William Blake's Jerusalem Explained.

Chapter 4: Plate 78

The Spectres of Albions Twelve Sons revolve mightily
Over the Tomb & over the Body; ravning to devour
The Sleeping Humanity. Los with his mace of iron
Walks round: loud his threats, loud his blows fall
On the rocky Spectres, as the Potter breaks the potsherds;
Dashing in pieces Self-righteousnesses: driving them from Albions
Cliffs: dividing them into Male & Female forms in his Furnaces
And on his Anvils; lest they destroy the Feminine Affections
They are broken. Loud howl the Spectres in his iron Furnace

While Los laments at his dire labours, viewing Jerusalem,
Sitting before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair:
Albions Twelve Sons surround the Forty-two Gates of Erin,
In terrible armour, raging against the Lamb & against Jerusalem,
Surrounding them with armies to destroy the Lamb of God.
They took their Mother Vala, and they crown'd her with gold:
They namd her Rahab, & gave her power over the Earth
The Concave Earth round Golgonooza in Entuthon Benython.
Even to the stars exalting her Throne. to build beyond the Throne
Of God and the Lamb, to destroy the Lamb & usurp the Throne of God
Drawing their Ulro Voidness round the Four-fold Humanity

Naked Jerusalem lay before the Gates upon Mount Zion
The Hill of Giants, all her foundations levelld with the dust:

Her Twelve Gates thrown down: her children carried into captivity
Herself in chains: this from within was seen in a dismal night
Outside, unknown before in Beulah, & the twelve gates were fill'd
With blood; from Japan eastward to the Giants causway, west
In Erins Continent: and Jerusalem wept upon Euphrates banks
Disorganizd; an evanescent shade, scarce seen or heard among
Her childrens Druid Temples dropping with blood wanderd weeping!
And thus her voice went forth in the darkness of Philisthea.

My brother & my father are no more! God hath forsaken me
The arrows of the Almighty pour upon me & my children
I have sinned and am an outcast from the Divine Presence!

The story of Chapter 4.

In Chapter 4, Blake traces the cleansing of Beulah, the fourth of Blake's four worlds in Jerusalem. Throughout the poem Beulah symbolises the feminine to Eden's masculine. In particular, Beulah's energies are those in which generation becomes ‘holy generation', and on Albion's awakening, ultimately, becomes re-newed as re-generative being in infinite reciprocity; Albion is resurrected in Beulah and the story of his reawakening from the sleep of death therein is Blake's focus in Chapter 4.

The vortex of Chapter 4 thus opens ‘without' in infinity in Beulah, at the rock of ages, and Blake immediately establishes a ‘within' finite circumference/centre axis by bearing down upon Los' work, re-casting the spectres in his furnaces at the centre within Albion. Drawn into Albion's interiority, Jerusalem, within, is in ruins in the finite. Vala, who assumes power in finitude over fertility, or nature, usurps Jerusalem's emanative potency. A finite, exhaustible and component energy, Vala needs to be replenished by the energies of sacrificed lives, and, believing herself to be the ultimate source of life and death, she demands to be adored, feared, and worshipped.

Under Vala's influence upon finite generative patterns, the daughters of Albion weave the fibres of finite life. Gwendolen weaves a form she believes is her human child and so fulfils her emanative potential. She believes she is the primal earth-mother, the Eve and icon of female beauty. But her child is revealed to be a human/worm. The worm is her brother, Albion's son, Hyle, and Blake thereby reinforces the theme of Albion's incestuous component energies. This degenerate human/worm represents the contracted procreative limit of emanative finite powers of fertility within Albion. Thus, it symbolises Albion failure as God.

Los opens the seventh furnace, in which God moves and reverses the vortex: consequently, on seeing the human/worm born to her sister, Cambel's perceptions are cleansed and she freely chooses to enter the furnaces of affliction now opened to her by Los. Cambel sacrifices herself to give human form, albeit debased, to her child/brother, Hand. She thereby expresses her newly cleansed vision. She exhausts her energies in forming her child/brother.

The daughter's self-sacrifice leads to Los rebuilding the chaos of Beulah's powers of re-generation and re-birth. In harmony with the energies of the daughters seeking to humanise form, Los builds the mundane shell in the flexible tent of Beulah's universe, thereby enabling Jerusalem to descend in beauty.

