Saturday, January 31, 2015

CHRIST CRUCIFIED

Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan

{90} CHR. But what is it that made you so afraid of this sight?
MAN. Why, I thought that the day of judgement was come, and that I was not ready for it: but this frighted me most, that the angels gathered up several, and left me behind; also the pit of hell opened her mouth just where I stood. My conscience, too, afflicted me; and, as I thought, the Judge had always his eye upon me, shewing indignation in his countenance.
{91} Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Hast thou considered all these things?
CHR. Yes, and they put me in hope and fear.  
INTER. Well, keep all things so in thy mind that they may be as a goad in thy sides, to prick thee forward in the way thou must go. Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his journey. Then said the Interpreter, The Comforter be always with thee, good Christian, to guide thee in the way that leads to the City. So Christian went on his way, saying--
"Here I have seen things rare and profitable; Things pleasant, dreadful, things to make me stable In what I have begun to take in hand; Then let me think on them, and understand Wherefore they showed me were, and let me be Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee."
{92} Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. [Isa. 26:1] Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
{93} He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
{94} Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death." Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.

Illustrations to Pilgrim's Progress
Plate 14
Christian at the Cross
Although this incident of Pilgrim encountering the cross is not the midpoint of Bunyan's story, Blake makes it the fourteenth of his twenty-eight illustrations and the turning point of the Pilgrim's journey. Christian has received instructions from the Interpreter including an introduction to a dreaming man obsessed with a consciousness of his sinfulness. Christian still carries strapped to his back his own burden of sin from which he has not found release. The cross that Christian sees in Pilgrim's Progress appears in Blake's image as a vision of Christ Crucified. To Blake it is the experience of Christ as an inner presence whose healing power can wipe away the remembrance of sin that frees the Pilgrim from his burden.
Gerda Norvig states that this drawing is of "the experience of conversion" and that it represents "altered perception." She sees that Blake is dramatizing Christian's "shift of consciousness."
 

 On page 169 she states:
"Blake, however, takes the lines in the text describing Christian's attitude of wonder as a reference to the way a visionary imagination endows ephemeral
Yale center for British Art

Jerusalem
Plate 76
objects with archetypal significance and that, of course, is by observing them with the altered eye of 'spiritual sensation' ... seeing the object's inner image...Here, then, we see that Christian sees not the apparent surface of the cross, but its personified, symbolic center. And this act of Christian vision is the vision: a resurrection of imaginative awareness conforming to the image of the risen Son of Man." 


The centrality of the cross to Blake leads him to picture Pilgrim's experience as reflective of Albion's encounter with Jesus as pictured on Plate 76 of Jerusalem. Albion's outstretched arms are a reminder that individuals participate in the crucifixion with Christ and enter a new relationship with God and their brothers. Blake pictures Christian, knowing at a deep level that he is forgiven, has had his imagination cleansed from the stain of sin and has been released to the 'supreme delight' of fourfold vision.

      
Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 255)
"Albion said. O Lord what can I do! my Selfhood cruel
Marches against thee deceitful from Sinai & from Edom
Into the Wilderness of Judah to meet thee in his pride       
I behold the Visions of my deadly Sleep of Six Thousand Years
Dazling around thy skirts like a Serpent of precious stones & gold
I know it is my Self. O my Divine Creator & Redeemer

Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me            
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not

So Jesus spoke! the Covering Cherub coming on in darkness
Overshadowd them & Jesus said Thus do Men in Eternity
One for another to put off by forgiveness, every sin

Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious          
Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood
I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend

Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee
And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself           
Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love:
As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death
In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood

So saying. the Cloud overshadowing divided them asunder
Albion stood in terror: not for himself but for his Friend     
Divine, & Self was lost in the contemplation of faith
And wonder at the Divine Mercy & at Los's sublime honour

Do I sleep amidst danger to Friends! O my Cities & Counties
Do you sleep! rouze up! rouze up. Eternal Death is abroad

So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction 
All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became
Fountains of Living Waters flowing from the Humanity Divine"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Job 6

Satan Smiting Job with Boils

Satan had murdered Job's children, expecting Job to lose his faith, but Job remained steadfast.
But when Blake did this work he was thinking of something other than Job's faith. In Plate 21 of Jerusalem he wrote:

"O Vala! O Jerusalem! do you delight in my groans
You O lovely forms, you have prepared my death-cup:
The disease of Shame covers me from bead to feet: I have no hope
Every boil upon my body is a separate & deadly Sin.
Doubt first assaild me, then Shame took possession of me
Shame divides Families. Shame hath divided Albion in sunder!
First fled my Sons, & then my Daughters, then my Wild Animations
My Cattle next, last ev'n the Dog of my Gate. the Forests fled
The Corn-fields, & the breathing Gardens outside separated
The Sea; the Stars: the Sun: the Moon: drivn forth by my disease
All is Eternal Death unless you can weave a chaste
Body over an unchaste Mind! Vala! O that thou wert pure!"

