Monday, August 23, 2010


For Blake, the gifts of the imagination are music as well as art and poetry. Through these avenues man maintains contact with Eternity. Man's inner life needs to be fed by activities which draw him away from consciousness of the material world into spiritual consciousness.

Blake portrayed these gifts of the imagination in the only lithograph he is known to have made. The technique of lithography was originated in the early nineteenth century. Somehow Blake gained the knowledge and opportunity to experiment with this new technique. He chose for his subject the various skills of imaginative expression, surrounding a central figure who holds in his hand a book bearing the word Enoch in Hebrew. Inscribed on
a plaque being read by two figures on the upper right is a verse (in Hebrew) from the book of Genesis (2:24): "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him".

The central figure resembles the Job, Urizen, or Jehovah from other images, but he has the face of a visionary, holds no tablets of law, and in his lap is a book whose inscription is the name of a patriarch who was uniquely close to God. The grape vines surrounding the figures remind us of the wine of transformation. The artist, the poet and the musician on the earthly plane focus their attention on creating. Between the portrayals of working artists and the references to the Bible, Blake primary source of inspiration, we have as complete a picture of the life of Blake's imagination as we will find.

Plate four of the Illustration to the Book of Job, 'Satan Before the Throne of God' , provides an interesting comparison to this picture.

Here is some of what Blake said in his poetry to supplement what he said in graphic art:

Milton, Plate 27 [29],(E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions
Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery:
That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men."

Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 146)
"Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit
place: the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific
parts--the mild & gentle, for the mild & gentle parts, and the
prosaic, for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other.
Poetry Fetter'd, Fetters the Human Race! Nations are Destroy'd,
or Flourish, in proportion as Their Poetry Painting and Music,
are Destroy'd or Flourish! The Primeval State of Man, was Wisdom,
Art, and Science."

The Laocoon (E 273)
"Practise is Art If you leave off you are Lost

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian
You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands
if they stand in the way of ART

The unproductive Man is not a Christian much less the Destroyer"

EUROPE a PROPHECY, Plate 3,(E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant."

No comments: