Portrait of Wm. Shakespeare by Wm. Blake
The nations and races, and certain historical individuals born into them, have their special relation to each stage in the evolution of consciousness. Thus Rudolf Steiner often said that the English nation is the nation of the Consciousness Soul.
[Consciousness Soul = the modern, materialist, alienated state].
England is the island nation; it is England whose greatest writer creates a marvellous gallery of individual 'characters' - every conceivable type of man except the mystic; it is England out of which the scientific spirit arises; it is England who, alike in sport and economics, sees the world as an aggregate of free competing units; and it is the English speaking peoples who, for good or ill, are taking the lead in the present age; which is the age of the Consciousness Soul.
To say this about the English nation is not to suggest that it is ultimately more important in the scheme of things than any other nation; it is to suggest that in the present age it bears a specially heavy responsibility.
What signs are there that England may live up to her responsibility and perform her mission? She can only do this by a right development of her consciousness; for out of consciousness all free actions spring.
If there are any signs at all that England may live up to her responsibility and perform her mission [written before 1944], these are at present to be found not in the centre but at the periphery; not in the public man but in a few private men; and not so much in the town as in the country.
Perhaps the growing popularity of Blake's 'Jerusalem' heralds a dim awakening of purpose? The problem of the right action of England must be connected with the right development of the Consciousness Soul; and Blake seems, in a remarkable way, to have felt himself the spokesman of this development.
Blake is really complementary to Shakespeare; because if Shakespeare represented every kind of man except the mystic, Blake could apparently conceive of no other!
To Blake, logic is something that has to be, not ignored, but conquered: overcome. Imagination and the redeemer are almost synonymous; and Albion is a symbol for universal Man.
Logic and the experience of Nature as 'matter' and unfree morality based on the law emanate from the Daughters of Memory. But the Daughters of Memory are to be overcome by the Daughters of Inspiration, who are also Jerusalem.
Nature is to be redeemed by Imagination, is to become Imagination.
What does it mean to 'build Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land'? What can it mean except to rise from the Consciousness Soul to the Imaginative Soul?
[Imaginative Soul = what Barfield later called Final Participation.]
The 'Satanic Mills' which have arisen in England since Blake's time, will never be thrust down from their hideous tyranny until those Mills of which he actually sang (that is, the dead thinking of Newton, Locke and Hobbes) have been burst asunder from within.
Edited from pages 63-66 of Owen Barfield's essay 'Speech, Reason and Imagination' from Romanticism Comes of Age, 1944. My notes are in square brackets.
The assuaging of the waters - by John Martin