Job 6:4:
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; the poison thereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God set themselves in array against me.

*************************************************************************

Naked came I out of my
mothers womb & Naked shall I return thither
The Lord gave & the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
. . . and smote Job with sore Boils
from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head
Satan smiting Job with boils
Satan had attacked Job intending to take his faith. but Blake felt that what he got was a loss of his shame.
Satan here appears as a good looking youth. His posture is triumphant; in his right hand is a group of four arrows and in his left hand is the vial of poison that he cast to the falling Job.

 on Job 16:

11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.

12 “I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder; he hath also taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.

13 His archers compass me round about; he cleaveth my reins asunder and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground.

14 He breaketh me with breach upon breach; he runneth upon me like a giant.

15 “I have sewn sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.

16 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death,

17 not for any injustice in mine hands; also my prayer is pure.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

RESOLVING FEARS

Illustrations to Pilgrim's Progress
Plate 18
Christian Passes the Lions
William Blake created twenty-eight illustrations for John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress. Blake selected the passages he would illustrate in order to highlight sections of the book which lent themselves to understandings which were congruent with his own visionary perceptions.
 
Gerda Norvig, on page 127 of Dark Figures in the Desired Country, indicates the challenge Blake faced in illustrating a book which whose structure was in the form of allegory rather than vision: 
"[A]ccording to Blake, images at work within any genuinely visionary structure never simply substitute as fixed vehicles for displaced and equally fixed tenors. Instead they function as complex 'identities' that literally hold their own, evolving, unfolding, and yielding only to further images rendered meaningful through interrelations and extended contextual references."

Blake's objective was to transform what was less than visionary in Bunyan's allegory to a fully imaginative production.

 
Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan
"Now also he remembered the story that Mistrust and Timorous told him of; how they were frighted with the sight of the lions. Then said Christian to himself again, These beasts range in the night for their prey; and if they should meet with me in the dark, how should I shift them? How should I escape being by them torn in pieces? Thus he went on his way. But while he was thus bewailing his unhappy miscarriage, he lift up his eyes, and behold there was a very stately palace before him, the name of which was Beautiful; and it stood just by the highway side.
 
110} So I saw in my dream that he made haste and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging there. Now, before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the porter's lodge; and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them, for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? [Mark 8:34-37] Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that had none. Keep in the midst of the path, no hurt shall come unto thee.

 
"Difficulty is behind, Fear is before,
Though he's got on the hill, the lions roar;
A Christian man is never long at ease,
When one fright's gone, another doth him seize."

 
{111} Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions of the porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm. Then he clapped his hands, and went on till he came and stood before the gate where the porter was. Then said Christian to the porter, Sir, what house is this? And may I lodge here to-night? The porter answered, This house was built by the Lord of the hill, and he built it for the relief and security of pilgrims. The porter also asked whence he was, and whither he was going.

 
{112} CHR. I am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to Mount Zion; but because the sun is now set, I desire, if I may, to lodge here to-night."

 
Blake's picture is his commentary on Bunyan's text. The path is narrow and beside it are beasts whose power and ferocity are frightening to men. But both Blake and Bunyan acknowledge that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. The lions are pacific, and chained as well. Lions in Blake's poetry, although capable of wrath, assume the role as protectors of the flock. In Songs of Experience the Lion acts as an Angel of Death taking a child and her parents to a lovely place where there is no longer any cause for fear. In Blake's illustration the presence of the lions is more than a threat to his safety. It serves to enable Pilgrim to resolve his fears and pass safely to the palace named Beautiful.


Songs of Experience, Plate 36, (E 21)
SONGS 36
"The Little Girl Found
 
Famish'd, weeping, weak
With hollow piteous shriek

Rising from unrest,
The trembling woman prest,
With feet of weary woe;
She could no further go. 

In his arms he bore,
Her arm'd with sorrow sore;
Till before their way,
A couching lion lay.

Turning back was vain, 
Soon his heavy mane,
Bore them to the ground;
Then he stalk'd around,

Smelling to his prey.
But their fears allay,
When he licks their hands;
And silent by them stands.

