Home  »  The Poetical Works by William Blake  »  [A Vision of Joseph and Mary]

William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Selections from ‘Jerusalem’

[A Vision of Joseph and Mary]

(Jerusalem, f. 61, ll. 1–52.)

BEHOLD! in the Visions of Elohim Jehovah, behold Joseph and Mary!

And be comforted, O Jerusalem! in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim.

She lookèd and saw Joseph the Carpenter in Nazareth, and Mary,

His espousèd Wife. And Mary said: ‘If thou put me away from thee

Dost thou not murder me?’ Joseph spoke in anger and fury: ‘Should I

Marry a harlot and an adulteress?’ Mary answer’d: ‘Art thou more pure

Than thy Maker, Who forgiveth Sins and calls again her that is lost?

Tho’ she hates, He calls her again in love. I love my dear Joseph,

But he driveth me away from his presence; yet I hear the voice of God

In the voice of my husband: tho’ he is angry for a moment he will not

Utterly cast me away: if I were pure, never could I taste the sweets

Of the Forgiveness of Sins; if I were holy, I never could behold the tears

Of love, of him who loves me in the midst of his anger in furnace of fire.

‘Ah, my Mary,’ said Joseph, weeping over and embracing her closely in

His arms, ‘doth He forgive Jerusalem and not exact Purity from her who is

Polluted? I heard His voice in my sleep and His Angel in my dream,

Saying: “Doth Jehovah forgive a Debt only on condition that it shall

Be payèd? Doth He forgive Pollution only on conditions of Purity?

That Debt is not forgiven! That Pollution is not forgiven!

Such is the Forgiveness of the Gods, the Moral Virtues of the

Heathen, whose tender Mercies are Cruelty. But Jehovah’s Salvation

Is without Money and without Price, in the Continual Forgiveness of Sins,

In the Perpetual Mutual Sacrifice in Great Eternity. For behold!

There is none that liveth and sinneth not! And this is the Covenant

Of Jehovah: ‘If you forgive one another, so shall Jehovah forgive you;

That He Himself may dwell among you.’ Fear not then to take

To thee Mary, thy Wife, for she is with Child by the Holy Ghost.”’

Then Mary burst forth into a song! she flowèd like a river of

Many streams in the arms of Joseph, and gave forth her tears of joy

Like many waters, and emanating into gardens and palaces upon

Euphrates, and to forests and floods and animals, wild and tame, from

Gihon to Hiddekel, and to corn-fields and villages, and inhabitants

Upon Pison and Arnon and Jordan. And I heard the voice among

The Reapers, saying: ‘Am I Jerusalem, the lost Adulteress? or am I

Babylon come up to Jerusalem?’ And another voice answer’d, saying:

‘Does the voice of my Lord call me again? am I pure thro’ his Mercy

And Pity? Am I become lovely as a Virgin in his sight, who am

Indeed a Harlot drunken with the Sacrifice of Idols? Does He

Call her pure, as he did in the days of her Infancy, when she

Was cast out to the loathing of her person? The Chaldean took

Me from my cradle; the Amalekite stole me away upon his camels

Before I had ever beheld with love the face of Jehovah, or known

That there was a God of Mercy. O Mercy! O Divine Humanity!

O Forgiveness and Pity and Compassion! If I were pure I should never

Have known Thee: if I were unpolluted I should never have

Glorifièd Thy Holiness, or rejoicèd in thy great Salvation.’

Mary leanèd her side against Jerusalem: Jerusalem receivèd

The Infant into her hands in the Visions of Jehovah. Times passèd on.

Jerusalem fainted over the Cross and Sepulchre. She heard the voice:—

‘Wilt thou make Rome thy Patriarch Druid, and the Kings of Europe his

Horsemen? Man in the Resurrection changes his Sexual Garments at will:

Every Harlot was once a Virgin, every Criminal an infant Love.’