Blake's prophetic history of Canaan is seen as a Divine analogy. Its culmination in Blake's history is the incarnation. Jerusalem descends into the sublime Divine analogy of Canaan as the New Jerusalem. She can enter into the beauty of emanative self-sacrifice now infused throughout Beulah. She enters into finitude as sublime three-fold beauty to inspire emanative visions of form. Los and Enitharmon now become re-newed in time and space and explore the visionary landscape of the sublime beauty of Jerusalem.

At first in separated antipathy, Enitharmon asserts an autonomous identity as she weaves a new reality of human life inspired by the sublime restoration of Jerusalem. She weaves a female womb around the Lamb. At that point, which is the incarnation, Jerusalem takes the cup of Rahab and dissolves the perversions distilled within, as the covering male cherub hardens into form as Satan. Thus both female and male finite energies are created into reciprocal opposites to be put off by the incarnation: the one dissipated and neutralised, the other hardened. One is at the centre, the other at the circumference.

As this culmination of negation takes place the dead burst from their graves in Beulah at the centre to eventually become one with the anti-Christ, covering cherub, or spectre at the circumference. The form of death without becomes one with the form of death within. The dead from Beulah harden into finite spectrous form; precipitated out as hardened spiritual sediment, they drain and cleanse the spiritual life in Beulah of their "Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin/All their Jealousies Revenges Murders; hidings of Cruelty in deceit" (4: 92 16-17).

Immediately, these finite spiritual errors are driven outward by the reversed energies expanding upward and outward from the furnace/centre to the circumference. The totality of wickedness of finite life is thereby driven out by Los' hammer to the limits of shadow in finitude: they "appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time/In the Shadows of Possibility by Mutual forgiveness for evermore" (4: 92; 18-19). The forms of death which, taken together harden into the covering cherub, or Satan, are eternally cast off (2: 35; 9-16) and the spiritual life of Beulah is cleansed.

These cleansed individualities are the components of Albion. They must logically be reawakened in the unity that will be Albion. Within Albion's ‘waking sleep' in the infinite is his finite self-deluding dream of self-hood, and in turn, within this finite is the real death and resurrection through Christ. The forms of error are driven outwards to the extreme states of the ‘outward sphere' of ‘visionary time and space'. Hardened, error is cast off from the human form Divine as the purged Albion expands infinitely outward. Thus, Beulah is cleansed when time ends and Albion re-awakes to fourfold unity, in the love of Christ: "And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life if Immortality/And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem"; and that is "The End of The Song of Jerusalem". Blake's magnificent spiritual masterpiece ends in unity.

Thus, just as he has begun the narrative of each of the earlier worlds of Ulro, Eden and Generation, Blake opens Chapter 4 at the circumference, and the reader is looking from the outside at Albion in his sleep of death on the rock of ages, then the vortex of Albion's fall takes shape in Beulah. Circling around him are his predator component sons and daughters. Blake then shifts perspective from the circumference to take the reader inside the fallen Albion, to the centre, to Los who is at his furnaces. Los is re-casting the spectre forms within Albion into sublime form, his hammer driving the sublime energies outward to the circumference.

In this first phase to the Chapter, there too at the centre are Jerusalem and Vala, drawn within by Albion's internal vortex. Blake gives us Jerusalem's shuddering realisation of her loss of joy in her current ruin. Jerusalem's lament prepares the reader for Vala's distorted remembrances.


Plate 78: Analysis.

The Spectres of Albions Twelve Sons revolve mightily
Over the Tomb & over the Body; ravning to devour
The Sleeping Humanity. Los with his mace of iron
Walks round: loud his threats, loud his blows fall
On the rocky Spectres, as the Potter breaks the potsherds;
Dashing in pieces Self-righteousnesses: driving them from Albions
Cliffs: dividing them into Male & Female forms in his Furnaces
And on his Anvils; lest they destroy the Feminine Affections
They are broken. Loud howl the Spectres in his iron Furnace

1-9

Thus, Chapter 4, which describes the vortex of the world of Beulah, opens with Albion, in the infinite. The reader sees the collapsed Albion lying upon the tomb of the rock of ages. His former unity is collapsed within and his energies are divided into sons and daughters: "The Spectres of Albion's Twelve Sons revolve mightily/Over the Tomb & over the Body" of Albion, "ravning to devour/The Sleeping Humanity" in the self-predation of Albion's self-exile. This is Albion as seen from the infinite, as in each of Blake's openings to each Chapters.

