In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake was exploring the nature of the contraries and the relationship between contraries. June Singer ( The Unholy Bible) explains Blake's writing of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in terms of his desire to tap into the energy which he recognized in the Satan which Milton wrote about. The restraint which conventional rational thinking could place on the liberty with which Blake wanted to live, and the expressiveness with which he desired to write, was what he wanted to explore. By adopting the position of the Angel's contrary, the unrestrained, uninhibited outlaw - the Devil - he sought to access the source of energy which was unavailable to reason.
On Page 71 Singer states:
"Blake now proposes to follow Milton's Devil, that is, to pay attention to his own desire and permit the impersonal voice of that Devil to speak through him. With this commitment he enters upon the hero's quest, the night sea journey, the dark night of the soul, the voyage that has been called by many names but which all must travel if they are driven toward the goal of realizing their creative potentialities. It is the way of travail and hardship, where the traveler is exposed to the attacks and seductions of worldly and spiritual pleasures because he is open to everything he may perceive, to sights and voices and all the impressions of the senses, and even to extrasensory impressions...
"This section of the Marriage is a crucial one, for it comments upon the change of attitude which marks the creative man's departure from tradition and from the limiting bounds of Reason. To walk with Satan and his children, called Sin and Death, takes courage and an overwhelming necessity of desire. Those whose desire is weak enough to be restrained will never experience either the tortures or beatific visions which alternatively appear to the traveler on the way to individuation."
Marriage of Heaven and Hell, PLATE 4, (E 34)
"The voice of the Devil
All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
2. That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
But the following Contraries to these are True
1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3 Energy is Eternal Delight
Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough
to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place &
governs the unwilling.
And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is
only the shadow of desire."
Other Posts based on Singer's work.
Complete Marriage of Heaven and Hell as online book on Wikisource.
Marriage of Heaven and Hell as a video on youtube by Ulver.