media.mutualart.com Illustrations to Dante Empyrean Drinking at the River of Life
Eternity is not closed to the man of imagination. He may drink at the River of Life as Blake himself did. He tells us that the Two Fountains of the River of Life are War & Hunting. Not war and hunting experienced in the vegetative body but in the Eternal or Imaginative Body; not enclosed under the 'shaggy roof' of the skull but open to an 'immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five'.
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 35) "When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a flat sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock, with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now perceived by the minds of men, & read by them on earth. How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"What might be the war engaged in as a Fountain of the River of Life? Blake's answer is 'Mental Studies & Performances.' The war of ideas exchanged with mutual appreciation and respect breaks no bones and sheds no blood. The conflict of ideas need not lead to external conflict unless the Selfhood defensively arms itself for a battle which need not come. In The Poison Tree the enemy is created externally as an expression of internal fears, self-pity, and deceit. It is not the Selfhood but the Holy Ghost which is an Intellectual Fountain.
Hunting too is said to be a Fountain of the River of Life. In hunting or searching man pursues 'Art & Science' through which the imagination is experienced in the material world.
Milton, Plate 34 , (E 134) "And Ololon looked down into the Heavens of Ulro in fear They said. How are the Wars of Man which in Great Eternity Appear around, in the External Spheres of Visionary Life Here renderd Deadly within the Life & Interior Vision How are the Beasts & Birds & Fishes, & Plants & Minerals Here fixd into a frozen bulk subject to decay & death[?] Those Visions of Human Life & Shadows of Wisdom & Knowledge Plate 35  Are here frozen to unexpansive deadly destroying terrors[.] And War & Hunting: the Two Fountains of the River of Life Are become Fountains of bitter Death & of corroding Hell Till Brotherhood is changd into a Curse & a Flattery By Differences between Ideas, that Ideas themselves, (which are The Divine Members) may be slain in offerings for sin O dreadful Loom of Death! O piteous Female forms compelld To weave the Woof of Death," Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231) "Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies are no more. The Apostles knew of no other Gospel. What were all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies & Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not all Mental Gifts? Is God a Spirit who must be worshipped in Spirit & in Truth and are not the Gifts of the Spirit Every-thing to Man? O ye Religious discountenance every one among you who shall pretend to despise Art & Science! I call upon you in the Name of Jesus! What is the Life of Man but Art & Science? is it Meat & Drink? is not the Body more than Raiment? What is Mortality but the things relating to the Body, which Dies? What is Immortality but the things relating to the Spirit, which Lives Eternally! What is the joy of Heaven but Improvement in the things of the Spirit? What are the Pains of Hell but Ignorance, Bodily Lust, Idleness & devastation of the things of the Spirit[?] Answer this to yourselves, & expel from among you those who pretend to despise the labours of Art & Science, which alone are the labours of the Gospel: Is not this plain & manifest to the thought? Can you think at all & not pronounce heartily! That to Labour in Knowledge. is to Build up Jerusalem: and to Despise Knowledge, is to Despise Jerusalem & her Builders." Jerusalem, Plate 91,(E 251) "Go to these Fiends of Righteousness Tell them to obey their Humanities, & not pretend Holiness; When they are murderers: as far as my Hammer & Anvil permit Go, tell them that the Worship of God, is honouring his gifts In other men: & loving the greatest men best, each according To his Genius: which is the Holy Ghost in Man; there is no other God, than that God who is the intellectual fountain of Humanity; He who envies or calumniates: which is murder & cruelty, Murders the Holy-one: Go tell them this & overthrow their cup, Their bread, their altar-table, their incense & their oath: Their marriage & their baptism, their burial & consecration:" Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 256) "So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became Fountains of Living Waters Flowing from the Humanity Divine And all the Cities of Albion rose from their Slumbers, and All The Sons & Daughters of Albion on soft clouds Waking from Sleep Soon all around remote the Heavens burnt with flaming fires And Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona arose into Albions Bosom: Then Albion stood before Jesus in the Clouds Of Heaven Fourfold among the Visions of God in Eternity"