Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Classes

First published Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Public Library 
Plate 8
Palamabron, Rintrah and Satan

From Milton, Plate 25, (E 121):
"The Elect is one Class: You 

Shall bind them separate: they cannot Believe in Eternal Life 
Except by Miracle & a New Birth. The other two Classes;
The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed, 

Who live in doubts & fears, perpetually tormented by the Elect"

Blake in his characteristic way, uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways. He takes three words from religion: Elect, Redeemed and Reprobate, and redefines them to make us reconsider how God relates to man and how man's psyche functions.
The Elect whom we think of as the chosen who have won God's approval become those who "cannot Believe in Eternal Life Except by Miracle & a New Birth".

The Reprobate whom we think of as failures and outcasts become those "who never cease to Believe."

The Redeemed whom we think of as knowing that they have been forgiven for their sins become those "Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect."

From Ellie:
When I try to connect the Three Classes of Men with aspects of the psyche, this is what I see.The Elect wants to preserve the status quo. The Elect can be equated with the Ego which has charge of the personality, negotiating among the Id, the Superego and the reality principle. The Ego is the boss and decides how to express the personality. (The self-appointed Top Dog.)

The Reprobate are the outsiders, the aspects of the personality which are unrecognized or unacceptable.
The Reprobate is parallel to the Shadow in Jung which contains whatever the Ego has rejected and denies expression to. The Shadow contains undiscovered but valuable material.

The expanding or awakening consciousness which is the true human,
sometimes referred to as the Identity by Blake, or the Self by Jung, is the Redeemed. The Self connects the Ego, the Shadow and the collective unconscious. The Identity connects Albion, the wholeness of the individual with Eternal wholeness. The process of developing the Self or the Identity is a long struggle of gradually bringing to light hidden material and realigning internal and external relationships.

The psychological approach to studying Blake asks us to look within for
congruence between Blake's ideas and the dynamics of our psyches. Blake's myths and images can reveal to us aspects of ourselves; our self-understanding can enrich our reading of Blake.

From Larry: 
In Marriage of Heaven and Hell we met two classes: angels and devils. Blake ironically names free spirits as devils and good dutiful church goers (and other establishment types) as angels.

Los and his 'emanation', Enitharmon "bore an enormous race" (not only mankind, but every other created thing as well). But in particular Enitharmon's progeny consists of three classes:

From Milton Plate 7:
The first the Elect from the foundation of the World, symbolized here by Satan.
The second, the Redeem'd, symbolized by Palamabron.
The third, the Reprobate, symbolized by Rintrah.

The Bard's Song begins Blake's description of how these three classes of men relate.

To Rintrah (the just man) was assigned the plow.

To Palamabron, a kind and gentle boy (not a strong minded one), was assigned the harrow.

Satan (Selfhood) was assigned to the mills.

Rintrah and Palamabron are contraries; Satan is a negation.

In the Bard's Song those were the three assignments of Enitharmon's three sons.

A post could be written about the plow (See Damon 329); the plow of Rintrah might be the heated words of the prophet that denounces and breaks up the corrupt establishment. (It might be several other things as well.)

The harrow follows the plow; for Blake it was a metaphor for redemptive poetry.

The Mill symbolizes Reason - conservative: reducing the creative to the commonplace. But it may have been related in Blake's mind with the insidious mills brought about by the Industrial Revolution which impoverished so many people.

Los of course was the father of these three boys, a farmer-- the World being his field. He had expressly forbidden Satan from using the harrow. But Satan wheedled his amicable brother Palamabron into letting him use the harrow.

This led to disaster (the kind of disaster we have all lived under most of our lives).

All this was part of the tale told by the Bard at an Eternal gathering. The Bard's Song induced Milton to forsake heaven and return to the Earth to correct the errors of his mortal life. Milton's adventures in the World with Los and Blake is the subject of Blake's Milton.

There is much more to the Bard's Song, but this will give you a beginning. Learn the Bard's Song, and you will find it much easier to enjoy Milton, the first of Blake's two major works.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Yale Center for British Art
Plate 64

Perhaps when we read we are only allowing information to enter our brains at a superficial level. We may pick up some details of a story, or a theory, or a philosophy which we may record as a memory, or discard like rubbish in the waste paper basket. But some information we receive finds a connection with what lies deeper in the archives of fragments we have retained from earlier encounters. These are ideas that influence us because they penetrate the center of our being and lodge there to become light-bearers.

Blake had the ability to present ideas from the depths of his own being in order to reach and resonate with what was capable of responding in the depths of his reader.

In The Grammatical Man Jeremy Campbell quotes from T. S. Eliot in his essay The Frontiers of Criticism. Eliot indicates that Blake wrote from a level within himself which makes his poetry unexplainable to the natural mind.
T. S. Eliot:
"For myself, I can only say that knowledge of the springs which released a poem is not necessarily a help towards understanding the poem: too much information about the origins of the poem may even break my contact with it...I am ever prepared to suggest that there is, in all great poetry, something which must remain unaccountable however complete may be the knowledge of the poet, and that that is what matters most. When the poem has been made, something new has happened, something that cannot be wholly explained by anything that went before." Page 110 

In The Sacred Wood Eliot gives further insight in the mind of Blake: how it developed, how it differed from the conventional, and how it influenced his writing.
"... The question about Blake the man is the question of the circumstances that concurred to permit this honesty in his work, and what circumstances define its limitations. The favouring conditions probably include these two: that, being early apprenticed to a manual occupation, he was not compelled to acquire any other education in literature than he wanted, or to acquire it for any other reason than that he wanted it; and that, being a humble engraver, he had no journalistic-social career open to him.
It is important that the artist should be highly educated in his own art; but his education is one that is hindered rather than helped by the ordinary processes of society which constitute education for the ordinary man. For these processes consist largely in the acquisition of impersonal ideas which obscure what we really are and feel, what we really want, and what really excites our interest. It is of course not the actual information acquired, but the conformity which the accumulation of knowledge is apt to impose, that is harmful. Tennyson is a very fair example of a poet almost wholly encrusted with parasitic opinion, almost wholly merged into his environment. Blake, on the other hand, knew what interested him, and he therefore presents only the essential, only, in fact, what can be presented, and need not be explained. And because he was not distracted, or frightened, or occupied in anything but exact statement, he understood. He was naked, and saw man naked, and from the centre of his own crystal. To him there was no more reason why Swedenborg should be absurd than Locke. He accepted Swedenborg, and eventually rejected him, for reasons of his own. He approached everything with a mind unclouded by current opinions. There was nothing of the superior person about him. This makes him terrifying."

