Thursday, October 31, 2013


The evidence that William Wordsworth was acquainted with Blake's poetry comes from Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson. In an entry from 1812 on page 247 we read:

"May 24th. — A very interesting day. At half-past 
ten joined Wordsworth in Oxford Road ; we then got 
into the fields, and walked to Hampstead. I read to 
him a number of Blake's poems, with some of which he 
was pleased. He regarded Blake as having in him the 
elements of poetry much more than either Byron or 
Blake apparently paid more attention to Wordsworth than vice versa. In this passage from Harold Bloom's commentary in Erdman's The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, Bloom comments on the transcript produced by Blake of Wordsworth's Preface and the lines quoted there from "the first Book of the Recluse". Even the punctuation became a means that Blake used to differentiate his thought from Wordsworth's.
On Page 666 Bloom writes:

"Annotations to the Preface to The Excursion, being a portion
of The Recluse, A Poem, by William Wordsworth.  London, 1814

     Blake's transcript and comment (in 1826) on Wordsworth's
Preface and the lines quoted there from "the first Book of the
Recluse" are in Dr Williams's Library, London.
He capitalized rather heavily: Wordsworth's "good and evil of our
mortal state" became "Good & Evil of our Mortal State", and Blake
insisted on capitalizing Law Supreme, Earth, Heaven, and "Worlds
To which the Heaven of Heavens is but a Veil", also "darkest Pit"
and "Song"; but he resisted several of Wordsworth's capitals,
turning "prophetic Spirit! that inspir'st / The human Soul of
universal earth" to "Prophetic Spirit that inspirest / The Human
soul of Universal Earth".  Similar reversals of case were:
"illumination,--may my Life" to "Illumination may my life" and
"My Heart . . . thy unfailing love" to "My heart . . . thy
unfailing Love"."  
 Henry Crabb Robinson makes an amusing but revealing remark about Blake on page 303 of his above mentioned book  
British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
"Sharp became a warm partisan of Joanna Southcott, and endeavoured to make a convert of Blake; but, as Flaxman judiciously observed, such men as Blake are not fond of playing second fiddle. Blake lately told Flaxman that he had had a violent dispute with the angels on some subject, and had driven them away"

To Blake Poetry was not to be taken lightly. We can imagine him disputing with angels as he wrote: 
Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 142)
"To cast off the idiot Questioner who is always questioning,
But never capable of answering; who sits with a sly grin
Silent plotting when to question, like a thief in a cave;
Who publishes doubt & calls it knowledge; whose Science is Despair   
Whose pretence to knowledge is Envy, whose whole Science is
To destroy the wisdom of ages to gratify ravenous Envy;
That rages round him like a Wolf day & night without rest
He smiles with condescension; he talks of Benevolence & Virtue
And those who act with Benevolence & Virtue, they murder time on time
These are the destroyers of Jerusalem, these are the murderers
Of Jesus, who deny the Faith & mock at Eternal Life:
Who pretend to Poetry that they may destroy Imagination;
By imitation of Natures Images drawn from Remembrance
These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains 
Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire
Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Europe a Prophecy 9

Commons Wikipedia
America 9

Enitharmon slept,                                                
Eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream!
The night of Nature and their harps unstrung:
She slept in middle of her nightly song,
Eighteen hundred years, a female dream!

Shadows of men in fleeting bands upon the winds:                
Divide the heavens of Europe:
Till Albions Angel smitten with his own plagues fled with his
The cloud bears hard on Albions shore:                           
Fill'd with immortal demons of futurity:
In council gather the smitten Angels of Albion
The cloud bears hard upon the council house; down rushing
On the heads of Albions Angels.

One hour they lay buried beneath the ruins of that hall;
But as the stars rise from the salt lake they arise in pain,     
In troubled mists o'erclouded by the terrors of strugling times.
(Erdman 63)

About the Text

Eighteen hundred years, a female dream!: Blake sums up history of 'Christianity'.

Till Albions Angel: the 'till' brings us up to Blake's day.

