British Museum Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
In order to emphasize some of the Essential Teachings of Blake which may have been skipped in my haphazard way of blogging, I wrote a series of seventeen posts which incorporate many of the most important of Blake's ideas.
GOOD & EVIL
HEGEMONY OF REASON
SIN & VENGEANCE
AWAKE FROM SLEEP
CREATION OF STATES
ERROR & TRUTH
These are transformative ideas. It is the opportunity of the individual's essential identity to undergo experience in order for the seed within him to germinate and grow into a tree. Blake has discerned aspects of the process which man goes through as he strives toward psychological wholeness and spiritual enlightenment. Blake gives us the benefit of his intense struggles along his journey in order that we may be willing to contemplate our own potential for altering our ability to perceive.
Vision of Last Judgment,(E 559)
"If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy General
Knowledge is Remote Knowledge it is in Particulars that Wisdom
consists & Happiness too."
Kay and Roger Easson, in Milton: A Poem by William Blake, emphasize Blake's role as a teacher:
"To read William Blake's illuminated books is to participate in a spiritual education. To read Blake's Milton is to discover the nature of that spiritual education concurrently with the education itself. Although Milton is incredibly beautiful in its combination of word and illustration and although its complexity stimulates intellectual scrutiny, it is a prophecy and like all prophecy, it provides spiritual instruction. William Blake is a spiritual teacher, a prophet who, having 'discover'd the infinite in every thing' is committed to 'raising other men into a perception of the infinite' (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). And, Milton is the book in which Blake teaches how 'all the Lord's people' can become prophets. In Milton Blake defines the spiritual journey which renews prophecy in every moment of human time." (Page 135)
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 16, (E 42)
who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
reptiles of the mind."
Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251)
"Los beheld undaunted furious
His heavd Hammer; he swung it round & at one blow,
In unpitying ruin driving down the pyramids of pride
Smiting the Spectre on his Anvil & the integuments of his Eye
And Ear unbinding in dire pain, with many blows,
Of strict severity self-subduing, & with many tears labouring.
Then he sent forth the Spectre all his pyramids were grains
Of sand & his pillars: dust on the flys wing: & his starry
Heavens; a moth of gold & silver mocking his anxious grasp
Thus Los alterd his Spectre & every Ratio of his Reason
He alterd time after time, with dire pain & many tears
Till he had completely divided him into a separate space.
Terrified Los sat to behold trembling & weeping & howling
I care not whether a Man is Good or Evil; all that I care
Is whether he is a Wise Man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness
And put on Intellect: or my thundrous Hammer shall drive thee
To wrath which thou condemnest: till thou obey my voice
So Los terrified cries: trembling & weeping & howling! Beholding"
Four Zoas, Page 49, (E 333)
"The Spectre of Urthona seeing Enitharmon writhd
His cloudy form in jealous fear & muttering thunders hoarse
And casting round thick glooms. thus utterd his fierce pangs of heart
Tharmas I know thee. how are we alterd our beauty decayd
But still I know thee tho in this horrible ruin whelmd
Thou once the mildest son of heaven art now become a Rage
A terror to all living things. think not that I am ignorant
That thou art risen from the dead or that my power forgot"
Songs & Ballads, (E 485)
The Mental Traveller
"And to Allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms
The Cottage fades before his Sight
The Garden & its lovely Charms
The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball
The Stars Sun Moon all shrink away
A desart vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around"
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 532)
"Of Chaucer's characters, as described in his Canterbury
Tales, some of the names or titles are altered by time, but the
characters themselves for ever remain unaltered, and
consequently they are the
physiognomies or lineaments of universal human life, beyond which
Nature never steps. Names alter, things never alter.I have
known multitudes of those who would have been monks in the age of
monkery, who in this deistical age are deists. As Newton
numbered the stars, and as Linneus numbered the plants, so
Chaucer numbered the classes of men."