Thursday, August 02, 2012

Faith IV

      Here is a detailed description of Jesus as the mature Blake envisioned him: in the lovely poem Blake wrote to Butts in October, 1800 he reported on an early appearance of Jesus to him, perhaps the first--when he was 43. He aptly called it "My first Vision of Light":
        To my Friend Butts I write
        My first Vision of Light,
        On the yellow sands sitting.
        The Sun was Emitting
        His Glorious beams
        From Heaven's high Streams.
        Over Sea, over Land
        My Eyes did Expand
        Into regions of air
        Away from all Care,
        Into regions of fire
        Remote from Desire;
        The Light of the Morning
        Heaven's Mountains adorning:

        In particles bright
        The jewels of Light
        Distinct shone & clear.
        Amaz'd & in fear
        I each particle gazed,
        Astonish'd, Amazed;
        For each was a Man
        I stood in the Streams
        Of Heaven's bright beams,
        And Saw Felpham sweet
        Beneath my bright feet
        In soft Female charms;
        And in her fair arms
        My Shadow I knew
        And my wife's shadow too
        And my sister & Friend.
        We like Infants descend
        In our Shadows on Earth
        Like a weak mortal birth.
        My Eyes more & more
        Like a Sea without shore
        Continue Expanding,
        The Heavens commanding,
        Till the Jewels of Light,
        Heavenly Men beaming bright,
        Appear'd as One Man
        Who Complacent began
        My limbs to infold
        In his beams of bright gold;
        Like dross purg'd away
        All my mire & my clay.
        Soft consum'd in delight
        In his bosom Sun bright
        I remain'd.  Soft he smil'd
        And I heard his voice Mild
        Saying: This is My Fold,
        O thou Ram horn'd with gold!
        And the voice faded mild.

      Following John and Paul quite literally Blake believed that all things belong to Jesus. He is in them (us) and they (we) are in him. All his life Blake had kept a firm grip on the oneness of humanity and its identity with God. At the Moment of Grace he came to see all as One Man and his own forgiven and accepted place in that Man's bosom. In the poem the Man refers to the All as "My Fold" and names the awakened Blake as his herald: "Thou Ram horn'd with gold".

      Blake sent this poem to the one faithful Christian he knew who had befriended and loved him. The circumstances leave no doubt as to the identity of the One Man. The poem poetically expresses Blake's faith as it relates to God, Man and the relationship between the two. It expresses what the Christian faith has to say about the relationship as well as it can be expressed verbally. It also expresses with vivid eloquence the child like nature of the entrance to the kingdom of God. Blake here celebrates and confesses it. 

To interpret Blake's experience we could use any number of hackneyed phrases representing the various dialects of the language of Zion; suffice it to say that for most of them as for Blake this is the main event, the center of the Moment of Grace. At this point Jesus became and forever afterward remained the One and the ever present Reality which Blake had formerly known as the Infinite or Eternal. For Blake Jesus was a Man, the Reality of Life, and most ultimately the All. In every instance Blake strictly followed Johannine and Pauline strains of the New Testament.

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