Within Albion, at the centre of his collapsed and finite interiority, "Los with his mace of iron/Walks round". He breaks the spectre forms of finitude into his furnace "as the Potter breaks the potsherds; /Dashing in pieces self-righteousness: driving them from Albion's cliffs". The stony hermaphroditic petrifications of Albion's finite potencies are given form, reforged by Los "into Male & Female forms in his Furnaces/And on his Anvils". Los thereby begins to energise Albion by breaking down and reforging the spectre's forms of death in his furnaces "lest they destroy the Feminine Affections" with these forms of death. Thus "They are broken. Loud howl the Spectres in his Iron furnace". The emanative energies are preserved from the spectres by Los.

Los thereby breaks, melts down, and reforges the spectre's stony forms of death into a living sexual dynamic that extends from the furnace at the centre to the tomb at the circumference. At the centre, ‘sucked' within Albion, is Jerusalem.

While Los laments at his dire labours, viewing Jerusalem,
Sitting before his Furnaces clothed in sackcloth of hair:
Albions Twelve Sons surround the Forty-two Gates of
In terrible armour, raging against the Lamb & against Jerusalem,
Surrounding them with armies to destroy the Lamb of God.
They took their Mother Vala, and they crown'd her with gold:
They namd her Rahab, & gave her power over the Earth
The Concave Earth round Golgonooza in Entuthon Benython.
Even to the stars exalting her Throne. to build beyond the Throne
Of God and the Lamb, to destroy the Lamb & usurp the Throne of God
Drawing their Ulro Voidness round the Four-fold Humanity

10-20

Los "laments at his dire labours, viewing Jerusalem/Sitting before his Furnaces". As I have noted below, in Blake's myth, Jerusalem is drawn into the finite time and space continuum within Albion. She is the means by which Albion's fallen and divided energies are nourished. Thus, consistent with each previous Chapter, divided within and limited to finite perspectives, Albion's twelve sons seek to predate upon Jerusalem's potencies, destroy Christ the Lamb, and usurp the source of life itself from God.

They "surround" the gates of Erin, or the time-space circumference drawn by Erin, "raging against the Lamb & against Jerusalem/Surrounding them with armies to destroy the Lamb of God". They bear down upon the centre, seeking to absorb the energy of the "Lamb of God" in their vortex.

Albion's sons take "their Mother Vala" as goddess of nature, for them, this is the world of Beulah and birth "and they crown'd her with gold: /They namd her Rahab & gave her power over the earth" and over the "Concave Earth round Golgonooza in Entuthon Benython", the forest of the vegetable universe created by Los, and "Even to the stars" of the starry wheels "exalting her Throne" of finite motherhood.

The sons seek to usurp the source of life from God, and seek "to build beyond the Throne" of God and "draw their Ulro Voidness" of negative form in perversion "round the Four-fold Humanity" of the zoas in harmony before the throne of God.

Naked Jerusalem lay before the Gates upon Mount Zion
The Hill of Giants, all her foundations levelld with the dust:

Her Twelve Gates thrown down: her children carried into captivity
Herself in chains: this from within was seen in a dismal night
Outside, unknown before in Beulah, & the twelve gates were fill'd
With blood; from Japan eastward to the Giants causway, west
In Erins Continent: and Jerusalem wept upon Euphrates banks
Disorganizd; an evanescent shade, scarce seen or heard among
Her childrens Druid Temples dropping with blood wanderd weeping!
And thus her voice went forth in the darkness of Philisthea.

21-30

With Vala absorbing the potencies of motherhood and birth, Jerusalem is drained: "Naked Jerusalem lay before her Gates upon Mount Zion", the holy mountain, "The Hill of Giants". Blake consistently sees the first generations of Albion's internal collapse as the giant forms that preceded the setting of the two limits, and the reversing of the vortex, this seems reflected in the time-zones of 8,500 years for Erin's continuum, and 6,000 years for Golgonooza. To my mind, the difference between the two is the time of the giants of Albion, who become the mountains, seas and elements.