They look upon his eyes
Fill'd with deep surprise:
And wondering behold,
A spirit arm'd in gold. 

On his head a crown
On his shoulders down,
Flow'd his golden hair.
Gone was all their care. 

Follow me he said,
Weep not for the maid;
In my palace deep,
Lyca lies asleep.

Then they followed, 
Where the vision led:
And saw their sleeping child,
Among tygers wild.

To this day they dwell
In a lonely dell
Nor fear the wolvish howl,
Nor the lions growl." 

If you are a reader of C S Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia you may be reminded in this passage from Blake's Marriage of Heaven & Hell of Lewis' portrayal of the ambiguities of the lion Aslan .

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 8, (E 36)
"Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.

Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the
    stormy sea,    and the destructive sword. are portions of
    eternity too great for the eye of man."

Pilgrim's fears resemble those of Enitharmon who is given lines in the Four Zoas that express her fear of continuing along the path to salvation because of her awareness of past failures and disappointments.
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 78, (E 369)
[Los speaks]
"Couldst thou but cease from terror & trembling & affright
When I appear before thee in forgiveness of ancient injuries
Why shouldst thou remember & be afraid. I surely have died in pain
Often enough to convince thy jealousy & fear & terror
Come hither be patient let us converse together because  
I also tremble at myself & at all my former life
Enitharmon answerd I behold the Lamb of God descending
To Meet these Spectres of the Dead I therefore fear that he
Will give us to Eternal Death fit punishment for such
Hideous offenders Uttermost extinction in eternal pain    
An ever dying life of stifling & obstruction shut out
Of existence to be a sign & terror to all who behold
Lest any should in futurity do as we have done in heaven
Such is our state nor will the Son of God redeem us but destroy" 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Job 5


Like several of the plates 'Adelaide' shows this one doubly: one with wide borders containing passages of scripture, the other with sharp borders and objects.

Above the top is the verse: "Did I not weep for those in trouble was not my soul 
grieved for the poor? ... Job 30:25 

Wright points out that Job gave, but not charitably; it was for show.  He gave half a 
loaf to the poor man; giving it with his left hand indicates the hypocrisy.

Below the image is the verse "then went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord"





Did I not weep for him who was in trouble? Was not my Soul afflicted for the Poor
Behold he is in thy hand: but save his Life
Then went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord
And it grieved him at his heart
Who maketh his Angels Spirits & his Ministers a Flaming Fire
Satan going forth from the presence of the Lord
Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? (Job 30:25)
Behold he is in thine hand; but save his life (Job 2:6)
So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord (Job 1:12)
. . . and it grieved him at his heart (Genesis 6:6)
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire (Psalm 104:4)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SOURCE OF HELP

Illustrations to Pilgrim's Progress
Plate 6
Christian Drawn out of the Slough by Help
Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan

{31} Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone: but still he endeavoured to struggle to that side of the slough that was still further from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out, because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him, What he did there?

CHR. Sir, said Christian, I was bid go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come; and as I was going thither I fell in here.

{32} HELP. But why did not you look for the steps?

CHR. Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in.

HELP. Then said he, Give me thy hand: so he gave him his hand, and he drew him out, and set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way. [Ps. 40:2]

{33} Then I stepped to him that plucked him out, and said, Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder gate, is it that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security? And he said unto me, This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place.

In one of my earliest posts, I used this quote from Edward F Edinger, a Jungian psychologist, who wrote THE ETERNAL DRAMA: The Inner Meaning of Greek Mythology:
"Nothing new can emerge unless one is willing to dip into chaos and pull it out.
Once it is out it promptly splits in two, into earth and sky in terms of the myth. This is something we see whenever something is coming into awareness: the very process of achieving consciousness involves a split into opposites. Things can remain in their state of oneness only as long as they are unconscious. When they reach consciousness, they must divide into opposites and then we have the experience of conflict." (Page 10)
...
"At first, the encounter with the Self is indeed a defeat of the ego; but with perseverance, /Deo volente,/ light is born from the darkness. One meets the  'Immortal One' who wounds and heals, who casts down and raises up, who makes small and makes large - in a word the one who makes one whole."


In Blake's sixth illustration to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress he portrays the assistance one receives when one is willing to endure the encounter with the darkness of the unconscious which is labeled sin by the superego.

