Friday, September 30, 2011

MILTON'S JOURNEY

Kay Parkhurst Easson and Roger Easson wrote a remarkable commentary on Blake's Milton. The commentary along with the text of Milton and the images of the Plates from the Huntington Library and Art Gallery were published in 1978 as Milton: A Poem by William Blake. Blake's poem is viewed as a visionary account of engaging in a spiritual journey. "William Blake, the author in whom Milton's narrative originates, is one member of a Brotherhood of Prophets - the Bard, Milton, Los, Ololon, and Jesus - all of whom participate in the spiritual pilgrimage into the Ulro and, subsequently create Milton." (Page 170)
........
"Milton is a prophetic narrative since with it Blake exposes errors and renovates perception by teaching visionary truth. The prophetic narrative is conveyed both by words and by designs; Blake weaves together the linear orientation of words and the spatial dimensions of the graphic arts. However in neither words nor designs does Blake adhere to orthodox sequences of patterns. That is, we cannot read Milton 'in time,' from a first event to a final event. Nor can we read Milton 'in space,' from a first place to a final place. Blake structures his words and designs in intricate patterns of parallelism and inversion that lead toward the unity of all words and designs within prophetic narration. For Blake, prophecy teaches that spiritual travel must renovate each moment of each day. This narrative in Milton asserts that a spiritual journey is made in time and space, but it simultaneously renovates our perceptions of time and space. The journey that the character Milton undertakes is necessarily individual, but since it shares the archetypal pattern of such paths, it is, as Blake confirms mutual. Moreover, for Blake, all spiritual journeys begin and end in the love and mercy of Jesus, the Saviour, and the Saviour's love and mercy are present, not in one time and place or in one miraculous event, as a time-bound Natural Religion would have it, but present for all times and in all places as the ever-present potential for regeneration." (Page 158)



New York Public Library

www.nypl.org
Milton
Copy c




Plate 20 provides a verbal description of the Blake's participation in embarking on the journey. Plate 21 provides the complementary visual event. (In Copy b at the Huntington.)




Milton, PLATE 22 [20], (E 116)

"Tho driven away with the Seven Starry Ones into the Ulro
Yet the Divine Vision remains Every-where For-ever. Amen.
And Ololon lamented for Milton with a great lamentation.

While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals
On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me:
And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close
Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold.
Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also stoop'd down
And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood
Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale
Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health.
And I became One Man with him arising in my strength:
Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul:
His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength.

I am that Shadowy Prophet who Six Thousand Years ago
Fell from my station in the Eternal bosom. Six Thousand Years
Are finishd. I return! both Time & Space obey my will.
I in Six Thousand Years walk up and down: for not one Moment
Of Time is lost, nor one Event of Space unpermanent
But all remain: every fabric of Six Thousand Years
Remains permanent: tho' on the Earth where Satan
Fell, and was cut off all things vanish & are seen no more
They vanish not from me & mine, we guard them first & last
The generations of men run on in the tide of Time
But leave their destind lineaments permanent for ever & ever.

So spoke Los as we went along to his supreme abode."
.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Angels in America Part One

I found the word 'angel' 20 times in this extract of America, a Prophecy:  
"The King of England looking westward trembles at the vision
PLATE 5
Albions Angel stood beside the Stone of night, and saw
The terror like a comet, or more like the planet red
That once inclos'd the terrible wandering comets in its sphere.
Then Mars thou wast our center, & the planets three flew round
Thy crimson disk; so e'er the Sun was rent from thy red sphere;  
The Spectre glowd his horrid length staining the temple long
With beams of blood; & thus a voice came forth, and shook the
     temple:
PLATE 6
The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their
     stations;
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up;
The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd.
Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing! awakening!
Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst; 

Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field:
Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air;
Let the inchained soul shut up in darkness and in sighing,
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years;
Rise and look out, his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are
     open.     
And let his wife and children return from the opressors scourge;
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream.
Singing. The Sun has left his blackness, & has found a fresher
     morning
And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night;
For Empire is no more, and now the Lion & Wolf shall cease.      
(This voice is repeated the Night 9 of 4Z.)
PLATE 7
In thunders ends the voice. Then Albions Angel wrathful burnt
Beside the Stone of Night; and like the Eternal Lions howl
In famine & war, reply'd. Art thou not Orc, who serpent-form'd
Stands at the gate of Enitharmon to devour her children;
Blasphemous Demon, Antichrist, hater of Dignities;               

