William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 2: Plate 29

Then the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appeard above
Albions dark rocks: setting behind the Gardens of Kensington
On Tyburns River, in clouds of blood: where was mild Zion Hills
Most ancient promontory, and in the Sun, a Human Form appeard
And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion

I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy.
The Reactor hath hid himself thro envy. I behold him.
But you cannot behold him till he be reveald in his System
Albions Reactor must have a Place prepard: Albion must Sleep
The Sleep of Death, till the Man of Sin & Repentance be reveald.
Hidden in Albions Forests he lurks: he admits of no Reply
From Albion: but hath founded his Reaction into a Law
Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man
He hath compelld Albion to become a Punisher & hath possessd
Himself of Albions Forests & Wilds! and Jerusalem is taken!
The City of the Woods in the Forest of Ephratah is taken!
London is a stone of her ruins; Oxford is the dust of her walls!
Sussex & Kent are her scatterd garments: Ireland her holy place!
And the murderd bodies of her little ones are Scotland and Wales
The Cities of the Nations are the smoke of her consummation
The Nations are her dust! ground by the chariot wheels
Of her lordly conquerors, her palaces levelld with the dust
I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return
Fear not O little Flock I come! Albion shall rise again.

So saying, the mild Sun inclosd the Human Family.

Forthwith from Albions darkning locks came two Immortal forms
Saying We alone are escaped. O merciful Lord and Saviour,
We flee from the interiors of Albions hills and mountains!
From his Valleys Eastward: from Amalek Canaan & Moab:
Beneath his vast ranges of hills surrounding Jerusalem.
Albion walkd on the steps of fire before his Halls
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber.
He looked up & saw the Prince of Light with splendor faded
Then Albion ascended mourning into the porches of his Palace
Above him rose a Shadow from his wearied intellect:
Of living gold, pure, perfect, holy: in white linen pure he hoverd
A sweet entrancing self-delusion a watry vision of Albion
Soft exulting in existence; all the Man absorbing!

 Albion fell upon his face prostrate before the watry Shadow
 Saying O Lord whence is this change! thou knowest I am nothing!
 And Vala trembled & coverd her face! & her locks were spread on the
                                                           pavement
We heard astonishd at the Vision & our heart trembled within us:
We heard the voice of slumberous Albion, and thus he spake,
Idolatrous to his own Shadow words of eternity uttering:

O I am nothing when I enter into judgment with thee!
If thou withdraw thy breath I die & vanish into Hades
If thou dost lay thine hand upon me behold I am silent:
If thou withhold thine hand; I perish like a fallen leaf:
O I am nothing: and to nothing must return again:
If thou withdraw thy breath. Behold I am oblivion.

He ceasd: the shadowy voice was silent: but the cloud hoverd over their heads
In golden wreathes, the sorrow of Man; & the balmy drops fell down.
And lo! that son of Man that Shadowy Spirit of mild Albion:
Luvah descended from the cloud; in terror Albion rose:
Indignant rose the awful Man, & turnd his back on Vala.

We heard the voice of Albion starting from his sleep:

Whence is this voice crying Enion! that soundeth in my ears?
O cruel pity! O dark deceit! can love seek for dominion?

And Luvah strove to gain dominion over Albion
They strove together above the Body where Vala was inclosd
And the dark Body of Albion left prostrate upon the crystal pavement,
Coverd with boils from head to foot: the terrible smitings of Luvah.

Then frownd the fallen Man, and put forth Luvah from his presence
Saying. Go and Die the Death of Man, for Vala the sweet wanderer.
I will turn the volutions of your ears outward, and bend your nostrils
Downward, and your fluxile eyes englob'd roll round in fear:
Your withring lips and tongue shrink up into a narrow circle,
Till into narrow forms you creep: go take your fiery way:
And learn what tis to absorb the Man you Spirits of Pity & Love.

They heard the voice and fled swift as the winters setting sun.
And now the human blood foamd high, the Spirits Luvah & Vala,
Went down the Human Heart where Paradise & its joys abounded,
In jealous fears & fury & rage, & flames roll round their fervid feet:
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent playd before them
And as they fled in folding fires & thunders of the deep:
Vala shrunk in like the dark sea that leaves its slimy banks.
And from her bosom Luvah fell far as the east and west.
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent rolld between,
Whether of Jerusalems or Valas ruins congenerated, we know not:
All is confusion: all is tumult, & we alone are escaped.
So spoke the fugitives; they joind the Divine Family, trembling.