In Dark Figures in the Desired Country, Gerda Norvig makes this statement about the healing powers which are called forth when one engages in the process of individuation:
"Blake seems to be giving here graphic expression to a common psychological rule that goes beyond Bunyan's: the rule that active differentiation of the contents of the dark side of the self precedes spiritual assistance, but also literally creates a space for the healing powers of the psyche to move into as they well up from archetypal dimensions recognized as existing deep in the background of our mental landscape." (Page 148)

In this passage from Jerusalem, divisions within Albion had distorted the functioning of his Zoas until they expressed attitudes which are opposite to their eternal natures. The source of help for Albion come from Los who represents the Creative Imagination functioning in this world.
Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 184)
"They saw their Wheels rising up poisonous against Albion
Urizen, cold & scientific: Luvah, pitying & weeping
Tharmas, indolent & sullen: Urthona, doubting & despairing
Victims to one another & dreadfully plotting against each other
To prevent Albion walking about in the Four Complexions.      

They saw America clos'd out by the Oaks of the western shore;
And Tharmas dash'd on the Rocks of the Altars of Victims in Mexico.
If we are wrathful Albion will destroy Jerusalem with rooty Groves
If we are merciful, ourselves must suffer destruction on his Oaks!
Why should we enter into our Spectres, to behold our own corruptions
O God of Albion descend! deliver Jerusalem from the Oaken Groves!

Then Los grew furious raging: Why stand we here trembling around
Calling on God for help; and not ourselves in whom God dwells
Stretching a hand to save the falling Man: are we not Four
Beholding Albion upon the Precipice ready to fall into Non-Entity:
Seeing these Heavens & Hells conglobing in the Void. Heavens over Hells
Brooding in holy hypocritic lust, drinking the cries of pain
From howling victims of Law: building Heavens Twenty-seven-fold.
Swelld & bloated General Forms, repugnant to the Divine-
Humanity, who is the Only General and Universal Form         
To which all Lineaments tend & seek with love & sympathy
All broad & general principles belong to benevolence
Who protects minute particulars, every one in their own identity."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Job 4


Read in Job 1:
And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

Bible Text
Job 1:14:
And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, 
and the asses feeding beside them:
( King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition)

Job 1:15  
And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped 
alone to tell thee.

The messenger comes running with his clothes in disarray almost running over two sheeps.
Under his legs in the distance is a cathedral. Presumably 
another messenger is running some distance behind the first one.

Job appears to be praying with his wife holding her hands up.  'Messenger' appears 3 times in 'The Four Zoas', twice in Blake's letters, four times in 'Milton', once in the 'Descriptive Catalog',  and once in Jerusalem:

"Then those in Great Eternity met in the Council of God 
As one Man for contracting their Exalted Senses
They behold Multitude or Expanding they behold as one
As One Man all the Universal family & that one Man
They call Jesus the Christ & they in him & he in them
Live in Perfect harmony in Eden the land of life
Consulting as One Man above the Mountain of Snowdon Sublime
For messengers from Beulah come in tears & darkning clouds
Saying Shiloh is in ruins our brother is sick Albion He
Whom thou lovest is sick he wanders from his house of Eternity
The daughters of Beulah terrified have closd the Gate of the Tongue
Luvah & Urizen contend in war around the holy tent"
(Erdman 311)

"Jerusalem his Emanation is become a ruin
Her little ones are slain on the top of every street
And she herself le[d] captive & scatterd into the indefinite
Gird on thy sword O thou most mighty in glory & majesty
Destroy these opressors of Jerusalem & those who ruin Shiloh
So spoke the Messengers of Beulah. Silently removing
The Family Divine drew up the Universal tent
Above High Snowdon & closd the Messengers in clouds around
Till the time of the End."
(E 309)

