The Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem

Jennifer Davis Michael
Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture, Volume 29, 2000, pp. 105-122 (Article)
Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press

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and the Mills of Satan. as William Blake does in the lines above. My Houses are Thoughts: my Inhabitants. awake! and let us awake up together. while my vegetating blood in veiny pipes. walking within my blood-vessels. Shut from my nervous form which sleeps upon the verge of Beulah In dreams of darkness. For Albions sake. and these my brethren give themselves for Albion. is to obscure the traditional boundary between nature and art. So spoke London. On the one hand. 105 . Albion. as though it were part of nature. Ideas of Imagination. Rolls dreadful thro' the Furnaces of Los. immortal Guardian! I heard in Lambeths shades: In Felpham I heard and saw the Visions of Albion I write in South Molton Street. and for Jerusalem thy Emanation I give myself.The Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem JENNIFER DAVIS MICHAEL I behold London. Affections.1 To speak of the city as a human body. Awake Albion. in Londons opening streets. the city. a Human awful wonder of God! he says: Return. On the other hand. is described in organic terms. what I both see and hear In regions of Humanity. return! I give myself for thee: My Streets are my. The children of my thoughts. the construction of a community to resemble a human body. the most intricate and ambitious manmade artifact.

suggests that human beings themselves are to some extent self-created. however. in fact. In John of Salisbury's Policraticus.. and he carries this intention where-ever he moves. but art itself is natural to man. as raw materials for human invention and contrivance. and so on. his use of this trope places him firmly in a long tradition that had reached both a peak and a crisis in the late eighteenth century. arising both from the social milieu in which he wrote and from his own belief in the humanity of the visible world. the prince represented the head.106 / MICHAEL even to function as a human body. His specific adaptation of those metaphors. The Organic Metaphor The analogy of the body politic had been well known since medieval times. however. order and division. soldiers the hands. At the same time. submitting to the governance of the head or the stomach. I argue that Blake adopted the bodily metaphor at a crucial point in the city's development and attempted to reverse its course from degeneration toward regeneration: not. the comparison cast the city as the center of state power. even man's own body. while the organic metaphor grants great power to humanity in creating its own environment. Early English metaphors of the body politic thus tended to emphasize hierarchy and power. Often." but by redefining even its organic qualities as products and processes of art. by arguing for the city's "naturalness. for example. In this essay. was original. the Senate the heart.2 Ferguson's argument treats both the forest and the city. or the wilds of the forest. 1.. through the streets of the populous city. but for many centuries it was simply that: an analogy. it also gives that environment a mysterious life and validity of its own. He is in some measure the artificer of his own frame. rather than cooperation or a shared condition among the members. This contradiction was a recurring theme in the eighteenth century. from the first age of his being. as in Shakespeare's Coriolanus. It is no surprise. With the growth of capitalism. as well as his fortune. that the manmade "frame" of society takes on the shape of the organic "frame" of the body. as shown by this passage from Adam Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society: We speak of art as distinguished from nature. He would be always improving on his subject. and is destined. Its didactic function was to justify class divisions and to exhort each "member" to do its part. Blake was far from the first writer to use bodily metaphors to describe the city. as the case might be. the secularized body politic came to represent less a hierarchy than a great system constantly in mo- . to invent and contrive. therefore. however.

There was some truth to this perception. such a Londoner brought it down" (210). Infection and consumption were the most common vehicles for this threat. In the popular imagination. and the news spreads abroad that "the city of London [is] infected with the plague. charts the insidious progress of the disease through the city as through the victim's body. not because it was disembodied. The city was threatening not because it was divorced from nature. such as cities. Defoe's narrator also recounts how London was blamed whenever plague appeared in other parts of the country: "always they would tell you . since infection was directly related to proximity of bodies. . the city is itself paralyzed by the disease.6 Yet the association of London with disease persisted long after the threat of plague had subsided and the death rate had fallen. a motion concentrated in the city. trade. as London became more firmly "embodied" in metaphor."5 The plague thus becomes an analog for the crime and commerce that characterize London in Defoe's novels and in his Tour thro'the Whole Island of Great Britain. . Henri Lefebvre contends that institutions. The last major visitation of the Black Death on London in 1665 coincided with a period of rapid urbanization.4 While Blake seems to have such a purpose in mind—to define his corrupt society as an ailing body so as to heal it—his immediate predecessors had used the organic model primarily to confirm and condemn the city's morbid state. population. as all manufacture.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 107 tion. After 1660. commerce. but because it was too full of bodies. and urban death rates continued to surpass rural ones well into the nineteenth century. In . those metaphors became increasingly damning. and sanitation marginally improved. Indeed. As the eighteenth century proceeded. and city planners increasingly followed suit as they established broad "arteries" for urban thoroughfares and green spaces to serve as "lungs" for the healthy urban body. producing nothing but filth and corruption. As Richard Sennett points out. so that macrocosm and microcosm share the same fate. the in- fection seen radiating from the city became moral rather than physical. building. and shipping—all labor.3 The more literal and totalizing metaphor of the organic city thus emerged along with capitalist theory and modern biology. Hence the city became firmly identified with disease even as it grew prodigiously in area. but because it was too natural. Adam Smith applied Harvey's model of freely circulating blood to the free market of goods and labor. except nursing and burying—grind to a halt. begin to describe themselves as "organic" and "natural" only when they decline and lose their sense of origin. the city changed from a healthy body politic to an infectious. this shift coincided with discoveries about the circulation of the blood in the human body. Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year. and power. all-consuming monster.