Angels of Albion: multiple angels represent the government in the 'council house'
"One hour they lay" ???

About the Image

Works shows images with marked differences in the color ot the two portions.
A gigantic 'S' beginning at the upper left divides the Image into upper and lower portions.
The general shape of the image suggests that we have to do with a dream.
In the upper half are two figures; Erdman (Illuminated Blake p.167) calls them "fairies... 

He spoke of an 'S curve' of ripe grain". (How he gets ripe grain I don't know; explain it to us.)
Other images in Works show pronounced differences in the color of the two portions.

The lower half contains the Text, announced by a flower (Lilly?) at the middle right where the
big  'S' makes its turn down.

The first five lines are separated by strange figures from the rest of the text.

The Illustration description  of Works sees the C for the lower portion of the Image. In the bottom
it reveals grain stems that go beyond the C and through to the rest of the S.  The female has a horn; her male companion also blows a trumpet.

To Blake the trumpets represent the course of the last 18 centuries. The black spots of the grain seem to come from the trumpets.

Blake is telling us of the misery: war, famine, plague, etc that have characterized our world.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


William Wordsworth and William Blake were contemporaneous poets sharing an interest in man's relationship to the Divine. They read some of one another's works and made a few comments. Blake annotated two of Wordsworth's works: Poems, published in 1815 and Preface to The Excursion, being a portion of The Recluse, published in 1814.

Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems (E 665)      
London, 1815,  Dedicated to Sr G Beaumont

Titles marked "X" in pencil in the table of Contents are: Lucy
Gray, We Are Seven, The Blind Highland Boy, The Brothers, Strange
Fits of Passion, I met Louisa, Ruth, Michael . . . , Laodamia, To
the Daisy, To the small Celandine, To the Cuckoo, A Night Piece,
Yew Trees, She was a Phantom, I wandered lonely, Reverie of Poor
Susan, Yarrow Unvisited, Yarrow Visited, Resolution and
Independence, The Thorn, Hartleap Well, Tintern Abbey, Character
of a Happy Warrior, Rob Roy's Grave, Expostulation and Reply, The
Tables Turned, Ode to Duty, Miscellaneous Sonnets, Sonnets
Dedicated to Liberty, The Old Cumberland Beggar, Ode--
Intimations, &c.  

William Wordsworth: 
"The powers requisite for the production of
poetry are, first, those of observation and description. . . .
whether the things depicted be actually present to the senses, or
have a place only in the memory. . . . 2dly, Sensibility, . . ." 
Blake's comment:
"One Power alone makes a Poet.-Imagination The Divine Vision"  
William Wordsworth:

          O THOU! whose fancies from afar are brought;
          Who of thy words dost make a mock apparel,
          And fittest to unutterable thought
          The breeze-like motion and the self-born carol;
          Thou faery voyager! that dost float
          In such clear water, that thy boat
          May rather seem
          To brood on air than on an earthly stream;
          Suspended in a stream as clear as sky,
          Where earth and heaven do make one imagery;    
          O blessed vision! happy child!
          Thou art so exquisitely wild,
          I think of thee with many fears
          For what may be thy lot in future years.
            I thought of times when Pain might be thy guest,
          Lord of thy house and hospitality;
          And Grief, uneasy lover! never rest
          But when she sate within the touch of thee.
          O too industrious folly!
          O vain and causeless melancholy!                        
          Nature will either end thee quite;
          Or, lengthening out thy season of delight,
          Preserve for thee, by individual right,
          A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.
          What hast thou to do with sorrow,
          Or the injuries of to-morrow?
          Thou art a dew-drop, which the morn brings forth,
          Ill fitted to sustain unkindly shocks,
          Or to be trailed along the soiling earth;
          A gem that glitters while it lives,                     
          And no forewarning gives;
          But, at the touch of wrong, without a strife
          Slips in a moment out of life."                                       

Blake's comment:
"This is all in the highest degree Imaginative & equal to any
Poet but not Superior   I cannot think that Real Poets have any
competition   None are greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven it is so
in Poetry"  

Wikimedia Commons
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
The Fly

Matthew 18
[1] At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
[2] And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them,
[3] and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


The image is from William Blake Painter and Poet, Richard Garnett, Keeper of the Printed Books in the British Museum, 1895.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Word

Northrup Frye was a famous literary critic and a great deal can be found about him on the
web. A Canadian,  Frye went to seminary and became a parish minister; then  he went to 
Oxford and got an M.A. in English Literature. He wrote his thesis on William Blake.

