Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blake's Bible II

" Both read the Bible day & night
But thou readst black where I read white"
(Everlasting Gospel; Erdman 524)

The above quote most succinctly points out the way Blake differs from ordinary Bible Scholars-- like night and day. While most Christians have made an idol of the Bible (generally worshipping it from afar), Blake labored with no such disability. He loved it dearly-- and felt perfectly free to interpret it however it struck him.

Blake perceived the Bible to be poetry-- like his own, so whenever he referred to the Bible, it wasn't like a pious approach, it was like a poet speaking to a poet.
Poets make poetic statements using symbols, metaphors and images; the meaning is not precise (like scientific statements), but allusive; it depends as much upon the reader as the writer.

Conversation at its best is open ended, tentative, subjective. Blake had a conversation with the Bible writers and with you and me. Many of Blake's words (biblical and other) may seem completely opaque to one reader and perfectly plain to another.

This is what makes Blake's use of the Bible constantly fascinating and offers many chances for a fruitful discourse. This is what he meant by reading white.

For more on this subject check our Chapter Six .

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