William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 3: Plate 55

When those who disregard all Mortal Things, saw a Mighty-One
Among the Flowers of Beulah still retain his awful strength
They wonderd: checking their wild flames & Many gathering
Together into an Assembly; they said, let us go down
And see these changes! Others said, If you do so prepare
For being driven from our fields, what have we to do with the Dead.
To be their inferiors or superiors we equally abhor;
Superior, none we know: inferior none; all equal share
Divine Benevolence & joy, for the Eternal Man
Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers & his Friends:
Forbidding us that Veil which Satan puts between Eve & Adam
By which the Princes of the Dead enslave their Votaries
Teaching them to form the Serpent of precious stones & gold
To sieze the Sons of Jerusalem & plant them in One Mans Loins
To make One Family of Contraries; that Joseph may be sold
Into Egypt; for Negation; a Veil the Saviour born & dying rends.

But others said: Let us to him who only Is, & who
Walketh among us, give decision, bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done; in fiery flames
The Universal Concave raged, such thunderous sounds as never
Were sounded from a mortal cloud, nor on Mount Sinai old
Nor in Havilah where the Cherub rolld his redounding flame.

Loud! loud! the Mountains lifted up their voices, loud the Forests
Rivers thunderd against their banks, loud Winds furious fought
Cities & Nations contended in fires & clouds & tempests.
The Seas raisd up their voices & lifted their hands on high
The Stars in their courses fought. the Sun! Moon! Heaven: Earth.
Contending for Albion & for Jerusalem his Emanation
And for Shiloh, the Emanation of France & for lovely Vala.

Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation
And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God;
Lucifer. Molech. Elohim. Shaddai. Pahad. Jehovah Jesus.
They namd the Eighth. he came not, he hid in Albions Forests
But first they said: (& their Words stood in Chariots in array
Curbing their Tygers with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory

Let the Human Organs be kept in their perfect Integrity
At will Contracting into Worms, or Expanding into Gods
And then behold! what are these Ulro Visions of Chastity
Then as the moss upon the tree: or dust upon the plow:
Or as the sweat upon the labouring shoulder; or as the chaff
Of the wheat-floor or as the dregs of the sweet wine-press
Such are these Ulro Visions, for tho we sit down within
The plowed furrow, listning to the weeping clods till we
Contract or Expand Space at will: or if we raise ourselves
Upon the chariots of the morning. Contracting or Expanding Time!
Every one knows, we are One Family! One Man blessed for ever

Silence remaind & every one resumd his Human Majesty
And many conversed on these things as they labourd at the furrow
Saying; It is better to prevent misery, than to release from misery
It is better to prevent error, than to forgive the criminal!
Labour well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones!
And those who are in misery cannot remain so long
If we do but our duty: labour well the teeming Earth.

They Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow
And the voices of the Living Creatures were heard in the clouds of heaven
Crying; Compell the Reasoner to Demonstrate with unhewn Demonstrations
Let the Indefinite be explored. and let every Man be judged
By his own Works, Let all Indefinites be thrown into Demonstrations
To be pounded to dust & melted in the Furnaces of Affliction:
He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars
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 continually
On Circumcision: not on Virginity, O Reasoners of Albion

So cried they at the Plow. Albions Rock frowned above
And the Great Voice of Eternity rolled above terrible in clouds
Saying Who will go forth for us! & Who shall we send before our face?

Plate 55: Analysis.

When those who disregard all Mortal Things, saw a Mighty-One
Among the Flowers of Beulah still retain his awful strength
They wonderd: checking their wild flames & Many gathering
Together into an Assembly; they said, let us go down
And see these changes! Others said, If you do so prepare

1-5

Albion has fallen within, his perceptions enclosed in self-belief. To "those who disregard all Mortal Things", or those in infinity, Albion is a "Mighty-One/Among the Flowers of Beulah" who "still" retained "his awful strength". He does not sleep in the night of Beulah.

I have argued from the text that this Chapter delineates the cleansing of the feminine formative potencies in Blake's third world of Generation. Thus those in the infinite are in Beulah. For example, Vala spoke of this landscape of realised form. She "was a City & a Temple" and "a garden planted with beauty" the "River of Life" flowed "against" her "walls & among" her "trees". She "was Albion's Bride & Wife in great Eternity" (2: 33; 36-32). To the infinite, it seems that Albion has abused his "awful strength" by seeking to impose the powers of Eden, for example, the "Giant blows" of the "sports of intellect" (2: 48; 14-17), upon the feminine regenerative sleep of Beulah. He seeks power outside of his created potentialities of Eden and Beulah and attempts to seize the life potencies of emanative form in creation, or Jerusalem, and thereby equal God; and he self-destructs, for he collapses into the "wild flames" that the others can ‘check'. He seems engaged in self-consumption and seems to those in infinity to be an inversion. To them, he is a form of waking death, for in the life of Eden the dead are "driven" out from the harvest "fields" to Beulah to sleep in their night of eternity.

