Jerusalem is the final work of Blake’s mythology and it is a stunner for sure. The Wikipedia page for it contains one of the greatest descriptions of Blake’s poetry I’ve ever seen: “Because it includes a cast of billions, Jerusalem can seem confusing.” As with the Four Zoas, every character has numerous symbols and identities. Albion is, once again a single man, the country of Britain & the mass of humanity; he has twelve sons who are both individuals and also the twelve tribes of Israel. Jerusalem is the female side of Luvah, one of the four Zoas that, together, make up the divine self. When mankind falls from perfection into sin, the four Zoas are splintered from each other and from their own female sides and their children and all that. The book is, as with most of Blake’s stuff, really intense and this one feels more thought provoking than some of his other stuff which is often just really visceral. The book is divided into four sections and he opens each sections with a kind of open-letter to a group: one to Christians, one to Deists, etc. He kind of pokes at the problems he has with each group and then the section after each letter kind of builds on those themes, though often in brief and oblique ways. I didn’t take to this one in the same way I did with The Four Zoas & Milton. I would say it is more confusing. Even going through it with the notes left me feeling like I was just not getting it. And the ending to this one is a bit too triumphal for me; in The Four Zoas and Milton, Blake absolutely explored the idea of redemption and the mechanics of getting to it, but in this one, he just goes full on and at the end of the poem, all of universal existence is basically restored to balance and I just didn’t find that particularly compelling in the way I had his other, more complicated work. It’s going for a real transcendent awe at the end and doesn’t quite get there for me. But still, though it’s a step below his other mythological epics, you can only rate a Blake epic so low. It falls just short of greatness, but only just. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – Blake’s mythology reaches a conclusion that is unfortunately less compelling and visceral than his previous work; falls short of his other work in this vein and of greatness, but only just. 3 ½ stars.