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 136)
"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." 

Milton, Plate 28 [30], (E 126)
"The Sons of Ozoth within the Optic Nerve stand fiery glowing
And the number of his Sons is eight millions & eight.            
They give delights to the man unknown; artificial riches
They give to scorn, & their posessors to trouble & sorrow & care,
Shutting the sun. & moon. & stars. & trees. & clouds. & waters.
And hills. out from the Optic Nerve & hardening it into a bone
Opake. and like the black pebble on the enraged beach.        
While the poor indigent is like the diamond which tho cloth'd
In rugged covering in the mine, is open all within
And in his hallowd center holds the heavens of bright eternity
Ozoth here builds walls of rocks against the surging sea
And timbers crampt with iron cramps bar in the joys of life     
From fell destruction in the Spectrous cunning or rage."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 131)
"Thou percievest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours!
And none can tell how from so small a center comes such sweets
Forgetting that within that Center Eternity expands
Its ever during doors," 
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 89 [97], (E 361)
"My Waters like a flood around thee fear not trust in me
And I will give thee all the ends of heaven for thy possession

In war shalt thou bear rule in blood shalt thou triumph for me
Because in times of Everlasting I was rent in sunder
And what I loved best was divided among my Enemies  
My little daughters were made captives & I saw them beaten
With whips along the sultry sands. I heard those whom I lovd  
Crying in secret tents at night & in the morn compelld
To labour & behold my heart sunk down beneath
In sighs & sobbings all dividing till I was divided 
In twain & lo my Crystal form that lived in my bosom
Followd her daughters to the fields of blood they left me naked
Alone & they refusd to return from the fields of the mighty
Therefore I will reward them as they have rewarded me
I will divide them in my anger & thou O my King  
Shalt gather them from out their graves & put thy fetter on them
And bind them to thee that my crystal form may come to me

So cried the Demon of the Waters in the Clouds of Los"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 130, (E 398)
"And then she enterd her bright house leading her mighty children 

And when night came the flocks laid round the house beneath the trees
She laid the Children on the beds which she saw prepard in the house
Then last herself laid down & closd her Eyelids in soft slumbers

And in the morning when the Sun arose in the crystal sky
Vala awoke & calld the children from their gentle slumbers 

Awake O Enion awake & let thine innocent Eyes
Enlighten all the Crystal house of Vala awake awake
Awake Tharmas awake awake thou child of dewy tears
Open the orbs of thy blue eyes & smile upon my gardens"

Songs & Ballads, The Crystal Cabinet, (E 488)
"I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

A weeping Babe upon the wild 
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind"

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 98[90], (E 370)
"Where the Spectrous dead wail & sighing thus he spoke to Enitharmon

Lovely delight of Men Enitharmon shady refuge from furious war 
Thy bosom translucent is a soft repose for the weeping souls
Of those piteous victims of battle there they sleep in happy obscurity
They feed upon our life we are their victims. Stern desire
I feel to fabricate embodied semblances in which the dead
May live before us in our palaces & in our gardens of labour
Which now opend within the Center we behold spread abroad
To form a world of Sacrifice of brothers & sons & daughters 
To comfort Orc in his dire sufferings; look! my fires enlume afresh
Before my face ascending with delight as in ancient times"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 132, (E 400)
"And when Morning began to dawn upon the distant hills
a whirlwind rose up in the Center & in the Whirlwind a shriek 
And in the Shriek a rattling of bones & in the rattling of bones 
A dolorous groan & from the dolorous groan in tears
Rose Enion like a gentle light"  

Saturday, September 09, 2017


New York Public Library Milton
Plate 38

Returning to an important concept in Blake - that of Fourfold Vision - I find that a familiar passage from Paul can be seen as recognizing Fourfold Vision. In a letter to Thomas Butts, Blake wrote:
Letters, To Butts, 22 Nov 1802, (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"

Looking at First Corinthians chapter thirteen we read:


9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."


If we superimpose the fourfold vision which Blake postulates on the passage in Corinthians we see the 'child' represents single vision, 'Newton's sleep' or using sense data only. This is a limited way of interpreting the world based upon data received from the external world without understanding or applying the full range of man's ability to perceive and process the data. In A Blake Dictionary Damon explains on page 436 that, "Single vision is not properly 'vision' at all: it is seeing with the physical eye only the facts before it. It 'it leads you to Believe a Lie / When you see with, not thro' the Eye'" (Everlasting Gospel, E 520)

Twofold vision - 'Always' in the poem - begins to assimilate experience into patterns by the intellect which gives a partial and unclear perspective or interpretation because the dimensions of emotion and intuition have not been incorporated. Paul says that 'childish things' were 'put away' when he became 'a man.' However we rely on the intellect to tell us the meaning of our experience although it is blind to emotions and to the spirit whose image resides within us.

Threefold vision - 'Beulah's night' - requires a transition to the ability to look for the effect that the gathered data has internally and in relationship to other people. Blake looked for more than what could be seen two-dimensionally. In Beulah man must learn to reconcile the contraries which contribute to a complete vision. Paul called this perspective seeing 'through a glass darkly', knowing 'in part.'

