of Urizen, Plate 27, (E 83)
"No more could they rise at will
In the infinite void, but bound down
To earth by their narrowing perceptions"
____________________________________________________
The reasoning mind

Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 127)
"The idiot Reasoner laughs at the Man of Imagination
And from laughter proceeds to murder by undervaluing calumny"

Everlasting Gospel, (E 520)
"When the Soul fell into sleep,
And Archangels round it weep,
Shooting out against the light
Fibres of a deadly night,
Reasoning upon its own dark fiction,
In doubt which is self-contradiction?"
_____________________________________________________
The established authority

MHH, Plate 26, (E 44)
19. Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast,
20. Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust,
loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying
Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease.
Chorus
Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not!
For every thing that lives is Holy

Jerusalem, Plate 30 [34], (E 176)
"What may Man be? who can tell! but what may Woman be?
To have power over Man from Cradle to corruptible Grave.
There is a Throne in every Man,it is the Throne of God
This Woman has claimd as her own & Man is no more!"
_____________________________________________________
The systems developed by others

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 153)
"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 11, (E 154)
"To labours mighty, with vast strength, with his mighty chains,
In pulsations of time, & extensions of space, like Urns of Beulah
With great labour upon his anvils, & in his ladles the Ore
He lifted, pouring it into the clay ground prepar'd with art;
Striving with Systems to deliver Individuals from those Systems;
That whenever any Spectre began to devour the Dead,
He might feel the pain as if a man gnawd his own tender nerves.
"






In pursuing his great task, Blake felt compelled to tear down before he could build up. He wanted to demonstrate to us what we could not trust before we could replace the unreliable foundations with solid rock upon which we can build lasting avenues to the Infinite.







Jerusalem
, Plate 5, (E 145)
"I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BLAKE'S SUBLIME




 

The word sublime, has many meanings both specialized and generalized. Blake uses the term in a variety of ways and enhances the meaning by the usage he puts it to.

Here are a few of the definitions:
>to cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state
>to elevate or exalt especially in dignity or honor
>to convert into something of higher worth
>tending to inspire awe or terror.

A related word with a related meaning is subliminal: taking place below the threshold of sensory perception or outside the range of conscious awareness.

Roger R. Easson in his chapter of Blake's Sublime Allegory explains sublime in the context of its chemical or alchemical meaning:


"Blake defines sublime allegory, in the famous Butts letter of 6 July 1803, as 'Allegory addressed to the Intellectual powers, while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal understanding...' (Letters, p. 69 [27]). Discussing the same idea of poetry, Blake puts it more chemically: 'What is it sets Homer, Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of art? Why is the Bible more entertaining than any other book? Is it not because they are addressed to the Imagination, which is Spiritual Sensation, & but mediately to the Understanding or reason?...Consider what Lord Bacon says: 'Sense sends over to Imagination before Reason have Judged, & Reason send over to Imagination before the Decree can be acted'' (Letters, p. 30 [5]). In chemistry the verb 'sublime' means that a substance may pass from solid to gas without passing into the intermediate liquid state. So too is Blake using the word. Sublime allegory is poetry that speaks to the intellectual powers without penetrating the intermediate stage of the corporeal understanding. It is poetry that is, quite literally, beyond reason. Consequently, it is best suited for dethroning reason within the reader who does not understand that the dominance of reason in his own mind prevents his entering the life of eternity."

Letter 27, [To Thomas Butts] (E 729)
Felpham July 6. 1803
"...Thus I hope that all our three years trouble Ends in
Good Luck at last & shall be forgot by my affections & only
rememberd by my Understanding to be a Memento in time to come &
to speak to future generations by a Sublime Allegory which is now
perfectly completed into a Grand Poem[.] I may praise it since I
dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors
are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This
World Contains. Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers
while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is
My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry."

More quotes of Blake's use of Sublime:

MHH, Plate 7, (E 35)
"The most sublime act is to set another before you."

MHH, Plate 10, (E 37)
"The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the
hands & feet Proportion."

Descriptive Catalogue, Page 42, (E 543)
"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."

Four Zoas, Page 5, (E 302)
"Tharmas groand among his Clouds
Weeping, then bending from his Clouds he stoopd his innocent head
And stretching out his holy hand in the vast Deep sublime
Turnd round the circle of Destiny with tears & bitter sighs"

Four Zoas, PAGE 98 [90], (E 370)
"Then I can sigh forth on the winds of Golgonooza piteous forms
That vanish again into my bosom but if thou my Los
Wilt in sweet moderated fury. fabricate forms sublime
Such as the piteous spectres may assimilate themselves into
They shall be ransoms for our Souls that we may live

So Enitharmon spoke & Los his hands divine inspired began
To modulate his fires studious the loud roaring flames"

Descriptive Catalogue, Page 2, (E 531)
"The Greek Muses are daughters of Mnemosyne, or Memory, and not of
Inspiration or Imagination, therefore not authors of such sublime
conceptions."