Many books came from his pen; the first one was Fearful Symmetry (1944). Frye opens the
door to a depth understanding of Blake's poetry (and pictures).  It took five readings of Fearful 
Symmetry (30 years ago) to begin to open my mind to William Blake.

In the eighties, near the end of his life, Frye published two monumental volumes of  "The Bible as
Literature";  they speak directly to the depth understanding of our poet.

Some of the statements in 'The Word with the Word' (chapter five of Fearful Symmetry) may sound
enigmatic;  just stay with them, and light will come.  This chapter is a lucid description of Frye's 
primary gift to literature, to meaning and religion.

All words are metaphors; the meanings they convey depend upon the author's mind - and frame 
of mind when he writes them; and upon the reader's (or hearer's) mind when he reads or hears 
them. (Most of the purposeless arguments over virtually anything stem from failure to understand 
this basic  fact.)

For Western culture the Bible is the Great Code of Art; it embodies the Universal Myth, basically
fourfold: Creation, The Fall, Redemption, Apocalypse. Blake believed that it was the guiding 
myth undergirding virtually all discourse.
(From Fearful Symmetry, p. 109):
"Blake's poetry is all related to a central myth... and the primary basis of this myth is the Bible.
The Bible is  the archetype of Western culture, and the Bible...provides the basis for most
of our major art."

The word of God was Jesus (cf John 1). Anything that you say or write may be the Word of   God--  the Jesus in you (Paul).

In Plate 3 of Jerusalem (Erdman p. 145) we may read: "I also hope the Reader will be with me, wholly One in Jesus our Lord, who is the God [of Fire and Lord [of Love] to whom the Ancients look'd and saw his day afar off, with trembling &  amazement. The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of sin".
This is the Word in Blake's consciousness.

From Jerusalem, (Erdman p. 180):
"Saying. Albion! Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love,
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought:
Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing
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, receiving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,
In Eden: in the garden of God: and in heavenly Jerusalem."

Sunday, October 27, 2013


William Blake and Henry Fuseli together were involved in illustrating Erasmus Darwin's The Botanic Garden which was published by Joseph Johnson in 1791. The book is a set of two poems, The Economy of Vegetation and The Loves of the Plants by an author who was both poet and naturalist. Blake, Fuseli and Johnson shared many of the liberal, anti-establishment ideas which were incorporated in the book.
The Wikimedia article on The Botanic Garden includes these statements:

"But it was not only organic change that Darwin was illustrating, it was also social and political change. Throughout The Botanic Garden, Darwin endorses the ideals of the American and French revolutions and criticizes slavery.
When Johnson published The Botanic Garden in 1791, he charged a hefty twenty-one shillings for it. Seward wrote that "the immense price which the bookseller gave for this work, was doubtless owing to considerations which inspired his trust in its popularity. Botany was, at that time, and still continues a very fashionable study." However, the high price would also have discouraged government prosecution for a book that contained radical political views. Any subversive ideas that the poem contained were therefore limited to an audience of the educated elite who could afford to purchase the book."

An illustration named Fertilization of Egypt was engraved by Blake from a design by Fuseli. A caption in British Museum gives this information about  the image:

"the God Anubis with the head of a dog praying to the star Sirius for rain, he stands with one foot on either bank of the river, beyond the winged figure of Jupiter Pluvius."

