British Museum Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
GOOD & EVIL
HEGEMONY OF REASON
SIN & VENGEANCE
AWAKE FROM SLEEP
CREATION OF STATES
ERROR & TRUTH
These are transformative ideas. It is the opportunity of the individual's essential identity to undergo experience in order for the seed within him to germinate and grow into a tree. Blake has discerned aspects of the process which man goes through as he strives toward psychological wholeness and spiritual enlightenment. Blake gives us the benefit of his intense struggles along his journey in order that we may be willing to contemplate our own potential for altering our ability to perceive.
Vision of Last Judgment,(E 559) "If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy General Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom consists & Happiness too."Kay and Roger Easson, in Milton: A Poem by William Blake, emphasize Blake's role as a teacher:
"To read William Blake's illuminated books is to participate in a spiritual education. To read Blake's Milton is to discover the nature of that spiritual education concurrently with the education itself. Although Milton is incredibly beautiful in its combination of word and illustration and although its complexity stimulates intellectual scrutiny, it is a prophecy and like all prophecy, it provides spiritual instruction. William Blake is a spiritual teacher, a prophet who, having 'discover'd the infinite in every thing' is committed to 'raising other men into a perception of the infinite' (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). And, Milton is the book in which Blake teaches how 'all the Lord's people' can become prophets. In Milton Blake defines the spiritual journey which renews prophecy in every moment of human time." (Page 135)
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 16, (E 42) "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind."
Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251) "Los beheld undaunted furious His heavd Hammer; he swung it round & at one blow, In unpitying ruin driving down the pyramids of pride Smiting the Spectre on his Anvil & the integuments of his Eye And Ear unbinding in dire pain, with many blows, Of strict severity self-subduing, & with many tears labouring. Then he sent forth the Spectre all his pyramids were grains Of sand & his pillars: dust on the flys wing: & his starry Heavens; a moth of gold & silver mocking his anxious grasp Thus Los alterd his Spectre & every Ratio of his Reason He alterd time after time, with dire pain & many tears Till he had completely divided him into a separate space. Terrified Los sat to behold trembling & weeping & howling I care not whether a Man is Good or Evil; all that I care Is whether he is a Wise Man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness And put on Intellect: or my thundrous Hammer shall drive thee To wrath which thou condemnest: till thou obey my voice So Los terrified cries: trembling & weeping & howling! Beholding" Four Zoas, Page 49, (E 333) "The Spectre of Urthona seeing Enitharmon writhd His cloudy form in jealous fear & muttering thunders hoarse And casting round thick glooms. thus utterd his fierce pangs of heart Tharmas I know thee. how are we alterd our beauty decayd But still I know thee tho in this horrible ruin whelmd Thou once the mildest son of heaven art now become a Rage A terror to all living things. think not that I am ignorant That thou art risen from the dead or that my power forgot" Songs & Ballads, (E 485) The Mental Traveller ... "And to Allay his freezing Age The Poor Man takes her in his arms The Cottage fades before his Sight The Garden & its lovely Charms The Guests are scatterd thro' the land For the Eye altering alters all The Senses roll themselves in fear And the flat Earth becomes a Ball The Stars Sun Moon all shrink away A desart vast without a bound And nothing left to eat or drink And a dark desart all around" Descriptive Catalogue, (E 532) "Of Chaucer's characters, as described in his Canterbury Tales, some of the names or titles are altered by time, but the characters themselves for ever remain unaltered, and consequently they are the physiognomies or lineaments of universal human life, beyond which Nature never steps. Names alter, things never alter.I have known multitudes of those who would have been monks in the age of monkery, who in this deistical age are deists. As Newton numbered the stars, and as Linneus numbered the plants, so Chaucer numbered the classes of men."