Jerusalem's spiritual architecture, "all her foundations", are "levelld with the dust: /Her Twelve Gates thrown down: her children carried into captivity", for slavery and for sacrifice, to nourish the Albion's son's insatiable appetite for the potencies of infinite life.

As discussed, For Blake, twelve of Jerusalem's sixteen gates entered finitude. They were divided from infinity on Albion's self-exile and concomitant closure from God. Their perceptions utterly finite within Albion, their only source of nourishment is that which they perceive which can only be Albion's finite interiority; his ‘sleeping humanity' which is they themselves; and they must therefore self-predate.

In the opening plate of Chapter 4, Blake continues to be consistent in his use of two perspectives, namely infinite and finite. From the finite, all "this from within was seen in a dismal night". The night of Beulah is inverted inwards by Albion's turning away from the face of God. Albion is self-exiled and closed within can know only "dismal night" in a darkness and form of death that, seen from the "Outside", or from the infinite, is previously "unknown in Beulah". For Beulah, no creature in all creation has so turned within from the face of God, and no creature can re-awaken him. Thus, consistently throughout Blake's myth, only Christ ‘without' can enter Albion ‘within', resurrect Albion and cleanse Beulah, because Albion's death is a real death and beyond the powers of re-generation of the daughters of Beulah.

Consistently throughout, Albion's fall into death is a hitherto unknown form of being to Beulah. Its effect on Jerusalem is immediate. Her emanative gates of motherhood and birth are "fill'd/With Blood" from Japan "eastward to the Giants causway" of Blake's centre, in Britain and "In Erin's Continent". Thus, from circumference/west to the centre/east, Jerusalem's formative potencies are condensed into blood, for Blake, symbolic of finite life's most elemental formative constituent. Consistently, Albion casts Luvah and Vala within in torrents of blood. Here Blake gives the gates of Jerusalem the symbolic passage of life into birth in blood in finitude.

Albion's fall has left Jerusalem "upon Euphrates bank/disorganized". Her ruins are the elements out of which Vala builds Babylon, for Babylon has to be created in order that Vala be given a form that can be cast off. However, Vala's power is not autonomous. Blake consistently shows us Vala is Jerusalem's shadow and dependent. Thus, she drains Jerusalem until she is an emptied "evanescent shade, scarce seen or heard among/Her children's Druid Temples dropping with blood".

Within Albion, Jerusalem is emptied till she is a disorganised ghostly form: yet, she is still form. Though she does not know it yet, her suffering helps redeem motherhood, which is cleansed by the incarnation, thereby purifying Chapter 4, the world of Beulah, of eternal death. At this point, in the ruined universe of Albion's interiority she "wanderd weeping", and "thus her voice went forth" as the emanative principle reduced now to shade and mere voice "In the darkness of Philisthea". Albion's self-severed interiority encompasses Jerusalem's ruined environs.

Her inversion from her ideal state of being in the Divine circularity as radiant light expressing the Divine vision, to this extreme state of separation and dissolution in the world of Beulah, is concomitant with Albion's auto-idolatry.

My brother & my father are no more! God hath forsaken me
The arrows of the Almighty pour upon me & my children
I have sinned and am an outcast from the Divine Presence!

31-33

Her "brother" and her "father", both Albion, "are no more". She believes "God hath forsaken" her. The biblical theme of incest is symbolised in Blake's myth by the ‘birth' of Albion's component energies in finitude from one parent couple, whose origins are infinite. In Blake's myth, in infinity Albion is brother to Jerusalem, for God is father. By contrast, after he has turned from God, Albion ‘fathers' in negation his component energies, and enforces Jerusalem's entrapment within himself. As I will show, Vala thereby will becomes the emanative energy Blake employs to develop the inheritance of incest within Albion.

Here, Jerusalem is at Albion's centre, with Vala. Drawn into the centre of Albion's interiority in the world of Beulah, she is shade and in darkness. She is emptied and severed from the Divine vision: "The arrows of the Almighty pour upon me & my children/I have sinned and am an outcast from the Divine Presence!"