British Museum
Illustration for The Botanic Garden
Drawing by Fuseli
British Museum
Illustration for The Botanic Garden
Drawing by Blake


British Museum
Illustration for The Botanic Garden
Engraving by Blake

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Europe a Prophecy Plate 8

Wiki Commons
Plate 8
"Arise O Rintrah eldest born: second to none but Orc:
O lion Rintrah raise thy fury from thy forests black:
Bring Palamabron horned priest, skipping upon the mountains:
And silent Elynittria the silver bowed queen:
Rintrah where hast thou hid thy bride!
Weeps she in desart shades?
Alas my Rintrah! bring the lovely jealous Ocalythron.
Arise my son! bring all thy brethren O thou king of fire.
Prince of the sun I see thee with thy innumerable race:
Thick as the summer stars:
But each ramping his golden mane shakes,
And thine eyes rejoice because of strength O Rintrah furious king."
(Erdman 62)

About the Text
Rintrah, "the just wrath of the prophet",
appears first at the beginning of MHH:
 "Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep"?????"
"Rintrah is said to be the "eldest born" of Enitharmon.
Palamabron is Rintrah's brother; as Rintrah connotes wrath,
Palamabron connotes pity.
Several other of Blake's characters grace this text:
"Ocalythron (see 'Milton,' extra page 8, line 19) is the portion
of God's jealousy that narrowed the sun into a globe, as
we usually see it, and hid the visionary sun — the sun of the mind.
Elynitria did the same to the moon, giving us the natural
sight and taking the imaginative sight away through that
jealousy which narrowed all creation, forbade the tree of life
in Eden, and always 'gains feminine applause.' — See the
verses to ' Nobodaddy.' Elynitria' s guard is Palamabron.
In the early part of 'Milton' much is to be read about
Palamabron, and a little in 'Jerusalem.'
But Rintrah is here called Prince of the Sun. This is
Urizen's title when in his right place. But 'feminine
delusion' has broken loose over the world. In the book of
' Urizen' we are told about the origin of the 'net of religion,'
which is the result of Urizen' s feminine mood, —
his pity — and in Night V. and following in ' Vala.' "
Prince of the sun: this phrase appears nowhere else in Blake's poetry.

About the Image

The old man is identified by various artists in various ways; 
(Erdman's Iluminated Blake p. 166) 
as King Tiriel and as Albion's Guardian Angel in America a Prophecy

He's facing the West and seems to be warding off something (fear, revolution, famine, plague?)
A gowned woman kneels and hugs the old man's legs; she seems 
to be begging for help.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Reposted from August 19, 2010: 

A close friend of William Blake and an associate of his in publishing through the radical publisher Joseph Johnson, Henry Fuseli was instrumental in the publication of Aphorisms on Man. Johann Caspar Lavater, Fuseli's friend, with whom he had been a theology student in Zurich, wrote the manuscript and Fuseli translated it into English and facilitated its publication in London. Blake engraved five illustrations for the work based on preliminary drawings by Fuseli.

Blake's annotation to his copy of Aphorisms on Man are included in his complete works, and are said to be the chief reason Lavater's book is read today. The comment I focus on is an unequivocal statement of Blake's belief about the relationship of man to God which he wrote in annotating Lavater's book. That Blake felt that God related intimately with man as a companion and brother is made clear in this passage. Blake supports his belief by quoting John 6:56, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." Blake replaces the phrase "eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood" with "dwelleth in love."

Blake continues by saying that it is this relationship with God that removes the need and ability of a man to judge another except in love.

The God Blake affirms bridges divisions because he who is the cause of all, humbles himself in order to nourish the weak. Blake then defines creation in terms of God descending to become the word which is in everything and which makes everything into God in it's essence.

Annotations to Lavater, (E 599)
"It is the God in all that is our companion & friend, for our God himself says, you are my brother my sister & my mother; & St John. Whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in God & God in him. & such an one cannot judge of any but in love. & his feelings will be attractions or repulses
God is in the lowest effects as well as in the highest causes for he is become a worm that he may nourish the weak
For let it be rememberd that creation is. God descending according to the weakness of man for our Lord is the word of God & every thing on earth is the word of God & in its essence is God"

Blake's statement bears a close resemblance to Paul's statement in Philippians 2:6–8:
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

The Morgan Museum's exhibition of work of Blake and his associates is available online: A New Heaven Is Begun.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Europe A Prophecy Plate 7

Commons wikipedia
Europe plate 7

No Text

No text except the "Lord have mercy upon us.

