William Blake (1757-1827), Jerusalem: [a naked man holding a hammer in his right hand and fire tongs (or compass) in his left; on the left, a naked figure carrying the sun on his shoulder and on the right a woman with the moon near, stretching cord from a spindle (perhaps the thread of life & time)] (Plate 100); relief etching printed in orange, with pen, watercolor and gold; Plate: 5 ¾ x 8 5/8 in (14.6 x 21.9 cm).
With many thanks to and courtesy of the Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1992.8.1(100).
Against the backdrop of revolution and social upheaval that beset the world of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, especially in Europe, England and the Americas, William Blake and other Romantic poets created eloquent appeals to mankind for reverence to nature, to reason and to spirituality. Blake's literary output was predominantly prophetic and apocalyptic. Graced with technical ingenuity, he produced highly crafted, unique illuminated books where text and image intertwine in flame-like dance and rhythm. Jerusalem is the story of humanity's quest for redemption, requiring the rejection of mistaken desire and the search for the spiritual through religion and art. Blake ends the introductory paragraphs to Jerusalem thus:
……And of that God from whom
Who in mysterious Sinais awful cave,
To Man the wond'rous art of writing gave,
Again he speaks in thunder and in fire!
Thunder of Thought, & flames of fierce desire:
Within the unfathomed caverns of my Ear.
Therefore I print; nor vain my types shall be:
Heaven, Earth & Hell, henceforth shall live in harmony
Of the Measure, in which
the following Poem is written……
……Poetry, Fetter'd. Fetters the Human Race. Nations are Destroy'd, or Flourish, in proportion as Their Poetry Painting and Music, are Destroy'd or Flourish! The Primeval State of Man, was Wisdom, Art, and Science.
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no PLAN that can succeed against the LORD" - Proverbs 21:30