Illustrations to Poems of Thomas Gray
The Progress of Poesy
Robinson's primary difficulty in communicating with Blake was his failure to accept the spiritual world which was more real to Blake than was the physical world. We tend to associate the ability to hear 'voices' and see 'visions' with mental illness as did Robinson. But most of us will admit that there are moments in our lives when we are super-sensitive to realities that bring together the awareness of truth, beauty and love in a culminating experience. This is the visionary state to which Blake had such ready access and which was so alien to Robinson.
A quote from Robinson's account of a conversation with Blake:
"The Sun. 'I have conversed with the Spiritual Sun—I saw him on Primrose-hill. He said, "Do you take me for the Greek Apollo?" "No," I said, "that" [and Blake pointed to the sky] "that is the Greek Apollo. He is Satan.'"
Jerusalem, Plate 73, (E 229) "The Sons of Los clothe them & feed, & provide houses & gardens And every Human Vegetated Form in its inward recesses Is a house of ple[as]antness & a garden of delight Built by the Sons & Daughters of Los in Bowlahoola & in Cathedron From London to York & Edinburgh the Furnaces rage terrible Primrose Hill is the mouth of the Furnace & the Iron Door; A quote from Robinson's account of a conversation with Blake: "The combination of the warmest praise with imputations which from another would assume the most serious character, and the liberty he took to interpret as he pleased, rendered it as difficult to be offended as to reason with him. The eloquent descriptions of Nature in Wordsworth's poems were conclusive proofs of atheism, for whoever believes in Nature, said Blake, disbelieves in God. For Nature is the work of the Devil. On my obtaining from him the declaration that the Bible was the Word of God, I referred to the commencement of Genesis—In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. But I gained nothing by this, for I was triumphantly told that this God was not Jehovah, but the Elohim; and the doctrine of the Gnostics repeated with sufficient consistency to silence one so unlearned as myself."
Jerusalem, Plate 27, (E 171) "Your Ancestors derived their origin from Abraham, Heber, Shem, and Noah, who were Druids: as the Druid Temples (which are the Patriarchal Pillars & Oak Groves) over the whole Earth witness to this day. You have a tradition, that Man anciently containd in his mighty limbs all things in Heaven & Earth: this you recieved from the Druids. "But now the Starry Heavens are fled from the mighty limbs of Albion" Albion was the Parent of the Druids; & in his Chaotic State of Sleep Satan & Adam & the whole World was Created by the Elohim."
Jerusalem, Plate 73, (E 228) "To Create the lion & wolf the bear: the tyger & ounce: To Create the wooly lamb & downy fowl & sealy serpent The summer & winter: day & night: the sun & moon & stars The tree: the plant: the flower: the rock: the stone: the metal: Of Vegetative Nature: by their hard restricting condensations. Where Luvahs World of Opakeness grew to a period: It Became a Limit, a Rocky hardness without form & void Accumulating without end: here Los. who is of the Elohim Opens the Furnaces of affliction in the Emanation Fixing The Sexual into an ever-prolific Generation Naming the Limit of Opakeness Satan & the Limit of Contraction Adam, who is Peleg & Joktan: & Esau & Jacob: & Saul & David" A quote from Robinson's account of a conversation with Blake: "It was this day in connection with the assertion that the Bible is the Word of God and all truth is to be found in it, he using language concerning man's reason being opposed to grace very like that used by the Orthodox Christian, that he qualified, and as the same Orthodox would say utterly nullified all he said by declaring that he understood the Bible in a Spiritual sense. As to the natural sense, he said Voltaire was commissioned by God to expose that. 'I have had,' he said, 'much intercourse with Voltaire, and he said to me, "I blasphemed the Son of Man, and it shall be forgiven me, but they (the enemies of Voltaire) blasphemed the Holy Ghost in me, and it shall not be forgiven to them." 'I ask him in what language Voltaire spoke. His answer was ingenious and gave no encouragement to cross-questioning: 'To my sensations it was English. It was like the touch of a musical key; he touched it probably French, but to my ear it became English."
Jerusalem, Plate 73, (E 228) "Voltaire insinuates that these Limits are the cruel work of God Mocking the Remover of Limits & the Resurrection of the Dead Setting up Kings in wrath: in holiness of Natural Religion Which Los with his mighty Hammer demolishes time on time In miracles & wonders in the Four-fold Desart of Albion Permanently Creating to be in Time Reveald & Demolishd" Descriptive Catalogue, (E 543) "All had originally one language, and one religion, this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus. The reasoning historian, turner and twister of causes and consequences, such as Hume, Gibbon and Voltaire; cannot with all their artifice, turn or twist one fact or disarrange self evident action and reality. Reasons and opinions concerning acts, are not history. Acts themselves alone are history, and these are neither the exclusive property of Hume, Gibbon nor Voltaire, Echard, Rapin, Plutarch, nor Herodotus. Tell me the Acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish. All that is not action is not worth reading. Tell me the What; I do not want you to tell me the Why, and the How; I can find that out myself, as well as you can, and I will not be fooled by you into opinions, that you please to impose, to disbelieve what you think improbable or impossible. His opinions, who does not see spiritual agency, is not worth any man's reading; he who rejects a fact because it is improbable, must reject all History and retain doubts only."