About the Image

Monday, October 21, 2013

Europe A Prophecy Plate 6

Wikipedia Commons
Europe Plate 6

A lurid scene at the bottom, of a child dead, presumably of starvation.  At the top a pot over a flaming fire-- to cook the child?
This is something of the consequence that Blake sees from Enitharmon's intention: WAR.

Two women under the furnace:
   The one on the left bent over with grief.
   The other one, sitting on a sort of throne with an infant, contemplating the pot.

Blake was familiar with the story in Ist Kings 3 commonly called "splitting the baby"
"[16] Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
[17] And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
[18] And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
[19] And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
[20] And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
[21] And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
[22] And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
[23] Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
[24] And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
[25] And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


This is a continuation of the post BLAKE & FUSELI II with Blake's illustrations to Blair's The Grave  and comments attributed to Blake's friend Henry Fuseli. 

Wikimedia commons supplied the images for the links. The original watercolor designs rather than the engravings from the book are shown.


"When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb'ring dust, Not unattentive to the call, awakes"; while the world in flames typifies the renovation of all things, the end of Time, and the beginning of Eternity.


The Body springs from the grave, the Soul descends from an opening cloud; they rush together with inconceivable energy; they meet, never again to part!


 The sweet felicity, the endearing tenderness, the ineffable affection, that are here depicted, are sufficiently obvious. The Husband clasps the Wife; the Children embrace; the Boy recognises and eagerly springs to his Father.

Christ coming to judgment in the clouds of heaven, with the "Thrones set, and the Books opened." On his knees lies the Book of Life. The Recording Angels kneel on each side of his throne, and the Elders are also seated on each side of Him to judge the world. Surrounding the throne are the blessed, entering into their joy; and arising from these, on each hand, are two clouds of figures: one with the insignia of Baptism; the other with the insignia of the Lord's Supper, inclosing a glorification of angels, with harps. Beneath, on the right hand of Christ, are the blessed, rising in the air to judgment; on the left hand are the cursed: Some are precipitating themselves from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne (among them is Satan, wound round with the Serpent), others are pleading their own righteousness, and others, beneath, fleeing with banners and spears among the rocks, crying to the "rocks to cover them." Beneath these are represented the harlot's mystery, and the dragon, who flee before the face of the Judge. In the centre, standing on the midst of the earth, is the angel with the last trumpet. On each side of him is an angel: that on the left is drawing his sword on the wicked; that on the right is sheathing his sword on the just, who are rising in various groups, with joy and affection, family by family. The angel with the trumpet, and his accompanying ministers of judgment, are surrounded by a column of flame, which spreads itself in various directions over the earth, from which the dead are bursting forth, some in terror, some in joy. On the opening cloud, on each hand of Christ, are two figures, supporting the books of remembrance: that over the just is beheld with humiliation; that over the wicked with arrogance. A sea of fire issues from beneath the throne of Christ, destructive to the wicked, but salutary to the righteous. Before the sea of Fire the clouds are rolled back, and the heavens "are rolled together as a scroll."


Quote from the web page of The Manhattan Rare Book Company:  
"These illustrations must always remain among [Blake's] greatest. They are much less illustrations of Blair than expressions of his own moods and visions. We see the body and soul rushing into each other's arms at the last day, the soul hovering over the body and exploring the recesses of the grave, and the good and bad appearing before the judgement seat of God, not as these things appeared to the orthodox eyes of Blair, but as they appeared to the mystical eyes of William Blake." Tom Paulin

Advertisement for an original edition of Blair's The Grave with Blake's illustrations.

