|Yale Center for British Art|
Illustrations for poems of Thomas Gray
Pindaric Genius Receiving His Lyre
Kathleen Raine, in Blake and Tradition, points us in the direction of exchanging the temporal rational life for the eternal, imaginative wisdom:
"But symbolically, old age stands for the temporal, which alone ages. In eternity nothing ages; the 'eternal man' 'cannot die.' Only the temporal selfhood can grow old, for it alone is built up in time, nourished by memories, and its final fate - whether in man or institution, church of state - however long it may totter on the verge of dissolution, can only end in death. The imaginative wisdom is ever young and its symbol is the child, whose eternal nature outlasts all the dynasties of old men and their amassed experience. The child, the symbol of the 'human existence itself,' comes into the world with every man, before the amassing of memories and the construction of an aging selfhood begins... records of the past are preserved like papyrus and mummies in the dry sands of the spiritual Egypt. But the long continuance of the temporal never leads to eternity, and is, indeed, only an obstacle to the realization of the world of Imagination, which can be entered by becoming 'as a little child.'" (Page 66)
 But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
 You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'"
 And he said, "All these I have observed from my youth."
 And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, (E 31) "The School Boy Ah! then at times I drooping sit, And spend many an anxious hour. Nor in my book can I take delight, Nor sit in learnings bower, Worn thro' with the dreary shower. How can the bird that is born for joy, Sit in a cage and sing. How can a child when fears annoy, But droop his tender wing, And forget his youthful spring. O! father & mother, if buds are nip'd, And blossoms blown away, And if the tender plants are strip'd Of their joy in the springing day, By sorrow and cares dismay, How shall the summer arise in joy. Or the summer fruits appear, Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy Or bless the mellowing year, When the blasts of winter appear."