In Milton ending Plate 35:
"Just in this Moment when the morning odours rise abroad 
And first from the Wild Thyme, stands a Fountain in a rock
Of crystal flowing into two Streams, one flows thro Golgonooza
And thro Beulah to Eden beneath Los's western Wall
The other flows thro the Aerial Void & all the Churches
Meeting again in Golgonooza beyond Satans Seat
The Wild Thyme is Los's Messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon
Terrible deadly & poisonous his presence in Ulro dark
Therefore he appears only a small Root creeping in grass
Covering over the Rock of Odours his bright purple mantle
Beside the Fount above the Larks nest in Golgonooza
Luvah slept here in death & here is Luvahs empty Tomb
Ololon sat beside this Fountain on the Rock of Odours.
Just at the place to where the Lark mounts, is a Crystal Gate
It is the enterance of the First Heaven named Luther: for
The Lark is Los's Messenger thro the Twenty-seven Churches
That the Seven Eyes of God who walk even to Satans Seat
Thro all the Twenty-seven Heavens may not slumber nor sleep
But the Larks Nest is at the Gate of Los, at the eastern
Gate of wide Golgonooza & the Lark is Los's Messenger
------
PLATE 36
When on the highest lift of his light pinions he arrives
At that bright Gate, another Lark meets him & back to back
They touch their pinions tip tip: and each descend
To their respective Earths & there all night consult with Angels
Of Providence & with the Eyes of God all night in slumbers
Inspired: & at the dawn of day send out another Lark
Into another Heaven to carry news upon his wings
Thus are the Messengers dispatchd till they reach the Earth again
In the East Gate of Golgonooza, & the Twenty-eighth bright
Lark. met the Female Ololon descending into my Garden
Thus it appears to Mortal eyes & those of the Ulro Heavens
But not thus to Immortals, the Lark is a mighty Angel."
(E 135)
In a letter to Butts Blake wrote:
"I am under the direction of messengers from Heaven daily and nightly.”
(E 724)
And many others!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

THE LAND OF BEULAH

John Bunyan and William Blake both adopted the image of Beulah from the Book of Isaiah in which there is the only biblical reference to Beulah. Isaiah associates Beulah with a future state of blessedness where divisions will be resolved. The people and their land joined together will be prepared for salvation or redemption.

Isaiah 62
[1] For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
[2] And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
[3] Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
[4] Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
[5] For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
...
[10] Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
[11] Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
[12] And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

 
Bunyan's vision of Beulah incorporates the idea of a gentle place of rest and safety for the pilgrim before the final ascent up the mountain.
Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan
"Now I saw in my dream, that by this time the Pilgrims were
got over the Enchanted Ground, and entering into the country of
Beulah, whose air was very sweet and pleasant, the way lying directly
through it, they solaced themselves there for a season.  Yea, here
they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the
flowers appear on the earth, and heard the voice of the turtle in
the land.  In this country
the sun shineth night and day; wherefore this was beyond the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, and also out of the reach of Giant Despair,
neither could they from this place so much as see Doubting Castle.
Here they were within sight of the city they were going to, also
here met them some of the inhabitants thereof; for in this land
the Shining Ones commonly walked, because it was upon the borders
of heaven.  In this land also, the contract between the bride and
the bridegroom was renewed; yea, here, "As the bridegroom rejoiceth
over the bride, so did their God rejoice over them."  
Here they had no want of corn and wine; for in this place they met
with abundance of what they had sought for in all their pilgrimage. 
Here they heard voices from out of the city, loud voices,
saying, "'Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation
cometh!  Behold, his reward is with him!'  Here all the inhabitants
of the country called them, 'The holy people, The redeemed of the
Lord, Sought out'" 
Wikimedia Commons
Gates of Paradise
In an earlier post we looked at some of what Blake implied in his development of Beulah as a symbol:
BEULAH
Through Los, generation supplies belief in the Eternal values using reason and the senses, (although confined in the illusion of time and space). Beulah supplies knowledge of the Eternal through the imagination which can transcend material limits. Beulah like generation is a world of the sexes, but in Beulah the male and female are married, each plays a role and accepts the designed functions. Beulah is a place of rest and repose where the contraries are equally true. The active nature of the male is in abeyance and the female is obedient. The delicate balance of Beulah however is maintained through illusion which is not to be taken for reality. Reality is unified as in Eden; Beulah maintains the illusion of duality.

Page 86: "...so long as love remains self-sacrificing, man retains his faith in a spiritual reality beyond the world of appearance. When, however, love fails, faith is lost and the finite mind seeks for reality within the finite form." Milton Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny

Man is not meant to remain in Beulah for it is a place of retreat and renewal. Upward to Eden or downward to Generation are the options offered. A desire to remain in Beulah destroys the beautiful balance and sends man backward. Beulah shares with Eden evanescence, fluidity the ability to escape time and space. Love and forgiveness are the methods of maintaining Beulah as the environs of Eden.


On page 42 of Dark Figures in the Desired Country, Gerda Norvig introduces some of the psychic implications of Blake's Beulah:

"Blake's Beulah likewise becomes the place of sleep, of dreams, but for him it takes on the uncanny and ambivalent value of self-centered personal unconscious - a realm of the psyche that harbors defenses and illusions as well a prophetic thought, painful as well a joyous memories, latent as well as manifest meanings, strategies of evil as well as strategies of good. Further, the Beulah of Blake functions not simply as a one-way route to eternity, but as a gateway back, too, into the distorting light of the everyday where Blake saw lurking the delusive forms of material generation. For Blake, then, Beulah was a threshold state, a place of rest and renewal for the imagination, yet one where through fantasies and dreams individuals blurred the boundaries between what Lacan calls the imaginary and the symbolic registers, experiencing their attachment to both in an unconscious and sometimes inflexibly literalistic way."