Jerusalem, Plate 1,(E 144)
"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"

Jerusalem, Plate 34, (E 180)
"I see thee awful Parent Land in light, behold I see!
Verulam! Canterbury! venerable parent of men,
Generous immortal Guardian golden clad! for Cities
Are Men, fathers of multitudes, and Rivers & Mount[a]ins
Are also Men; every thing is Human, mighty! sublime!
In every bosom a Universe expands, as wings
Let down at will around, and call'd the Universal Tent."

To locate all 58 mentions of sublime, go to the blog sidebar, page down to LINKS TO ONLINE BLAKE, click on Concordance to Complete Works.

These are characteristics which you may note as being associated with sublime in Blake:
TRANSFORMATIVE,
BELOW LEVEL OF THE CONSCIOUS,
ASSOCIATED WITH HUMAN IMAGINATION,
PARTAKING OF IDENTITY,
ELEVATED OR AWE-INSPIRING

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TERROR & WOE

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 84, (E 359)

"This thou well rememberest listen I will tell
What thou forgettest. They in us & we in them alternate Livd
Drinking the joys of Universal Manhood. One dread morn
Listen O vision of Delight One dread morn of goary blood
The manhood was divided for the gentle passions making way
Thro the infinite labyrinths of the heart & thro the nostrils issuing
In odorous stupefaction stood before the Eyes of Man
A female bright. I stood beside my anvil dark a mass
Of iron glowd bright prepard for spades & plowshares. sudden down
I sunk with cries of blood issuing downward in the veins
Which now my rivers were become rolling in tubelike forms
Shut up within themselves descending down I sunk along,
The goary tide even to the place of seed & there dividing
I was divided in darkness & oblivion thou an infant woe
And I an infant terror in the womb of Enion
My masculine spirit scorning the frail body issud forth
From Enions brain In this deformed form leaving thee there
Till times passd over thee but still my spirit returning hoverd
And formd a Male to be a counterpart to thee O Love
Darkend & Lost In due time issuing forth from Enions womb
Thou & that demon Los wert born Ah jealousy & woe
Ah poor divided dark Urthona now a Spectre wandering
The deeps of Los the Slave of that Creation I created
I labour night & day for Los but listen thou my vision
I view futurity in thee I will bring down soft Vala
To the embraces of this terror & I will destroy
That body I created then shall we unite again in bliss"

From the Seventh Night of the Four Zoas we have one of several accounts of the origin of Los, Enitharmon and the Spectre of Urthona. The eternal Zoa Urthona, first has his manhood divided from the gentle passions resulting in the externalization of the female. Urthona begins to manifest internal changes as he continues his work at his furnaces. The masculine spirit issues from Enion's brain. Times passed until Enitharmon issued from Enion's womb. The division into the 'infant terror', Los and the 'infant woe', Enitharmon leaves Urthona as a Spectre.

Illustrations to Gray's Poems, Page 78


Looking at this situation from the perspective of Los as the Imagination, the division has left the imagination without its inspiration which should be supplied by the Emanation and the instrumentality which could be supplied by the Spectre.



Frye, on page 294 of Fearful Symmetry, explains some of the consequences of the division and separation of the unified Zoa Urthona:
"In creation, therefore, the Spectre of Urthona is the inventive faculty, and invention is the art of finding things in nature: it does not create so much as supply the instruments for creating. The Spectre of Urthona, properly controlled, is the obedient demon who brings his master the fire and metals and other physical needs of culture, and brings the artist his technical skill...But once separated from creative and imaginative ends, the instrumental becomes an end in itself, its criteria of use and value are made absolute principles, its media, such as money, become more important than the things they circulate, and vast complications of tools and machines are produced out of sheer automatic compulsion to produce them."

Only the reunion of the disparate functions - the terror and the woe - can restore the bliss of integration.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BETTER WORLD

In 1933 John Middleton Murry published his book William Blake, which continued in print until 1977. Murry's book comes close to being a spiritual biography of Blake, although it is directed toward understanding his poetry. The poetry, letters and descriptive material themselves are such a revelation of the psychic and spiritual development of Blake that Murry finds ample material to describe the issues and outcomes of Blake's inner struggles. The evolution of the concept of the Selfhood grows from its first recognition to it eventual assimilation.