For being driven from our fields, what have we to do with the Dead.
To be their inferiors or superiors we equally abhor;
Superior, none we know: inferior none; all equal share
Divine Benevolence & joy, for the Eternal Man
Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers & his Friends:

5-10

The Eternals form "an Assembly", the original meaning of ecclesia, which is a variant manifestation of the eternal family. They consider their existential freedom and the meaning of Albion's death to them "What have we to do with the Dead?" His waking death is not Beulah's sleep and so neither is it part of the cycle of ploughing, seeding and vintage and harvest of the "fields" of eternity. The existential limitation of finite being-unto-death does not invade the infinite life of re-generation, where to be the "inferiors or superiors" of any form of life or death is seen as abhorrent: "Superior, none we know; inferior none". There is a radical equality in God's grace, in whom: "all equal share/Divine Benevolence & joy". Christ's presence is personal: "the Eternal Man/Walketh among us, calling us his Brothers and his friends", as in Chapter 1 when Christ says "I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and a friend". In the infinite, each resides in each in Christ's bosom (1: 4; 18-19). The eternals do not see the full relevance of Albion's death; as yet, his fall is incomprehensible.

In Blake's myth, those in Eden and Beulah alike will see, revealed, the incarnation as the foundation of Albion's salvation, and, their own. He has disobeyed. The sons of Eden have not collapsed into the forbidden.

Forbidding us that Veil which Satan puts between Eve & Adam
By which the Princes of the Dead enslave their Votaries
Teaching them to form the Serpent of precious stones & gold
To sieze the Sons of Jerusalem & plant them in One Mans Loins
To make One Family of Contraries; that Joseph may be sold
Into Egypt; for Negation; a Veil the Saviour born & dying rends.

11-16

At this point the eternals know knowledge of finitude is forbidden, for it means death: forbidden is the "Veil which Satan puts between Eve & Adam", or the delusions of Vala's veil of nature placed between the divided sexuality of Adam and Eve. The finite veil, a symbolic hymen or barrier between flesh and flesh, is forbidden in eternity for it is the energy of finite nature, or the cycle of sexual life and death, presented as a deity. So the veil develops the theme of the idolatrous worship of finite sexuality. The veil envelops the life within Albion. The eternals see within Albion that the "Princes of the Dead" (or princes of the world as Blake saw history) "enslave their Votaries" in pseudo-worship. The phallic idol, "the Serpent of precious stones & gold", is god of generation. The eternals see Albion has lost his vision of Christ, to worships his own energy in his waking sleep of death in Beulah.

The eternals describe the history that follows from Albion's division and fragmentation. They see Albion's component energies act as if autonomous, and one takes control, Satan and his "Princes of the Dead". The eternals see the spiritually blind and sexually divided emanative energies within Albion, the "Sons of Jerusalem", become condensed into finitude to be planted "in One Mans Loins", as a ‘chosen' one, "To make One Family of Contraries; that Joseph may be sold/Into Egypt: for Negation".

The eternals see that the human form Divine shrinks into the pitifully limited life/death cycle of Albion's inversion. They see this shrunken form in the story of Canaan and Israel. Albion's negation of their infinite regeneration is revealed. They see that Albion's world, the generative cycle of birth and death, is "a Veil the Saviour born & dying rends", for Christ infinitely transcends finite causality. Thus they ask, "What have we to do with the Dead" for they do not understand how their infinite life relates to the horror of Albion waking sleep of death.

But others said: Let us to him who only Is, & who
Walketh among us, give decision, bring forth all your fires!

So saying, an eternal deed was done; in fiery flames
The Universal Concave raged, such thunderous sounds as never
Were sounded from a mortal cloud, nor on Mount Sinai old
Nor in Havilah where the Cherub rolld his redounding flame.

Loud! loud! the Mountains lifted up their voices, loud the Forests
Rivers thunderd against their banks, loud Winds furious fought
Cities & Nations contended in fires & clouds & tempests.
The Seas raisd up their voices & lifted their hands on high
The Stars in their courses fought. the Sun! Moon! Heaven: Earth.
Contending for Albion & for Jerusalem his Emanation
And for Shiloh, the Emanation of France & for lovely Vala.

