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not exist. They are allegories and dissimulations. But Time and Space are real beings. Time is a man. Space is a woman, and her masculine portion is Death.
The Hebrew Bible and the gospel of Jesus are not allegory but eternal vision, or imagination of all that exists.
Plato has made Socrates say that poets and prophets do not know or understand what they write or utter. This is a most pernicious falsehood. If they do not, pray is an inferior kind to be called Knowing'? Plato confutes himself.
The Last Judgment is one of these stupendous visions. I have represented it as I saw it. To different people it appears differently, as everything else does, for though on earth things seem permanent, they are less permanent than a shadow, as we all know too well.
In eternity one thing never changes into another thing. Each identity is eternal. Consequently Apuleius' Golden Ass and Ovid's Metamorphoses, and others of the like kind are fable; yet they contain vision in a sublime degree, being derived from real vision in more ancient writings. Lot's wife being changed into a pillar of salt alludes to the mortal body being made a permanent statue, but not changed or transformed into another identity, while it retains its own individuality. A man can never become ass or horse. Some are born with shapes of men who are both. But eternal identity is one thing, and corporeal vegetation is another thing. Changing water into wine by Jesus and into blood by Moses relates to vegetable nature also.
The Nature of visionary fancy or imagination is very little known, and the eternal nature and permanence of its ever existent images is considered less permanent than the things of vegetable and generative nature. Yet the oak dies as well as the lettuce, but its eternal image or individuality never dies but renews by its seed. Just so the imaginative image returns by the seed of contemplative thought. The writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions of the visionary fancy, by their various sublime and divine images as seen in the world of vision.
The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation or vegetation is finite and temporal. There exist in that eternal world the eternal realities of everything which we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature.
All things are comprehended in their eternal forms in the divine body of the Saviour, the true vine of eternity, the Human imagination, who appeared to me as coming to judgment among his Saints and throwing off the temporal that the eternal might be established. Around him are seen the images of existence according to a certain order suited to my imaginative eye-(later ; energy).
DESCRIPTION OF THE PICTURE. Jesus, seated between two pillars, Joachim and Boaz, with the word of divine revelation on his knee, and on each side the four and twenty
1 Blake inserts at this point, “Note here that Fable or Allegory is seldom without some vision, etc." But it breaks up what little continuity may be found in the subsequent sentences,
elders sitting in judgment, the heavens opening around him by unfolding the clouds around his throne. The old heavens and the old earth are passing away, and the new heavens and the new earth descending : a sea of fire issues from before the throne. Adam and Eve appear first before the judgment-seat in humiliation; Abel, surrounded by innocents, and Cain, with the flint in his hand with which he slew his brother, falling, with the head downwards. From the cloud on which Eve stands Satan is seen falling headlong, wound round by the tail of the serpent, whose bulk, nailed to the cross round which he wreathes, is falling into the abyss. Sin is also represented by a female, bound in one of the serpent's folds, surrounded by her friends. Death is chained to the cross, and Time falls, together with Death, dragged down by a demon crowned with laurel. Another demon with a Key has the charge of Sin, and is dragging her down by the hair. Beside them a figure is seen scaled with iron scales from head to feet, precipitating himself into the abyss, with the sword and balances. He is Og, King of Bashan.
On the right, beneath the cloud on which Abel kneels, is Abraham, with Sarah and Isaac, also with Hagar and Ishmael, on the left. Abel kneels on a bloody cloud descriptive of those churches before the flood,—that they were filled with blood and fire and va pour of smoke, Even till Abraham's time the vapour and heat were not extinguished. These states exist now. Man passes on, but states remain for ever. He passes through them like a traveller, who may as well suppose that the places he has passed through exist no more, as a man may suppose that the states he has passed through exist no more. Everything is eternal.
Beneath Ishmael is Mahomet, and beneath the falling figure of Cain is Moses, casting his tables of stone into the deeps. It ought to be understood that the persons, Moses and Abraham, are not here meant, but the states signified by those names: the individuals being representatives or visions of those states as they were revealed to mortal man in the series of divine revelations as they are written in the Bible. These various states I have seen in my imagination : when distant they appear as one man ; but as you approach they appear multitudes of nations. Abraham hovers above his posterity, which appear as multitudes of children ascending from the earth, surrounded by Stars,
-as it was said : “As the stars of heaven for multitude." Jacob and his twelve sons hover beneath the feet of Abraham and receive their children from the earth. I have seen, when at a distance, multitudes of men in harmony appear like a single infant, sometimes in the arms of a female. This represented the Church.
