William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 2: Plate 31

His western heaven with rocky clouds of death & despair.

Fearing that Albion should turn his back against the Divine Vision
Los took his globe of fire to search the interiors of Albions
Bosom, in all the terrors of friendship, entering the caves
Of despair & death, to search the tempters out, walking among
Albions rocks & precipices: caves of solitude & dark despair,
And saw every Minute Particular of Albion degraded & murderd
But saw not by whom; they were hidden within in the minute particulars
Of which they had possessd themselves; and there they take up
The articulations of a mans soul, and laughing throw it down
Into the frame, then knock it out upon the plank, & souls are bak'd
In bricks to build the pyramids of Heber & Terah. But Los
Searchd in vain: closd from the minutia he walkd, difficult.
He came down from Highgate thro Hackney & Holloway towards London
Till he came to old Stratford & thence to Stepney & the Isle
Of Leuthas Dogs, thence thro the narrows of the Rivers side
And saw every minute particular, the jewels of Albion, running down
The kennels of the streets & lanes as if they were abhorrd.
Every Universal Form, was become barren mountains of Moral
Virtue; and every Minute Particular hardend into grains of sand:
And all the tendernesses of the soul cast forth as filth & mire.
Among the winding places of deep contemplation intricate
To where the Tower of London frownd dreadful over Jerusalem;
A building of Luvah builded in Jerusalems eastern gate to be
His secluded Court: thence to Bethlehem where was builded
Dens of despair in the house of bread: enquiring in vain
Of stones and rocks he took his way, for human form was none:
And thus he spoke, looking on Albions City with many tears

What shall I 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.

So spoke Los, travelling thro darkness & horrid solitude:
And he beheld Jerusalem in Westminster & Marybone,
Among the ruins of the Temple: and Vala who is her Shadow.
Jerusalems Shadow bent northward over the Island white.
At length he sat on London Stone, & heard Jerusalems voice.

 
Albion I cannot be thy Wife. thine own Minute Particulars,
Belong to God alone. and all thy little ones are holy
They are of Faith & not of Demonstration: wherefore is Vala
Clothd in black mourning upon my rivers currents, Vala awake!
I hear thy shuttles sing in the sky, and round my limbs
I feel the iron threads of love & jealousy & despair.

Vala reply'd. Albion is mine: Luvah gave me to Albion
And now recieves reproach & hate. Was it not said of old
Set your Son before a man & he shall take you & your sons
For slaves: but set your Daughter before a man & She
Shall make him & his sons & daughters your slaves for ever:
And is this Faith? Behold the strife of Albion, & Luvah
Is great in the east, their spears of blood rage in the eastern heaven
Urizen is the champion of Albion, they will slay my Luvah:
And thou O harlot daughter! daughter of despair art all
This cause of these shakings of my towers on Euphrates.
Here is the House of Albion.  & here is thy secluded place
And here we have found thy sins;  & hence we turn thee forth,
For all to avoid thee: to be astonishd at thee for thy sins:
Because thou art the impurity & the harlot: & thy children:
Children of whoredoms: born for Sacrifice: for the meat & drink
Offering: to sustain the glorious combat & the battle & war
That Man may be purified by the death of thy delusions.

So saying she her dark threads cast over the trembling River;
And over the valleys; from the hills of Hertfordshire to the hills
Of Surrey across Middlesex & across Albions House
Of Eternity! pale stood Albion at his eastern gate,

Plate 31: Analysis.

His western heaven with rocky clouds of death & despair.