17-29

The dilemma is beyond the powers of created life, and the eternals turn in faith to trust Divine providence: "Let us to him who only Is, & who/Walketh among us, give decision"; and creation, or the "Universal Concave" beneath the ‘shell' of heaven, responds to Albion and Jerusalem.

In Blake's infinity all material things live, nothing is inanimate for there is no ‘minute particular' that is without life save the states of error of Satan and Adam: mountains, forests, rivers, winds, cities, nations, seas, sun, moon, stars, heaven and earth all are centres of consciousness, all are "contending for Albion & for Jerusalem his Emanation". All creation voices its particularity and individuality, and its continuity of consciousness in freedom. This free assertion of ultimate unity through Christ now becomes the vortex of Generation and all the natural elements of Generation live. Symbolised by the clouds and rain, seas and rivers, winds and the heavens, all materiality participates and, as I will show, all will be cleansed.

Then far the greatest number were about to make a Separation
And they Elected Seven, calld the Seven Eyes of God;
Lucifer. Molech. Elohim. Shaddai. Pahad. Jehovah Jesus.
They namd the Eighth. he came not, he hid in Albions Forests
But first they said: (& their Words stood in Chariots in array
Curbing their Tygers with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory

30-35

The "Seven Eyes of God" are elected to watch and answer the eternals who said "let us go down/And see these changes". They seem to me to be visionary companions to the seven furnaces. The ancient tradition of symbolism associated with the eye is outside the remit of this study, though the seven eyes of God are Biblical in origin. Here, in Blake's adaptation, the seven eyes serve as symbols for a continuity of theistic visions that structure sacrificial consciousness, morality, nature and life. The seventh is Jesus and is the incarnation. The eighth "came not, he hid in Albion's Forests", until finitude is glorified in Albion's re-awakening. The eighth is Milton himself in Blake's epic, Milton, where the eighth eye seems to foreshadow the redeemed eternal prophetic consciousness that follows the incarnation in serial time.

For Blake this enlightened state is that into which Milton enters after redemption by Jesus, the seventh eye, in the incarnation, and before Christ's second coming. To Blake, Christ transcends and redeems the "Eighth" eye. The eyes exist within finitude.

Before the eternals "Elected Seven" and "namd the Eighth", the eternals proclaim their perceptual integrity and describe their truths: the elected seven and the named eighth are examples of God's grace. To them, Albion's shrunken self-exile is incomprehensible for, in contrast to the ruined interiority of Albion's auto-idolatry, their energies experience sublimity: "But first they said: (& their Words stood in Chariots in array/Curbing their Tygers with golden bits & bridles of silver & ivory".

Let the Human Organs be kept in their perfect Integrity
At will Contracting into Worms, or Expanding into Gods
And then behold! what are these Ulro Visions of Chastity

Or as the sweat upon the labouring shoulder; or as the chaff
Of the wheat-floor or as the dregs of the sweet wine-press
Such are these Ulro Visions, for tho we sit down within
The plowed furrow, listning to the weeping clods till we
Contract or Expand Space at will: or if we raise ourselves
Upon the chariots of the morning. Contracting or Expanding Time!
Every one knows, we are One Family! One Man blessed for ever

36-46

As in Chapter 1 (1: 4; 17-21) and Chapter 2 (2: 38; 14-26), Divine energy is within and without Albion. This is seen by the eternals, for those in eternity enjoy infinite reciprocity and infinitely realised potentialities. Living in faith, their "Human Organs" exist "in their perfect Integrity/At will Contracting into worms, or Expanding into Gods". This is the vortex of world of Generation, and Blake's patterns of images retain focus upon generative and re-generative being. Contingent being does not become Divine essence, but is in unity with Divine energy.

To eternal vision, Albion's sterile and ultimately self-contradictory "Ulro Visions of Chastity" are as transitory as "the moss on the tree", "Dust upon the plough", "Sweat on the labouring shoulder", and the "chaff" of the harvest and "dregs" of the vintage. Albion's "Ulro Visions" are insignificant for the communion of the family Divine. The eternals can "Contract or Expand Space at will" and, "Contracting or Expanding Time" become "One Family! One Man blessed for ever".

To my mind, Erin's special drawing out of one space-time continuum, that of the finite cycle within Albion, is a symbol of Blake's vision of four-fold trans-temporality and of eternal reciprocity.