Plate 29: Analysis.

Then the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appeard above
Albions dark rocks: setting behind the Gardens of Kensington
On Tyburns River, in clouds of blood: where was mild Zion Hills
Most ancient promontory, and in the Sun, a Human Form appeard
And thus the Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion

1-5

Blake immediately emphasises the fact of Divine self-manifestation: "the Divine Vision" illuminates Albion's collapse. In direct contrast to Albion's primitive altars, his blind denial of Divine humanity and his murderously jealous desire to possess Jerusalem so completely as to annihilate her, "the Divine Vision like a silent Sun appeard above/Albion's dark rocks" above Blake's London "setting behind the Gardens of Kensington/On Tyburns River in clouds of blood". Albion's fall into nature is a fall into the torrents of blood of his now limited, condensed life, and, by contrast, in "the Sun a Human Form appear'd", foreshadowing Christ's kenosis.

As in the opening lines of Chapter 1, the Divine vision surrounds Albion despite his narcissistic auto-idolatry. Darkness descends within Albion's interiority as the vision sets behind the "clouds of blood" over the finite river the water of life drains into, the Tyburn. In Blake's myth, this once "was Zion Hills/Most ancient promontory"; now it is a place of legal killing, and its waters flow past a hill of death. Laid over the condensed mountains of Albion's altars and moral codes the "Voice Divine went forth upon the rocks of Albion", all things are within God's salvic economy; "Fear not O little Flock I come" the "Voice Divine" promises, "Albion shall rise again". All that is to be is pre-ordained, including Albion's radical freedom, else God is not God but is in some necessary dialogue or dependency.

I elected Albion for my glory; I gave to him the Nations,
Of the whole Earth. he was the Angel of my Presence: and all
The Sons of God were Albions Sons: and Jerusalem was my joy.
The Reactor hath hid himself thro envy. I behold him.
But you cannot behold him till he be reveald in his System
Albions Reactor must have a Place prepard: Albion must Sleep
The Sleep of Death, till the Man of Sin & Repentance be reveald.
Hidden in Albions Forests he lurks: he admits of no Reply
From Albion: but hath founded his Reaction into a Law
Of Action, for Obedience to destroy the Contraries of Man
He hath compelld Albion to become a Punisher & hath possessd
Himself of Albions Forests & Wilds! and Jerusalem is taken!
The City of the Woods in the Forest of Ephratah is taken!
London is a stone of her ruins; Oxford is the dust of her walls!
Sussex & Kent are her scatterd garments: Ireland her holy place!
 
And the murderd bodies of her little ones are Scotland and Wales
The Cities of the Nations are the smoke of her consummation
The Nations are her dust! ground by the chariot wheels
Of her lordly conquerors, her palaces levelld with the dust
I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return
Fear not O little Flock I come! Albion shall rise again.

6-27

God, freely self-manifesting Divine presence as the Divine voice, reveals Albion was "elected" for God's "glory". He was the "Angel" of God's presence, given to the "Nations, /Of the whole Earth". Jerusalem was God's "joy".

Blake makes it clear God honoured Albion: in his myth, without radical freedom given freely by God, such an honouring would be vanity, and it is impossible that God be vainglorious. The vanity is within Albion; it is Albion's envy of God; and is expressed by Albion's negation. For Blake, negation ultimately is that which is asserted or denied by the exercise of freedom. It exists within freedom in the sense darkness is within light, its absence inversely related to the presence of light. Likewise envy exists in love as its inverse negation, absent when love is present.

Albion's negation is the "Reactor" who hides "himself thro envy". Known by his negative inversion and morally conditioned by absence of love, "Albion's Reactor" is wholly seen by God: "I behold him/But you cannot behold him till he be reveal'd in his system". Without prophetic inspiration, humanity cannot see so deep and so far into non-entity and non-being.

God has "a Place prepar'd" and ordains, "Albion must Sleep/The Sleep of Death". In this sleep, Albion will exhaust all possibilities of selfhood and negation and death in order that he is reawakened in God's infinite mercy in God's infinite love: then the "Man of Sin & Repentance" is "reveald" in his moral hypocrisy and condensed inability to forgive. Thus, given form, error can be cast off.