Milton, Plate 30 [33], (E 129)
"There is a place where Contrarieties are equally True
This place is called Beulah, It is a pleasant lovely Shadow
Where no dispute can come. Because of those who Sleep.
Into this place the Sons & Daughters of Ololon descended
With solemn mourning into Beulahs moony shades & hills           
Weeping for Milton: mute wonder held the Daughters of Beulah
Enrapturd with affection sweet and mild benevolence

Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district       
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

Friday, January 23, 2015

THE INTERPRETER

Wikimedia Commons
Christian with the Shield of Faith
When Blake met John Linnell in 1818 and there gathered around him a group of young men, mostly artists, he became their mentor. They were drawn to him because they recognized his skills as an artist and because they saw the light of truth which shown through his life and work. A fellowship grew among the youthful followers and the man whom only the eyes of vision could identify as Bunyan's Interpreter.

 
In Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan introduces Pilgrim to the House of the Interpreter midway through his journey, in order to receive guidance which would inwardly prepare him for the challenges ahead.

 
It was Blake's privilege, as one of a long line of dissenting Christians, to take up the mantle of Interpreter from Bunyan's character who directed Christian along the path to the Celestial City.

 
As reported in an earlier post, Bunhill Fields is the final resting place of William Blake, George Fox and John Wesley (nearby). John Bunyan is among the company of dissenters resting there too. Included also are Blake's parents and his brother Robert.

Four Zoas, Night IV, Page 64, (E 344)
"O Fool to think that I could hide from his all piercing eyes
The gold & silver & costly stones his holy workmanship
O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep          

I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice
Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep   
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean"  
Pilgrim's Progress
by John Bunyan
        "Then Christian began to gird up his loins, and to address himself to his Journey. So the other told him, That by that he was gone some distance from the Gate, he would come at the house of the Interpreter, at whose door he should knock, and he would show him excellent things. Then Christian took his leave of his Friend, and he again bid him God speed.

        Then he went on till he came at the house of the Interpreter, where he knocked over and over; at last one came to the door, and asked, Who was there?

        Christian: Sir, here is a Traveler, who was bid by an acquaintance of the Good Man of this house, to call here from my profit; I would therefore speak with the Master of the house: So he called for the Master of the house; who after a little time came to Christian, and asked him what he would have?

        Christian: Sir, said Christian, I am a man that am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to the Mount Zion; and I was told by the Man that stands at the Gate, at the head of this way, that if I called here, you would show me excellent things, such as would be a help to me in my Journey.

        Interpreter: Then said the Interpreter, Come in; I will show you that which will be profitable to you. So he commanded his man to light the Candle, and bid Christian follow him."


Bunyan's grave. More about Bunhill Fields. Another post featuring this picture.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Job 15


                                 Behemoth and Leviathan
Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? (Job 36:29)
Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels (Job 37:11-12)
Behold now behemoth . . . He is the chief of the ways of God (Job 40:15, 19)
. . . he is a king over all the children of pride (Job 41: 34)
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee (Job 40:15)
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Like most of Blake's plates this one is in three levels:
God, attended by two angels, is pointing down to the third
level, a globe.

The second level shows Job, with  his wife and three 'friends'
taking in God's lesson.

The globe represents the 'circle of destiny' or 'this vale of tears:

The 'behemoth, chief of the ways of 'God' ('God' in this case represents the 'God' referred to and prayed to at the 
conventional churches.)

Leviathan is described in its entirety in the 41 chapter
of Job. Andrew Wright (page 39) the scaly coiled length of this sea going creature.

Both fearful entities are creatures, "the fearful symmetry of the one inescapably related to the materiality of the other".

Is Blake portraying the two contraries, the O.T. God and the material pair of monsters?
***********************************************

Blake was undoubtedly familiar with the Book of
Revelation; he used it as a source of much of his
poetry.

The 13th chapter speaks of two beasts, one who rose
up out of the sea (13:1) and another coming up out
of the earth (13:11). And in  the great whore who sat
upon a 'scarlet-colored beast (17).

We can only speculate about the relations among these quotations from Job and Revelation.