Lover of wild rebellion, and transgresser of Gods Law;
Why dost thou come to Angels eyes in this terrific form?
PLATE 8
The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath'd round the accursed tree:
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break;
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands,
What night he led the starry hosts thro' the wide wilderness:
That stony law I stamp to dust: and scatter religion abroad      
To the four winds as a torn book, & none shall gather the leaves;
But they shall rot on desart sands, & consume in bottomless 
     deeps;
To make the desarts blossom, & the deeps shrink to their 
     fountains,
And to renew the fiery joy, and burst the stony roof.
That pale religious letchery, seeking Virginity,                 
May find it in a harlot, and in coarse-clad honesty
The undefil'd tho' ravish'd in her cradle night and morn:
For every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life;
Because the soul of sweet delight can never be defil'd.
Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;      
Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,
His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like
     gold.
PLATE 9
Sound! sound! my loud war-trumpets & alarm my Thirteen Angels!
Loud howls the eternal Wolf! the eternal Lion lashes his tail!
America is darkned; and my punishing Demons terrified
Crouch howling before their caverns deep like skins dry'd in the
     wind.
They cannot smite the wheat, nor quench the fatness of the 
     earth.   
They cannot smite with sorrows, nor, subdue the plow and spade.
They cannot wall the city, nor moat round the castle of princes.
They cannot bring the stubbed oak to overgrow the hills.
For terrible men stand on the shores, &,in their robes I see
Children take shelter from the lightnings, there stands 
     Washington    
And Paine and Warren with their foreheads reard toward the east
But clouds obscure my aged sight. A vision from afar!
Sound! sound! my loud war-trumpets & alarm my thirteen Angels:
Ah vision from afar! Ah rebel form that rent the ancient
Heavens; Eternal Viper self-renew'd, rolling in clouds
I see thee in thick clouds and darkness on America's shore.
Writhing in pangs of abhorred birth; red flames the crest
     rebellious
And eves of death; the harlot womb oft opened in vain
Heaves in enormous circles, now the times are return'd upon thee,
Devourer of thy parent, now thy unutterable torment renews.      
Sound! sound! my loud war trumpets & alarm my thirteen Angels!
Ah terrible birth! a young one bursting! where is the weeping
     mouth?
And where the mothers milk? instead those ever-hissing jaws
And parched lips drop with fresh gore; now roll thou in the 
     clouds
Thy mother lays her length outstretch'd upon the shore beneath.  
Sound! sound! my loud war-trumpets & alarm my thirteen Angels!
Loud howls the eternal Wolf: the eternal Lion lashes his tail!

PLATE 10
Thus wept the Angel voice & as he wept the terrible blasts
Of trumpets, blew a loud alarm across the Atlantic deep.
No trumpets answer; no reply of clarions or of fifes,
Silent the Colonies remain and refuse the loud alarm.

On those vast shady hills between America & Albions shore;       
Now barr'd out by the Atlantic sea: call'd Atlantean hills:
Because from their bright summits you may pass to the Golden
     world
An ancient palace, archetype of mighty Emperies,
Rears its immortal pinnacles, built in the forest of God
By Ariston the king of beauty for his stolen bride,              

Here on their magic seats the thirteen Angels sat perturb'd
For clouds from the Atlantic hover o'er the solemn roof.
PLATE 11
Fiery the Angels rose, & as they rose deep thunder roll'd
Around their shores: indignant burning with the fires of Orc
And Bostons Angel cried aloud as they flew thro' the dark night.

He cried: Why trembles honesty and like a murderer,
Why seeks he refuge from the frowns of his immortal station!     
Must the generous tremble & leave his joy, to the idle: to the
     pestilence!
That mock him? who commanded this? what God? what Angel!
To keep the gen'rous from experience till the ungenerous
Are unrestraind performers of the energies of nature;
Till pity is become a trade, and generosity a science,           
That men get rich by, & the sandy desart is giv'n to the strong
What God is he, writes laws of peace, & clothes him in a tempest
What pitying Angel lusts for tears, and fans himself with sighs
What crawling villain preaches abstinence & wraps himself
In fat of lambs? no more I follow, no more obedience pay.        
PLATE 12
So cried he [Boston's angel] rending off his robe & throwing 
down his scepter.
In sight of Albions Guardian, and all the thirteen Angels
Rent off their robes to the hungry wind, & threw their golden
     scepters
Down on the land of America. indignant they descended
Headlong from out their heav'nly heights, descending swift as
     fires        
Over the land; naked & flaming are their lineaments seen
In the deep gloom, by Washington & Paine & Warren they stood
And the flame folded roaring fierce within the pitchy night
Before the Demon red, who burnt towards America,
In black smoke thunders and loud winds rejoicing in its terror   
Breaking in smoky wreaths from the wild deep, & gath'ring thick
In flames as of a furnace on the land from North to South
PLATE 13....... 
 
To be Continued 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PITY TO THE MYSTIC

In William Blake: Poet and Mystic, Pierre Berger writes of the universality of Blake's identification with 'minute particulars' of the created world:

"If, however, mysticism has the effect of destroying or attenuating this personal love and its selfish passions, it has the compensating result of increasing the sentiment of universal sympathy and the primitive feeling of fellowship with all created beings. Blake's work is full of this sympathy and this feeling.
His love has as its object, not only man, but all creatures, animals, even all plants and stones, beneath each of which he perceived a soul resembling his own. None of his predecessors had ever enjoyed such intimate communion with the world of animals and of inert nature. Others had regarded these as wonders of creation, as examples of God's goodness ; had admired them for their beauty, caressed and praised them as faithful servants or lovable companions. But no one had ever loved them as equals, as a brother or a sister might be loved. We must go back to the old Indian philosophers, or to mediaeval mystics like St. Francis of Assisi, to find this sentiment of brotherhood with animals, plants and inanimate things, this immense feeling of tenderness towards them, in which there is neither condescending pity nor any sense of man's superiority. To Blake, they were all spirits, like himself. He went farther even than most mystics : to him, the stone, the cloud, the clod of clay, were not merely each the abode of a spirit, but the spirits themselves, thus made visible to our eyes. He, who could " see a world in a grain of sand/' who found in the caterpillar on the leaf an image of the sorrows of motherhood, who heard the cherubim's song interrupted by the wounding of a lark, was able also to describe in touching words the emotions of the flower or the sparrow, the desire for love felt by the clod of clay, the sadness of the sick rose, or the infinite longings of the sunflower. To him, nothing is insignificant: all things are equal in the world of the eternal. What seems a trifle to others, fills "him full of smiles or tears." He represents himself as a sower who would cast his seed on the sand rather than tear up " some stinking weed." Of him, as of the Man of Sorrows, might it have been written that he would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Blake would never have declared that he loved the spider and the nettle because other men hated them. That would have been the love that springs from pity. He loved them because they were his equals. Sterne's hero refused to kill a fly, since the world was large enough for it and him. Blake thought the same. But he went further, and saw the fly as a man, and himself as a fly. He ended by identifying himself with it." (Page 246)

 

Songs of Innocence and Experience, 40 (E 23)
THE FLY.

"Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath:
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die."

Berger: "His soul is one with the soul of all creatures : he feels with them and for them. His immense sympathy is like God's."

Songs of Innocence and Experience, 27, (E 17)
On Anothers Sorrow

"And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird's grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear,

And not sit beside the nest,
Pouring pity in their breast;
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant's tear ?"


The Divine form of Pity is recognition of the kinship of everything in the world which is our gift to inhabit.


Image is from:
Yale Center for British Art
Blake's Water-colours for the Poems of Thomas Gray
Ode on the Spring
No. 6

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Angels in The Songs of Innocence and Experience

The Chimney Sweeper
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue,
Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep.                        
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep,
 
Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head        
That curl'd like a lambs back, was shav'd, so I said.
Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.
 
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight,    
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack
Were all of them lock'd up in coffins of black,

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open'd the coffins & set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run      
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
 
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father & never want joy.
(Erdman 10) 
 
 SONGS 16 
A CRADLE SONG

Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams.

- 11 -

Sweet sleep with soft down,  
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet sleep Angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child.

Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles
All the livelong beguiles.
(Erdman 12) 
 
 SONGS 19 
HOLY THURSDAY                                                  t

Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
Grey headed beadles walkd before with wands as white as snow
Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow
   
O what a multitude they seemd these flowers of London town 
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands
   
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song 
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor 
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door
   
 SONGS 20 
Night
The sun descending in the west.
The evening star does shine.
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine,
The moon like a flower, 
In heavens high bower;
With silent delight,
Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell green fields and happy groves,
Where flocks have took delight;  
Where lambs have nibbled, silent moves
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen they pour blessing,
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,
And each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest,
Where birds are coverd warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm;  
If they see any weeping,
That should have been sleeping
They pour sleep on their head
And sit down by their bed.
(Erdman 13-14)
 
SONGS 21
When wolves and tygers howl for prey  
They pitying stand and weep;
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep.
But if they rush dreadful;
The angels most heedful,    
Recieve each mild spirit,
New worlds to inherit.                 
(Erdman 14)

 SONGS 41 
The Angel                                                      t
I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen:
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe, was ne'er beguil'd!

And I wept both night and day
And he wip'd my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight

So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush'd rosy red:
I dried my tears & armed my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears,

Soon my Angel came again;
I was arm'd, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled                                
And grey hairs were on my head. 
(Erdman 24)

Monday, September 26, 2011

IMAGE OF PITY II

British Museum
Pity
First Sketch
Among Blake's artistic productions the print called Pity is rare in that we can watch the development of the image from earlier stages of conception. There are two sketches for Pity and a preliminary trial print as well as three states of the print including one that was badly damaged by the application of varnish. The various elements from Shakespeare's lines are there from the beginning but Blake gradually adds details and brings them together into an integrated whole. One of the later details added is the covering of the reclining woman's feet as if with a shroud. Pity is one of a set of twelve designs known as the Large Color Printed Drawings of 1795.



British Museum

Pity
Second Sketch and Trial Print



Of course the original of the image was the vision which appeared in Blake's mind through his imagination. It is not known if this vision was stimulated by reading words in Act I, Scene 7 of Shakespeare's Macbeth but it may have been. Blake however may have resonated to Shakespeare's description of pity without associating it in his image with 'the horrid deed' and 'vaulting ambition' described in Shakespeare's passage.

Macbeth , Act 1, Scene 7
"... He's here in double trust;
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other."

If Blake was inspired by words from Shakespeare it was because both men had activated an archetypal image of integrating activities of the spirit at various levels of psychic activity. Blake's myth constructed worlds in which the mind could engage with the fourfold vision. Try looking at Blake's image from four perspectives: sensation (literal or descriptive); feeling (emotion or judgement); reason (rationality or analysis); or intuition (imagination or spirit). Perhaps this image could as well be titled Fourfold Vision.

Letter 23, to Thomas Butts, (E 722)
"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blake's Women II

An improvement of an earlier Blake's Women.
This is not about Catherine, Blake's wife, with whom he lived in happy conjugal relationship for 40 years (her only complaint was that he spent too much time in heaven).

Nor is it about the fictional Catherine, who only serves to titillate the gossip lover.

Nor is it about Mary Wollencraft, although the story goes that William once proposed to Catherine that he bring Mary in as a concubine; Catherine cried, and William abandoned the idea. Blake hated and dispised 'jealousy', but it seems that Catherine's jealousy on this occasion solidified a very solid marriage relationship.

None of these, this post is about the women Blake met in heaven:

Thel was a kind of foretaste of the women to come; she observed the seediness of mortal life and went back to heaven. In her life Blake posed the question 'is mortal life of any value?' (Raine).

Lyca (three plates) has been interpreted a few dozen ways by various scholars. In Blake and Tradition Kathleen Raine (in Part II, The Myth of the Soul, Chapter Five, the Myth of the Kore) devoted 22 pages to relating Lyca to the Kore (which is beyond my competence to explain). You may also look at pp 34-5 of Blake and Antiquity.