which had been rolled and moistened between the filthy. James's parish might admit into her delicate mouth those very cherries. Swift's "Description of a City Shower" indicts even nature in the bodily corruption of the city: the urban sky disgorges its "liquor" onto the streets. became a symbol of social chaos and moral danger. thus becomes inseparable from physical contamination. the same metaphor when inverted depicted the city as a magnet not for what was valuable. but for what was worthless. the basis of the city's prosperity. ulcerated chops of a St. of food and other raw materials. who had little use for what he called "Vegetable Mortal Bodies" or for "vegetative" nature in general.7 Bramble considers physical and social contamination as nearly interchangeable: the mingling of classes is as horrible to him as the mingling of bodily fluids. Smollett's hypochondriac Matthew Bramble denounces London as a "centre of infection" and goes on to anatomize its filth. "Thither flow. . Not only did the city itself "devour" these elements for its own survival. Giles's huckster. a bodily necessity) and the spread of infection.682- 84). / As to a common and most noisome sew'r. descends / To the next rank contagious. drink. cleaning her dusty fruit with her own spittle. Those who most feared London's "monstrously" growing population defined the city as a sewer. In The Task. We might not expect to find the city's body restored in the work of William Blake. the scrofulous and itchy plague / That seizes first the opulent. fashion. of people. Thus. which horrifies him most when it involves the contamination of one body by another: It was but yesterday that I saw a dirty barrow-bunter in the street. perhaps."8 Yet both locate the source of this contamination in the city.. emptying the body of its waste. drawing filth from the surrounding country. But even apart from the threat of disease. / The dregs and feculence of ev'ry land" (Task 1.108 / MICHAEL 1771. the city was routinely condemned for its consumption of goods. in which the vices of one class infected another and the lines between them became blurred. The city. As Cowper puts it. the subsequent explosion in population created a metaphorical social and moral plague. Cowper conversely sees the moral infection moving down rather than up the social scale: "Excess. when the Black Death ceased to be a threat. he spent . and. who knows but some fine lady of St. sex. as the setting for this volatile mixture. but without purifying it.9 The example from Smollett also draws an analogy between the exchange of goods (here the sale of food. Since consumption inevitably requires excretion. But Blake's work consistently challenges and transgresses boundaries. but the moral depravity of its inhabitants was similarly defined by overindulgence in consumer pleasures: food. A lifelong Londoner. and. Trade. and entertainment.

begins not "out there" but "in here. inert matter of nature that is meaningless unless perceived and shaped by the human mind. a living artifact. . He thus recuperates the infectious. and through bodily representations of the city and of the "Art and Manufacture" it contains and . so that the entire visible world becomes a product of human art and the city becomes the body in which that art develops. What Blake's city consumes is the raw.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 109 only three years of his life outside the city. space." so that the people in the city become both living members of its body and the artists who create it. While his predecessors take the city's objective reality for granted. He accepts the "natural" or "vegetative" body of the city only to turn it into an "imaginative" body. Milton and Jerusalem." not accidental or arbitrary. but also conversely treats organic creations as works of art. in which abstract space is transformed into named places. which are also the most explicitly urban of all his texts. Yet none of Blake's predecessors gives the city a voice like that of London. he translates the city's consuming and excreting powers into the terms of manufacturing. what it produces is not filth but art. time. Paradoxically. In order to repair the fracture between the human self and the constructed environment. then. The result is to humanize both nature and the city. Blake recuperates the body by appealing not to nature. monstrous body of the city through his unusual view of nature as a part of humanity that is constructed as an "other" through fallen perception. sacramental notions of the divine body of Christ.11 Blake sees its material "facts" as "mind-forg'd. Blake's image of the collective body draws on scientific and capitalist metaphors as much as on older. he began work on his two longest engraved poems. Blake redefines all environments as constructed and therefore human. but to art. the Universal Man. E 120). "Golgonooza is namd Art & Manufacture by mortal men" (Milton 24. through a detailed celebration of "nature" redefined as the art of Los. and therefore not inevitable. and the human body itself. For Blake. During this sojourn in the seaside village of Felpham. is indeed sick. His transformation of London.10 Similarly." within the self. gluttonous. Blake attempts this creation through geographic particularity. In turn. but his sickness is the consequence of division and alienation among his members. walking within my blood-vessels. but it is much more than that: it is the endless process by which "reality" is constructed and defined. not contamination of one group by another. Blake not only describes the city as a human body. . in other words.50. Thus Blake makes the city the center of human creativity. Blake adapts the themes of infection and consumption in the city for different ends. the creation of the city is intrinsically an artistic process that begins within the human mind and is realized through the human body. speaking of his streets as his "ideas of imagination." his inhabitants as "affections ." his houses as "thoughts. Albion. In these poems.

