Thursday, April 18, 2013

Images of Truth Plus

(This post may be considered a comment and an amplification of Image of Truth):

The word 'image' can easily be used as a symbol with complex meaning. When Blake spoke 

of 'image of Truth' it was with the realization the Truth produces many images. Each image 
is partial and inadequate for encompassing Truth, but as images they are valuable 
illuminations of facets of Truth. Blake used the term 'imagination' more the the term 'image.' 
But imagination was to Blake the ability to manipulate images in order that Truth be 

Blake's production of images in poetry and painting is only the tip of the iceberg. Blake saw 
the things he read, including the Bible, as containing images of underlying truth which could 
not be communicated literally. He related to the natural world as a source of images which 
explained eternal truth. His awareness of the language of images provided the connections 
through which he could draw together the pieces of Eternity scattered in time. Images to 
Blake were not simple reflections as we may see in our mirrors, but the way in which Eternity 
becomes manifest in time.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 8, (E 37)
"Every thing possible to be believ'd is an
image of truth."   

All Religions Are One, Plate 3, (E 1)

"No man can think write or speak from his heart,

but he must intend truth."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 54, (E 31)
"The Voice of the Ancient Bard.
Youth of delight come hither:
And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new born.
Doubt is fled & clouds of reason.
Dark disputes & artful teazing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways,

How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead,
[A young Blake was not concerned with Ezekiel 37 at this point.]
And feel they know not what but care
And wish to lead others, when they should be led."

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 10, E 38
"Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd."

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 205)
 "He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer:
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power.
The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity
Establishment of
Truth depends on destruction of Falshood continually"  

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 562)
"All Life consists of these Two Throwing off Error
continually & recieving
Truth or Wise Men into our
Company Continually

[In his fundamental theology Blake disallowed  ‘good and evil’ and
replaced it with ‘truth and error’; Ellie amply documented that with extracts
from ‘Vision of the Last Judgment’.]
What are all the Gifts of the
Spirit but Mental Gifts whenever any Individual Rejects Error &
Truth a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 563)
"These represent those who tho willing were
too weak to Reject Error without the Assistance & Countenance of
those Already in the
Truth for a Man Can only Reject Error by the
Advice of a Friend or by the Immediate Inspiration of God it is
for this Reason among many others that I have put the Lords
Supper on the Left hand of the [Picture] Throne for it appears so
at the Last Judgment for a Protection"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Error is
Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then
Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me."

Blake radically refuted the conventional understanding that sinners will
be tormented forever with ‘everlasting burnings’.

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and 
gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without 
iniquity, just and right is he.

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which 
your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he 
walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou 
hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this 

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the 

For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful 
things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth
and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in 
peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no 
man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to 
give tribute to Caesar, or not?

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by 

It was among these and the other 224 places in the Bible that Blake learned the most about Truth.


Vincent said...

Do you see Blake as a prophet? One who adds another layer of explanation to reveal the "Truth" in the Bible?

I confess that I see him as a poet who saw visions and had contentious opinions and found himself torn between expressing the complexity of his inner vision and making a living.

And it seems to me he must not be put on a pedestal but looked at critically. As a poet and as a prophet he should have been more lucid if he were to succeed in either calling, poetry or prophecy. And when We look clear-eyed at his failings we can look more clear-eyed at what he achieved.

As things stand, he is vaguely revered as the author of a few poems and notable sayings.

Do you think he has something unique to say to our generation?

Larry said...

Indeed I do, Vincent. He spoke to me primarily in the free-style way he read the Bible. Nowadays so many people are biblically illiterate and so many seminaries approach it entirely in a literal way. I wish I could reach the many seminary students I've known who might have benefited enormously from a knowledge of Blake's approach to the Bible.

Vincent said...

Thanks for your illuminating reply, Larry. I'm deeply grateful to my private-school education for giving me thorough immersion in the Bible, though I never progressed to becoming a Christian. Now in my later years, I appreciate it as literature, but above that as providing a profound cultural link which links me to a vast community, including authors long dead, my wife (who came from quite a different background in Jamaica) and of course online colleagues such you and Ellie.

I think of the Bible mainly as poetry, stories and the background to the European tradition of art, music and much literature. And the source for and decoration of so many important rituals. It provides little if any input to my spiritual life.

What I see however is that in the US, and Jamaica too, a certain kind of Christian observance, evangelical, dogmatic and fundamentalist, has planted a lifelong aversion, a kind of immunisation, making it impossible for them to have, like me, an indulgent sympathy with Christianity.

I find myself close to Blake in many ways, except that he lived in a different age; and I see him often as a truculent free-thinking Londoner like some I've met, including some very well-read taxi-drivers.