Vala is the main woman in Blake's myth (The Four Zoas was originally named Vala). In the development of his story Blake splits Vala into two: Tirzah (the earthly woman) and Rahab
In To Tirzah Blake starkly presents the dichotomy:

"[Woman], what have I do to with thee?".
From a purely material viewpoint Blake has Jesus say this to his mother, actually a quotation from The Gospel of John 2:4. From a more significant viewpoint the woman represents mortality (Mary was his mortal mother). Jesus of course is something other than mortal. From the most significant viewpoint Blake is talking about you and me: we are made of clay, but an immortal spirit resides within the 'matter'.

Rahab Two kinds of material woman: "Blake represents the one by Rahab, the religion of the Law, of sin and punishment, and the other by Tirzah, the religion of nature and materialism.

Jerusalem of course is the obvious biblical metaphor for the "bride of Christ" and the heavenly (eternal) kingdom.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

IMAGE OF PITY

Although Blake recognized the possibility that pity may become a false, destructive emotion, he acknowledged the Eternal dimension of pity. In the large colour print called Pity he is portraying pity as an expression of caring and compassion which is the Soul's response to another Soul in need.

The pity of Los and Enitharmon in giving bodies to the dead from the ranks of Urizen's war is an expression of the healing which results from Enitharmon's sorrow over her sons and Los' moderating his fury. Pity and wrath become constructive rather than destructive forces.

Four Zoas, Night VII, 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"

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 98 [90], (E 371)
"But Los loved them & refusd to Sacrifice their infant limbs
And Enitharmons smiles & tears prevaild over self protection
They rather chose to meet Eternal death than to destroy
The offspring of their Care & Pity Urthonas spectre was comforted
But Tharmas most rejoicd in hope of Enions return
For he beheld new Female forms born forth upon the air
Who wove soft silken veils of covering in sweet rapturd trance
Mortal & not as Enitharmon without a covering veil"
...
Night 8
"Then Los said I behold the Divine Vision thro the broken Gates
Of thy poor broken heart astonishd melted into Compassion & Love
And Enitharmon said I see the Lamb of God upon Mount Zion
Wondring with love & Awe they felt the divine hand upon them
For nothing could restrain the dead in Beulah from descending
Unto Ulros night tempted by the Shadowy females sweet
Delusive cruelty they descend away from the Daughters of Beulah
And Enter Urizens temple Enitharmon pitying & her heart
Gates broken down. they descend thro the Gate of Pity
The broken heart Gate of Enitharmon She sighs them forth upon the wind
Of Golgonooza Los stood recieving them
For Los could enter into Enitharmons bosom & explore
Its intricate Labyrinths now the Obdurate heart was broken"

Pity
image from wikimedia

This pity which expresses the Divine Vision results from absorbing suffering into the psyche and embracing it as thread from which Life Eternal is woven. In Blake's image pity is not a one way street from those who have to those who have not. It is involvement in an organic relationship among the breath of God, the incarnate spirit, newborn babe and the receptive human.

If this picture is approached by the Reasoning Spectre, it fails to communicate a coherent message. The Spectre may ask exactly which figure is pity and what is the nature of the pity expressed. To ask whose baby it is and why the lady is lying alone is trying to explain the picture by 'analytics' which yields only confusion. Entering into the picture through imagination invites the various figures to act as a whole which can speak to one intuitively.

Psalms 34
[18] The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Another post on Pity.
Pity at the Metropolitan.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Some More Memorable Quotes

In addition to the quotes Ellie named in Quotes to Remember I might add these:

MHH Plate 7 Proverbs of Hell); E35: "He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence
MHH  (A Memorable Fancy); Erdman 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?"
****************************************************

The Immortal Man
"But when once I did descry
The Immortal Man that cannot Die
Thro evening shades I haste away
To close the Labours of my Day"
(Erdman- 268)


*******************************************************
Milton, Plate 1 Preface Erdman 96:
"Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets.
Numbers XI. ch 29 v."
Blake quoted Moses here. He considered himself a prophet and would like for us to be prophets, too.

Most of his larger poems were
 'prophecies', in particular: 
Visions of the Daughters of Albion 
America A Prophecy
Europe A Prophecy, and of course

Milton and
Jerusalem.
********************************************** 
From My Spectre around me night & day
Songs and Ballards 
 
"Till I turn from Female Love                                    
And root up the Infernal Grove                                  
I shall never worthy be                                         
To Step into Eternity 
--------------
Let us agree to give up Love
And root up the infernal grove                                 
Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity" (Erdman 475-6)

(Female Love and Love are synonyms here, but they mean nothing
at all that you might think they mean.) 
 
******************************************************

Thursday, September 22, 2011

WELCOME

Songs of Innocence
The Echoing Green
British Museum

We welcome your visit to our blog and invite you to spend some time with us. Although we try to share our understanding of Blake with our guests, we are most interested in making available to you the tools to study Blake independently. The links that are provided in almost every post connect you with sites, articles and individuals which have information and insight to share. We recommend books which have enriched our understanding of Blake: some of which you may read online, others which may be borrowed through your library's interlibrary loan system, or others may be purchased new or used through online services such as Better World Books.

The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake edited by David V Erdman is available as a html document which can be downloaded to your computer. The passages from Blake which we print are usually from this file and the page numbers (E ___) refer to it.

The pictures we include come from many sources. The Blake Archive acts a repository for a large and increasing volume of Blake's images but restricts the use to viewing and linking only. We do not post pictures retrieved from the Blake Archive. Other institutions allow the use of their images since the are long out of copyright. Many of our images come from the Library of Congress Rosenwald Collection. Both the British Museum and Yale University, which have large holdings, are sources of images we are allowed to post. Wikimedia Commons presents a wide variety of Blake images which we use freely. We have also used many images from a site called the Complete Works which is advertising copies of paintings for sale. A large number of institutions have Blake works which are rarely seen; some have been digitized and made available for copying. It is far more possible for the public to view and use Blake images now than it was just a couple of years ago.

