Saturday, March 06, 2010

Blake's Life

This is the big one! Like most people Blake's life had two halves:
In the first half Blake loved to hate; his hatreds were multiple:

He hated legalisms of every sort:
"When Satan first the black bow bent
And the Moral Law from the Gospel rent
He forg'd the Law into a Sword
And spilled the blood of mercys Lord"
Jerusalem Plate 22, lines 82-5)

He hated Religion (by which he meant false Religion!); he saw hypocrisy in every facet of Religion:
 "Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not! For every thing that lives is Holy"
(MHH, Plate 27, lines 10-21, Erdman 45)

He hated War with 104 occurrences of the word:

PLATE 25 [27] of Milton (E12)1:
"The Awakener is come. outstretchd over Europe!
the Vision of God is fulfilled
The Ancient Man upon the Rock of Albion Awakes,
He listens to the sounds of War astonishd & ashamed;
He sees his Children mock at Faith and deny Providence"

"These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife."

In contrast to the corporeal war of this vale of tears Blake sees the Eternals engaging in War and Hunting, mental, not corporeal.

War and Religion are closely associated in Blake's mind (and in mine!):
Cambel & Gwendolen wove webs of war & of
Religion, to involve all Albions sons,
and Jerusalem plate 52 (To the Deists) E200:
"the Religion of Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, can

never be the cause of a War nor of a single

Martyrdom. Those who Martyr others or who cause War are

Deists, but never can be Forgivers of Sin.

The Glory of Christianity is, To Conquer by

Forgiveness. All the Destruction therefore,

in Christian Europe has arisen from Deism,

which is Natural Religion."

He hated exploitation and oppression of the poor. Study London

He hated materialism:
Vision of the Last Judgment (Erdman 564)

"I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it

is hindrance & not Action it is as the Dirt

upon my feet No part of Me."

All of Blake's hatreds he lumped together and referred to as the female will, female love and sometimes (unfortunately) just love:
My Shadow (Erdman 476)
"Till I turn from Female Love
And root up the Infernal Grove tI shall never worthy be
To Step into Eternity.........Let us agree to give up Love
And root up the infernal grove Then shall we return & see
The worlds of happy Eternity"

But then came the Moment of Grace, and the second half of life began. At that point forgiveness took the place of hatred:

Annotations to Watson (Erdman 619):
"The Gospel is Forgiveness of Sins & has No Moral Precepts
these belong to Plato & Seneca & Nero"

Blake was talking to God when he said this:
And throughout all Eternity
I forgive you, you forgive me.
As our dear Redeemer said:
This the Wine, and this the Bread.

Brothers, let us drink the wine and eat the bread.

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