Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shakespeare 4

From the Bible and Blake:
He wasn't socialized; he didn't go to school, never birched, he was no donkey!  Instead he poured over Milton, the Bible, Shakespeare.  By 1800 he had been exposed to Paracelsus and Behmen (Boehme).  You might say his socialization came through those wise men. They were also the agencies  that educated him.

When you've been studying Blake for a while, if you also have some acquaintance with the Bible, it may suddenly dawn on you that almost every word of his poetry has a close relationship with something in the Bible.

From Quit Your Meanness

Sam Jones was the most famous preacher in the late nineteenth century. Jones preached one sermon that Dad really liked and put in his sermon notebook; it was called 'Quit your 

St. Paul used more elegant language:
 "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling 
for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" 
(Philippians 2:12-13). 

That verse, prominent in my memory for many years, acquired new poignancy the other day as I was contemplating Blake's Selfhood: annihilate it!

The Selfhood goes in the circular file, but neither Blake nor you and I could do that overnight; oh no! We had to work it out with fear and trembling. The Spectre is the Selfhood, and Blake wrote:
"My spectre around me night and day
Like a wild beast guards my way;"
from the Poem that has been discussed so often in this blog.

Blake had to discover his preconceived notions, his pet peeves, his resentments of everyone from Bacon, Newton, and Locke to Hayley. Once he discovered them and confessed his error, that aspect of his Selfhood was annihilated, and the Last Judgment fell upon him. In Plate 98, near the end of Jerusalem and of his poetry he joined Bacon and Newton and Locke with those he had always loved, Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer. It was the testimony of a happy man.

C.S.Lewis, near the end of his greatest story, Till We Have Faces, shared his Vision of that Eternal 'Moment'. Lewis had issues with Blake because of his own orthodoxy but my vision of him is that Blake's poetry and George MacDonalds's spirit had done their work in the end, enabling Lewis to envision the graduation to Eternity of "turk and jew":
"And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too"
Blake has said that "."

He must have substantially completed the long drawn procedure of confessing his sins and experiencing forgiveness during mortal life because he 
every death is an improvement in the state of the departeddied a very happy man.

From  Blake's Pity

from Notebook],  (E470):
"I heard an Angel singing
When the day was springing,
"Mercy, Pity, Peace
Is the world's release."
Thus he sung all day
Over the new mown hay,
Till the sun went down
And haycocks looked brown.
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze,
"Mercy could be no more,
If there was nobody poor,
And pity no more could be,
If all were as happy as we."
At his curse the sun went down,
And the heavens gave a frown.
Down pour'd the heavy rain
Over the new reap'd grain ...
And Miseries' increase
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace."

(The Tate Collection cites a passage from Shakespeare's Macbeth related to this picture; Blake shows a female cherub leaning down to snatch the baby from its mother. His image refers closely to Shakespeare's text.

And Pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heav'n's cherubim hors'd
Upon the sightless couriers of the air
(Macbeth Act1 Scene 7)

Besides helping me with the picture my dear wife added this to the post:
'the grace of the transcendent God reaches down to us;
in pity that of God in you or me reaches out to those in need (of all sorts)'

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