110 / MICHAEL enacts. E 99) Plate 6 of Milton addresses several points that are central to Blake's humanization of the city.14-23. to Lizard-point & Dover in the south Loud sounds the Hammer of Los. and decay with the artistic process of breaking and remaking (to borrow a phrase from Ronald Paulson). it can never stagnate. The Surrey hills glow like the clinkers of the furnace: Lambeths Vale Where Jerusalems foundations began. ever falling. process rather than product: if the city is never finished. growth." occupying a pivotal position between time. E 99-100) . he strives toward an urban aesthetic that transcends the difficulties of mimesis and the ri- valry between nature and imagination.1-8. space. & east to China & Japan (Milton 6.. The result is an acceptance and a synthesis of the paradox described by Lewis Mumford that the city is at once "a fact in nature" and "a conscious work of art. By transforming nature into inhabited space and by redefining organisms as works of art and urban structures as organic."12 2. and eternity. both of which are ever-changing. ever building. ever falling" combines the natural process of birth. from her walls of salvation And praise: thro the whole Earth were reard from Ireland To Mexico & Peru west. Thro Albions four Forests which overspread all the Earth. Golgonooza is "the spiritual fourfold London eternal. but for the ever-building city. First.13 The organic metaphor emphasizes art rather than artifact. The city's body comprises not only its community but its physical shape. where they were laid in ruins Where they were laid in ruins from every Nation & Oak Groves rooted Dark gleams before the Furnace-mouth a heap of burning ashes When shall Jerusalem return & overspread all the Nations Return: return to Lambeths Vale O building of human souls Thence stony Druid Temples overspread the Island white And thence from Jerusalems ruins. & loud his Bellows is heard (Milton 6. as for the body. periodic collapse is simply an integral part of the creative process—as it is in nature. Geographic Particularity From Golgonooza the spiritual Four-fold London eternal In immense labours & sorrows. From London Stone to Blackheath east: to Hounslow west: To Finchley north: to Norwood south: and the weights Of Enitharmons Loom play lulling cadences on the winds of Albion From Caithness in the north. ruin is ineversible. providing constant work for the imagination. "Ever building. For an artifact.

the lyric on plate 27 of Jerusalem describes both the real London and the spiritual Jerusalem as composed of specific regions and villages: The fields from Islington to Marybone. the divine imagination (Jesus) must walk the roads that human beings walk.27-34. shifting in time so that one foundation becomes a ruin and then a foundation for a new construction. The first group of place names. expands outward from London: "From London Stone to Blackheath east: to Hounslow west: / To Finchley north: to Norwood south. situating all present and future creations on the site of ancient ruins: "Lambeths Vale / Where Jerusalems foundations began. where "The Web of Life is woven. Blake roots his prophecy of the New Jerusalem in a vision of the past. describing the range of the sound. where they were laid in ruins . experiencing their dwelling-places through the body. If Jerusalem is to be built on earth. . ?"). which is not only England but the entire world. yet foundations are "laid" with care and skill.. More than that. E 100) In these lines Blake defines London's poorest areas as the heart of Albion's body and the workshop of human life. giving physical boundaries to his imaginative creation." To "lay" a place in ruins suggests wanton destruction. loud turn the Wheels of Enitharmon Her Looms vibrate with soft affections. however. ." A second group. of a ruined city. further organicizes and naturalizes the processes of building and unbuilding." These names embody the "spiritual Four-fold London" because geographic space is defined through the human body: places are named because people live in them and give them names. The superimposition of foundations and ruins.. For the same reasons. To Primrose Hill and Saint Johns Wood: . the vibrations resound throughout Albion's body. When Los wields his hammer in Golgonooza. moves concentrically inward:14 Loud sounds the Hammer of Los.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 111 One of the most striking features of this passage is its elegiac tone. through place-names he ties the ruin and restoration of the city to those of the human body. Los lifts his iron Ladles With molten ore: he heaves the iron cliffs in his rattling chains From Hyde Park to the Alms-houses of Mile-end & old Bow Here the Three Classes of Mortal Men take their fixd destinations And hence they overspread the Nations of the whole Earth & hence The Web of Life is woven: & the tender sinews of life created (Milton 6. weaving the Web of Life Out from the ashes of the Dead. As in the prefatory verses to Milton ("And was Jerusalem builded here .