Information from the University of South Carolina Library.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Europe A Prophecy Plate 5

Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!                          
That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion?
Arise O Rintrah thee I call! & Palamabron thee!
Go! tell the human race that Womans love is Sin!                 
That an Eternal life awaits the worms of sixty winters
In an allegorical abode where existence hath never come:
Forbid all joy, & from her childhood shall the little female
Spread nets in every secret path.
My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but

My weary eyelids draw towards the evening, my bliss is yet but

Wikimedia Commons
Plate 5
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?
                     About the Text

The text is short because the striking image takes up most of the space.
Earlier plates have prepared for ‘ the night of Enitharmons joy! ‘.
Who shall I call? Who shall I send?  This lovely line comes from Isaiah 6:
[8] Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?     

That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion: the woman described her is domineering, of the worst sort. She loves conquests and war.

Rintrah and Palamabron: 
Rintrah is said to be wrath, but actually anger at injustice. He was
instrumental in bringing about Revolution, both that of America and of France.

Rintrah’s brother Palamabron is said to be pity; but pity did not mean to Blake what it customarily
means today, but what the Bible meant, as for example:


  1. [17] He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Enitharmon calls on her sons, not to perform their rightful functions, but to turn honest love into sin.
(For more on this read My Spectre.)

About the Image

Two 'angel queens' stand behind their mailed knight. He is Rintrah. This picture illustrates a thousand words: It memorializes the two revolutions the two queens (of England and France) have a mailed knight errant, named Rintrah to fight their battles (namely the two Revolutions).

Friday, October 18, 2013


This is a continuation of the post BLAKE & FUSELI with Blake's illustrations to Blair's The Grave with comments attributed to Blake's friend Henry Fuseli. 

Wikimedia commons supplied the images for the links. The original watercolor designs rather than the engravings from the book are shown.
The Door opening, that seems to make utter darkness visible; age, on crutches, hurried by a tempest into it. Above is the renovated man seated in light and glory.


Extent of limb, a broad capacious chest, heaving in agony, and prodigious muscular force, so exerted as to pourtray the excruciating torments of mind and body, all contribute to give a fearful picture of the Strong and Wicked Man in the pangs of Death. His masculine soul is hurried through the casement in flame, while his daughter hides her face with horror not to be resisted, and his frantic wife rushes forward, as if resolved to share his fate.

Never perhaps were two subjects more happily conceived, and beautifully contrasted, than this and the former. In that all is confusion, hurry, and terror; in this are perfect repose, beatic hope, and heavenly consolation. Peace in his countenance, his hand on the gospel, his soul devoutly ascending to eternal bliss, his affectionate children, some in prayer, others believing, or at least anxiously hoping, that he still lives; all denote how great is the happiness of the Good Man in the Hour of Death.

"How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer tier's!"


The Soul, prior to the dissolution of the Body, exploring through and beyond the tomb, and there discovering the emblems of mortality and of immortality.

[Milton Klonsky comments on this picture in William Blake the Seer and his Visions:
"As envisioned by Blake the soul, like Jung's 'anima,' is feminine, the spirit is masculine. Poised above the tomb that contains their body, he observes the scene with dread. The moony landscape indicates that this revelation is taking place within a dream." (Page 98)] 

All are equal in the Grave. Wisdom, Power, Valour, Beauty, and Innocence, at the hour of death, alike are impotent and unavailing.

Letters, 1800, (E 707)
"When Flaxman was taken to Italy. Fuseli was giv'n to me for a season"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Europe A Prophecy Plate 4

Wikipedia Commons
Europe Plate 4

The Text
The shrill winds wake
 Till all the sons of Urizen look out and envy Los:
Sieze all the spirits of life and bind Their warbling joys to our loud strings
 Bind all the nourishing sweets of earth To give us bliss,
that we may drink the sparkling wine of Los 
And let us laugh at war, Despising toil and care,
Because the days and nights of joy, in lucky hours renew.
 Arise O Orc from thy deep den, First born of Enitharmon rise! 
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine; 
For now thou art bound; And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest born. 
 The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire, 
Whirling about in furious circles round the immortal fiend. 
 Then Enitharmon down descended into his red light, 
And thus her voice rose to her children, the distant heavens reply. 
(continue with Plate 5)
(Erdman 61)

About the Text
Remember that the sons of Urizen represent a reasoned attitude while Los
represents an intuitive attitude.