Our blog now has over 800 posts which are archived and sometimes indexed. The search box at top left of the blog allows you to search for specific terms of phrases (enclosed in quotes). Resources which may help your studies are linked in the sidebar and heading.

We hope you have found something here which you are looking for. The study and enjoyment of Blake offers many possibilities. We welcome suggestions on how to improve our blog and better meet the needs of our readers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blake's Angels in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

For William Blake angels meant various things at various times. (Click on Blakes' Concordance and you will see he has used the word [or a derivative of it] 249 times.)

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell he meant by angels the Elect (line 22), people who 'had the truth' and wanted to impart it to the rest of us, the biblical pharisees, those who don't tolerate anything other than the conventional truth which they think they possess:

MHH Plate 5; Erdman:
" The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it."

Plate 6
A Memorable Fancy. As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity. "

(The 'fires of hell' here means something far difference from the vulgar understanding, in fact virtually the opposite; in the irony of MHH 'hell' and 'devil' mean creative and  'angels' means conventional.)

****************************************************************
Plate 16-18; Erdman 40:

"            A Memorable Fancy

  An Angel came to me and said. O pitiable foolish young man!
O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon
thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art
going in such career.
  I said. perhaps you will be willing to shew  me my eternal
lot and we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your
lot or mine is most desirable
  So he took me thro' a stable and thro' a church and down into
the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill 
we went, and came to a cave. down the winding cavern we groped
our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard
beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this
immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves
to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you
will not I will? but he answerd. do not presume O young-man but
as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the
darkness passes away.."
 
('stable' denotes the conventional story of Jesus' birth;
the church denotes conventional church [instituted by Constantine;
the mill? to which the credulous are condemned)  
 
Plate 19:
"  My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill;
I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found

- E41 -

myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light
hearing a harper who sung to the harp. & his theme was, The man
who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
reptiles of the mind.
  But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my
Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped?
  I answerd.  All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: 
 
for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing
a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you
yours? he laughd at my proposal: but I by force suddenly caught
him in my arms, & flew westerly thro' the night, till we were
elevated above the earths shadow: then I flung myself with him
directly into the body of the sun, here I clothed myself in
white, & taking in my hand Swedenborgs volumes sunk from the
glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to
saturn, here I staid to rest & then leap'd into the void, between
saturn & the fixed stars.
  Here said I! is your lot, in this space, if space it may be
calld, Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the
altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which
I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses
of brick, one we enterd; in it were a [PL 20] number of monkeys,
baboons, & all of that species chaind by the middle, grinning and
snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their
chains: however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then
the weak were caught by the strong and with a grinning aspect,
first coupled with & then devourd, by plucking off first one limb
and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk. this
after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devourd
too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off
of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyd us both we went
into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body,
which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics.
  So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou
oughtest to be ashamed.
  I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time
to converse with you whose works are only Analytics... 
 
(The concordance doesn't show this word anywhere else, but we may
believe that by it the reasoning faculty excluding anything else.)  
 
Opposition is true Friendship.

PLATE 21
  I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of
themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident
insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning:
 
A Memorable Fancy

  Once I saw a Devil in a flame of fire. who arose before an
Angel that sat on a cloud. and the Devil utterd these words.
  The worship of God is.  Honouring his gifts in other men
each according to his genius. and loving the [PL 23] greatest men
best, those who envy or calumniate great men hate God, for there
is no other God.
  The Angel hearing this became almost blue but mastering
himself he grew yellow, & at last white pink & smiling, and then
replied,
  Thou Idolater, is not God One? & is not he visible in Jesus
Christ? and has not Jesus Christ given his sanction to the law of
ten commandments and are not all other men fools, sinners, &
nothings?
  The Devil answer'd; bray a fool in a morter with wheat. yet
shall not his folly be beaten out of him: if Jesus Christ is the
greatest man, you ought to love him in the greatest degree; 
 
now hear how he has given his sanction to the law of ten
commandments: did he not mock at the sabbath, and so mock the
sabbaths God? murder those who were murderd because of him? turn
away the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of
others to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making
a defence before Pilate? covet when he pray'd for his disciples,
and when he bid them shake off the dust of their feet against
such as refused to lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exist
without breaking these ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue,
and acted from im[PL 24]pulse: not from rules.
  When he had so spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out
his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose
as Elijah.
- 43 -

  Note.  This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my
particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its
infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they
behave well ......"
 
(We might suppose that here, the young Blake is referring to a man
who had been liberated from conventional religion to the isoteric 
form that he himself represented.)
 
 We've looked at all Blakes' mentions of 'angels' in The Marriage of
Heaven and Hell. 
********************************************************************** 
 
In later posts we might look at Songs of Innocence, America, Europe) 
and some other places that illustrate what Blake may have thought of 
the word, 'angels'. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

QUOTES TO REMEMBER

Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul
British Museum
1794
1
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate7, (E 36)
"Eternity is in love with the productions of time."

2
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 8, (E 37)
"Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth."

3
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)
"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would
appear to man as it is: infinite."

4
Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 8, (E 51)
"Arise and drink your bliss, for every thing that lives is holy!"

5
Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
"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."