" Although Hillman argues that the city has much more "presence of history" than the countryside. the associations persisted: from his residence in South Molton Street near Tyburn Road." the mustering of troops for war. (Jerusalem 27. the ruins of Jerusalem gave rise to Druid temples. The Ponds where Boys to bathe delight: The fields of Cows by Willans farm: Shine in Jerusalems pleasant sight. Blake's inclusion of these names both embeds his poetry in England's bloody history and redeems that history by incorporating those places into the New Jerusalem.112 / MICHAEL Were builded over with pillars of gold.17 Although the gallows at Tyburn had been destroyed in 1783 and the hangings moved to Newgate itself. According to the Milton passage. Pancrass & Kentish-town repose Among her golden pillars high: Among her golden arches which Shine upon the starry sky. And there Jerusalems pillars stood. moreover. There are complex mythic as well as historical reasons for the inclusion of Tyburn and London Stone in Blake's urban topography."15 As Blake's lyric continues. The Jews-harp-house & the Green Man. In his vision the wars and executions of his . it incorporates sinister names as well: "They groan'd aloud on London Stone / They groan'd aloud on Tyburns Brook" (E 172). Blake could see victims preparing for another "sacrifice. but to rescue it from abstraction and to make it ultimately inseparable from contemporary London and its environs.16 its location on Cannon Street associated it with execution as well. Blake's collective and individual memory includes rural history within the larger urban symbol of Jerusalem: the boundary between country and city scarcely exists as both bear the marks of human habitation. While London Stone was literally the ancient milestone from which all British roads radiated and distances were measured. is not sugar-coated with the nostalgia typical of pastoral: Hillman further speaks of "the city as a memento mori. representing for Blake a religion of human sacrifice and nature-worship: the negation of human form and community in favor of a cult of materialism thinly disguised as mysticism. since it was there that condemned prisoners set out from Newgate prison on their way to the Tyburn scaffold. E 171-72) These names of places from Blake's own childhood constitute what James Hillman calls "emotional memory. This memory. To "build" Jerusalem using named places is not to contaminate it. with places that remind of death.

thus banishing "barbaric" practices from the civilized realm of the city. if interpreted as a foundation rather than a milestone. he does not fall into the simplification of displacing sacrifice from the one onto the other. was a sacrificial act.. Although Blake often associates London Stone with Stonehenge. Golgonooza thus would seem to have sacrifice at its very hammering heart. but that the laying of the stone. is to turn Jerusalem's ruins not into a barren stony temple. near mournful Ever weeping Paddington? is that Calvary and Golgotha? Becoming a building of pity and compassion? Lo! The stones are pity.25-36. however. The activity within Golgonooza. As many readers have observed. because he knows that the city continues to practice the "arts of death. Golgotha. The purpose of Golgonooza. Always comforting the remembrance .Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 113 own time were nothing less than state-sponsored acts of cruelty in the guise of holiness."18 Blake's use of London Stone. And well contrived words.28-29. he retains the idea of sacrifice in order to transform it and to integrate it with his rehabilitation of the body and the city. E 100). never forgotten. one that destroyed the human body in order to establish the artificial body of the city. the place where Jesus sacrificed himself. & the tiles engraven gold Labour of merciful hands: the beams & rafters are forgiveness: The mortar & cement of the work.. but into living human forms: "weaving the Web of Life / Out from the ashes of the Dead" (6. the place of . E 155) Golgonooza. Blake makes this connection explicit in Jerusalem: What are those golden builders doing? where was the burying-place Of soft Ethinthus? near Tybums fatal Tree? is that Mild Zions hills most ancient promontory. and the bricks. firm fixing. in other words. is identified with Tyburn and Calvary just as London is founded on the stone of sacrifice. Jacques Ellul writes that it was common practice among the early Semites and other ancient people "to lay the first stone of a new town on the body of a human sacrifice offered to the power of a city in order that his spirit protect the city.. the work of Los's hammer and Enitharmon's accompanying loom. And the screws & iron braces. are well wrought blandishments. thus suggests not only that it was used for sacrifices within the city. tears of honesty: the nails." Rather. the name Golgonooza echoes Golgotha. well wrought affections: Enameld whh love & kindness. is to eliminate the causal relationship between human death and the city's birth. (Jerusalem 13. and the building of the city around it.

