Friday, April 09, 2010

Blake's Moment

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. (Isaiah 26:3).
When I'm grabbed by a writer, there's a strong need and desire to know the person: who are they? what makes them tick?  Would I like her/him as a friend? Too often knowledge brings disappointment; serious flaws appear.  Now about Blake? 

Could one be a friend of Blake's? It might have been hard; he was so different!  He never went to school, yet he probably knew more about Western Civilization than anybody he ever met-- also Eastern Civilization!

His level of vision was always outstanding; at 14 he saw in a prospective master someone who was going to be hanged.

He lived in turmoil (the video about Paine and Blake shows some of the vagaries of his mind).  He was 'inner directed': what happened inside was overwhelmingly more significant than the people around him.

His religion and politics were often diametrically opposed to those of his peers.  We see the angry young man in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell and in Urizen.

He was driven by the need to put bread on the table, at the expense of his true vocation (how many people today could say that about themselves?). His wife said he spent too much time in Heaven. He tried to record his visions in his poetry, but it was usually too opaque for the casual reader-- and who's around who reads other than casually?

A careful study of The Four Zoas might reveal many of the  things I've said about him here.

He blundered through life writing and painting sublime images-- to be appreciated and used by later generations.

He perceived the false gods worshipped by everyone around him.  But in due course the light came-- the healing balm-- in the shape of Jesus, who brought forgiveness--throughout Eternity. (I wonder if Blake had read St. Gregory; he painted one; he seemed to have had much in common with St. Gregory Nazianzen  )

Trying to understand Blake's career led to a vision that often comes to me: a person, a fish, whatever is deep under the water, but moving upward at a 45 degree angle.  In the course of time he comes out into the air and continues upward, now a bird "cutting the airy way": what about fish, bird, angel?

1 comment:

ellie said...

Letter to Butts, Nov 22, 1802 (E 720)
"And now let me finish with assuring you that Tho I have been
very unhappy I am so no longer I am again Emerged into the light
of Day I still & shall to Eternity Embrace Christianity and Adore
him who is the Express image of God but I have traveld thro
Perils & Darkness not unlike a Champion I have Conquerd and shall
still Go on Conquering Nothing can withstand the fury of my
Course among the Stars of God & in the Abysses of the Accuser My
Enthusiasm is still what it was only Enlarged and confirmd"

He had entered a state of perfect peace through which he could continue to pursue his "course among the stars."