But, to proceed with the description of those on the left hand. Beneath the cloud on which Moses kneels are two figures, a male and a female, chained together by the feet. They represent those who perished by the Flood. Beneath them, a multitude of their associates are seen falling headlong. By the side of them is a mighty fiend with a book in his hand, which is shut. He represents the person named in Isaiah xxii. c., and 20 v., Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. He drags Satan down headlong. He is crowned with oak. By the side of the scaled figure, representing Og, King of Bashan, is a figure with a basket, emptying out the variety of riches and worldly honours. He is Araunah the Jebusite, master of the threshing floor. Above him are two figures elevated on a cloud representing the Pharisees, who plead their own righteousness before the throne. They are weighed down by two fiends. Beneath the inan with the basket are three fiery fiends, with grey beards, and scourges of fire. They represent cruel laws. They scourge a group of figures down into the deeps. Beneath them are various figures in attitudes of contention, representing various states of misery, which, alas, every one is liable to enter into, and against which we should all watch. The ladies will be pleased to see that I have represented the three Furies by three men, and not by three women. It is not because I think the ancients wrong, but · they will be pleased to remember that mine is vision, and not fable. The spectator may suppose them clergymen in the pulpit, scourging sin instead of forgiving it.
The earth beneath these falling figures is rocky and burning, and seems as if convulsed by earthquake. A great city, on fire, is seen in the distance. The (?) armies are fleeing upon the mountains. On the foreground Hell is opened, and many figures are descending into it, down stone steps, and beside a gate, beneath a rock, where sin and death are to be closed eternally by that fiend who carries the key in one hand and drags them down with the other. On the rock, and above the gate, a fiend with wings urges the wicked onward with fiery darts. He is Hazael the Syrian, who drives abroad all those who rebel against their Saviour. Beneath the steps is Babylon, represented by a King, crowned, grasping his sword and sceptre. He is just awakened out of his grave. Around him are other kingdoms arising to judgment, represented in this picture by single persons according to the descriptions in the Prophets. The figure dragging up a woman by the hair represents the Inquisition, as do those contending on the sides of the pit, and in particular, the man strangling a woman represents a cruel church.
Two persons, one in purple, the other in scarlet, are descending down the steps into the pit. These are Caiaphas and Pilate, two states where all those reside who calumniate and murder under pretence of holiness and justice. Caiaphas has a blue flame like a mitre on his head. Pilate has bloody hands that can never be cleansed. The females behind them represent the females belonging to such states, who are under perpetual terrors and vain dreams, plots, and secret deceit. Those figures that descend into the flames before Caiaphas and Pilate are Judas and those of his class. Ahithophel is here, with the cord in his hand. 1
Between the feet of Adam and Eve appears a fiery gulph descending from the sea of fire before the throne. In this cataract four angels descend headlong with four trumpets to awake the dead. Beneath these is the seat of the harlot named Mystery in the Revelations. She is seized by two beings, each with three heads. They represent vegetative existence. As it is written in the Revelations they strip her naked and burn her with fire. It represents the eternal consumption of vegetable life and death with its lusts. The wreathed torches in their hands represent eternal fire, which is the fire of generation or vegetation : it is an eternal consummation.
1 Here, in the original, follows the paragraph beginning “In eternity one thing never changes into another, consequently Apuleius' Golden Ass," etc., and ending, “changing water into wine by Jesus, and into blood by Moses relates to vegetable nature also." It interrupts the narrative, and was probably not intended to be printed where it is written.--ED.
Those who are blessed with imaginative vision see this eternal female, and tremble at what others fear not, while they despise and laugh at what others fear. Beneath her feet is a flaming cavern, in which are seen her kings and councillors and warriors descending in flames, lamenting and looking on her in astonishment and terror, and Hell is opened beneath her seat; on the left hand the great Red Dragon with seven heads and horns. He has Satan's book of accusations, lying on the rock, open before him. He is bound in chains by two strong demons. They are Gog and Magog, who have been compelled to subdue their master (Ezekiel xxxviii. c. 8 v.) with their hammer and tongs about to new - create the seven - headed kingdoms. The graves beneath are opened and the dead awake and obey the call of the trumpet. Those on the right hand awake in joy, and those on the left in horror. Beneath the Dragon's cavern a skeleton begins to re-animate, starting into life at the trumpet's sound, while the wicked contend with each other on the brink of perdition. On the right a youthful couple are awaked by their children: an aged patriarch is awaked by his aged wife. * He is Albion Our Ancestor, patriarch of the Atlantic Continent whose history preceded that of the Hebrews, and in whose sleep and chaos creations began. The good woman is Britannica, the wife of Albion ; Jerusalem is their daughter. * Little infants creep out of the flowery mould into the green fields of the blessed, who, in various joyful companies, embrace and ascend to meet eternity.