The fourfold vision puts to use all of the mental skills with which mankind is endowed. It is called by Blake his 'supreme delight'. Paul calls it seeing 'face to face' and knowing 'even as also I am known.' It is the Soul of Man which incorporates every dimension into a unified whole. In it all of the dimensions reflect and interact with one another. This is the faculty which Blake calls Imagination, Paul calls Christ in you, and Jung calls Intuition. 

Milton, Plate 4, (E 97)                                                       t
"Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty
In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan
Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell
Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven
The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold"              

Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156)
"Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels.

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

Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256)
"Then Albion stretchd his hand into Infinitude.
And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen
Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold
Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright shining
Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought   
Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering.

And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love, 
Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying
Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 123, (E 393)
"four Wonders of the Almighty 
Incomprehensible. pervading all amidst & round about
Fourfold each in the other reflected they are named Life's in Eternity.
Four Starry Universes going forward from Eternity to Eternity
And the Falln Man who was arisen upon the Rock of Ages           

PAGE 124
Beheld the Vision of God & he arose up from the Rock"

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


The reasoning mind is always looking for explanations. It puts together data gathered by the senses into patterns which may be repeated. 
The world becomes friendlier if the patterns predict dangers or opportunities which lie in the future. Rules are formulated to control the elements and behaviors with the goal of managing the outer world to benefit the mental world. Predicting and manipulating the future becomes a fascination of the reasoning mind.
Blake gave a lot of thought to developing his character Urizen who represented the reasoning mind as it had assumed dominance in the psyche. In Blake's myth this happened as a result of Urizen exchanging the horses of light for the wine of eternity which belonged to Luvah. Urizen found himself in the position of having lost dominion over the world of thought in return for desire and attachment. He focused, however, not on what he had gained but on what he had lost. He set about exploring, writing rules, and building a world in his own image. If he could control the present, he could make the future predictable in accordance with his limited vision. 
When I read of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem I was reminded of Urizen's unending quest for a system which he completely controlled and with which he could control the behavior of those around him. When Urizen's lost faith in the light he was given in the present, it instilled in him anxiety about the future which was unknown. Blake gave us a portrayal of Urizen going to the edge of chaos seeking "for a joy without pain, For a solid without fluctuation." 

These lines are quoted from The Grammatical Man by Jeremy Campbell:

Page 108
"There is another idea of great importance arising from the Life Game [John Conway]. This is the notion of incompleteness, a famous crux of twentieth-century science and logic...He links them to von Neumann's theory of complexity and also to one of the most revolutionary modern discoveries of logic, the Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Goedel.

...Goedel's paper does not apply to mathematical logic alone, but touches on much broader questions of the completeness of all formal systems of logic...within the wider meta system there would be other statements which could not be proved without further expansion, and so on without end. Perfect completeness is never reached.

Page 111
No final, wrapped-up all-inclusive theory of reality will ever be perfected. The nature of language, the forms of logic, the duality of matter beneath the surface we observe, the power of rules to generate new structures, the limits of knowledge, the special character of complex as opposed to simple systems, all point to this conclusion. In this respect, science and art, philosophy and politics, history and psychology, meet on common ground, so that the barriers between the cultures break down under the recognition that all are incomplete and always will be; there is no single discipline or school of thought has a monopoly on the truth.

Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 71)
"4: From the depths of dark solitude. From
The eternal abode in my holiness,
Hidden set apart in my stern counsels
Reserv'd for the days of futurity,
I have sought for a joy without pain,                    

For a solid without fluctuation
Why will you die O Eternals?
Why live in unquenchable burnings?"

Book of Urizen, Plate 10, (E 75)
"2. And Urizen (so his eternal name)
His prolific delight obscurd more & more
In dark secresy hiding in surgeing
Sulphureous fluid his phantasies.
The Eternal Prophet heavd the dark bellows,                      
And turn'd restless the tongs; and the hammer
Incessant beat; forging chains new & new
Numb'ring with links. hours, days & years" 

Four Zoas, Night I, Page  121, (E 300)
"But I the labourer of ages whose unwearied hands
Are thus deformd with hardness with the sword & with the spear 
And with the Chisel & the mallet I whose labours vast            
Order the nations separating family by family
Alone enjoy not   I alone in misery supreme
Ungratified give all my joy unto this Luvah & Vala             
Then Go O dark futurity I will cast thee forth from these      
Heavens of my brain nor will I look upon futurity more   
I cast futurity away & turn my back upon that void       
Which I have made for lo futurity is in this moment       
Let Orc consume let Tharmas rage let dark Urthona give
All strength to Los & Enitharmon & let Los self-cursd
Rend down this fabric as a wall ruind & family extinct           
Rage Orc Rage Tharmas Urizen no longer curbs your rage

So Urizen spoke he shook his snows from off his Shoulders & arose
As on a Pyramid of mist his white robes scattering
The fleecy white renewd he shook his aged mantles off
Into the fires Then glorious bright Exulting in his joy          
He sounding rose into the heavens in naked majesty
In radiant Youth. when Lo like garlands in the Eastern sky
When vocal may comes dancing from the East Ahania came
Exulting in her flight as when a bubble rises up
On to the surface of a lake. Ahania rose in joy" 

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 27, (E 317)
"They have surrounded me with walls of iron & brass, O Lamb  
Of God clothed in Luvahs garments little knowest thou       
Of death Eternal that we all go to Eternal Death
To our Primeval Chaos in fortuitous concourse of incoherent
Discordant principles of Love & Hate I suffer affliction
Because I love. for I was love but hatred awakes in me      
And Urizen who was Faith & Certainty is changd to Doubt          
The hand of Urizen is upon me because I blotted out
That Human delusion to deliver all the sons of God          
From bondage of the Human form, O first born Son of Light
O Urizen my enemy I weep for thy stern ambition
But weep in vain    O when will you return Vala the Wanderer     

