Friday, December 03, 2010

Blake's Kingdom

Jesus directed his followers to pray "thy kingdom come".

In general Blake had negative feelings about kingdoms. In America he emphatically affirmed the American Revolt against King George.

Some of his pictures suggest rather vividly that his monarch was sitting in the place reserved for God:

"revealed in his dragon form as a spectre bat"
the vestige of a Gothic cathedral hangs over his head; he's the pope of his state church. The two angel queens are said to be the queens of France and England (from Erdman, The Illuminated Blake 169).

Blake supported the French Revolution until it proved to be blood-thirsty.

He had a hard time with the Lord's Prayer because his Old Testament feelings about a kingly God resembled too much the oppressive and tyrannical kingdoms of history.

In a comment to his Annotations to Bacon (Erdman page 629) he wrote:
"The Kingdom of Heaven is the direct Negation of Earthly domination."

And in Milton (plate 31; Erdman 130):
"These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious and cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity but a Corporeal Strife"

Blake wrote many other diatribes complaining about earthly kings and kingdoms, and near the End of Jerusalem (Plate 98; Erdman 258) he wrote:
"Where are the Kingdoms of the World and all their glory that grew on Desolation".

Finally in his comments on Dr. Thornton's discussion of the Lord's Prayer (Erdman 669) he wrote "for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory and not Caesars or Satans Amen."

Blake understood that the chasm between God's Kingdom and the Kingdoms of the World is just as big as the chasm between Heaven and Hell.

No comments: