Saturday, January 26, 2013


Blake makes a distinction between the eye as we experience it in the natural world and the visionary eye. In the Book of Urizen we see how the senses became limited when man entered the material world as a created being. What appeared to the shrunken eye was not clear nor did it provide a wide range of information. Science tells us that the eye can process only a small band of wave lengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. The rest of radiated energy is unknown and useless to the eye. Perhaps Blake was able to imagine that humans could be capable of receiving and assimilating far more sensory data than seemed to be available to them. But Blake was less interested in sensory capability than with spiritual acuity.

He came to associate the expanded quantity of data with communications from the Spiritual or Eternal World. The natural eye became a metaphor for the visionary eye. If the eye had been modified to be less able to discern eternal truth as it became part of the material creation, it could again be modified to be an instrument for seeing the unseen world of infinity and eternity. When Blake talks of seeing through the eye he is proposing that the eye be used to see through the layers of obfuscating, distorting filters which are created by our minds and our preconceived structures of reasoning.  

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 9, (E 37)
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the
     beard of earth.

Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Title Page, (E 45)   
  "The Eye sees more than the Heart knows."

Book of Urizen, Plate 25, (E 82)
"The Senses inward rush'd shrinking,
Beneath the dark net of infection.                           
2. Till the shrunken eyes clouded over
Discernd not the woven hipocrisy
But the streaky slime in their heavens
Brought together by narrowing perceptions
Appeard transparent air; for their eyes                
Grew small like the eyes of a man"

Milton, Plate 12, (E 156) 
And the Eyes are the South [reason], and the Nostrils are the East [emotion].
And the Tongue is the West [sensation], and the Ear is the North [imagination].            

Mental Traveller, (E 485)
"The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball"

Songs and Ballads, Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
British Museum
Night Thoughts, Edward Young

"Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day"

There is a birth to night in which the Soul is asleep without realizing it. The sleeping, dreaming state deceives the dreamer by hiding reality thereby creating a lie. Awaking to the light of day allows man to look through his eye to see the Eternal Great Humanity Divine of which he partakes.

Everlasting Gospel, (E 520)
"In Doubt which is Self Contradiction
Humility is only Doubt
And does the Sun & Moon blot out
Rooting over with thorns & stems     
The buried Soul & all its Gems
This Lifes dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to Believe a Lie
When you see with not thro the Eye   
That was born in a night to perish in a night
When the Soul slept in the beams of Light."

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