PAGE 28 
These were the words of Luvah patient in afflictions
Reasoning from the loins in the unreal forms of Ulros night"
Letters, (E 784)
"[To] Mr Linnell, 6 Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
25 April 1827
Dear Sir
     I am going on better Every day as I think both in hea[l]th &
in Work I thank you for The Ten Pounds which I recievd from you
this Day which shall be put to the best use as also for the
prospect of Mr Ottleys advantageous acquaintance I go on without
daring to count on Futurity. which I cannot do without Doubt &
Fear that ruins Activity & are the greatest hurt to an Artist
such as I am. as to Ugolino &c I never supposed that I should
sell them my Wife alone is answerable for their having Existed in
any finishd State--I am too much attachd to Dante to think much
of any thing else--I have Proved the Six Plates & reduced the
Fighting Devils ready for the Copper I count myself sufficiently
Paid If I live as I now do & only fear that I may be unlucky
to my friends & especially that I may not be so to you
I am Sincerely yours

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 79, (E 354)
"In tortures of dire coldness now a Lake of waters deep
Sweeps over thee freezing to solid still thou sitst closd up     
In that transparent rock as if in joy of thy bright prison
Till overburdend with its own weight drawn out thro immensity
With a crash breaking across the horrible mass comes down
Thundring & hail & frozen iron haild from the Element
Rends thy white hair   yet thou dost fixd obdurate brooding sit 
Writing thy books. Anon a cloud filld with a waste of snows
Covers thee still obdurate still resolvd & writing still
Tho rocks roll oer thee tho floods pour tho winds black as the Sea
Cut thee in gashes tho the blood pours down around thy ankles
Freezing thy feet to the hard rock still thy pen obdurate        
Traces the wonders of Futurity in horrible fear of the future
I rage furious in the deep for lo my feet & hands are naild
To the hard rock or thou shouldst feel my enmity & hate
In all the diseases of man falling upon thy grey accursed front

Urizen answerd Read my books explore my Constellations 
Enquire of my Sons & they shall teach thee how to War
Enquire of my Daughters who accursd in the dark depths
Knead bread of Sorrow by my stern command for I am God
Of all this dreadful ruin   Rise O daughters at my Stern command"

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page (E 373)
"Horrible hooks & nets he formd twisting the cords of iron
And brass & molten metals cast in hollow globes & bor'd
Tubes in petrific steel & rammd combustibles & wheels 
And chains & pullies fabricated all round the heavens of Los
Communing with the Serpent of Orc in dark dissimulation

And with the Synagogue of Satan in dark Sanhedrim         
To undermine the World of Los & tear bright Enitharmon

To the four winds hopeless of future. All futurity 
Seems teeming with Endless Destruction never to be repelld 
Desperate remorse swallows the present in a quenchless rage

Terrified & astonishd Urizen beheld the battle take a form 
Which he intended not a Shadowy hermaphrodite black & opake
The Soldiers namd it Satan but he was yet unformd & vast
Hermaphroditic it at length became hiding the Male
Within as in a Tabernacle Abominable Deadly

The battle howls the terrors fird rage in the work of death"

Four Zoas, Noght IX, Page 119, (E 389)
"I weary walk in misery & pain 
For from within my witherd breast grown narrow with my woes 
The Corn is turnd to thistles & the apples into poison
The birds of song to murderous crows My joys to bitter groans

PAGE 120 
The voices of children in my tents to cries of helpless infants
And all exiled from the face of light & shine of morning
In this dark world a narrow house I wander up & down
I hear Mystery howling in these flames of Consummation
When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old 
O weary life why sit I here & give up all my powers
To indolence to the night of death when indolence & mourning
Sit hovring over my dark threshold. tho I arise look out
And scorn the war within my members yet my heart is weak
And my head faint Yet will I look again unto the morning 
Whence is this sound of rage of Men drinking each others blood
Drunk with the smoking gore & red but not with nourishing wine

The Eternal Man sat on the Rocks & cried with awful voice

O Prince of Light where art thou   I behold thee not as once
In those Eternal fields in clouds of morning stepping forth 
With harps & songs where bright Ahania sang before thy face
And all thy sons & daughters gatherd round my ample table
See you not all this wracking furious confusion
Come forth from slumbers of thy cold abstraction come forth
Arise to Eternal births shake off thy cold repose 
Schoolmaster of souls great opposer of change arise
That the Eternal worlds may see thy face in peace & joy
That thou dread form of Certainty maist sit in town & village
While little children play around thy feet in gentle awe
Fearing thy frown loving thy smile O Urizen Prince of light" 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


University of Adelaide
Marriage of Heaven & Hell
Plate 2
Los, as the Vehicular Form of the Eternal Urthona, is his representative in our world - the world of generation. Blake chose poetry as one of his media to express his message because it is adept at conveying spiritual content which is offered by Urthona the Zoa of Imagination. Damon (A Blake Dictionary) tells us that "Los is Poetry, the expression in this world of the Creative Imagination." 
The sense associated with Urthona is hearing which is discerned through the 'labyrinthine Ear.' Poetry is a special kind of sound designed to transmit through sound more than can be discerned in ordinary speech, just as music conveys more than the cacophony of a crowded marketplace.    

From Defending Ancient Springs by Kathleen Raine:
Page 107
"There is one type of resonance which he [William Empson] fails to consider, that resonance which may be present within a image of apparent simplicity, setting into vibration planes of reality and of consciousness other than those of the sensible world: the power of the symbol and of symbolic discourse...

Page 108
"It is in this that the poet distinguishes himself from the philosopher; not in any difference in the nature of their themes but in their way of experiencing them: where philosophy makes distinctions, poetry brings together, creating always wholes and harmonies; the work of the poet is not analysis but synthesis, The symbol may be called the unit of poetic synthesis; as Coleridge in his famous definition implies:

'A symbol is characterized by a translucence of the special in the Individual, or of the General in the Especial, or of the Universal in the General. Above all of the translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal. It always partakes of the Reality which it renders intelligible; and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part of that Unity of which it is representative...

