Anyone may learn to know and love William Blake. Small steps include reading, asking questions, making comments about posts made here (or anywhere else for that matter). We are ordinary people interested in Blake and anxious to meet and converse with any others. Tip: The primary text for Blake is on line. The url is Contents.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blake's Prophecies

Blake wrote a series of small books he called Prophecies; they were perhaps the Unholy Bible. However this post is not about them but about Blake as a Prophet. Some have said that Blake was the greatest Christian prophet since St. Francis.

"Every honest man is a Prophet he utters his
opinion both of private & public matters/Thus/If you go on So/the
result is So/He never says such a thing shall happen let you do
what you will. a Prophet is a Seer not an Arbitrary Dictator. 
It is mans fault if God is not able to do him good. for he gives
to the just & to the unjust but the unjust reject his gift"
(Annotations to Watson; Erdman 616)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How did he get that way?

FIRST of all he came into the world with a tremendous endowment; some people are simply born with unusual gifts.

SECOND Leaving school on the first day his mind was never subjected to the indoctrination most of us got from our teachers. "The primary object of primary education is to socialize the pupil to the conventions of the culture we belong to." That never happened to Blake. Instead he ....

THIRD read! and read! and read! He read the things that had fallen out of the national consciousness-- dominated by an extremely materialistic culture: the Bible, Behmen (Boehme) and hundreds of others, each in his own way representing the Perennial Philosophy. And he saw the Great Painters, not those favored by the Establishment.

FOURTH The population didn't read anything beyond the fourth grade level. When Paine asked Blake if people read him, he replied, "before the people can read it, they have to be able to read" (very much like today!). So there was a chasm between his mind and theirs (and ours).

The aforementioned video shows Tom Paine represented as the soul of rationality and Bill Blake the feeling, and above all the imagination.

So Blake's relationships were with God: Meister Eckhart, Mohammed, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Boehme, Jesus, other men who had had similar visions. He honored God with the "severe contentions of friendship & the burning fire of thought." (Jerusalem 91:17; E251)

His faith came up the hard way: Molech, Elohim, Nobodaddy, Urizen, and finally the Dear Saviour. How many of us good people can say we came to our faith like that?

Thank God we have the benefit of Blake's experience.

Friday, February 13, 2009


An anonymous reader has asked that we provide more information in our posts. So I will try to explain what we are attempting to do in our Blake blog.

First we want to focus our attention and on William Blake and his writing.

We are not experts but students of Blake. We follow our own interests. We are interested in sharing what we have learned of Blake and would would like to tailor our posts to the interests of the reader. We hope readers will let us know what interests them about Blake.

There have been posts which attempt to introduce the reader to studying Blake especially using the resources on the internet. The links to the text of Blake's poetry and prose, and to his graphic works are provided. A link to Larry's online book which includes a primer is also a useful tool. (These files can be electronically searched for specific topics.) Within the posts we often provide links to external files which expand the study to wider sources.

None of Blake's work is simple to understand. Beginners can start with Songs of Innocence and Experience. Marriage of Heaven and Hell grabs the attention of many with its irony. The major prophecies can be approached a little at a time rather than entire. If you are visually oriented, the visual images can be used as an avenue to draw you into reading the poetry.

Blake's body of work is large and complex. On our blog we have not attempted a systematic study. We are giving clues to solving the mystery. Analysts of Blake's work often tell us that Blake expected the reader to go beyond what was stated in the text, to perceive the underlying meaning. We hope our readers will sift through the blog posts looking for cracks or doors or highways through which they may enter Blake's mind and heart and imagination.

Reading Blake may expand your mind, nourish your spirit, or enrich your imagination; don't expect it to put money in your pocket, expand your social circle or impress your professors.

Here are some earlier posts which may help the neophyte.

I can't end without a quote from Blake and a picture.

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 209)

"within the Furnaces the Divine Vision appeard

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

I gave thee liberty and life O lovely Jerusalem
And thou hast bound me down upon the Stems of Vegetation

Liberty or Stems of Vegetation

Friday, February 6, 2009


Jesus taught forgiveness not vengeance. Blake rejected the God of vengeance of the Old Testament for the God of forgiveness of the New Testament.

Matthew 5:43-45 - "You have heard that it used to be said, 'You shall love your neighbour', and 'hate your enemy', but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike."

Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

In Jerusalem, Blake explains his attitude toward taking retribution for offense. He realizes that executing vengeful punishment does greater harm to the person who has been offended than it does to the offender. Doing harm - hindering your brother - does harm within yourself and hinders your spiritual development. The person who harms others, harms himself. Forgiving your brother opens your heart to receiving God's love and mending divisions in the unity of the whole body.

Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 169)
"But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom
Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:
Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals
Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 47, (E 193)
"What shall I [Los] do! what could I do, if I could find these Criminals
I could not dare to take vengeance; for all things are so constructed
And builded by the Divine hand, that the sinner shall always escape,
And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;
If I should dare to lay my finger on a grain of sand
In way of vengeance; I punish the already punishd: O whom
Should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray!
O Albion, if thou takest vengeance; if thou revengest thy wrongs
Thou art for ever lost! What can I do to hinder the Sons
Of Albion from taking vengeance? or how shall I them perswade.
These were his [Albion's] last words, and the merciful Saviour in his arms
Reciev'd him, in the arms of tender mercy and repos'd
The pale limbs of his Eternal Individuality
Upon the Rock of Ages."

Vala, Hyle, and Skofield

Blake created an image on Plate 51, which illustrates the harm which comes to the individual when he does harm to others. The three in the illustration are Vala, Hyle and Skofield; three whom Blake might consider his worst enemies. Vala is materiality, fallen Nature, the obscuring and distorting principle which hides Eternity and restrictes his imagination. Pictured as dark and frozen she bears no resemblance to the rich and glorious unfallen Nature. Hyle is Blake's representation of Hayley who wanted to prevent Blake from following his Imagination in exercising his artistic and poetic talents; pretending to be a friend he wanted to direct Blake's work to popular media. Hyle is pictured as if he were enclosed in a cube, his 'doors of perception' to this world as well as the other, are closed and locked. Skofield who brought Blake to law by false accusation, is pictured in the chains with which he hoped to manacle Blake. He is burning with the fire of wrath rather then sitting in darkness as is Vala.

But I think Blake presented these three, not as the vengeful but as 'the sinners' who 'always escape' although they have 'gone astray.'

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Grove

"....And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice,
Saying, 'Come out from the grove, my love and care
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice...',"
(Little Black Boy)

"Planting these Oaken Groves: Erecting these Dragon Temples" (Erdman 170)
"Patriarchal Pillars & Oak Groves) over the whole Earth..." (Erdman 171)
"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!"
(Erdman 184: Jerusalem Plate 38/43 lines 9-12)

"And build this Babylon & sacrifice in secret Groves" (Jerusalem, 60.23; E210)

"For a Spectre has no Emanation but what he imbibes from decieving
A Victim! Then he becomes her Priest & she his Tabernacle.
And his Oak Grove. till the Victim rend the woven Veil."
( Jerusalem, 65.60-62; E217) (See also Matthew 27:51)

"Till I turn from Female love
And root up the Infernal Grove,
I shall never worthy be
To step into Eternity.

Let us agree to give up love,
And root up the Infernal Grove;
Then shall we return and see
The worlds of happy Eternity. (My Spectre)

In his Complete Works Blake used the word 'grove' (or groveling) 26 times; you might wonder how Blake related the two words or about their etiology.

Notice that the 'love' in the last verse is the 'female love' of the earlier one. This 'love' in Blake's poetry is nothing like godly love; in fact it's just the opposite; it's love of fallen materiality- love of things, like Money, or Golf, or Whiskey, or your Stomach; see (See Philippians 3:19)

So what did Blake mean with his groves. Damon said it's a "symbol of error"; I say it's a symbol of the 'fallen material world' where the Druid Priests built their Temples and Altars.

Blake used thousands of words to describe his primary myth: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Return, and many many pictures to portray it, and many, many capsules of two lines that state it. He wanted us to get it.