Wednesday, August 07, 2013


 The Norton Library's Blake's Poetry and Designs contains a large quantity of Blake's writings plus commentary which increases our understanding and enjoyment in reading it. Martin Nurmi contributed an essay On The Marriage of Heaven an Hell in which he identifies the two basis themes of Blake's book as the 'idea of expanded sense perception' and 'his doctrine of contraries.' He introduced the first of these themes with the poem which Blake enclosed in a letter to his friend Thomas Butts.

Nurmi illustrated that the arrival at 'spiritual sensation' was reached through the steps which Blake enumerated in the poem. Quoting from Nurmi on page 554:
"In the first part of the poem, which records a visionary experience on the sand at Felpham, the sand appears merely as 'Jewels of Light.' Then as Blake's vision becomes more intense and passes firmly into its 'two-fold state, the grains of sand begin to display their human quality, and appear as individual men:"
I each particle gazed
     Astonishd Amazed
     For each was a Man
     Human formd.
"We fail to recognize the human nature of creation because we look as if from a distance"  
 Each grain of Sand
     Every Stone on the Land
     Each rock & each hill
     Each fountain & rill
     Each herb & each tree
     Mountain hill Earth & Sea
     Cloud Meteor & Star
     Are Men Seen Afar
"This two-fold perception is superior to the 'single-vision' of the materialistic philosopher because it begins to show the imaginative form of things. But it does not yield a comprehensive view of the world. To gain that we must pass through an affective state, the 'three-fold vision' in which objects undergo a transformation because the perceiver undergoes one: He begins to view all things in a state of delight somewhat akin to the sexual delight with which man looks on woman."
I stood in the Streams
     Of Heavens bright beams
     And Saw Felpham sweet
     Beneath my bright feet
     In soft Female charms
"In this state he can begin to know directly by perception that on Earth there are only shadows, that the Real is elsewhere:"
  My Shadow I knew
     And my wifes shadow too
     And My Sister & Friend.
     We like Infants descend
     In our Shadows on Earth
     Like a weak mortal birth
"Having passed through this state, the perceiver is now ready to move to the highest state, oe 'four-fold' vision which enable him to see all of existence synoptically as one, as 'One Man':" 
   My Eyes more & more
     Like a Sea without shore
     Continue Expanding
     The Heavens commanding
     Till the jewels of Light
     Heavenly Men beaming bright
     Appeard as One Man
"And this One Man is the mild, forgiving Christ, who welcomes Blake to his fold, as one of those who have awakened from 'Newton's sleep', or the single vision of materialism:"
Soft he smild
     And I heard his voice Mild
     Saying This is My Fold
     O thou Ram hornd with gold
     Who awakest from sleep
     On the sides of the Deep
"Then the vision is over and the Saviour's voice fades, Blake passes into the state of enriched 'innocence' which he has portrayed in Songs of Innocence. Now all things have been permanently transformed, by his glimpse of the infinite, into objects of joy:"
 I remaind as a Child
     All I ever had known
     Before me bright Shone
British Museum
Illustrations to Dante's Paradisio 
Peter, St James, Dante and Beatrice with St John Also

1 comment:

ellie said...

Johnny Depp
Doors of Perception