The persons who ascend to meet the Lord, coming in the clouds with power and great glory, are representatives of those states described in the Bible under the names of the Fathers before and after the flood. Noah is seen in the midst of these, canopied by a rainbow ; on his right hand Shem ; on his left Japhet. These three persons represent Poetry, Painting, and Music—the three powers in man of conversing with Paradise which the flood did not sweep away. Above Noah is the Church Universal represented by a woman surrounded by infants. There is such a state in eternity: it is composed of the innocent civilised heathen, and the uncivilised savage who, having not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law. This state appears like a female crowned with stars driven into the wilderness. She has the moon under her feet. The aged figure with wings, having a writing tablet, and taking account of the numbers who arise, is that Angel of the Divine Presence mentioned in Exodus xiv. c. 10 v., and in other places. The angel is frequently called by the name of Jehovah Elohim. + The I am, of the oaks of Albion.t
Around Noah and beneath him are various figures risen into the air. Among these are three females, representing those who are not of the dead but who are found alive at the Last Judgment. They appear to be innocently gay and thoughtless, not being among the condemned, because ignorant of crime in a corrupted age. The Virgin Mary was of this class. A mother meets her numerous family in the arms of their father. These are representations of the Greek learned and wise,
* The words between the asterisks were added later by Blake. At the time this description was written, 1810, there was no intention to mention Albion. This seems to suggest that Jerusalem was still in progress ; probably but little of it belongs to 1804. This also dates the substitution of the word “Albion " for “Man” or “Fallen Man” in the MS. of Vala.
+ Once more, a later insertion of Blake's,
and also of those other nations such as Egypt and Babylon in which were multitudes who shall meet the Lord coming in the clouds.
The children of Abraham, or Hebrew Church, are represented as a stream of figures on which are seen stars somewhat like the Milky Way. They ascend from the earth, while figures kneel, embracing above the graves, and represent religion, or civilised life, such as it is in the Christian Church which is the offspring of the Hebrew. Just above the graves and above the spot where the infants creep out of the ground stand two—a man and a woman. These are the primitive Christians. The two figures in purifying flames by the side of the Dragon's cavern represent the latter state of the Church when on the verge of perdition, yet protected by a flaming sword. Multitudes are seen ascending from the green fields of the blessed in which a Gothic Church is representative of true art (called “Gothic” in all ages by those who follow the fashion, as that is called which is without form or fashion). By the right hand of Noah, a woman with children represents the state called Saban the Syrian. It is the remains of civilisation in the state from which Adam was taken. Also on the right hand of Noah a female descends to meet her lover or husband, representative of that love called friendship which looks for no other heaven than the beloved, and in him sees all reflected as in a glass of eternal diamond.
On the right hand of these rise the diffident and humble, and on their left a solitary woman with her infant. These are caught up by three aged men who appear as suddenly emerging from the blue sky for their help. These three aged men represent divine providence as opposed to and distinct from divine vengeance-represented by three aged men, on the side of the picture among the wicked, with scourges of fire.
Above the head of Noah is Seth. This state called Seth is in a higher state of happiness than Noah, being nearer the state of innocence. Beneath the feet of Seth two figures represent the two seasons of Spring and Autumn, while beneath the feet of Noah four seasons represent the changed state made by the flood.2
By the side of Seth is Elijah. He comprehends all the prophetic characters. He is seen in his fiery chariot bowing before the throne of the Saviour. In like manner the figures of Seth and his wife comprehend the Fathers before the flood and their generations. When seen remote they appear as one man. A little below Seth, on his right, are two figures, a male and a female, with numerous children. These represent those who were not in the line of the Church and yet were saved from among the antediluvians who perished. Between Seth and these a female figure represents the solitary state of those who, previous to the flood, walked with God.
All these rise toward the opening cloud before the throne, led onward by triumphant groups of infants. Between Seth and Elijah three female figures crowned with garlands represent learning and science which accompanied Adam out of Eden.
1 Here follows in the MS. the paragraph beginning “ If the spectator could enter into these images — ," and ending, “an insignificant blur or mark." It has no place in the description, which is resumed after it as though it had not been written.
2 The words "the changed state produced by the flood" replace in the original the words “our present state of existence,” erased.