Monday, March 02, 2015


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts 
Few people who read Blake would deny that he is attempting to make his reader change the way he perceives his world. Our minds have been trained to see separate entities which are clearly differentiated. We have learned that things are either one thing or another. We measure and define, explain and rationalize. 

But what if words were pointers to ideas which were too big to be contained in words. What if each word opened the mind to ever expanding vistas of movement and activity. What if there were gates through which you could pass to enter unknown worlds. What if the world to which imagination can take us were all around us and inside us as well. What if we traveled through images of reality in a body which belongs to Eternity. Such a world would be the environs in which William Blake lived.

Blake's life can be thought of as a metaphor which he was using to describe the world which senses cannot access. He lived the joy and woe which permeates his poetic and visual images. He lived the death and the resurrection, and the journey of experience which connects the two. It was not enough to him to portray the Eternal, Infinite, Invisible world, he wanted to give access to that world to the brotherhood of man.

You are given the opportunity of viewing your own life as metaphor. You can become conscious that what we call reality is a mask which covers an "an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five". Your imagination will be expanded as was Blake's by exercising your "immortal Eyes ... inward into the Worlds of Thought".

Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)
"Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me.
Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination        
O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love:
Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life!"

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 114, (E 385)
"he [Man] rises to the Sun
And to the Planets of the Night & to the stars that gild
The Zodiac & the stars that sullen stand to north & south
He touches the remotest pole & in the Center weeps
That Man should Labour & sorrow & learn & forget & return
To the dark valley whence he came to begin his labours anew
In pain he sighs in pain he labours in his universe
Screaming in birds over the deep & howling in the Wolf
Over the slain & moaning in the cattle & in the winds
And weeping over Orc & Urizen in clouds & flaming fires  
And in the cries of birth & in the groans of death his voice 
Is heard throughout the Universe whereever a grass grows
Or a leaf buds   The Eternal Man is seen is heard   is felt
And all his Sorrows till he reassumes his ancient bliss

Such are the words of Ahania & Enion. Los hears & weeps  
And Los & Enitharmon took the Body of the Lamb 
Down from the Cross & placd it in a Sepulcher which Los had hewn
For himself in the Rock of Eternity trembling & in despair 
Jerusalem wept over the Sepulcher two thousand Years"

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Plate 9, (E 9)
"And we are put on earth a little space, 
we may learn to bear the beams of love,
SONGS 10  
For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear
The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice.
Saying: come out from the grove my love & care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice."


Vincent said...

This is one of your best introductions to Blake, in my opinion, but that is the viewpoint of just one person, of course.

For there is an immensity to Blake, a vision which he constantly tries to reflect, though his trying is almost inevitably doomed to partial failure.

There are few of us who can stop long enough to dwell long enough with him; and for me, I look at all my books, and what they have taught me, and most of the time I cannot do them justice, but simply know that they are there.

And it is the same with this magical invention and its wondrous content, this self-evolving mirror of the material creation, the World-Wide Web. It is too big, and we can only dip in, we know it is full of treasures, what can we do but let ourselves be guided to them? For reason can hardly navigate such immensity.

And so it is with your posts. Sometimes I am drawn to them, and spend a while there, as by a spring found on one's wanderings, and take refreshment, and move on.

Your site is such a spring, or an orchard open to the wayfarer to take fruit therefrom. Thank you!

ellie said...

Searching is a great metaphor for what we are doing in the here and now. Much of my mundane day is spent in searching for items that are temporarily misplaced, hopelessly buried or irretrievably lost. Then there is the searching for books or important passages in books. Constantly I'm searching my mind for some word of thought that I once had and can't find. The internet is great with its search engines but sometimes it furnishes too much data for me to hone in on what I need.

Blogging gives me a place to put ideas so that I have a chance of retrieving them when I come across the pieces of the puzzle with which they fit together.

But in the midst of our searching we must partake of the cool spring water, taste the apple (whether pristine or bruised), pick the blackberries (in spite of the thorns), and repose on the dewy (or rocky) hillside as the light departs for other climes.

I'm grateful to Blake for supplying such an abundant array of images. I'm grateful to you for befriending me on the jaunt.