The reactor is "Hidden in Albion's Forest" of shadowy, limited life. As negation he is capable only of "Reaction". Thus, he anticipates the mirrored inversion in negation of Albion's sons in Chapter 1, who became a perverted ‘fourfold wonder' of apparent life. The Reactor ‘is' (or has existential being) to the extent it negates life. Utterly parasitic therefore, "he hath compelld Albion to become a punisher". He usurps Albion's "Forests & wilds" or the earth; and negates human culture and civilization and life: cities are "ruins", "dust" and "scattered garments", and the children, the "little ones", are "murdered".

Thus, the voice Divine prophecies redemption: "I come that I may find a way for my banished ones to return/Fear not O little flock I come: Albion shall rise again". And "So saying, the mild sun enclos'd the Human Family". All reciprocal and regenerative life in infinity is the family Divine. The "Human Family" is the Divine image and, as in the opening lines of Jerusalem, Divine radiance surrounds all and is within all.

So saying, the mild Sun inclosd the Human Family.

Forthwith from Albions darkning locks came two Immortal forms
Saying We alone are escaped. O merciful Lord and Saviour,
We flee from the interiors of Albions hills and mountains!
From his Valleys Eastward: from Amalek Canaan & Moab:
Beneath his vast ranges of hills surrounding Jerusalem.
Albion walkd on the steps of fire before his Halls
And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber.
He looked up & saw the Prince of Light with splendor faded
Then Albion ascended mourning into the porches of his Palace
Above him rose a Shadow from his wearied intellect:
Of living gold, pure, perfect, holy: in white linen pure he hoverd
A sweet entrancing self-delusion a watry vision of Albion
Soft exulting in existence; all the Man absorbing!

Albion fell upon his face prostrate before the watry Shadow
Saying O Lord whence is this change! thou knowest I am nothing!
And Vala trembled & coverd her face! & her locks were spread on the
                                                        pavement

We heard astonishd at the Vision & our heart trembled within us:
We heard the voice of slumberous Albion, and thus he spake,
Idolatrous to his own Shadow words of eternity uttering:

O I am nothing when I enter into judgment with thee!
If thou withdraw thy breath I die & vanish into Hades
If thou dost lay thine hand upon me behold I am silent:
If thou withhold thine hand; I perish like a fallen leaf:
O I am nothing: and to nothing must return again:
If thou withdraw thy breath. Behold I am oblivion.

He ceasd: the shadowy voice was silent: but the cloud hoverd over their heads
In golden wreathes, the sorrow of Man; & the balmy drops fell down.
And lo! that son of Man that Shadowy Spirit of mild Albion:
Luvah descended from the cloud; in terror Albion rose:
Indignant rose the awful Man, & turnd his back on Vala.

27-57

Immediately, on Albion's denial of contingent creation and assertion of selfhood, from "Albion's darkning locks" emerged the vehicles of prophetic energy within Albion. Here they are Enitharmon, Los' emanation, and the spectre of Los "named Urthona". As shadow and spectre they have separate forms of being and but they are also interdependent. Both are materialisations of the imaginative and prophetic potencies of Los. Both are within Albion as components of the connective reciprocities of infinite being. On turning from God, Albion's perceptions collapse and are re-focused inward. Retaining their vision of prophetic truth, the shadow and spectre of Urthona are expelled outward, for prophetic truth is now alien to Albion: "We alone are escaped, O Merciful Lord and Saviour, /We flee from the interiors of Albion's hills and mountains".

They flee from the east or centre, "From his Valleys Eastward", to escape ‘westward', outside into the infinite. Thus, spatially, they escape from the centre to the circumference and, in turn, enter through the gate of Los into infinity.

They speak to the sons of Eden, who in infinity, cannot see into Albion's inner, finite world, and they recount Albion's auto-idolatry: "Above him rose a Shadow from his wearied intellect". The shadow is Luvah, his own masculine fertilising potencies. Luvah, Albion's own masculinity, is pseudo-feminised into "A sweet entrancing self-delusion, a watry vision of Albion/Soft exulting in existence; all the Man absorbing".

Albion renders himself impotent by his auto-idolatrous, autoerotic narcissism. His sub-state accounts for the hermaphroditic sexual negation soon to take form. He falls on his face before the "watry shadow" of his self-projection, "Saying: ‘O Lord whence is this change! Thou knowest I am nothing!'"

