|Yale Center for British Art|
Blake had the ability to present ideas from the depths of his own being in order to reach and resonate with what was capable of responding in the depths of his reader.
In The Grammatical Man Jeremy Campbell quotes from T. S. Eliot in his essay The Frontiers of Criticism. Eliot indicates that Blake wrote from a level within himself which makes his poetry unexplainable to the natural mind.
T. S. Eliot:
"For myself, I can only say that knowledge of the springs which released a poem is not necessarily a help towards understanding the poem: too much information about the origins of the poem may even break my contact with it...I am ever prepared to suggest that there is, in all great poetry, something which must remain unaccountable however complete may be the knowledge of the poet, and that that is what matters most. When the poem has been made, something new has happened, something that cannot be wholly explained by anything that went before." Page 110
In The Sacred Wood Eliot gives further insight in the mind of Blake: how it developed, how it differed from the conventional, and how it influenced his writing.
"... The question about Blake the man is the question of the circumstances that concurred to permit this honesty in his work, and what circumstances define its limitations. The favouring conditions probably include these two: that, being early apprenticed to a manual occupation, he was not compelled to acquire any other education in literature than he wanted, or to acquire it for any other reason than that he wanted it; and that, being a humble engraver, he had no journalistic-social career open to him.
It is important that the artist should be highly educated in his own art; but his education is one that is hindered rather than helped by the ordinary processes of society which constitute education for the ordinary man. For these processes consist largely in the acquisition of impersonal ideas which obscure what we really are and feel, what we really want, and what really excites our interest. It is of course not the actual information acquired, but the conformity which the accumulation of knowledge is apt to impose, that is harmful. Tennyson is a very fair example of a poet almost wholly encrusted with parasitic opinion, almost wholly merged into his environment. Blake, on the other hand, knew what interested him, and he therefore presents only the essential, only, in fact, what can be presented, and need not be explained. And because he was not distracted, or frightened, or occupied in anything but exact statement, he understood. He was naked, and saw man naked, and from the centre of his own crystal. To him there was no more reason why Swedenborg should be absurd than Locke. He accepted Swedenborg, and eventually rejected him, for reasons of his own. He approached everything with a mind unclouded by current opinions. There was nothing of the superior person about him. This makes him terrifying."
Milton, Plate 35 , (E 136) "Just in this Moment when the morning odours rise abroad And first from the Wild Thyme, stands a Fountain in a rock Of crystal flowing into two Streams, one flows thro Golgonooza And thro Beulah to Eden beneath Los's western Wall The other flows thro the Aerial Void & all the Churches Meeting again in Golgonooza beyond Satans Seat The Wild Thyme is Los's Messenger to Eden, a mighty Demon Terrible deadly & poisonous his presence in Ulro dark Therefore he appears only a small Root creeping in grass Covering over the Rock of Odours his bright purple mantle Beside the Fount above the Larks nest in Golgonooza Luvah slept here in death & here is Luvahs empty Tomb Ololon sat beside this Fountain on the Rock of Odours." Milton, Plate 28 , (E 126) "The Sons of Ozoth within the Optic Nerve stand fiery glowing And the number of his Sons is eight millions & eight. They give delights to the man unknown; artificial riches They give to scorn, & their posessors to trouble & sorrow & care, Shutting the sun. & moon. & stars. & trees. & clouds. & waters. And hills. out from the Optic Nerve & hardening it into a bone Opake. and like the black pebble on the enraged beach. While the poor indigent is like the diamond which tho cloth'd In rugged covering in the mine, is open all within And in his hallowd center holds the heavens of bright eternity Ozoth here builds walls of rocks against the surging sea And timbers crampt with iron cramps bar in the joys of life From fell destruction in the Spectrous cunning or rage." Milton, Plate 31 , (E 131) "Thou percievest the Flowers put forth their precious Odours! And none can tell how from so small a center comes such sweets Forgetting that within that Center Eternity expands Its ever during doors,"
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 89 , (E 361) "My Waters like a flood around thee fear not trust in me And I will give thee all the ends of heaven for thy possession In war shalt thou bear rule in blood shalt thou triumph for me Because in times of Everlasting I was rent in sunder And what I loved best was divided among my Enemies My little daughters were made captives & I saw them beaten With whips along the sultry sands. I heard those whom I lovd Crying in secret tents at night & in the morn compelld To labour & behold my heart sunk down beneath In sighs & sobbings all dividing till I was divided In twain & lo my Crystal form that lived in my bosom Followd her daughters to the fields of blood they left me naked Alone & they refusd to return from the fields of the mighty Therefore I will reward them as they have rewarded me I will divide them in my anger & thou O my King Shalt gather them from out their graves & put thy fetter on them And bind them to thee that my crystal form may come to me So cried the Demon of the Waters in the Clouds of Los" Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 130, (E 398) "And then she enterd her bright house leading her mighty children And when night came the flocks laid round the house beneath the trees She laid the Children on the beds which she saw prepard in the house Then last herself laid down & closd her Eyelids in soft slumbers And in the morning when the Sun arose in the crystal sky Vala awoke & calld the children from their gentle slumbers Awake O Enion awake & let thine innocent Eyes Enlighten all the Crystal house of Vala awake awake Awake Tharmas awake awake thou child of dewy tears Open the orbs of thy blue eyes & smile upon my gardens" Songs & Ballads, The Crystal Cabinet, (E 488) "I strove to sieze the inmost Form With ardor fierce & hands of flame But burst the Crystal Cabinet And like a Weeping Babe became A weeping Babe upon the wild And Weeping Woman pale reclind And in the outward air again I filld with woes the passing Wind" Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 98, (E 370) "Where the Spectrous dead wail & sighing thus he spoke to Enitharmon Lovely delight of Men Enitharmon shady refuge from furious war Thy bosom translucent is a soft repose for the weeping souls Of those piteous victims of battle there they sleep in happy obscurity They feed upon our life we are their victims. Stern desire I feel to fabricate embodied semblances in which the dead May live before us in our palaces & in our gardens of labour Which now opend within the Center we behold spread abroad To form a world of Sacrifice of brothers & sons & daughters To comfort Orc in his dire sufferings; look! my fires enlume afresh Before my face ascending with delight as in ancient times" Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 132, (E 400) "And when Morning began to dawn upon the distant hills a whirlwind rose up in the Center & in the Whirlwind a shriek And in the Shriek a rattling of bones & in the rattling of bones A dolorous groan & from the dolorous groan in tears Rose Enion like a gentle light"