6
Songs and Ballads,
(E 477)
"& Throughout all Eternity
I forgive you you forgive me
As our dear Redeemer said
This the Wine & this the Bread"

7
Auguries of Innocence, (E 491)
"Man was made for Joy & Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro the World we safely go
Joy & Woe are woven fine
A Clothing for the soul divine"

8
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 13,(E 39)
"I then asked Ezekiel. why he eat dung, & lay so long on his
right & left side? he answerd. the desire of raising other men
into a perception of the infinite"

9
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,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses."

10
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"

11
Description of the Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Mental Things are alone Real"

12
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
"I give you the end of a golden string,
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heavens gate,
Built in Jerusalems wall."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Visions of Elohim Jehovah

PLATE 61 (of Jerusalem; Erdman 210-11):
"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 & 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, in 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, for 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. And I heard the voice among
The Reapers Saying, Am I Jerusalem the lost Adulteress? or am I
Babylon come up to Jerusalem? And another voice answerd Saying   

Does the voice of my Lord call me again? am I pure thro his Mercy
And Pity. Am I become lovely as a Virgin in his sight who am
Indeed a Harlot drunken with the Sacrifice of Idols does he
Call her pure as he did in the days of her Infancy when She
Was cast out to the loathing of her person. The Chaldean took
Me from my Cradle. The Amalekite stole me away upon his Camels
Before I had ever beheld with love the Face of Jehovah; or known
That there was a God of Mercy: O Mercy O Divine Humanity!
O Forgiveness & Pity & Compassion! If I were Pure I should never
Have known Thee; If I were Unpolluted I should never have        
Glorified thy Holiness, or rejoiced in thy great Salvation.

Mary leaned her side against Jerusalem, Jerusalem recieved
The Infant into her hands in the Visions of Jehovah. Times passed
     on
Jerusalem fainted over the Cross & Sepulcher She heard the voice
Wilt thou make Rome thy Patriarch Druid & the Kings of Europe his
Horsemen? Man in the Resurrection changes his Sexual Garments at
     will
Every Harlot was once a Virgin: every Criminal an Infant Love!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

EVE TEMPTED

Blake wrote his Descriptive Catalogue in 1809 in conjunction with his exhibit of his works in his brother James' home. He explains here why he choose not to paint in oils but chose tempera or watercolor instead.

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 530)
"CLEARNESS and precision have been the chief objects in painting
these Pictures. Clear colours unmudded by oil, and firm and
determinate lineaments unbroken by shadows, which ought to
display and not to hide form, as is the practice of the latter

Schools of Italy and Flanders"

One of Blake's temperas, a dramatic scene from the Garden of Eden is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Eve must have been as brave as she was beautiful and gullible to accept any gift from Blake's serpent. The sleeping Adam recalls to mind the sleeping Albion of Jerusalem. Look for symbols of the fall, materiality, dominon by the feminine and mystery.

Eve Tempted
Victoria and Albert MuseumGenesis 3
[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
[2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
[3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
[4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
[5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
[6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
[7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clouds

The Book of Thel


Author and Printer William Blake




















PLATE 1
          THEL

           I

The daughters of Mne Seraphim led round their sunny flocks.     
All but the youngest; she in paleness sought the secret air.
To fade away like morning beauty from her mortal day:
Down by the river of Adona her soft voice is heard:
And thus her gentle lamentation falls like morning dew.          

O life of this our spring! why fades the lotus of the water?
Why fade these children of the spring? born but to smile and fall.
Ah! Thel is like a watry bow. and like a parting cloud.
Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water.
Like dreams of infants. like a smile upon an infants face,       
Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air;
Ah! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest my head.          
And gentle sleep the sleep of death. and gentle hear the voice  
Of him that walketh in the garden in the evening time.

- 3 -

The Lilly of the valley breathing in the humble grass            
Answer'd the lovely maid and said; I am a watry weed,
And I am very small, and love to dwell in lowly vales;
So weak, the gilded butterfly scarce perches on my head.
Yet I am visited from heaven and he that smiles on all.
Walks in the valley. and each morn over me spreads his hand      
Saying, rejoice thou humble grass, thou new-born lilly flower,
Thou gentle maid of silent valleys. and of modest brooks;
For thou shalt be clothed in light, and fed with morning manna:
Till summers heat melts thee beside the fountains and the springs
To flourish in eternal vales: then why should Thel complain, 
PLATE 2
Why should the mistress of the vales of Har, utter a 
sigh.

She ceasd & smild in tears, then sat down in her 
silver shrine.

Thel answerd. O thou little virgin of the peaceful 
valley.
Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the 
     o'ertired.                                                 t
Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy 
milky garments,                                                   

He crops thy flowers. while thou sittest 
smiling in his  face,
Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints.
Thy wine doth purify the golden honey, thy perfume,
Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of 
grass that springs
Revives the milked cow, and tames the fire-breathing 
steed.        
But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the 
sun:
I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my place.

Queen of the vales the Lilly answerd, ask the tender cloud,
And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky,
And why it scatters its bright beauty thro' the humid air.       
Descend O little cloud and hover before the eyes of Thel.

The Cloud descended, and the Lilly bowd her modest head:
And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant grass.



PLATE 3
                       II.

O little Cloud the virgin said, I charge thee tell to me,
Why thou complainest not when in one hour thou fade away:
Then we shall seek thee but not find; ah Thel is like to thee.
I pass away. yet I complain, and no one hears my voice.

The Cloud then shew'd his golden bead & his bright form emerg'd, 
Hovering and glittering on the air before the face of Thel.