Murry summarizes Blake' Selfhood or Spectre on Page 235:
"Blake's experience of the Selfhood was very deep. He had seen it face to face; known it, so to speak, in essence. For the Selfhood had grown to power in him in pondering the mystery of that finite creation which he knew to be infinite. Out of the effort to exorcize the Selfhood in men, his Selfhood had grown. Once he could accept that mystery, in all humility, and know himself forgiven; once he could see that this was the inevitable destiny of the pilgrim towards Eternity, and that the process of Life itself, at its very acme of spiritual intensity and candour, created the Selfhood as the means by which it grew - the heart of 'the mystery of iniquity' lay open to him. Providence had begun indeed."

Four Zoas, Page 95, (E 367)
"Thou never canst embrace sweet Enitharmon terrible Demon. Till
Thou art united with thy Spectre Consummating by pains &
labours
That mortal body & by Self annihilation back returning
To Life Eternal be assurd I am thy real Self
Tho thus divided from thee & the Slave of Every passion
Of thy fierce Soul Unbar the Gates of Memory look upon me
Not as another but as thy real Self I am thy Spectre
Thou didst subdue me in old times by thy Immortal Strength
When I was a ravning hungring & thirsting cruel lust & murder
Tho horrible & Ghastly to thine Eyes tho buried beneath
The ruins of the Universe. hear what inspird I speak & be silent

If we unite in one[,] another better world will be
Opend within your heart & loins & wondrous brain
Threefold as it was in Eternity & this the fourth Universe
Will be Renewd by the three & consummated in Mental fires
But if thou dost refuse Another body will be prepared"

Drawing for Thornton's Virgil

Sunday, October 17, 2010

HARVEST & VINTAGE

Revelations 14
[15] And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
[16] And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
[17] And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
[18] And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
[19] And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
[20] And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

S. Foster Damon, William Blake: Philosophy and Symbols, in commenting on the final scenes in the Four Zoas, says (Page 164):

Wikipedia Commons
AND GOD BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY 
AND SANCTIFIED IT
"In six days heaven and earth had been created, according to Genesis, and on the seventh day the Lord rested. In six days, therefore, that work is to be reversed, before the Sabbath of the Millennium can arise. These six days are spent in a final Harvest and Vintage of the world, to make the Bread and Wine of Eternity. Urizen threshes the corn which Urthona bakes into the Bread of Philosophy, while Luvah presses the grapes into the Wine of Ecstacy; and all the chaff and refuse is cast into Non-Entity. This lovely festival in the spiritual world is the reality of what on earth seems to be the final catastrophes of the Apocalypse. During this time Orc burns himself out: Ahania and Enion rise to their former Glory; Luvah and Vala regain their original State of Innocence; while Los takes on his original form, Urthona. The terrific vision ends in a splendid peace:

[Four Zoas, PAGE 139, Night the Ninth, (E 406)]:
"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

The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh airs
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of
life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns

End of The Dream"

The image of the harvest and vintage appears in Milton as well:

Milton, PLATE 25 [27] (E 121)
"The Wine-press on the Rhine groans loud, but all its central beams
Act more terrific in the central Cities of the Nations
Where Human Thought is crushd beneath the iron hand of Power.
There Los puts all into the Press, the Opressor & the Opressed
Together, ripe for the Harvest & Vintage & ready for the Loom.

They sang at the Vintage. This is the Last Vintage! & Seed
Shall no more be sown upon Earth, till all the Vintage is over
And all gatherd in, till the Plow has passd over the Nations
And the Harrow & heavy thundering Roller upon the mountains

And loud the Souls howl round the Porches of Golgonooza

Crying O God deliver us to the Heavens or to the Earths,
That we may preach righteousness & punish the sinner with death
But Los refused, till all the Vintage of Earth was gatherd in.

And Los stood & cried to the Labourers of the Vintage in voice of
awe.

Fellow Labourers! The Great Vintage & Harvest is now upon Earth
The whole extent of the Globe is explored: Every scatterd Atom
Of Human Intellect now is flocking to the sound of the Trumpet
All the Wisdom which was hidden in caves & dens, from ancient
Time; is now sought out from Animal & Vegetable & Mineral

The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe! the Vision of God
is fulfilled
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,
He listens to the sounds of War astonishd & ashamed;"

Milton, PLATE 27 [29] (E 124)
"This Wine-press is call'd War on Earth, it is the Printing-Press
Of Los; and here he lays his words in order above the mortal
brain
As cogs are formd in a wheel to turn the cogs of the adverse
wheel.