Fearing that Albion should turn his back against the Divine Vision
Los took his globe of fire to search the interiors of Albions
Bosom, in all the terrors of friendship, entering the caves
Of despair & death, to search the tempters out, walking among
Albions rocks & precipices: caves of solitude & dark despair,
And saw every Minute Particular of Albion degraded & murderd
But saw not by whom; they were hidden within in the minute particulars
Of which they had possessd themselves; and there they take up
The articulations of a mans soul, and laughing throw it down
Into the frame, then knock it out upon the plank, & souls are bak'd
In bricks to build the pyramids of Heber & Terah. But Los

1-12

Albion's closed perceptions, in turn, close the circumference of his "western heaven". It is not possible for him to perceive, reason, imagine, or feel anything not finite. Los fears, and knows in his fear, that Albion will "turn his back against the Divine Vision". He cares, and in an analogy of Divine circularity in mutual love, he retraces the journey of Enitharmon and the spectre of Tharmas. He " took his globe of fire to search the interiors of Albion's bosom, in all the terrors of friendship". He proves his worst fears true. In the "caves, "rocks" and "precipices" he finds "despair & death", "solitude", and "every Minute Particular of Albion degraded & murder'd".

The Divine voice (2: 29; 8-9) has announced the Reactor, seen by God but imperceptible to humanity will take form and be revealed in order that Albion rise again. As discussed, this negation exists in reaction against all action and against every "minute particular". By contrast, creation is not a generalised act, there is no vagueness in God's work, and there is no contingent form whose character is formlessness. In God's ineffable essence all things are accomplished and all things pre-ordained, and there can be no chaos or self-contradiction. Minute particulars are creation.

In negation, the minute particulars are the substance preyed on by the parasitic mirrored negative being of the Reactor. The Divine voice foreshadows the ultimate form of negation. In Chapter 1, reactive negations condensed into the perverted ‘fourfold wonder' of inversion. Here, "they were hidden within the minute particulars/Of which they had possessed themselves". These negations seek to empty life into itself, and are insatiable. They "take up /The articulations of a mans soul".

In Blake's vision of creation, each soul is a minute particular individually created by God: creation is of particulars individually created. Here the souls are debased into articulated forms of energy, forced by leverages into inflexible compositions. The variety of potential form of potter's clay is become repetitive "bak'd/In bricks to build the pyramids" of pseudo religion, of "Heber & Terah".

Searchd in vain: closd from the minutia he walkd, difficult.
He came down from Highgate thro Hackney & Holloway towards London
Till he came to old Stratford & thence to Stepney & the Isle
Of Leuthas Dogs, thence thro the narrows of the Rivers side
And saw every minute particular, the jewels of Albion, running down
The kennels of the streets & lanes as if they were abhorrd.
Every Universal Form, was become barren mountains of Moral
Virtue; and every Minute Particular hardend into grains of sand:
And all the tendernesses of the soul cast forth as filth & mire.
Among the winding places of deep contemplation intricate
To where the Tower of London frownd dreadful over Jerusalem;
A building of Luvah builded in Jerusalems eastern gate to be
His secluded Court: thence to Bethlehem where was builded
Dens of despair in the house of bread: enquiring in vain
Of stones and rocks he took his way, for human form was none:

And thus he spoke, looking on Albions City with many tears

13-28

Los is "closd from the minutia" or the souls, or "jewels" of Albion's universe. They are despised. Thrown out into the "kennels" or drains are "all the tendernesses of the soul" now "cast forth as filth & mire". The "Universal Forms", properly comprised of the "jewel" or "souls" of minute particulars, are emptied. They are debased into "barren mountains of Moral/Virtues". Their "Minute Particular hardend into grains of sand: /And all the tendernesses of the soul cast forth as filth & mire". The sand does not cohere, or even absorb. As minute particulars of potentiality they are endlessly repetitive. The Divine image is divided and inverted into minute fragmentations.

Los travels to the centre of Albion's collapsed inner universe, "Jerusalem's eastern gate". All material form is condensed, hardened and voiceless: "enquiring in vain/Of stones and rocks" Los "took his way for human form there was none". Albion's hungers have emptied the life force of formative being, and self-consuming, are desiccated, compacted and contracted. His emanation expresses this as ruin, for Jerusalem is consumed and emptied of her formative potency. She is drained until she is a ruin and a voice.