O virgin know'st thou not. our steeds drink of the golden springs
Where Luvah doth renew his horses: look'st thou on my youth,  

 - 4 -

And fearest thou because I vanish and am seen no more.
Nothing remains; O maid I tell thee, when I pass away,           
It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace, and raptures holy:
Unseen descending, weigh my light wings upon balmy flowers;
And court the fair eyed dew. to take me to her shining tent;
The weeping virgin, trembling kneels before the risen sun,
Till we arise link'd in a golden band, and never part;           
But walk united, bearing food to all our tender flowers

Dost thou O little Cloud? I fear that I am not like thee;
For I walk through the vales of Har. and smell the sweetest
     flowers;
But I feed not the little flowers: I hear the warbling birds,
But I feed not the warbling birds. they fly and seek their food; 
But Thel delights in these no more because I fade away,
And all shall say, without a use this shining woman liv'd,
Or did she only live. to be at death the food of worms.

The Cloud reclind upon his airy throne and answer'd thus.

Then if thou art the food of worms. O virgin of the skies,       
How great thy use. how great thy blessing; every thing that
     lives,
Lives not alone, nor for itself: fear not and I will call
The weak worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt hear its voice.
Come forth worm of the silent valley, to thy pensive queen.

The helpless worm arose, and sat upon the Lillys leaf,           
And the bright Cloud saild on, to find his partner in the vale.




PLATE 3
                       II.

O little Cloud the virgin said, I charge 
thee tell to me,
Why thou complainest not when in one hour thou fade away:
Then we shall seek thee but not find; ah Thel is like to 
thee.
I pass away. yet I complain, and no one hears my voice.

The Cloud then shew'd his golden bead & his bright form 
emerg'd, 
Hovering and glittering on the air before the face of Thel.

O virgin know'st thou not. our steeds drink of the golden 
springs
Where Luvah doth renew his horses: look'st thou on my youth,  

 - 4 -

And fearest thou because I vanish and am seen 
no more.
Nothing remains; O maid I tell thee, when I pass away,           
It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace, and raptures holy:
Unseen descending, weigh my light wings upon balmy flowers;
And court the fair eyed dew. to take me to her shining tent;
The weeping virgin, trembling kneels before the risen sun,
Till we arise link'd in a golden band, and never part;           
But walk united, bearing food to all our tender flowers

Dost thou O little Cloud? I fear that I am not like thee;
For I walk through the vales of Har. and smell the sweetest
     flowers;
But I feed not the little flowers: I hear the warbling birds,
But I feed not the warbling birds. they fly and seek their food; 
But Thel delights in these no more because I fade away,
And all shall say, without a use this shining woman liv'd,
Or did she only live. to be at death the food of worms.

The Cloud reclind upon his airy throne and answer'd thus.

Then if thou art the food of worms. O virgin of the skies,       
How great thy use. how great thy blessing; every thing that
     lives,
Lives not alone, nor for itself: fear not and I will call
The weak worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt hear its voice.
Come forth worm of the silent valley, to thy pensive queen.

The helpless worm arose, and sat upon the Lillys leaf,           
And the bright Cloud saild on, to find his partner in the vale.




PLATE 4
Then Thel astonish'd view'd the Worm upon its dewy bed.

Art thou a Worm? image of weakness. art thou but a Worm?
I see thee like an infant wrapped in the Lillys leaf:
Ah weep not little voice, thou can'st not speak. but thou 
can'st weep;
Is this a Worm? I see thee lay helpless & naked: weeping,      
And none to answer, none to cherish thee with mothers smiles.

The Clod of Clay heard the Worms voice, & raisd her pitying 
head;
She bowd over the weeping infant, and her life exhal'd
In milky fondness, then on Thel she fix'd her humble eyes.

O beauty of the vales of Har. we live not for ourselves,         
Thou seest me the meanest thing, and so I am indeed;
My bosom of itself is cold. and of itself is dark,







PLATE 5
But he that loves the lowly, pours his oil upon my head.
And kisses me, and binds his nuptial bands around my breast.

And says; Thou mother of my children, I have loved thee.
And I have given thee a crown that none can take away
But how this is sweet maid, I know not, and I cannot know,       
I ponder, and I cannot ponder; yet I live and love.

The daughter of beauty wip'd her pitying tears with her white
     veil,
And said. Alas! I knew not this, and therefore did I weep:
That God would love a Worm I knew, and punish the evil foot
That wilful, bruis'd its helpless form: but that he cherish'd it 
With milk and oil, I never knew; and therefore did I weep,
And I complaind in the mild air, because I fade away,
And lay me down in thy cold bed, and leave my shining lot.
Queen of the vales, the matron Clay answerd; I heard thy sighs.
And all thy moans flew o'er my roof. but I have call'd them down:
Wilt thou O Queen enter my house. 'tis given thee to enter,
And to return; fear nothing. enter with thy virgin feet.



PLATE 6
                IV.

The eternal gates terrific porter lifted the northern bar:
Thel enter'd in & saw the secrets of the land unknown;
She saw the couches of the dead, & where the fibrous roots
Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless twists:
A land of sorrows & of tears where never smile was seen.

She wanderd in the land of clouds thro' valleys dark, listning
Dolours & lamentations: waiting oft beside a dewy grave
She stood in silence. listning to the voices of the ground,
Till to her own grave plot she came, & there she sat down.
And heard this voice of sorrow breathed from the hollow pit.     

Why cannot the Ear be closed to its own destruction?
Or the glistning Eye to the poison of a smile!
Why are Eyelids stord with arrows ready drawn,
Where a thousand fighting men in ambush lie?
Or an Eye of gifts and graces, show'ring fruits and coined 
gold!  
Why a Tongue impress'd with honey from every wind?
Why an Ear, a whirlpool fierce to draw creations in?
Why a Nostril wide inhaling terror trembling & affright.
Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning boy!
Why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our desire?          