Milton, PLATE 43 [50], (E 144)
"To go forth to the Great Harvest & Vintage of the Nations

Finis"

As Damon says, Blake wrote on multiple levels simultaneously. On the historical level the harvest and vintage appeared as the battles and wars which were taking place in his own times - the Napoleonic Wars ("Wine-press on the Rhine groans loud".) In Blake's personal experience the activities of his publishing work were his participation in the 'Great Harvest & Vintage' ("the Printing-Press Of Los; and here he lays his words in order above the mortal brain"). At the spiritual level they were the rewinding of the 'golden string' which had begun to be unwound with the material creation which Blake pictured in the Book of Urizen ("Every scatterd Atom Of Human Intellect now is flocking to the sound of the Trumpet").

Genesis 1
[5] And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
[8] And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
[12] And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
[13] And the evening and the morning were the third day.
[17] And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
[18] And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
[19] And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
[22] And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
[23] And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
[27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them
[31] And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Quaker Poet

"That of God in everyone" virtually defines Quakerism to many (especially East Coast) Quakers. So look at Blake's A Divine Image:
"Songs of Innocence 1789
"To Mercy Pity Peace and Love.
All pray in their distress:
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
Is God our Father dear:
And Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
Is Man his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine
Love Mercy Pity Peace,

And all must love the human form.
In heathen, Turk or jew,
Where Mercy, Love and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too." (Erdman 32)

You can hardly read that poem without awareness of Blake's inveterate Universalism, also shared by most Quakers interested in Christian theology. Look especially at the last verse and translate into prose: God is dwelling in heathens, Turks (muslims) and Jews.
Or perhaps God is dwelling in heathens, like Muslims and Jews.

(This like everything else Blake wrote is subject to many interpretations; in fact that's the real meaning of the word poetry.)

When I started reading Blake, I looked and looked for some mention of Quakers because his values in general seemed remarkably similar to Quaker values. But it was in vain. I wondered why; then I realized that it was most likely because of his keen awareness that Quakers were in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution was anathema to Blake; he spoke of the satanic mills:
("And was Jerusalem built here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?")
(from the preface to Milton; Erdman 95)

Another pointer is found in London where he spoke of the mind forg'd manacles; here I think he meant the systematic propaganda that
lulled the Enlish peasants (and most of us today) into a comfortable acceptance of our actual slavish lot in life.

The Industrial Revolution and globalization as well have enormously enriched the already wealthy and impoverished the poorest among us. In the long run most of us see a positive (for example 300 million Chinese peasants are said to have escaped poverty; while a few million Americans lost their jobs).

But for Blake it was a feeling thing, and he had very powerful feelings about all the poor wretches who crowded the streets of London after being disinherited from their land rights throughout England.

Aside from the matter of the Industrial Revolution the values that Blake and Quakers had in common are numerous:

George Fox believed deeply in removing the occasion of War; Blake hated war.

Quakers have always despised the slave trade; so did Blake.

There are many others; they may lead to other posts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

BLAKE & DYLAN II

Book of Urizen, Plate 22, (E 82)
"The tormented element stretch'd
From the sorrows of Urizen's soul."


When Larry was writing his Blake Book, (Ram Horn'd with Gold) in the seventies and eighties the influence of Bob Dylan was everywhere including under our roof. He wrote a chapter on Blake and Dylan for his book but it was not included in the online version. Since I posted on the influence of Blake's poetry on Dylan's song EVERY GRAIN ON SAND, I'd like to pass along some of what Larry said in the missing chapter:



"In style Dylan closely approaches Blake as a symbolist. Fiercely eclectic like the English poet, he drew with utmost freedom upon his entire experience for the imagery of his lyrics. This means that the listener unversed in Dylan's experience will have the same sort of problems with his lyrics as so many have had with '4Z's' or 'Jerusalem'. Much of it comes through as sheer gibberish to all except the few some where in the vicinity of Dylan's mind. It helps to know the sixties Greenwich Village scene, country music, blues and rock as well as Verlaine, Rimbaud and Baudelaire, plus a few other esoteric sources.

"It also helps to know the Bible. Nowhere are Blake and Dylan more alike than in their dependence upon Biblical symbolism. Dylan is fully capable of throwing a wicked curve, when for example, one of his songs embedded in the western ethos where clean hands evoke the gambling man, and suddenly he switches to the imagery of Psalm 24: "His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean". [Example from Michael Gray's book.]

"Whether he knew of Blake's letter to Trusler or not, Dylan certainly put into practice the advice of the "Wisest of the Ancients [who] consider'd what was not too Explicit as the fittest for instruction, because it rouzes the faculties to act". For the intellectually curious the lure of the two men is identical: to find the kernel of meaning in the peculiar wrapping."