The shrill winds wake
Blake says the wind has awakened the 'sons of
Urizen' and they envy the intuitive attitude.

sparkling wine of Los 

"Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song"
From Holy Thursday, Songs of Innocence
(Erdman 13)

"Now comes the night of Enitharmons joy!"
Blake wrote more about this at the end of the Song of Los
From The Song of Los:
"The Grave shrieks with delight, & shakes
Her hollow womb, & clasps the solid stem:
Her bosom swells with wild desirel
And mild & glandous wine
In rivers rush & shout & dance,
On mountain, dale and plain." (lines 59-63)
(Erdman 69)

About the Image

Texts of these plates are continuous, so Blake is capable of illustrating Plate 3 (or Plate 5) in this Image.

After warbling joys there are moths and butterflies.
After despising war a series of figures going to a topsy turvy human.It is one of the 6 naked children "at sport beneath the solemn moon" (Blake repeated this line in Plate 14).

"Arise O Orc from thy deep den,
First born of Enitharmon rise!
And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine;
For now thou art bound;
And I may see thee in the hour of bliss, my eldest born.

The horrent Demon rose, surrounded with red stars of fire,
Whirling about in furious circles round the immortal fiend:
The American Revolution was over; the French Revolution beginning.
Blake wore the red cap of French Patriots until he found them using the guillotine.

At the lower level Enitharmon is stretched out downward; she means to awaken a chained
Orc (Revolution), but she doesn't know what she's doing; the horrors of war do not
awaken a (non existent) conscience.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


William Blake's friend Henry Fusili tried to take some of the sting out of Robert Cromek's double dealing with Blake in the publication of a new illustrated edition of the popular poem The Grave by Robert Blair. Twelve of Blake's designs were a part of the book but Blake was deprived of the status and earnings of engraving his own designs per the original agreement. Fuseli was enlisted to provide some introductory remarks and to comment on Blake's illustrations at the end of the poem.

Cromek said: "To the elegant and classical taste of Mr. Fuseli he is indebted for excellent remarks on the moral worth and picturesque dignity of the Designs that accompany this Poem."

In his introduction Henri Fuseli begins by stating:

"The moral series here submitted to the Public, from its object and method of execution, has a double claim on general attention.
In an age of equal refinement and corruption of manners, when systems of education and seduction go hand in hand; when religion itself compounds with fashion; when in the pursuit of present enjoyment, all consideration of futurity vanishes, and the real object of life is lost—in such an age, every exertion confers a benefit on society which tends to impress man with his destiny, to hold the mirror up to life, less indeed to discriminate its characters, than those situations which show what all are born for, what all ought to act for, and what all must inevitably come to."

You may enjoy reading explanations of Blake's illustrations written by a man who was well liked by Blake, who was his peer in seeing beyond the natural world, and who frequently shared the outsider status of Blake. However, since this section is unsigned there is not agreement that these descriptions are Fuseli's work. Wikimedia commons supplied the images for the links. The original watercolor designs rather than the engravings from the book are shown.

By the arrangement here made, the regular progression
of Man, from his first descent into the Vale of
Death, to his last admission into Life eternal, is
exhibited. These Designs, detached from the
Work they embellish, form of themselves a most
interesting Poem.


"Eternal King, whose potent arm sustains
The keys of Death and Hell!"


The pious daughter weeping and conducting her sire onward; age, creeping carefully on hands and knees; an elder, without friend or kindred; a miser; a bachelor, blindly proceeding, no one knows where, ready to drop into the dark abyss; frantic youth rashly devoted to vice and passion, rushing past the diseased and old, who totters on crutches; the wan declining virgin; the miserable and distracted widow; the hale country youth; and the mother and her numerous progeny, already arrived in this valley, are among the groups which speak irresistibly to the feelings.
Wikimedia Commons
Title Page, The Grave

Ezekiel 37
[1] The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones.
[2] And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry.
[3] And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest."
[4] Again he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
[5] Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
[6] And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD."