William Blake’s Jerusalem Explained: The Companion Transcription

Cover of William Blake’s Jerusalem Explained: The Companion TranscriptionIt is in this transcription that for the first time Blake’s work is seen in terms of his four levels of perceptual strategy: namely, four-fold vision in unity with Divine energies that are ‘within’ and ‘without’; three-fold vision in which linear energies move from nadir to zenith and centre to circumference ‘within’ time and space as a whole; and, ‘within’ that, two-fold perceptions in which energies move south, north, west and east in length, breadth and in serial time; and, finally, a one-fold sleep of death in which energies are exhausted and stilled entirely into perceptual unconsciousness and motionless death. 

This is the transcription written for Dr Whitmarsh’s William Blake’s Jerusalem Explained: set out as a whole text, it is a companion text showing entries and exits, and poetry of transition between.  Further, this commentary follows Blake’s poetry in the style and manner of Shakespearian rhetorical grammar. 

As put by Freeman (2001) Shakespearian syntax is rhetorical, thereby

reflecting the stepping stones of debate and argument, as well as the volcano of underlying human emotions…. In our reading of an Elizabethan/early Jacobean text today, an in-control-character would appear highly grammatical, whereas the settings for a character in the throes of uncontrollable emotion or intellectual passion would come across as a grammatical and syntactical nightmare.  Many times what seems abominable…may well be really wonderful theatrical information, information the first actors would have immediately understood and build upon.

Blake saw even Shakespeare and Milton as trapped within “the modern bondage of Rhyming”, and he liberated poetry by extending the lengths of blank verse to suit the “mouth of a true Orator” (J. 1: 1; 3).  These views help explain the direct influence of Shakespearian syntax and grammar on Blake’s use of rhetoric.  Blake’s control of passion, power and beauty is expressed in considered detail; for examples in his multiple uses of capitals and abstracts, bunched use of colons and semi-colons, exclamations and question marks, and frequent use of a lower case letter after a full stop.  All of these variants are made sense of as when thought of as bearing bardic, spoken, concentrations and tensions, expansions and contractions that ‘come with the territory’ of dramatic language and event.  It is most helpful to understand Blake’s rhetorical syntax of feeling in order to understand, in turn, how to interact with Blake’s dynamic epic drama, his expressive characterizations and their psychological depth, and the aesthetic power of the events of his multi-linear narratives