Enitharmon and the spectre of Urthona hear "slumberous Albion", about to fall into his sleep of death. Albion is "Idolatrous to his own Shadow words of eternity uttering/O I am nothing when I enter into judgement with thee". He grants himself the creative breath of the Logos: "If thou withdraw thy breath I die & vanish into Hades" for he is speaking to himself. He utters obsequious words of pseudo-humility "O I am nothing; and to nothing must return again". His self-gratifying states of submissive self-mutilation is a perversion of the Divine kenosis: "If thou withdraw thy breath, Behold I am oblivion". In Blake's story, Albion seeks to appropriate God's omnipotence, and, morally self-mutilated, abases himself before himself as, materialising into form, "Luvah descended from the cloud."

We heard the voice of Albion starting from his sleep:

Whence is this voice crying Enion! that soundeth in my ears?
O cruel pity! O dark deceit! can love seek for dominion?

And Luvah strove to gain dominion over Albion
They strove together above the Body where Vala was inclosd
And the dark Body of Albion left prostrate upon the crystal pavement,
Coverd with boils from head to foot: the terrible smitings of Luvah.

58-64

Enitharmon and the spectre see Albion stir, asleep now in his sleep of death, calling out in his nightmare. They are in the infinite speaking to the sons of Eden. Albion's nightmare is a real world of finite suffering: Ulro. He hears his component energy calls for Enion (as is clear in The Four Zoas, this is the voice of Tharmas, who is the first to speak after Albion's collapse in Night the First.) but Luvah seeks to rule, as is his nature, for Albion's narcissistic impotence has projected Luvah as an illusion of godlike selfhood and ultimate power. Thus, Albion strives in self-contradiction with himself for power over himself. Left "prostrate upon the crystal pavement", in a parody of Job struck down by Satan's malice, he is diseased and "coverd with boils from head to foot".

Then frownd the fallen Man, and put forth Luvah from his presence
Saying. Go and Die the Death of Man, for Vala the sweet wanderer.
I will turn the volutions of your ears outward, and bend your nostrils
Downward, and your fluxile eyes englob'd roll round in fear:
Your withring lips and tongue shrink up into a narrow circle,
Till into narrow forms you creep: go take your fiery way:
And learn what tis to absorb the Man you Spirits of Pity & Love.

65-71

Now the "fallen Man" Albion "put forth Luvah from his presence". He is banished into deeper states of chaos within to "Die the Death of Man". Out of love for Vala's finite fertility, Luvah is limited to her potentialities that are in turn also limited. Only human form is possible for them and their senses, "ears", "nostrils", "eyes", "lips and tongue", shrink "Till into narrow forms" they "creep". Thus, blind to his self-destruction, Albion condemns himself, and his inversions of "Pity & Love" within. His blindness is such he cannot perceive that in punishing Luvah and Vala he punishes himself, and in their moral lesson lies his: to "learn what it is to absorb the Man" or the Divine image, as if he were God.

They heard the voice and fled swift as the winters setting sun.
And now the human blood foamd high, the Spirits Luvah & Vala,
Went down the Human Heart where Paradise & its joys abounded,
In jealous fears & fury & rage, & flames roll round their fervid feet:
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent playd before them
And as they fled in folding fires & thunders of the deep:
Vala shrunk in like the dark sea that leaves its slimy banks.
And from her bosom Luvah fell far as the east and west.
And the vast form of Nature like a serpent rolld between,
Whether of Jerusalems or Valas ruins congenerated, we know not:
All is confusion: all is tumult, & we alone are escaped.
So spoke the fugitives; they joind the Divine Family, trembling.

72-83

Luvah and Vala descended, into darkness, inwards "swift as the winters setting sun". Albion's inner universe materialises about them from the circumference/west. The "human blood foamd high" as Luvah and Vala "Went down the Human Heart" at the centre, where mundane passions of hate and joy alternate. The reciprocal regeneration of the infinite becomes "jealous fears & fury & rage & flames" that "roll round their fervid feet".

Collapsed from infinitely realised being in infinite regeneration, now "the vast form of Nature like a serpent playd before them". They flee "in folding fires & thunders of the deep". Vala shrinks "like the dark sea leaves its slimy banks" and Luvah falls "far as the east and west" from centre to circumference, throughout finitude. Separating the interpenetrative reciprocity of their potencies "the vast form of Nature like a serpent rolld between". Being and form collapse into anarchy: "All is confusion: all is tumult".

Having returned from the moral and emotional collapse into anarchy, knowing they "alone escaped", Enitharmon and the spectre of Urthona", then "joind the Divine Family, trembling".