What the poem affirms is that the world is, in its whole and in its parts, living and conscious; it also affirms that there is a hidden source ('heaven') from whose 'gate' visible things issue from invisible.'"   

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 34)
" 1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age" 
Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 257)
"According to the Human Nerves of Sensation, the Four Rivers of the Water of Life

South stood the Nerves of the Eye. East in Rivers of bliss the Nerves of the
Expansive Nostrils West, flowd the Parent Sense the Tongue. North stood
The labyrinthine Ear."

Four Zoas Night I, Page 3, (E 201)
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
Page 4              
In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration 
by the Resurrection from the dead"  

Europe, Plate iii, (E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the air;
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant."

Jerusalem, Plate 83, (E 241)
"Let Cambel and her Sisters sit within the Mundane Shell:
Forming the fluctuating Globe according to their will,
According as they weave the little embryon nerves & veins     
The Eye, the little Nostrils, & the delicate Tongue & Ears
Of labyrinthine intricacy: so shall they fold the World
That whatever is seen upon the Mundane Shell, the same
Be seen upon the Fluctuating Earth woven by the Sisters."

Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 202)
"But Los, who is the Vehicular Form of strong Urthona"

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 146)
 "I therefore have produced
a variety in every line, both of cadences & number of syllables. 
Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit
place: the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific
parts--the mild & gentle, for the mild & gentle parts, and the
prosaic, for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other. 
Poetry Fetter'd, Fetters the Human Race! Nations are Destroy'd,
or Flourish, in proportion as Their Poetry Painting and Music,
are Destroy'd or Flourish! The Primeval State of Man, was Wisdom,
Art, and Science."                      

On Homer's Poetry, (E 269)
"It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness
of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil."

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 541)
"Painting, as well as poetry and music, exists and exults 
in immortal thoughts."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 554)
"Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior
kind of Poetry.  Vision or Imagination is a Representation of
what Eternally Exists.  Really & Unchangeably.  Fable or Allegory
is Formd by the Daughters of Memory.  Imagination is Surrounded
by the daughters of Inspiration who in the aggregate are calld

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 559)
"Noah is seen in the Midst of these Canopied by a
Rainbow. on his right hand Shem & on his Left Japhet these three
Persons represent Poetry Painting & Music the three Powers in
Man of conversing with Paradise which the flood did not Sweep

Letters, (E 730)
"Thus I hope that all our three years trouble Ends in
Good Luck at last & shall be forgot by my affections & only
rememberd by my Understanding to be a Memento in time to come &
to speak to future generations by a Sublime Allegory which is now
perfectly completed into a Grand Poem[.] I may praise it since I
dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors
are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This
World Contains.  Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers
while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is
My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry. it is also somewhat in
the same manner defind by Plato.  This Poem shall by Divine
Assistance be progressively Printed & Ornamented with Prints &
given to the Public--But of this work I take care to say little
to Mr H. since he is as much averse to my poetry as he is to a
Chapter in the Bible   He knows that I have writ it for I have
shewn it to him & he had read Part by his own desire & has lookd
with sufficient contempt to enhance my opinion of it."

Saturday, August 26, 2017


British Museum
Illustration to Young's Night Thoughts

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

The material which Blake presents in his poetry is generally considered to be difficult and complex. It requires the operation of the intellect to follow the quantity of ideas which he is presenting. The processing of such demanding content is recognized to require the functioning of the left brain which is adept at verbalization, analysis, recollection. But the 'minute particulars' would never coalesce into an intelligible whole without help from the left brain which specializes in assembling, integrating and imagining.

The mental processing which takes place in the left brain is associated with Jung's rational functions - Thinking and Feeling (judging). Blake personifies these two functions as Urizen and Luvah. In the right brain the non-rational functions of Intuition and Sensation process material below the level of conscious awareness. Urthona and Tharmas are Blake's personifications of these functions.

Realizing that each of the ways of understanding what happens to the individual internally and externally contributes to comprehension, Blake utilized multiple avenues of mental work. To address the Thinking, rational mind he presented ideas in a framework of history, politics and philosophy. To address the Feelings he presented situations which stimulate emotions and judgments. To address the Sensations he supplemented his words with pictures which could involve the mind directly as as whole. To address the Intuition he used the qualities of poetry such as metaphor, myth and imagery which are the language of the Imagination.

Milton, Plate 24 [26], (E 119) 
"the Seven Eyes of God continually
Guard round them, but I the Fourth Zoa am also set
The Watchman of Eternity, the Three are not! & I am preserved
Still my four mighty ones are left to me in Golgonooza           
Still Rintrah fierce, and Palamabron mild & piteous
Theotormon filld with care, Bromion loving Science
You O my Sons still guard round Los. O wander not & leave me"
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 3, (E 301)
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
Page 4
In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & 
his Regeneration by the Resurrection from the dead                

Begin with Tharmas Parent power. darkning in the West"

Public Address, PAGE 62, (E 575)
     "I have heard many People say Give me the Ideas.  It is no
matter what Words you put them into & others say Give me the
Design it is no matter for the Execution.  These People know
Enough of Artifice but Nothing Of Art.  Ideas cannot be Given
but in their minutely Appropriate Words nor Can a Design be made
without its minutely Appropriate Execution. The unorganized
Blots & Blurs of Rubens & Titian are not Art nor can their Method
ever express Ideas or Imaginations any more than Popes
Metaphysical jargon of Rhyming. Unappropriate Execution is the
Most nauseous affectation & foppery He who copies does
not Execute he only Imitates what is already Executed Execution
is only the result of Invention" 
Jerusalem, Plate 1, (E 145)
"And of that God from whom all books are given,
    Who in mysterious Sinais awful cave
    To Man the wond'rous art of writing gave,
    Again he speaks in thunder and in fire!                
    Thunder of Thought, & flames of fierce desire:
    Even from the depths of Hell his voice I hear,
    Within the unfathomd caverns of my Ear.
    Therefore I print; nor vain my types shall be:
    Heaven, Earth & Hell, henceforth shall live in harmony 

