Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fourfold Vision

At the end of his letter To Thomas Butts, 22 November 1802
(Erdman #22 pages 720-22) we read:

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

There he explains as best one can what he meant by the
four kinds of vision:

By single vision he meant a purely materialistic outlook,
without any comprehension of any non material things such
as love, intellect, etc. A great many people live on this
level; as Paul would say, 'their God is their belly'.

With a minimal inkling of the non material one might be
said to have twofold vision, an awareness that there's
something beyond dollars and things-what Ellie would call
a reasoning mind.

But Blake in an earlier passage of the same letter has
this to say,

"For double the vision my Eyes do see
And a double vision is always with me
With my inward Eye 'tis an old Man grey
With my outward a Thistle across my way"

(You might say that Blake started the poem with a duality
and ended it with a quaternity.)

By threefold vision Blake has referred to those at the
doorstep of Eternity, moving toward it or coming from it;
Beulah is a pleasant place for Eternals, but a dangerous place.
The danger is lapsing into the mortal sleep that robs one
of the eternal consciousness and drives him back to single
vision.

So there's a parallel between the four kinds of vision and
the four levels of being:

Single vision is associated with Ulro (Blake called it hell).
Double vision is associated with Generation.
Threefold vision is associated with Beulah.
Fourfold vision is associated with Eternity (or heaven).

(Generation is one of Blake's most difficult concepts.
Damon (150-51) gives us many occurrences of it. One clue
is found in Plate 7 of Jerusalem:

64 "And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the destruction
65 Of Jerusalem, become her covering. till the time of the End.
66 O holy Generation! [image] of regeneration!
67 O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies!
68 Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!"

Generation enables incarnation. We are all incarnated
and potential lambs of His flock, even the Tyger.

All of Blake's works might be considered in the form of an
admonition "AWAKE! AWAKE!", the same one that was
constantly on the lips of Jesus.

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