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

Selections from ‘Jerusalem’

To the Public

(Engraved 1804–? 1820)

(Jerusalem, f. 3.)


AFTER my three years’ slumber on the banks of the Ocean, I again display my Giant forms to the Public. My former Giants and Fairies having receiv’d the highest reward possible, the … and … of those with whom to be connected is to be …, I cannot doubt that this more consolidated and extended Work will be as kindly received. The Enthusiasm of the following Poem, the Author hopes … I also hope the Reader will be with me wholly One in Jesus our Lord, Who is the God … and Lord … to Whom the Ancients look’d, and saw His day afar off, with trembling and amazement.

The Spirit of Jesus is continual Forgiveness of Sin: he who waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviour’s Kingdom, the Divine Body, will never enter there. I am perhaps the most sinful of men: I pretend not to holiness; yet I pretend to love, to see, to converse with daily, as man with man, and the more to have an interest in the Friend of Sinners. Therefore … Reader … what you do not approve, and … me for this energetic exertion of my talent.

  • Reader! … of books … of Heaven,
  • And of that God from whom …
  • Who in mysterious Sinai’s awful cave
  • To Man the wondrous art of writing gave;
  • Again He speaks in thunder and in fire,
  • Thunder of Thought and flames of fierce Desire.
  • Even from the depths of Hell His voice I hear
  • Within the unfathom’d caverns of my Ear.
  • Therefore I print: nor vain my types shall be.
  • Heaven, Earth, and Hell, henceforth shall live in harmony.

  • Of the Measure in which
  • the following Poem is written.
  • We who dwell on Earth can do nothing of ourselves; everything is conducted by Spirits, no less than Digestion or Sleep …

    When this Verse was first dictated to me, I consider’d a monotonous cadence like that used by Milton and Shakspeare, and all writers of English Blank Verse, derived from the modern bondage of Riming, to be a necessary and indispensable part of Verse. But I soon found that in the mouth of a true Orator such monotony was not only awkward, but as much a bondage as rime itself. I therefore have produced a variety in every line, both of cadences and number of syllables. Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit place; the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific parts, the mild and gentle for the mild and gentle parts, and the prosaic for inferior parts; all are necessary to each other. 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.