Blake's Jerusalem

Second in a two-part meditation on the relationship of the poetic, the sacred, & Enlightenment. References: Hopkins, Sherrard, Raine, and Blake.

The first part is here.

I A Meditation on Hell

We start with Hopkins’ “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves.” This poem presents the end of the world in a way that connotes fragmentation and the loss of a sacred center.

Moreover, I cite this poem as an example of Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s reflection that modern literature is in rebellion against the Enlightenment and its usurpation of the sacred.

II Critical Observations of the Enlightenment

Next I discuss what it is that many of the defenders of Enlightenment cannot see about the Enlightenment itself. I explain the attendant problems in this regard.

After this, I segue into Philip Sherrard’s characterization of a world without the sacred as a “torture-chamber.”

III Kathleen Raine on Blake and Religion

Finally, I take a look at a talk by Kathleen Raine on William Blake. The talk itself is not about religion per se. Nevertheless, she makes several relevant observations for our purposes about Blake and religion. Most important, perhaps, is her claim that for Blake, religion is the externalization of poetry.

After my remarks about the Gospel of John, we reconnect to the ‘grain of sand’ via Blake’s Jerusalem, The Emanation of the Giant Albion.


Notes from the International Hopkins Association website, mentioned on the program.

Another good, succinct write-up of Hopkins’ Spelt from Sibyl’s leaves. (Poetry Society of America)

Kathleen Raine – William Blake and the City (YouTube Video)

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