Friday, March 31, 2017


First published by Larry on Friday, November 27, 2009.

British Museum
Illustrations to Edward Young's Night Thoughts
Love Lets Down These Silver Chains of Light
In the Gospel of John, Nicodemus heard Jesus say, "you
must be born again" representing the most significant
event in a person's life-- their awakening from a purely
physical, materialistic life to a Perception of the Infinite
(MHH, Plate 13, lines 21-23, E39).


A person with inherent gifts of imagination and insight
into their psyche may be susceptible to moments of new
insight that seem like a rebirth. (Three seminary
professors told this student that 'you must be born
again, and again, and again'.)


Such a rebirth for our poet occurred in 1804, and he
immediately reported it to his (corporeal) friend and
physical benefactor, William Hayley; in Letter 51,
dated 23 October 1804 (Erdman 756) Blake wrote:

"Suddenly, on the day after visiting the Truchsessian
Gallery of pictures, I was again enlightened with the
light I enjoyed in my youth, and which has for exactly
twenty years been closed from me as by a door and by
window-shutters." (This letter is well worth reading
but I skipped the first three paragraphs.)


Although the experience had brought Blake a
significant increase in his creative powers, you may
envision even more significant ones in the years before:

Letter 16 to Butts (Oct 2, 1800), mentioned often
, which I called first vision of light, appeared
to me to be more critical in Blake's spiritual development.
It was the word from God that empowered him to the
magnificent statement of faith that his great poems


The letter to Hayley was of another genre; we might call
it an attempt to express his own spiritual attitude in a
way acceptable to the 'non-spirtual friend'. In
contrast Blake poured out his heart to his really
supportive friend, Butts.


All 91 of the letters, printed on 85 pages of Erdman's
Complete Poetry and Prose... reward the reader. You may
become weary from coping with the continuous barrage of
metaphors, figures, images, etc in Blake's works of art;
turn to the letters, which offer few obstacles to good


We read and study Blake many different ways. The 91
letters might provide other 'visions of light'.

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