The Virgin started from her seat, & with a shriek.
Fled back unhinderd till she came into the vales of Har
                                    
                  The End

********************************************************************************************
The Little Black Boy:

 My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but oh! my soul is white.
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black as if bereaved of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And, sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east began to say:

"Look on the rising sun, there God does live
And gives his light, and gives his heat away;
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

 

 For when our souls have learned the heat to bear
The cloud will vanish, we shall hear his voice
Saying: `Come out from the grove, my love and care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice!' "

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me;
And thus I say to little English boy:
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.

So the cloud has become a symbol of insubstantial materiality.
shady grove has an equal significance for Blake.

Friday, September 16, 2011

LAOCOON DRAWING

Blake copied the cast of the Laocoon in the Royal Academy in about 1815 in order to make an engraving to be included in Rees' Cyclopaedia (click on 2nd picture). He later enlarged and enhanced the engraving with text to project his own ideas about art and religion. The figures for Blake became God and his two sons Adam and Satan who were engaged in a mighty struggle with a threatening force represented by two serpents named good and evil.

Drawing for engraving included in Rees' Cyclopaedia, 1815
Yale Center for British Arts


Inscription

"This drawing was made by W. Blake in the Royal Academy Somerset House for a small plate he made of the Laocoon for the Article in the Encyclopedia. The article itself was on sculpture being written by Flaxman. When W. B was drawing this his old friend Fuseli came in & said ' Why Mr. Blake you a student you ought to teach us'

in my possession from Mrs Blake

F. Tatham"



 Laocoon, (E273)
" The whole Business of Man is the Arts; things Common
Christianity is Art; not Money.
Jesus and his Apostles; Disciples were all Artists."

Laocoon with Blake's inscriptions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blake's Laocoon

Drawn & Engraved by William Blake


















[Jehovah] & his two Sons Satan & Adam as they were copied
from the Cherubim Of Solomons Temple by three Rhodians &
applied to Natural Fact. or. History of Ilium
[Above the father's head:]
The Angel of the Divine Presence
[Angel of Jehovah]
[Serpent-holder]
He repented that he had made Adam
(of the Female, the Adamah)
& it grieved him at his heart

[About the serpent and figure (? Satan) to the right:]
Good
[Lilith]
Satans Wife The Goddess Nature is War & Misery & Heroism a Miser

[About the serpent and figure (? Adam) to the left:]

Evil
Good & Evil are

Riches & Poverty a Tree of Misery
propagating Generation & Death

[Remaining aphorisms, reading outward in thematic order:]

What can be Created Can be Destroyed
Adam is only The Natural Man & not the Soul or Imagination

The Eternal Body of Man is The IMAGINATION.
God himself |
that is |[Yeshua] JESUS We are his Members
The Divine Body|

It manifests itself in his Works of Art (In Eternity All is
Vision)
All that we See is VISION from Generated Organs gone as soon as
come
Permanent in The Imagination; considered as Nothing by the
NATURAL MAN

HEBREW ART is called SIN by the Deist SCIENCE

The whole Business of Man Is The Arts & All Things Common

Christianity is Art & not Money
Money is its Curse

The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art

Jesus & his Apostles & Disciples were all Artists
Their Works were destroyd by the Seven Angels of the Seven
Churches in Asia. Antichrist Science

SCIENCE is the Tree of DEATH
ART is the Tree of LIFE GOD is JESUS

The Gods of Priam are the Cherubim of Moses & Solomon The Hosts
of Heaven

The Gods of Greece & Egypt were Mathematical Diagrams See Plato's

Works
There are States in which all Visionary Men are accounted Mad
Men such are Greece & Rome Such is Empire or Tax
See Luke Ch 2 v I

Art Degraded Imagination Denied War Governed the Nations

Divine Union Deriding And Denying Immediate Communion with
God
The Spoilers say Where are his Works That he did in the
Wilderness
Lo what are these Whence came they These are not the Works
Of Egypt nor Babylon Whose Gods are the Powers of this World.
Goddess, Nature. t
Who first spoil & then destroy Imaginative Art For their Glory is

War and Dominion

Empire against Art See Virgils Eneid. Lib. VI. v 848

Spiritual War
Israel deliverd from Egypt is Art deliverd from Nature &
Imitation

What we call Antique Gems are the Gems of Aarons Breast Plate

Prayer is the Study of Art
Praise is the Practise of Art
Fasting &c. all relate to Art
The outward Ceremony is Antichrist
Without Unceasing Practise nothing can be done

Practise is Art If you leave off you are Lost

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian
You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands
if they stand in the way of ART

The unproductive Man is not a Christian much less the Destroyer

The True Christian Charity not dependent on Money (the lifes
blood of Poor Families) that is on Caesar or Empire or
Natural Religion

For every Pleasure Money Is Useless

Money, which is The Great Satan or Reason the Root of Good & Evil
In The Accusation of Sin

Where any view of Money exists Art cannot be carried on, but War
only (Read Matthew CX. 9 & 10 v) by pretences to the Two
Impossibilities Chastity & Abstinence Gods of the Heathen

Is not every Vice possible to Man described in the Bible openly

All is not Sin that Satan calls so all the Loves & Graces of
Eternity.

If Morality was Christianity Socrates was the Saviour

Art can never exist without Naked Beauty displayed

No Secresy in Art
(Erdman 273-5)