            Of the Measure, in which
              the following Poem is written 
 We who dwell on Earth can do nothing of ourselves, every
thing is conducted by Spirits, no less than Digestion or Sleep.
     When this Verse was first dictated to me I consider'd a 
Monotonous Cadence like that used by Milton & Shakspeare & all
writers of English Blank Verse, derived from the modern bondage
of Rhyming; to be a necessary and indispensible part of Verse. 
But I soon found that
in the mouth of a true Orator such monotony was not only awkward,
but as much a bondage as rhyme itself.  I therefore have produced
a variety in every line, both of cadences & number of syllables. 
Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit
place: the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific
parts--the mild & gentle, for the mild & gentle parts, and the
prosaic, for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other. 
Poetry Fetter'd, Fetters the Human Race! Nations are Destroy'd,
or Flourish, in proportion as Their Poetry Painting and Music,
are Destroy'd or Flourish! The Primeval State of Man, was Wisdom,
Art, and Science."

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Reposted from Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Image from Wikimedia
There is No Natural Religion
Title Page

There is No Natural Religion
, (E 3)
"VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite & himself Infinite
Conclusion, If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again
Application. He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Here is a quote from Athanasius, a 4th century bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church:
"The Son of God became man so that man might become God." (CCC #460)

The statement by Athanasius became Christian doctrine and is included in the Catholic Church Catechism. Blake's similar statement is considered by some to be a repetition of the doctrine formulated by Athanasius. A closer look will reveal the differences.

First notice that Blake is speaking in the first person, "as we are" and as "we may be". This is personal experience. This doesn't sound like doctrine because it isn't doctrine. The direction that Blake is heading is toward becoming like God through acknowledging that God becomes like us. The action, "becomes", is in the present. The idea that God "becomes" rather than that he simply "be", conforms with Blake's value of active rather than passive. In Blake's second phrase he uses the word "be" instead of become. This indicates that he is talking about the Identity, our Eternal nature which is unchanging, which goes through states and casts off error but remains the essential being.

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 655)
"Reynolds Thinks that Man Learns all that he Knows I say on
the Contrary That Man Brings All that he has or Can have Into the
World with him. Man is Born Like a Garden ready Planted & Sown
This World is too poor to produce one Seed"

Jerusalem , Plate 38, (E 184)
"the Divine-
Humanity, who is the Only General and Universal Form
To which all Lineaments tend & seek with love & sympathy
All broad & general principles belong to benevolence
Who protects minute particulars, every one in their own identity."

Jerusalem , Plate 55, (E204)
"General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer:
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power.
The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity
Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falshood

Vision of the Last Judgement , Page 79,(E 355)
"In Eternity one Thing never Changes into
another Thing Each Identity is Eternal...
Eternal Identity is one thing & Corporeal
Vegetation is another thing"

It is interesting to note that in the Athanasius quote that God "became", since the static "I am" represents most traditional thinking about God. Although God acts in the Old Testament he is thought to be unchanging. The third person "man" is used rather than the "we" of Blake's passage. And there is
Athanasius' trinitarian reference when he speaks of "the Son of God", the second person of the trinity. Athanasius specifies "become God" whereas Blake indicates "be as he is". Actually "become God" is more gnostic than Blake's "be as he is".

If Blake were trying to duplicate the thoughts of Athanasius he would have used his words. Instead he uses his own words (slightly different from the original) to change the meaning, as he frequently does when reproducing another's statements. Subtleties, yes, but that's Blake.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Yale center for British Art
Illustrations for Poems by Thomas Gray
Title Page

Jeremy Campbell, the author of Grammatical Man, attributes to Aristotle ideas that bear striking similarity to statements made by Blake. Accepted by both Blake and Aristotle is the dictum that body and soul, or form and substance are inseparable principles . The act of becoming is the process and purpose of substance taking form. The possibility of manifestation is actualized when form and substance meet. Humanity stands at the intersection of the material and the non-material. The milieu is provided by the matrix of time and space which generates change - the evidence of energy.   


Grammatical Man, Page 268-9:

"Aristotle's 'information theory' went off in quite another direction. He refused to separate form from substance. He took a more intrinsic view of being, accepting the reality of the form, or idea, but making it implicit in matter, so that things in the world of experience exist independently of our own experience, in their own right, and not as shadows cast by sublime entities. Like Plato, Aristotle assumed that worldly things are neither perfect nor complete, but he saw reality as a process by which things may become less imperfect.

Change is the essence of his system, and, along with change - time, movement, and becoming. For him the physical world is above all dynamic. Matter is possibility, the potential for becoming, in time, something other and different. Change is a process of of realizing this potential, of making the possible actual.
Form is an active, inherent principle of change and takes part in the becoming of things. Matter is not dead stuff, but a means of transformation, without which change would be impossible. Having a certain form, matter may be free to assume other and different forms. Having not form at all, it contains within itself unlimited possibilities to receive or become any and every kind of form." 

Annotations to Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, (E 656) 
"Blake: Reynolds Thinks that Man Learns all that he Knows I say on
the Contrary That Man Brings All that he has or Can have Into the
World with him.  Man is Born Like a Garden ready Planted & Sown  
This World is too poor to produce one Seed  

Reynolds: The mind is but a barren soil; a soil which is soon
exhausted, and will produce no crop, . . . 

Blake: The Mind that could have produced this Sentence must have
been Pitiful a Pitiable Imbecillity.  I always thought that the
Human Mind was the most Prolific of All Things & Inexhaustible 
I certainly do Thank God that I am not like Reynolds  

Reynolds : . . . or only one, unless it be continually
fertilized and enriched with foreign matter.

