Saturday, April 28, 2012
The aim of Blake's poetry is to communicate Vision. In this statement he clarifies what the term means to him. Because he is attempting to represent the Eternal which is imperceptible to human senses, he makes use of images to communicate. Imagination is the ability to create images, to understand them, and to enter the world created by the imagination. Since the natural world is to Blake but a reflection of Divine Vision, he always demands that each description of nature or history be seen 'through' to the essential reality.
Jerusalem, Plate 84
Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 554)
"The Last Judgment is not Fable or Allegory
Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior
kind of Poetry. Vision or Imagination is a Representation of
what Eternally Exists. Really & Unchangeably. Fable or Allegory
is Formd by the Daughters of Memory. Imagination is Surrounded
by the daughters of Inspiration who in the aggregate are calld
Jerusalem The Hebrew Bible & the Gospel of
Jesus are not Allegory but Eternal Vision or Imagination of All
In the following autobiographical passage Blake allows us to join with him in a visionary experience.
He says, "I see them in the Vision of God", and "I behold London".
Then London is personified as seeking the return of Albion.
Jerusalem,Plate 34 ,(E 180)
"Thus speaking; the Divine Family follow Albion:
I see them in the Vision of God upon my pleasant valleys.
I behold London; a Human awful wonder of God!
He says: Return, Albion, return! I give myself for thee:
My Streets are my, Ideas of Imagination.
Awake Albion, awake! and let us awake up together.
My Houses are Thoughts: my Inhabitants; Affections,
The children of my thoughts, walking within my blood-vessels,
Shut from my nervous form which sleeps upon the verge of Beulah
In dreams of darkness, while my vegetating blood in veiny pipes,
Rolls dreadful thro' the Furnaces of Los, and the Mills of Satan.
For Albions sake, and for Jerusalem thy Emanation
I give myself, and these my brethren give themselves for Albion.
So spoke London, immortal Guardian! I heard in Lambeths shades:
In Felpham I heard and saw the Visions of Albion
I write in South Molton Street, what I both see and hear
In regions of Humanity, in Londons opening streets."
Blake is reporting his own visions which came to him in each place he lived. His vision is of the ingredients of his mind - his 'Ideas of Imagination', his 'Thoughts', his 'Affections' - as the streets, houses and inhabitants of London.
You may recall that in the book of 1st Corinthians (Chapter 12), Paul similarly used an image to reveal the one body of Christ as composed of many members with various functions:
 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
 For the body is not one member, but many.