Wednesday, November 23, 2011

READING BLAKE

Image - Songs of Experience
Introduction

Northrup Frye, in Fearful Symmetry, develops his own metaphor for reading Blake's poetry on Page 143.

"As far as the poetic effect of Blake's mythology goes, it cannot of course be denied that when a character is presented as an individual or a god and his relationship to an archetype is left to take care of itself, an advantage in vividness is often gained. Blake was, it is obvious, so conscious of the shape of his central myth that his characters become almost diagrammatic. The heroism of Orc or the ululation of Ololon do not impress us as human realities, like Achillies or Cassandra, but as intellectual ideographs. It all depends on whether the reader has a taste for this kind of metaphysical poetry or not, on whether he is willing to read so uncompromising an address to the intellectual powers. It is not necessary to assume that qualities of poetry which are certainly not in Blake are qualities which Blake tried and failed to produce. One looks at a poet for what is there, and what is there in Blake is a dialectic, an anatomy of poetry, a rigorously unified vision of the essential forms of the creative mind, piercing through its features to its articulate bones. The figure is perhaps not one that he would have approved: his own is:

I give you the end of a golden string,
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heavens gate,
Built in Jerusalems wall."
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)

It might be said that Blake in these passages offered additional metaphors for reading his poetry.

Jerusalem, Plate 88, (E 246)
"When in Eternity Man converses with Man they enter
Into each others Bosom (which are Universes of delight)
In mutual interchange. and first their Emanations meet
Surrounded by their Children. if they embrace & comingle
The Human Four-fold Forms mingle also in thunders of Intellect"

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 560)
" If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too."

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