3. the city "founded in Human desolation" on the "Wastes of Moral Law."19 For Blake. so that the building made with "merciful hands" and held together with the bodily products of tears and words becomes a body itself. Blake reverses the process by which humanity is sacrificed to a power outside itself.. Both nature and the city are humanized in two senses. That city itself takes the form of a human body with human proportions and is built with the human virtues of "Mercy Pity Peace and Love" (so called in "The Divine Image." E 12)... not only is the city rendered in intensely human terms. it is a living human form made permanent and lovely. a space of "pity and compassion. the divisive and soul-destroying emotions of cruelty and despair "harden" into a city so opaque that the humanity that creates and inhabits it is no longer visible. In fact. her Synagogues with Torments Of ever-hardening Despair squard & polishd with cruel skill. By contrast. provides the foundation for Golgonooza. but human emotions are also given spatial form. Babylon. the regenerative workshop where Los and Enitharmon change the arts of death into the arts of life. however. the emotions not only occupy but create space. Nature Redefined as Art In order to turn the city's dehumanizing power into a humanizing one. Her Streets are paved with Destruction.20 For Blake. while feelings are in the heart and stomach. whether to the god of nature or to the god of the city.114 / MICHAEL Jesus's redemptive self-sacrifice. in that his vision of a New Jerusalem does not "sacrifice" the body in the dualistic sense of rejecting material in favor of spiritual experience. there are more tangible narrative moments when he laments the sufferings of the "human grapes" crushed in the wine-press of war and the physical labors of women and children in the brick kilns. E 169) In both passages. the speech of London quoted earlier personifies the city as willing to sacrifice itself for Albion. the ideal city does not have to be built on human blood and bones. Steve Pile points out the "spatial imagination" of psychology. (Jerusalem 24.31-35. The theme of bodily sacrifice has larger implications for Blake as well." Conversely. For every polemical instance when Blake denounces the "vegetative" body. her Houses built with Death Her Palaces with Hell & the Grave. nature and the city . First." is anatomized into human suffer- ings with no redemptive purpose: The Walls of Babylon are Souls of Men: her Gates the Groans Of Nations: her Towers are the Miseries of once happy Families. in which "thoughts [are] commonly experienced in the head.

Blake sees these creatures as aesthetic objects: "And all this Vegetable World appeard on my left Foot." "immortal" artifact into which it is remade through the poet's spirit. Golgonooza is located in the "loins of Albion.25. "vegetable" matter of the world is remade into the permanent "stones & gold" that adorn the New Jerusalem in Revelation. Central to this process of redefinition is the creation of the human body itself." in the organs of natural reproduction and bodily desire. E 100).12-13. Albion's body contains and encompasses apparently inanimate parts of nature: "All things begin & end in Albions ancient Druid rocky shore" (6. a sandal. they literally take on human form and are integrated into the human imagination. but they are also made permanent through that human form. Built by the Sons of Los in Bowlahoola & Allamanda . / As a bright sandal formd immortal of precious stones & gold" (21. For example. in contrast to the "bright. The world is a garment for humanity—in this case. The Sons of Los create bodies to "clothe" the naked souls that are composed of desire ungratified: the body fulfills the soul's desire and feeds the appetite: And these the Labours of the Sons of Los in Allamanda: And in the City of Golgonooza: & in Luban: & around The Lake of Udan-Adan. but through the redefinition of human bodies and "organic" nature as works of art. refigured not as an environment for human beings but as human in itself. or at least enduring: "for more extensive / Than any other earthly things.10-11). Is a garden of delight & a building of magnificence. but elsewhere. Moreover. Through the agency of the human artist. creatures and elements that we consider parts of the "natural" world appear as works of art. being piteous Passions & Desires With neither lineament nor form but like to watry clouds The Passions & Desires descend upon the hungry winds For such alone Sleepers remain meer passion & appetite. carrying forward the poem's metaphor of the redemptive journey. The humanization of the city extends to the humanization of the entire universe. as we have seen. Blake accomplishes this integration not only through the naming of places. When Milton's spirit enters Blake's foot in Milton. Second. thus undoing the separation of the internal and the external that constitutes the Fall. E 115). The Sons of Los clothe them & feed & provide houses & fields And every Generated Body in its inward form. in the Forests of Entuthon Benython Where Souls incessant wail. are Mans earthly lineaments" (21. the perishable. The pejorative phrase "vegetable world" is associated with obscurity and mortality.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 115 no longer oppose and destroy humanity.