Blake: Nonsense"

There is No Natural Religion, (E 2) 
  "I  Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he
percieves more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover.
  II  Reason or the ratio of all we have already known. is not
the same that it shall be when we know more.
  [III lacking]
  IV  The bounded is loathed by its possessor.  The same dull
round even of a univer[s]e would soon become a mill with
complicated wheels.
  V  If the many become the same as the few, when possess'd,
More! More! is the cry of a mistaken soul, less than All cannot
satisfy Man.
  VI  If any could desire what he is incapable of possessing, 
despair must be his eternal lot.
  VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite
& himself Infinite
     Conclusion,   If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat
the same dull round over again
     Application.   He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God.  He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34)
  All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
following Errors.
  1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
  2. That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
  3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
  But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
  3 Energy is Eternal Delight"

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)
   "But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his
soul, is to  be expunged; 

Friday, August 18, 2017


First posted on Dec. 3, 2011.

Deuteronomy 32
[48] And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
[49] Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
[50] And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:
[51] Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
[52] Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.

Representing a stage in the psychic/spiritual development of mankind, Moses gains dominance and then fades as he is replaced by the next stage. The death of Moses represents a transition in psychic/spiritual development. Moses brought release from bondage to Druiadic thought, he introduced a covenant with God based on a code of conduct, he brought his people to the verge of the Promised Land. The land of Promise, however, turned out to be not Eden (the realization of Eternity) but Canaan (a degraded materialism.)

[9] Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil
he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a
railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Michael and Satan struggled not over Moses but over the body of Moses. The body of work which remained from the life of Moses became the material from which further prophecy would evolve. Michael would direct Moses' work toward the realization which would take place through Jesus; Satan would direct his work toward another bondage of struggle for religious repression, political dominance, and isolation from individual consciousness of the God within.

The struggle between wrath and pity was not resolved in Moses or through Moses. Blake used the Bard's Song in Milton to exemplify the struggle between wrath and pity which remained to be solved by prophetic vision. The soul of man was/is divided by pity (which tolerates weakness) thereby being incompatible with wrath (which is moved to destroy failure.) The contraries take many forms. The work in Los' furnaces is the repeated resolution of the dichotomies as they appear in multiple forms as an individual travels through states or as societies travel through the Eyes of God.

Blake means for us to get an impression of struggle between Michael and Satan in this passage from the Bard's Song in Milton. Various qualities and behaviors appear in each character but nevertheless we can see wrath and pity contending, being split apart and being sent back to fight another round.

Milton, Plate 8, (E 102)
"They Plow'd in tears! incessant pourd Jehovahs rain, & Molechs
Thick fires contending with the rain, thunder'd above rolling
Terrible over their heads; Satan wept over Palamabron
Theotormon & Bromion contended on the side of Satan
Pitying his youth and beauty; trembling at eternal death:
Michael contended against Satan in the rolling thunder
Thulloh the friend of Satan also reprovd him; faint their

But Rintrah who is of the reprobate: of those form'd to destruction
In indignation. for Satans soft dissimulation of friendship!
Flam'd above all the plowed furrows, angry red and furious,
Michael sat down in the furrow weary dissolv'd in tears
Satan who drave the team beside him, stood angry & red
He smote Thulloh & slew him, & he stood terrible over Michael
Urging him to arise: he wept! Enitharmon saw his tears
But Los hid Thulloh from her sight, lest she should die of grief
She wept: she trembled! she kissed Satan; she wept over Michael
She form'd a Space for Satan & Michael & for the poor infected.
Trembling she wept over the Space, & clos'd it with a tender Moon

Los secret buried Thulloh, weeping disconsolate over the moony Space" 

Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
The Devil Rebuked (The Burial of Moses) 
c. 1805
Complete text of Plate 8 of Milton from the Blake Archive.

Image in the Blake Archive (click to enlarge for detail)

Here is more on the difficult transition to higher consciousness represented by the struggle between Michael and Satan from Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye:
Page 366
"Canaan, therefore, is Egypt all over again, and the crossing of the Jordan is entry into Egypt or Ulro, the mundane shell or cave of the mind. The Jordan is in the Bible more or less what the Styx or Lethe is in Classical Mythology. The fact that Moses never entered Canaan thus has a twofold significance. His death outside the Promised Land means that what he represents, the spirit of the Hebrew law or vision of Jehovah, was not good enough; but his death outside of the fallen Canaan means that he was redeemed and not rejected by Jesus, which is why he appears with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration."
Page 391
"The Biblical symbolism in which the crisis of vision is presented centers on the figure of Moses. Moses is the Hebrew historical cycle which began as Orc in Egypt, attained its vision of Jehovah, and ran its natural course. When Moses comes within sight of the Promised Land he represents Hebrew culture at a crisis corresponding to that of Deism. This is later referred to as a dispute between Michael, the guardian angel of Israel, and Satan over Moses' body. Satan was trying to drag him into the fallen Canaan; Michael was trying to take him to the real Promised Land, the Eden where Elijah, according to the old tradition, also awaits the apocalypse. Both sides won, and separated Hebrew civilization into the literal law of the Pharisees and the letter of the law spiritualized by Jesus."

Blake characterized the periods through man travels in his evolution as the Eyes of God.

Blake and Religion

This post was first published on Monday August 02, 2010 by Larry.

Northrup Frye, an ordained Canadian minister, as a young man wrote a thesis entitled Fearful Symmetry, which became the influential exposure of Blake's thought to the academic world. His primary calling became English Literary Criticism, and he won signal distinction in that field (especially a book called The Anatomy of Criticism).

Later in life Frye said that if he had it to do over he would not write a sophisticated academic work about Blake, but something more like Percival's introductory survey. He called his last (monumental!) two volume work The Great Code: The Bible as Literature. That's an invaluable work for learning Blake.

British Museum  Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
In Britain's early 19th Century the Enlightenment had a marked effect on religious thought; Deism was ascendant - the idea that God created the world and wound it up like a clock and thereafter retired from any interest in it. We are to God what ants are to us.