Silence remaind & every one resumd his Human Majesty
And many conversed on these things as they labourd at the furrow
Saying; It is better to prevent misery, than to release from misery

It is better to prevent error, than to forgive the criminal!
Labour well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones!
And those who are in misery cannot remain so long
If we do but our duty: labour well the teeming Earth.

47-53

They are in the infinite and their energies engender fertility in the earth of Beulah. They work for the harvest and the vintage: "Silence remained & every one resumd his Human Majesty/And many conversed on these things as they labourd at the furrow". Their work is cleansed, unlike Albion's labours at the plough in Chapter 2, where he "laid his plough in the hot noon": the "Plow to go over the Nations" (2: 34; 12-13).

In Blake's myth it seems the plough of eternal life ploughs over the forms that have fulfilled their creative meaning, and ‘die', to become the bones ploughed into the earth that will nourish the harvests of Beulah in eternal re-generation in the love of God. In Chapter 2, Bath described, "the Plow of Jehovah and the Harrow of Shaddai" that pass " over the Dead to wake the Dead to Judgement" (2: 46; 14-15), and thereby wake into re-generate life.

For Blake, moral responsibility is universal; enlightened love alleviates suffering, precluding judgement: "it is better to prevent misery than to release from misery: /It is better to prevent error than to forgive the criminal". Blake's spiritual and moral work ethic is re-expressed here: "Labour well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones". The eternals work in the realised faith of regenerate life: "And those who are in misery cannot remain so long/If we but do our duty" and "labour well the teeming earth".

They Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow
And the voices of the Living Creatures were heard in the clouds of heaven
Crying; Compell the Reasoner to Demonstrate with unhewn Demonstrations
Let the Indefinite be explored. and let every Man be judged
By his own Works, Let all Indefinites be thrown into Demonstrations
To be pounded to dust & melted in the Furnaces of Affliction:
He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars
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 continually
On Circumcision: not on Virginity, O Reasoners of Albion

54-66

Albion's psychophysical collapse into chaos will be re-formed, that is their faith. The eternals "Plow'd in tears, the trumpets sounded before the golden Plow" and the "voices of the Living Creatures", the four living zoas of the chariot of God, "were heard in the clouds of heaven". They are in the fields of Beulah; the region of the dead before the apocalyptic harvest and vintage regenerates and refreshes being and form.

The Living Creatures", or living zoas, restore integrity of form to perceptions. Prophetic vision requires that "The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity". To evolve to this form of true seeing, which is that of the infinite, the eternal ones expose the delusionary forms of "the Reasoner", Albion's spectre. Since Albion is closed to infinity, his spectre can "Demonstrate" only with " the "unhewn Demonstrations" of Albion's inverted assumptions about finite time and space. Albion's altars are examples of such unhewn structures and symbolise his attempt to usurp the cosmos and impose his will as if it were Divine.

To cleanse finitude, the eternals know that the "Indefinite" of Albion's inner ruin must be revealed as unreal abstractions. The forms of Albion's ultimate ignorance are revealed and "thrown into Demonstrations", are thereby seen to be without substance, and can be "pounded to dust & melted in the Furnaces of Affliction".

In Blake's vision of eternal life mutual respect and forgiveness consists in responding in goodness to the "Minute Particulars" of another's eternal individuality: there are no generalities in creation and nothing can be indeterminate in God's salvic plan. To Blake, the claim to "General Good" reveals the "Scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer" for it disguises self-interest and self-promotion. Knowledge, "Art & Science", likewise must exist in "minutely organised Particulars" for there are no generalisations in any specific event, being or form; there are no "generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power" that are true, good or beautiful. Thus, "The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity". In turn, the "Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falsehood continually". Truth emerges in form as that which is not "Definite & Determinate Identity" is severed from the substance of that which is: "Circumcision" not "Virginity" leads to truth.

So cried they at the Plow. Albions Rock frowned above
And the Great Voice of Eternity rolled above terrible in clouds
Saying Who will go forth for us! & Who shall we send before our face?

67-69

Albion is in error, the eternal know they are witnessing Albion's moral fall: "So cried they at the Plow", for Albion is self-enclosed and collapses within into satanic indeterminacy, chaos, darkness and non-entity.

This error will take form, be severed and cast out, and cleansed: "And the Great Voice of Eternity rolled above terrible in clouds/Saying "Who will go forth for us! & Who shall we send before our face. Though Albion has turned away from the face of God, as always in Jerusalem, Los remains as the prophetic creator of sublime form. In his freedom, he will go "forth", sent, "before" the "face" of God.