. E 157). fourfold" (Jerusalem 13. The epic hero's sturdy battle-scarred body. guards the tribe.116 / MICHAEL And the herbs & flowers & furniture & beds & chambers Continually woven in the looms of Enitharmons Daughters In bright Cathedrons golden Dome with care & love & tearsf. the city itself takes on bodily form. "A city's founding is an epic act. extends the body's function as a "house" for the soul or self. the human life reprieved from its brevity and magnified into architecture.. / And every house." For Blake. both produces and is produced by the body. Since bodies are the works of art produced in Golgonooza.. First. and the city stands as the symbol of that process. the city's life-giving processes are intimately linked to the systems within each person's body. as a shelter and a defense. "Nature's work" belongs to the imagination. according to Blake's theory. this place of birth is carefully constructed by human hands. 4. Rather.] (Milton 26. Blake thus adapts Pope's claim in his Essay on Man that "All Nature is but Art. like the city's ramparts.23-36. the city's physical structure becomes the shelter for the collective self of the community or "tribe. becomes an extension of the human body. Under Blake's urban aesthetic. nor is the city a faulty and presumptuous human approximation of God's creation. As the body is the immediate space the soul inhabits. E 123) Here the garden or the building is the body. the protective power of the city. / And every pot & vessel & garment of the houses. fourfold." When Los and . The Body as Artifact and Workshop If all art. the artifacts of the human imagination are not seen as imitations or rivals of Nature's work. so the city is the body for the collective spirit. all nature is human art: art is the imaginative process through which human beings shape their environment and make it part of themselves. and thus any built space. His is the body statufied. making each person not simply a "member" of that larger body but containing a microcosm of it: "And every part of the City is fourfold. & every inhabitant. unknown to thee. reproduced in monumental proportions." whose humanity is purely metaphorical. As the body houses the individual self. any constructed environment. then the intricate construction of the city is the body writ large. as process and product are joined: unlike the abstract "Mother Nature. Finally.20-22. As Peter Conrad puts it."21 Conrad's statement incorporates several different aspects of the city's physicality.

In addition to Golgonooza. in the face of those natural depredations. so that the poem becomes a bodily workshop that in turn generates bodies. is an act of "wrath" and "pity" on Los's part. Thundering the Hammers beat & the Bellows blow loud The Bellows are the Animal Lungs: the Hammers the Animal Heart The Furnaces the Stomach for digestion. Rather than grapple with the contradictory definitions for these regions. for example.3).23 he describes in some detail in Milton the regions of Bowlahoola and Allamanda. E 120-21) What is described here. thus turning the perishable body into an imperishable artifact. they are also building a city to house collective humanity. shrieks & cries The crooked horn mellows the hoarse raving serpent. however. he also redefines human organs as instruments of that art. these regions (which Kenneth Johnston interprets as cities in themselves) seem less important: Bowlahoola. but harmonious Bowlahoola is the Stomach in every individual man.22 To build a city is a defensive action against military attack. which has been identified as the brain of society. This process.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 117 Enitharmon create bodies for souls. thousands play on instruments Stringed or fluted to ameliorate the sorrows of slavery Loud sport the dancers in the dance of death. the city gives a permanent form to human life and work. .24 it suits my purposes here simply to examine them as places of bodily work which themselves are constituted in the text of the poem. whose relationship to Golgonooza and correspondence to the organs of the individual body is somewhat confusing. the association of city-founding with epic battle reverses the function of "Corporeal War. In Bowlahoola Los's Anvils stand & his Furnaces rage. Just as Blake redefines the natural world as a human work of art." which is to besiege and destroy cities. a "Wine-press" (25. Third. is not even named until three-quarters of the way through Jerusalem. as well as the natural depredations of death and time.50-67. in which he counteracts the "vegetation" of souls by putting them through a process of distillation. but it also resists the principle of war. terrible. (Milton 24. In Jerusalem. rejoicing in carnage The hard dentant Hammers are lulld by the flutest'] lula lula The bellowing Furnacesf'] blare by the long sounding clarion The double drum drowns howls & groans. Second. in context. the shrill fife. terrible their fury Thousands & thousands labour.

is to Despise Jerusalem & her Builders" (E 232).." However. Blake makes the bold statement. The elaborate metaphor of the body-as-factory. is to Build up Jerusalem: and to Despise Knowledge. "Bowlahoola is the Stomach. from the human subject whose labor is ultimately responsible for both alike." especially in the fourth preface. predominantly positive in Milton.. I suggest that the force of Blake's antipathy is directed toward a "vegetative" material existence that does not employ the active imagination: in other words. in both Jerusalem and Milton. however. as the passage concludes. If. None of these arts could be practiced without the body. "To the Christians.. is involved in rendering the body in terms of "Art & Manufacture" and vice versa.. In the same preface. let alone self-expression. bespeaks the all-but-total alienation of language and the means of artisanal or artistic production (or destruction).. is merely preparation for the generation of new bodies on subsequent plates. which both generate and are generated by the laboring city. too. and that the body is necessary for the labours he exhorts. "Vegetable Mortal Bodies" Blake's attitude toward the body. and circulating external matter through the body—in short. is complicated in Jerusalem by his denunciation of "Vegetable Mortal Bodies" in favor of "Eternal or Imaginative Bodies. as Blake demonstrates differently in Milton when he . which alone are the labours of the Gospel. The text of the passage.25 are involved in absorbing. after all. is further complicated by the division of labor within the body. the noise of production/destruction involves the human subjects all too literally. but they are not alienated from their bodies. "A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian" (E 274). a rejection of the body. They may be alienated from language. In the Laocoön plate. sustained by the labor of "Thousands & thousands" whose often-harsh music suggests the din of industry as well as the processes of digestion.118 / MICHAEL obviously painful but accompanied by a certain music." then how can it also encompass the heart and lungs? Yet all three "motile organs. to Labour in Knowledge." as Damon calls them. the sleep of Albion."26 Here. because Blake has already shown. 5. that art and science build the body. incorporating "nature" and making it human. Stuart Peterfreund cites similar passages in Jerusalem to argue that Blake's "urban landscape . processing. he calls on "the Christians" to "expel from among you those who pretend to despise the labours of Art & Science. This appeal to art and science is not. through their own bodies.

with obvious revulsion: Filth of all Hues and Odours seem to tell What Street they sail'd from.] (45. whose spiritual beauty is hidden. was become barren mountains of Moral Virtue: and every Minute Particular hardend into grains of sand: And all the tendernesses of the soul cast forth as filth & mire. E 125). The "vegetative" body he denounces is a body defined only by its material existence. come tumbling down the Flood. as a collection of cells or atoms.Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 119 identifies poetry. stinking Sprats. Guts." with its triplet emphasizing the excess and overflow of waste matter. Dung. Drown'd Puppies. and Blood.27 To be sure. E 194) One cannot help comparing these lines to the closing lines of Swift's "Description of a City Shower. Every Universal Form. painting.56. however. Swift's attitude toward the urban body. thence tiiro the narrows of the Rivers side And saw every minute particular. The response of Blake and of Los is to try to restore these bodies to view as "jewels" of art. Among the winding places of deep contemplation intricate To where the Tower of London frownd dreadful over Jerusalem!. but he traces each piece of "filth" to its bodily and geographic origin through the senses. Sweepings from Butchers Stalls. and what he finds is the opacity and degradation of human bodies: He came down from Highgate thro Hackney & Holloway towards London Till he came to old Stratford & thence to Stepney & the Isle Of Leuthas Dogs." he actually goes into the cavernous spaces of London. and to do that requires bodily work: . Fall from the Conduit prone to Holborn-Bridge. music. And in huge Confluent join at Snow-Hill Ridge. with rapid Force From Smithfield. as each Torrent drives. and architecture as "the Four Faces of Man" (27. They. Blake thus redeems the body through an artistic process that requires the body and attempts to overcome its fragility. by their Sight and Smell. Swift's catalog of waste is primarily nonhuman. all drench'd in Mud. running down The kennels of die streets & lanes as if they were abhorrd. Swift similarly names places in his poem. Pulchre's shape their Course. Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops. when Los goes "to search the interiors of Albions / Bosom.14-23. or St. is one of disgust. like that of most of Blake's predecessors mentioned in my first section. die jewels of Albion. In Jerusalem.

on the other hand."29 The dual nature of the city as a manmade and yet embodied world is nowhere more present than in Blake's work. which in turn prompts the outward response of physical labor. he seizes his tools and awakens the divine impulse through his voice. Man is in many ways. and even alive. it is also capable of regenerating itself. he knew that the body was much easier to destroy than to create. E 195) Los "trembles" at the sight of Albion's "petrified" body. As much as Blake yearned for a rebuilding of Jerusalem on the ruined foundations of London." Robert Pinsky writes that "on the one hand. with its "fibres & nerves .3-9. like the rest of Albion's body.120 / MICHAEL Los was all astonishment & terror: he trembled sitting on the Stone Of London: but the interiors of Albions fibres & nerves were hidden From Los. He saw also the Four Points of Albion reversd inwards He siezd his Hammer & Tongs. His ideal of a humanized city built with bricks of compassion and open exchanges seems more and more incongruous when placed beside the cities of the industrial revolution. the city frames and houses the larger commu- nity. and Blake's poetry remarkably forecasts the successes and failures of that vision. . astonishd he beheld only the petrified surfaces: And saw his Furnaces in ruins. in the words of Adam Ferguson. . In an essay called "Skies of the City." Although the furnaces. therefore. poetry from the romantics on has learned to see what we have made as beautiful. (Jerusalem 46. with a tremulous internal response. are in decay.28 To reverse the deterioration of the city's body. "the artificer of his own frame. in the chartered streets of London and in the golden pillars of Ierusalem. is also to reverse the deterioration of bodies in the city by making them visible as works of art. poetry has also seen in that strange. Upon the valleys of Middlesex. Yet the same romantic desire to remake human nature and human society through reshaping the landscape has persisted into the twentieth century. The organic metaphor at least offers the hope that if that frame is diseased and dismembered. . It is as if the reanimation of Albion (the body politic) must begin in another (private) body. but it is also an act of confession." and just as the body frames and houses the individual soul. his iron Poker & his Bellows. unnatural fabricated beauty all the tears and fury of us who made it. Shouting loud for aid Divine. for Los is the Demon of the Furnaces. hidden. To take human responsibility for the world around us seems an astonishing act of hubris.

