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William Blake (1757-1827)

Jerusalem: I see the Four-fold Man, The Humanity in deadly sleep

(excerpt)


              1I see the Four-fold Man, The Humanity in deadly sleep
              2And its fallen Emanation, the Spectre and its cruel Shadow.
              3I see the Past, Present and Future existing all at once
              4Before me. O Divine Spirit, sustain me on thy wings,
              5That I may awake Albion from his long and cold repose;
              6For Bacon and Newton, sheath'd in dismal steel, their terrors hang
              7Like iron scourges over Albion: reasonings like vast serpents
              8Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations.

              9I turn my eyes to the schools and universities of Europe
            10And there behold the Loom of Locke, whose Woof rages dire,
            11Wash'd by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth
            12In heavy wreaths folds over every nation: cruel works
            13Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
            14Moving by compulsion each other, not as those in Eden, which,
            15Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace.

Notes

1] Jerusalem was first engraved by Blake in or shortly after 1818, although it bears the date 1804 on its title-page. It is in four parts and comprises one hundred plates. Six copies survive, one in colour. This extract is from Plate 15 in the first part.
Four-fold Man: man in his complete or unfallen state, when he is identical with God, and with all of his four main faculties ("Zoas," see note above) properly functioning.

2] Emanation: Nature as a field of human creation symbolized as female.
Spectre: the withdrawn subjective mind.
Shadow: the objective counterpart of the Spectre.

5] Albion: humanity seen as a single Man, identified with England. The theme of Jerusalem is the separation and eventual reuniting of Albion with his "Emanation," Jerusalem, the City of God.

6] Bacon and Newton. Blake regarded the philosophical outlooks of Bacon, Newton, and Locke (line 10) as part of the religion of Urizen (see above).

15] Wheel within wheel: Cf. Ezek. 1: 16.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Blake, Jerusalem (1804).
First publication date: 1818
Publication date note: ca. 1818 (notwithstanding the stated date of printing)
RPO poem editor: Northrop Frye
RP edition: 3RP 2.298.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/14

Composition date: 1804 - 1818
Rhyme: unrhymed


Other poems by William Blake