Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Auguries of Innocence

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour"

'Thy golden wings are my delight'

Eternity as we have said before is not distant in time or space; it can be experienced whenever we are able to be open and receptive to it. The tiniest, most humble things may act as the catalyst for opening or cleansing the doors of perception.

We as humans are made to receive Eternity, because God is within us. And yet we are barred from entering the gates which are provided. Blake tells us that the 'dread Og and Anak guard the gates.'

Anak, says Damon in A Blake Dictionary is one of an Old Testament race of giants. He is one of four - Anak, Og, Sihon and Satan - who are designated to 'oppose Man's progress towards Eternity.' Og and Anak are the guards of the gates which open into Golgonooza (the city of Imagination). 'They are also responsible for the looms, mills, prisons and workhouses which prevent man from leading a spiritual life.'

On the level of the psyche there are blockages (Og and Anak) which lock us out of the ability to perceive things as they are. These barriers are different for each person. By looking within and facing the 'giants' these gates may be opened.

Blake also names the 'manacles' which bind man in the outward world, the oppressive institutions (Og and Anak) which destroy bodies and deaden minds. In this world limits are set which constrict the downtrodden from seeing that 'world in a grain of sand' or 'heaven in a wild flower'.

Milton, Plate 20, (E 114)
"Seest thou the little winged fly, smaller than a grain of sand?
It has a heart like thee; a brain open to heaven & hell,
Withinside wondrous & expansive; its gates are not clos'd,
I hope thine are not: hence it clothes itself in rich array;
Hence thou art cloth'd with human beauty O thou mortal man.
Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies:
There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old:
For every human heart has gates of brass & bars of adamant,
Which few dare unbar because dread Og & Anak guard the gates
Terrific! and each mortal brain is walld and moated round
Within: and Og & Anak watch here; here is the Seat
Of Satan in its Webs; for in brain and heart and loins
Gates open behind Satans Seat to the City of Golgonooza
Which is the spiritual fourfold London, in the loins of Albion"



Susan J. said...

I'm confused as to how the linked image relates to what you've written -- the link you have labeled "The golden wings are my delight" contains a page of illustrated handwriting that starts off "Ethinthus queen of waters how thou shinest in the sky..." Help?


Having said that, I found Ellie's commentary quite uplifting and resonant - especially "The tiniest, most humble things may act as the catalyst for opening or cleansing the doors of perception."

And Anak and Og... yes! opposing our "progress towards Eternity" indeed.

When you quote "Milton, Plate 20, (E 114)" I gather that's another page from Blake that you're referring to, that relates... Is "Auguries of Innocence" the name of the 4 lines at the top? or perhaps a Blake book from which those 4 lines come? Or, possibly the 4 lines at the top and the linked page that starts with Ephinthus are like our lectionary readings for the day, and then comes the sermon/message, and then a final Blake text to round out your reflections on "Grain of Sand"? I'm just trying to understand how the pieces fit together... a wonderful message!


One stop I feel, is at the statement "We humans are made to receive Eternity, because God is within us." Can you say more about the "God is within us" part? Is this Ellie speaking, or Blake, or both? How does this statement relate to the tension between God's immanence (God as here with us now) and God's transcendance (God as other than us, "above and beyond us")?

I resist the idea that "God is within us"* but then perhaps I don't know what you (Blake and/or Ellie) mean by it. There are always many sentences to be spoken, and many meanings to be made. One of my firmly held beliefs is that "God is God and I am not." :-)

* I'm OK with "God is with us" and "we are all God's children" and "God is with us/manifest to us 'inwardly'" and "there is that of God in us"

ellie said...

Auguries of Innocence (E 490) is a poem from a group of Blake's poems called Songs and Ballads. It was of course unpublished in his lifetime. It is a longish poem with many memorable lines.

The picture is simply one of the multiple little creatures smaller than 'grains of sand' which are open to Eternity. These are among what Blake calls 'minute particulars,' ("So he who wishes to see a Vision; a perfect Whole Must see it in its Minute Particulars" (E 251)).

Blake says: "God is Man & exists in us and we in him";
"Human Nature is the image of God";
"Thou art a Man, God is no more, Thy own Humanity learn to adore";
"He, who adores an impersonal God, has none".
"The Eternal Great Humanity Divine planted his Paradise, and in it caused the specters of the Dead to take sweet forms In likeness of himself"

I think I am of the school that says you can't split God into pieces; the God in you or me isn't a little piece of God; it is God in his fullness. Our ability to perceive or express him fully is limited, but I believe that there is a sense in which all of creation is an expression of God. I constantly remind myself that all we know of reality are images. The image that we have of God lives within and yet it points to a reality beyond knowledge. The knowable God is that image he has planted within our souls.

Are you OK with 'Christ in you, the hope of glory?'


Susan J. said...

thanks, Ellie! I appreciate the explanations --

"Are you OK with 'Christ in you, the hope of glory?'"

Well yes I'm OK with it, but what does it mean? I've spent years now pondering the Greek phrase en umin -- "in y'all" or "among y'all" which loses its wondrous ambiguity in the English, both because we usually think of the "you" as singular (ah yes! Christ in ME!), whereas it's plural, besides which the preposition en with a plural object can mean "in y'all" or "among y'all" or both. And if it's "in y'all" what does THAT mean? Does it mean "in each one of you individually" or does it mean "in y'all corporately" -- the way "the power of the Lord is over all" in a gathered Quaker meeting.

But then again, the point of Col 1:27 may not be the precise nature of "Christ in/among us" but rather the fact that "the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations" NOW "is made manifest to his saints [us]" -- Paul may be calling "the saints" to recognize and remember the reality of Christos en umin, which they/we already experience... Paul is nothing if not a mystic....


ellie said...

I say that in Blake there are no simple answers and no single answers; that's true of the Bible too.

The Greek words expand my understanding of 'Christ in you', but they don't clarify it. (It would be Urizenic thinking to pin it down absolutely.)

I like the phrase 'Paul is nothing if not a mystic' since I am acquainted with people who see Paul as a legalist.