and David E. 2. Milton a Poem and the Final Illuminated Works. from The Poetical Works of William Cowper. 11. Milford. Y: Cornell University Press. Subsequent references to Blake's writings will be taken from this edition and cited in the text with the poem's title followed by me plate and line number. Knapp and Paul-Gabriel Boucé (Oxford: Oxford University Press. See Max Byrd. See also America: A Prophecy. Erdman (New York: Anchor-Doubleday. Ronald Paulson. 1977).. 13. Compare the readings of Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi. A Journal of the Plague Year. from The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. 180. 8. David V. . vol. 1767. The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt. place this horror of physical and social contamination in the nineteenth century. H. (London: Oxford University Press. 1986). The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. William Blake. 1994). 3. Subsequent references using book and line numbers will be given in the text. 3. ed. ed. ed. Breaking and Remaking: Aesthetic Practice in England. following Erdman's editorial practice. Adam Ferguson. An Essay on the History of Civil Society. James. James Hillman. Lewis Mumford. David Bindman (Princeton: William Blake Trust and Princeton University Press. 1989). ed. University of Dallas. ed. Jerusalem 34. Hearth and Home: A History of Material Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 10. 121. 7. 5. 171-72.. 195. City and Soul (Irving. The plagues of division he sends. TX: Center for Civic Leadership. chapter 8. Peter Stallybrass and AIlon White. and with Erdman's page number after "E. are repulsed by "me fierce rushing of th'inhabitants together" (E 56). 1988). 4. 122. in an attempt to force the colonial governors to make war on their own people. trans. 6. See Richard Sennett.582-84. 26-27. 3rd. 1938). in The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca. Written Within and Without: A Study of Blake's "Milton" (Frankfurt: Peter Lang. S. 1984). but it clearly begins much earlier. 225. G. Henri Lefebvre." Irregularities in puncmation and spelling are Blake's own. 6. ed. 1700-1820 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 9. 5. 274. Duncan Forbes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. The Production of Space. 5 of Blake's Illuminated Books. Pounds. 1966). Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization (New York: Norton. London Transformed: Images of the City in the Eighteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press. 12. 1989).Corporeal City in Blake's Milton and Jerusalem / 121 NOTES 1. 1991). Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. as I hope I have shown. Norman J. 257. William Cowper. ed. ed.. 15. Brace & Co. 14. 1926). 1978). N.28-43. 1978). rev. Tobias Smollett. Anthony Burgess (London: Penguin. where disease is a weapon used by the English king against the insurgent colonies. eds. The Task. 1993). Subsequent references will be parenthetical. 4. Daniel Defoe. Lewis M. 1966).

and Harold Bloom's commentary on E 921. 1958). The Tremulous Private Body: Essays on Subjection (London: Methuen. 430. 17. in which he contrasts it to the "Mental Fight" celebrated in the lyric (E 95). ed. 1989). 1970).122 / MICHAEL 16. 25. Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake (Princeton: Princeton University Press. ed. 87 n. Blake: The Complete Poems. 1981). 20. 27. 1988). Stevenson. 1:139. 103. 1996). The Meaning of the City. H. "The Din of the City in Blake's Prophetic Books. : Brown University Press. MI: Eerdmans. 1990). Foster Damon. 29. ed. ed. 22. Steve Pile. 1984). ed. Anne Janowitz. For provocative discussion of the details see Frye. Dennis Pardee (Grand Rapids. 1984). S. Gene W." in The Romantics and Us: Essays on Literature and Culture. 18. 183. Ruoff (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 1990). Harold Williams (Oxford: Clarendon. The Art of the City: Views and Versions of New York (New York: Oxford University Press. Jacques Ellul. 19. England's Ruins: Poetic Purpose and the National Landscape (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1970). 29. Fearful Symmetry. "Skies of the City: A Poetry Reading. Both images are prominent in The Four Zoas. Blake Dictionary. The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2nd ed. Erdman and John E. 24. trans. Stuart Peterfreund. Golgonooza. Blake Dictionary. rev. 21. Kenneth Johnston. See also Blake's watercolor A Breach in a City. plate 195. The Poems of Jonathan Swift. 260. Space and Subjectivity (London: Routledge. 6. See Northrop Frye. 246. A Blake Dictionary. My language here derives directly from Blake's text as well as from the title of Francis Barker.. 26. 3-4. (London: Longman. 57. 23. N. 28. The phrase "Corporeal War" comes from Blake's prose preface to Milton." ELH 64 (1997): 102-03. 1969). David V. H. the Morning after a Battle in Martin Butlin. Robert Pinsky. 260 and 359. 165. 57. Damon. . (Hanover. The Body and the City: Psychoanalysis. "Blake's Cities: Romantic Forms of Urban Renewal. Grant (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Peter Conrad. W. Damon. and Kathleen Raine." in Blake's Visionary Forms Dramatic. 530-31n. City of Imagination: Last Studies in William Blake (Ipswich: Golgonooza Press. 1991).

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