As you can imagine Bible soaked and God intoxicated Blake despised Deism. But he equally despised what he took to be the opposite, which he called (among other things) Druidism, the most primitive form of religion, including human sacrifice.

Druidism fit Blake's concept of established religion, whose leaders enthusiastically supported the king's wars; in the same way the religious leaders today have emphatically supported the government's wars. (The government, established religion and the military industrial complex were like three peas in a pod in Blake's day.)

Here's one of Blake's reactions to that sad reality:

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 11, (E 38)
"The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects; thus began Priesthood.
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast."
According to Blake God is within - you and me, everyone. In this he closely resembles the Quakers who fundamentally speak of that of God in you/me/everyone. The God within is creative, a Creator of Art. This depends upon imagination, intuition, the expression of spiritual/eternal ideas in tangible things - like words (the Bible), music, and representations of the human form in its various states.

Here's an example in Blake's Laocoon (E274) of how he expressed this idea:

"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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's Paradise Lost
Illustration 12
The Expulsion
Genesis 3
[20] And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
[21] Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
[22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
[23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
[24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Blake's twelfth illustration to Milton's Paradise Lost shows the exit of Adam and Eve from Eden escorted by the angel Michael. There could be no turning back because the gate was closed behind and guarded by the flaming swords of the Cherubims.

As we consider the exit of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, we confront the question of the entrance they made into the world of generation. The next stage of psychic development must have required that they learn to make choices between good and evil. The protected environment of the garden without challenges in the outer world would have forced them to remain inept at evolving inwardly. Man was created in the image of God. To be fully human he needed to become adept at choosing the good when tempted. The missteps and errors which were implicit in living on earth contributed to developing a psyche which was capable of discerning a path of obedience which was voluntary and chosen from strength not weakness. 

The first lines of Paradise Lost reveal both the plot and the ending:

" Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,"

Milton was using this well known story to reveal the possibilities for mankind to correct the errors that chained him to moral failure, bodily suffering and spiritual poverty. He was relating from experience, and was writing to inform both individuals and the nation. He intended to do more that show the spiritual consequences for Adam and Eve of failing to observe the rules which were implicit in their society; Paradise Lost was meant to show political consequences as well. Throughout his career the two aims of Milton's thought and writing were to set men free from the bondage of tyranny and from imposed religion. He was not an anarchist. He believed that the Providence of God would lead man to the same liberty of mind and spirit that Blake promoted. If man were to cultivate a 'paradise within' resulting from his deeds of faith, virtue, patience, temperance, and love his happiness was assured.

Anna Beer in her biography, Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot made the following statement about the reader's responsibility as he pursued Paradise Lost:

"Milton is attempting to rouse the political nation...
The reader's involvement is critical, not just spiritually and emotionally, but politically. Milton believed that republicanism was the best mode of government for his country, but he also, by the time of writing Paradise Lost, knew what the English people would not, perhaps could not, deliver it.
Yet, alongside this elitist view is a concern to create those leaders, to create a nation that can enjoy political and religious liberty. Paradise Lost seeks to create 'fit readers', not just to preach to them. The hope is that those who pick it up will, through reading it, be able, for example to see how tyrants gain their power and, perhaps, next time, stand firm against tyranny. Paradise Lost therefore demands and creates readers who will be able to be alert to all its complexities, able to appreciate its ironies, able to share its anger and its compassion." (Page 347) 

Paradise Lost
John Milton
Book XII

Line 466
[Adam heard the promise of salvation]
 "So spake the archangel Michael; then paused,
As at the world's great period; and our sire,
Replete with joy and wonder, thus replied.
Oh goodness infinite, goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce,
And evil turn to good; more wonderful
Than that which by creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand,
Whether I should repent me now of sin
By me done, and occasioned; or rejoice
Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring;
To God more glory, more good-will to men
From God, and over wrath grace shall abound.
But say, if our Deliverer up to Heaven
Must re-ascend, what will betide the few
His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,
The enemies of truth? Who then shall guide
His people, who defend? Will they not deal
Worse with his followers than with him they dealt?
Be sure they will, said the angel; but from Heaven
He to his own a comforter will send,
The promise of the Father, who shall dwell
His Spirit within them; and the law of faith,
Working through love, upon their hearts shall write,
To guide them in all truth; and also arm
With spiritual armor, able to resist
Satan's assaults, and quench his fiery darts;"

Line 610
[Eve speaks]
"Whence thou returnest, and whither wentest, I know;
For God is also in sleep; and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep: But now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Art all things under Heaven, all places thou,
Who for my willful crime art banished hence.
This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favor I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the Promised Seed shall all restore.
So spake our mother Eve; and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answered not: For now, too nigh
The archangel stood; and, from the other hill
To their fixed station, all in bright array
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening-mist
Risen from a river o'er the marsh glides,
And gathers ground fast at the laborer’s heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandished sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapor as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."

Jerusalem, Plate 13, (E 156)
"And that toward Eden, four, form'd of gold, silver, brass, & iron.

The South, a golden Gate, has four Lions terrible, living!
That toward Generation, four, of iron carv'd wondrous:
That toward Ulro, four, clay bak'd, laborious workmanship
That toward Eden, four; immortal gold, silver, brass & iron.     

The Western Gate fourfold, is closd: having four Cherubim
Its guards, living, the work of elemental hands, laborious task!
Like Men, hermaphroditic, each winged with eight wings
That towards Generation, iron; that toward Beulah, stone;
That toward  Ulro, clay: that toward Eden, metals.               
But all clos'd up till the last day, when the graves shall yield their dead"

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)
   "The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire
at the end of six thousand years is true. as I have heard from
   For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to 
leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole 
creation will be consumed, and appear infinite and holy whereas
it now  appears finite & corrupt.
   This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
   But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his
soul, is to  be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the
infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and
medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the
infinite which was hid.
   If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would
appear  to man as it is: infinite.
   For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro'
narrow chinks of his cavern."