Wednesday, November 09, 2011


None can project forward and predict the route his journey through life will take. We encounter too many variables to see the end from the beginning. Blake set out on a journey which may have terminated in worldly success or in abject despair. Although it may have led him through both of these, in the end it led to his own peculiar vision of truth expressing his religion as his unique art.

As John Middleton Murry begins his biography, William Blake , he comments:

"My aim has been solely to discover and, as far as may be , expound the doctrine of William Blake: 'the Everlasting Gospel ' as he finally called it." (Page 7)

Near the end of his book, wrapping up his account of Blake's life and work, Murry had this to say:

"The structure of Christian Theology meant too little to him, the essence of Christian belief too much.
Blake's difficulty is evident. The farther one advances in understanding his work, the more impossible it becomes not to sympathize with his feeling that it was necessary for him to 'create a system' if he was not to be 'enslaved by another man's'. The system of orthodox Christianity was incapable of containing, without distortion, the vast and simple system which was Blake's message. The new wine would assuredly burst the old bottles.
He deliberately preferred incomprehensibility and poverty to compromise and a measure of success. Behind his private idiom lies concealed an heroic effort after a pure integrity...When he is inspired indeed, when he is using his own peculiar symbols with the freedom of complete unselfconsciousness, then...we see with his vision, and breathe with his breath. The most difficult of all writers can be the most totally understood." (Page 369-70)

This image was found on a Rochester University website. It is said to be from the Robert N Essick collection. Shoreham was a location where the Ancients gathered in Blake's last years.

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