What shall I 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.

So spoke Los, travelling thro darkness & horrid solitude:

29-38

Los struggles with moral uncertainty then realises, in faith, Christ's doctrine of mutual forgiveness. The implications become clear: he cannot " take vengeance; for all things are so constructed/And builded by the Divine hand that the sinner shall always escape". All things are within the logoi of God's salvic economy. There are no forms of violence that can be taken in the name of God. Vengeance is infinitely reserved in God. Human sacrifice or revenge is perversion. He "who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence". God has already determined all forms of justice. Vengeance punishes "the already punished". Albion faces self-condemnation if he "takes vengeance": if he "revengest" his "wrongs", he is "for ever lost". Though in "darkness & horrid solitude", Los commits himself "to hinder the Sons/Of Albion from taking vengeance" on their father, by their self-consuming predation.

And he beheld Jerusalem in Westminster & Marybone,
Among the ruins of the Temple: and Vala who is her Shadow.
Jerusalems Shadow bent northward over the Island white.
At length he sat on London Stone, & heard Jerusalems voice.

39-43

Los finds Jerusalem "Among the ruins of the Temple" with "Vala who is her shadow". As noted, throughout, Jerusalem's infinite identity is the substance and Vala's finite analogy a shadow to that substance.

Los "sat on London Stone & heard Jerusalems voice". The stone is a finite analogy to the rock of ages in infinity, where Albion lies in his sleep of death. It can be seen as the reverse point of the rock of ages ‘inside' Albion's finite petrified inner landscape. Thus Los hears Jerusalem voice at the centre of Albion's finite being.

Albion I cannot be thy Wife. thine own Minute Particulars,
Belong to God alone. and all thy little ones are holy
They are of Faith & not of Demonstration: wherefore is Vala
Clothd in black mourning upon my rivers currents, Vala awake!
I hear thy shuttles sing in the sky, and round my limbs
I feel the iron threads of love & jealousy & despair.

44-49

Albion has sought to possess her and to secrete her entirely within, hidden from the Divine face. This is his envy. He seeks to invert God's creation and give himself a stolen autonomy by consuming Jerusalem's life giving energies. This is a pseudo-life. It is an inverted negation of the proper creative reciprocity of energy and form.

In the infinite, infinite regeneration is infinitely realised. Albion's narcissistic self-blinding and self-emasculation is described already by Enitharmon and the spectre (2: 29; 29-53). Albion is self-seduced. It is impossible for Jerusalem to be consumed or owned by him. Jerusalem can never be his "wife". Albion is a created being, all his "Minute Particulars/Belong to God alone". All Albion's manifestations and expressions, his "little ones are holy/They are of faith & not of demonstration". He cannot become an autonomous creator ‘god' by ‘marrying' Jerusalem, and having ‘his' children; he cannot be ‘god the father'.

She sees Vala as "Cloth'd in Black mourning" upon Jerusalem's "rivers currents, Vala awake!" Immediately Vala's "shuttles sing in the sky" weaving a finite parody of Christ's fibres of mutual love. Vala's veil is a complex of finite limitations; it settles "round" Jerusalem's "limbs" in woven contractions of "iron threads of love & jealously & despair." The reciprocity between psychic energy and material form is perverted.

Vala reply'd. Albion is mine: Luvah gave me to Albion
And now recieves reproach & hate. Was it not said of old
Set your Son before a man & he shall take you & your sons
For slaves: but set your Daughter before a man & She
Shall make him & his sons & daughters your slaves for ever:
And is this Faith? Behold the strife of Albion, & Luvah
Is great in the east, their spears of blood rage in the eastern heaven
Urizen is the champion of Albion, they will slay my Luvah:
And thou O harlot daughter! daughter of despair art all
This cause of these shakings of my towers on Euphrates.
Here is the House of Albion.  & here is thy secluded place
And here we have found thy sins;  & hence we turn thee forth,
For all to avoid thee: to be astonishd at thee for thy sins:
Because thou art the impurity & the harlot: & thy children:
Children of whoredoms: born for Sacrifice: for the meat & drink
Offering: to sustain the glorious combat & the battle & war
That Man may be purified by the death of thy delusions.

50-66

The father/mother and son/daughter relations between Albion, Jerusalem, Luvah and Vala are discussed above. As Jerusalem inverts from infinity to the finite she is expressed through Vala's finite life energies and is Vala's ‘daughter'. Vala is nature and Albion's inner universe is properly an expression of her finite potencies. However, Albion's auto-idolatry has so inverted her perceptions that jealously and rage replace love and forgiveness. She claims Albion as her reciprocal male potency; "Albion is mine! Luvah gave me to Albion and now receives reproach & hate".

Love and hate invert giving. In infinity, the mutual giving of love enhances and liberates. By contrast, presents Blake, in the finite the giving of sons or daughters enslaves: the giving of a son enslaves the mother to the mother-in-law; however, the giving of a daughter enslaves the mother-in- law to the mother. Vala is emotionally deranged.

Albion fell in love with his own component masculine potency who is Luvah. The sub-state is thereby empowered to seek dominance over the whole psyche. This is a schizoid inversion of a psychic part over the psyche as a whole. Symbolic of this schizoid splintering is Albion's ‘giving' of the feminine component to the dominating splinter. The whole is lessened, or made subject to the portion. It is treated as if it were a controlled component. The result is mental collapse into warring sub-states as the identity of the whole disintegrates.

The "strife of Albion & Luvah/Is great in the east", for in the centre the two, as discussed, struggle for power: "their spears of blood rage in the eastern heaven" Albion's proper rational energy, Urizen seeks to restore a semblance of rational order. He is "the champion of Albion" for ultimately Luvah must be tamed, hence Vala's fear "they will slay my Luvah".

Vala blames Jerusalem, her "daughter of despair", for Albion self-consuming hunger and self-mutilated emotional inner consciousness, Vala claims Jerusalem is the "cause of these shakings of " her "towers". Jerusalem is banished: "we" claims Vala " have found thy sins" and Vala and Luvah "turn" her "forth/For all to avoid". Jerusalem is condemned as "the impurity & the harlot" and her "children/Children of whoredom; born for Sacrifice for the meat and drink/Offering". This is a perversion of the bread and wine of Christ's body and blood. The purpose of this grisly perversion is "That Man may be purified by the death" of Jerusalem as the source of "delusions".

The history of the perversion of sacrifice is seen in any religious sect that surrounds killing with quasi-sacred rituals in order to ‘divinise' themselves, and cleanse the world for God. In Blake's myth of sacrifice the blood price is perfectly offered in Christ's Divine kenosis. Blake makes it clear that to him all religious killing or torture for purification, power, wealth, or belief system or for any reason is a negation of Christ's incarnation. No further blood or suffering is demanded by God to atone for God's judgement. For Blake, Christ's sacrifice cannot be insufficient; the Divine kenosis renders it impossible for any person, ordained or lay, to be inspired by Christ to sacrifice life.

However, Vala is in a splintered psychic sub-state of ‘holy righteousness'. She weaves her veil of "dark threads" and casts her "iron threads" over England "& across Albion's House/Of Eternity".

So saying she her dark threads cast over the trembling River;
And over the valleys; from the hills of Hertfordshire to the hills
Of Surrey across Middlesex & across Albions House
Of Eternity! pale stood Albion at his eastern gate,

67-70

From without, the perspective of the infinite, Albion's ‘giant form', or his "House of Eternity", is at the brink of collapsing wholly into non-being. By contrast, from within, closed to infinite perception, he contracts to the centre of his collapsed and morally insane inner universe: "pale stood Albion at his eastern gate", the gate of Los.