Friday, August 03, 2012

REJOICE & TREMBLE

http://www.britishmuseum.org/collectionimages/AN00042/AN00042361_001_l.jpg
British Museum
Fear & Hope are Vision 
Gates of Paradise
Plate 13


 
 




During Blake's sojourn in Felpham, a correspondence developed between Blake and Thomas Butts who became the primary collector of Blake's works. Fortunately Butts preserved Blake's letters as well as his images and illuminated manuscripts. From the letters we learn of Blake's emotional, physical and spiritual conditions. A portion of the letter of April 25, 1806 seems to be addressed to advice Butts had given Blake on using the Psalms to lift his spirits. Blake's response is a tour de force of unidentified references to Biblical passages, mainly from Psalms. I hope that Butts had a thorough acquaintance with the Bible since he didn't have the internet to track down relevant passages.

 
 
 
 
   Letters,  26, (E 728) 
"Mr Butts, Grt Marlborough Street
Felpham April 25: 1803
...
 I have a thousand & ten thousand things to say to you.  My
heart is full of futurity. I percieve that the sore travel which
has been given me these three years leads to Glory & Honour.  I
rejoice & I tremble "I am fearfully & wonderfully made".  I had
been reading the cxxxix Psalm a little before your Letter
arrived.  I take your advice.  I see the face of my Heavenly
Father he lays his Hand upon my Head & gives a blessing to all my
works why should I be troubled why should my heart & flesh cry
out.  I will go on in the Strength of the Lord through Hell will
I sing forth his Praises. that the Dragons of the Deep may praise
him & that those who dwell in darkness & on the Sea coasts may be
gatherd into his Kingdom." 

The phrases I've highlighted in Blake's letter may lead us to these verses and chapters: 

Psalms 8
[5] For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with  
glory and honour.

Luke 6
[23]  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven:
 for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

Psalm 119
[120] My flesh  trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

Psalms 139
[14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; 
and that my soul knoweth right well.

Matthew 6
[26] Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; 
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Psalms 139
[5] Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

1 Peter 3
[9] Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that 
ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

John 14
[27] Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart  be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

Psalms 84
[2] My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh 
crieth out for the living God.

Psalms 71
[16] I will go in the  strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, 
even of thine only.

Psalms 146
[2] While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing  praises unto my God while I have any being.

Psalms 148
[7] Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:

Psalms 143
[3] For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; 
he hath made me to  dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.

Psalms 107
[1] O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
[2] Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
[3] And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and 
from the south.
[4] They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
[5] Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
[6] Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.

Zephaniah 2
[6] And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. 

Luke 6
[17] And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, 
and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the  sea coast of 
Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;

Psalms 103
[19] The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Luke 1
[33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there 
shall be no end.

2 comments:

ellie said...

Blake uses the phrase 'sea coast' to further personalise his message and identify with the Biblical statements. From the cottage where Blake was living in Felpham, he could walk to the water's edge.

Susan J. said...

Lovely! I find the process of tracking down Bible references in writings of Blake's era to be ever-expanding and mind-opening...

e.g. for "rejoice and tremble" see also Psalm 2:11
"Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling"

and there is a LOT of "glory and honour" in the book of Revelation, which may have been what Blake was thinking of since he was referring to "sore travel" leading to "glory and honour" -- kind of apocalyptic sounding...

Thanks so much -- it's an inspiring letter!

Susan