It is fascinating to compare the lives of these two poets whose struggles to express their enormous gifts, and to master the psychological conflicts of warring aspects of their minds were played out so publicly in their poetry. As Larry says:
"We should realize that this ['The Wicked Messenger'] like most of Dylan's songs is essentially autobiographical. He shared Blake's perspective on the oneness of the human race. He knew that his (and our) experiences are universal. The song ends appropriately with this message to the messenger: 'If you cannot bring good news, then don't bring any.'" Our two messengers brought their good news even though they often dipped into the deepest and darkest reaches of the psyche to bring it into the light.

Lyrics to Wicked Messenger

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blake's Death


For Blake the word, death, had many meanings:

1. Physical death:
Quoting Damon p. 99: 
"Death of the physical body is the shedding of the shell (garment, robe) which the soul, or spiritual body has grown for protection in this world.  It's the return of the soul to Eternity.  It is an episode of life, a state through which one passes, awakening to Eternal life (J 4:1-2)".

Blake indicated the nature of physical death, particularly of his brother, Robert's death in a letter (9) to Hayley he wrote:

      "Thirteen years ago. I lost a  brother & with his spirit  I  converse daily & hourly in the  spirit. & See him in my
remembrance in the regions of my  imagination.
I hear his advice & even now write from his  Dictate--"

2. For Blake Eternal Death, itself seemed to have many meanings:
Among other things it seems to concern Ulro and the Spectre. Looking at The Four Zoas we read:
"There is from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant rest
Namd Beulah a Soft Moony Universe feminine lovely 
Pure mild & Gentle given in Mercy to those who sleep
Eternally. Created by the Lamb of God around
On all sides within & without the Universal Man
The Daughters of Beulah follow sleepers in all their Dreams
Creating Spaces lest they fall into Eternal Death                

The Circle of Destiny complete they gave to it a Space
And namd the Space Ulro & brooded over it in care & love
They said The Spectre is in every man insane & most
Deformd     Thro the three heavens descending in fury & fire
We meet it with our Songs & loving blandishments & give          
To it a form of vegetation But this Spectre of Tharmas
Is Eternal Death What shall we do O God pity & help"
(The Four Zoas [Nt 1], 5.42; E303)  
Elsewhere in  Milton 4.15; Erdman 98 he reported this
conversation between Los and Satan:

"Satan was going to reply, but Los roll'd his loud thunders.
Anger me not! thou canst not drive the Harrow in pitys paths.
Thy Work is Eternal Death, with Mills & Ovens & Cauldrons.
Trouble me no more. thou canst not have Eternal Life
So Los spoke! Satan trembling obeyd weeping along the way.
Mark well my words, they are of your eternal Salvation"

Satan and the Spectre of course are synonymous. 

"And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death!" 
If you get the picture Milton, in Heaven, choses the path the 
Savior trod; he incarnated; he came down from Heaven into
Earth and for a similar purpose.  But here the meaning of 
Eternal seems very clearly mortal life.
There are many other instances of the words in Milton.

Turning to Jerusalem Blake makes it pretty clear in Plate 4:
"Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life."
It would be very worthwhile to read this plate carefully. 
The last occurrence of Eternal Death in Jerusalem occurs in 
Plate 98 lines 21-24:
"Driving outward the Body of Death in an Eternal Death &
     Resurrection   
Awaking it to Life among the Flowers of Beulah rejoicing in Unity
In the Four Senses in the Outline the Circumference & Form, for
     ever
In Forgiveness of Sins which is Self Annihilation." (E257)
 
(I wonder if he was thinking of Romans 7 when he spoke of the 
Body of Death.  The forgiveness of sins is Self Annihilation, the 
end of mortal life.)                                                  
                                               

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

BLAKE & DYLAN

An illustration extracted from page 61 of
William Blake, painter and poet
by Richard Garnett

A plaintive song of Bob Dylan's which was evidently written under the influence of William Blake is titled EVERY GRAIN OF SAND. It was written during what is know as Dylan's Christian period. I see in the song echoes of "Auguries of Innocence" and what may be called the "Jerusalem Hymn" from the beginning of Blake's Milton. Dylan writes of the faith and fears experienced as one travels on the spiritual journey in a world of danger and temptation. Blake's images provide an affirmative note of comfort.


Milton,
Plate 1, (E 95)
"And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

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."

[Pickering Manuscript], Blake's Notebook, (E 490)
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
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A Dove house filld with doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thro all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State"

This poem continues for 132 lines. The final lines were used prominently in the movie "Dead Man".

EVERY GRAIN OF SAND
by Bob Dylan
"In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand"

Copyright © 1981 by Special Rider Music

Emmy Lou Harris singing EVERY GRAIN OF SAND