Friday, December 12, 2014


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
In a letter of 1799 to his friend George Cumberland, Blake wrote, "As to Myself about whom you are so kindly Interested. I live by Miracle." (E 704) Blake was writing at a low point of his career not a high point. He was sustained by his faith in "the infinite in every thing", words he had put into the mouth of Isaiah in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake believed with Isaiah that "a firm perswasion" could make a thing so. The ability to discern a miracle to Blake came through seeing everything from the Infinite, Eternal perspective, not from the perspective of Urizen whose philosophy was based on doubt.

Seeing miracles, having faith, perceiving the infinite in every thing, moving mountains: all of these a ways of expressing man's essential nature of being a vehicle through whom God acts.  

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 12, (E 38) 
                    "A Memorable Fancy.                            
   "The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked
them how they dared so roundly to assert. that God spake to them; 
and  whether they did not think at the time, that they would be 
misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition.
   Isaiah answer'd. I saw no God. nor heard any, in a finite
organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in
every thing, and as  I was then perswaded. & remain confirm'd;
that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared
not for consequences but  wrote.
   Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make
it so?
   He replied.  All poets believe that it does, & in ages of
this firm perswasion removed mountains; but many are not capable
of a firm perswasion of any thing."

Matthew 21
[18] In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he was hungry.
[19] And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once.
[20] When the disciples saw it they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?"
[21] And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will be done.
[22] And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 543)
"Mr. B. has done, as all
the ancients did, and as all the moderns, who are worthy of fame,
given the historical fact in its poetical vigour; so as it always
happens, and not in that dull way that some Historians pretend,
who being weakly organized themselves, cannot see either miracle
or prodigy; all is to them a dull round of probabilities and
possibilities; but the history of all times and places, is
nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities; what we 
should say, was impossible if we did not see it always before our 
It may have seemed improbable that Paine's Common Sense would have been pivotal in the breaking away of the British Colonies from their parent. Equally improbable it would have seemed that the Disciples of Jesus would have become new wineskins that hold the new wine which fermented through the ministry of Jesus. And how improbable is it that the work of William Blake which was known to a few hundred people in his lifetime is viewed and read and contemplated by hundreds of thousands through the 'miracle' of the internet today?    

British Museum's video of William Blake's Spiritual Visions. 

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