|New York Public Library
Returning to an important concept in Blake - that of Fourfold Vision - I find that a familiar passage from Paul can be seen as recognizing Fourfold Vision. In a letter to Thomas Butts, Blake wrote:
Letters, To Butts, 22 Nov 1802, (E 722)
"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"
Looking at First Corinthians chapter thirteen we read:
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
If we superimpose the fourfold vision which Blake postulates on the passage in Corinthians we see the 'child' represents single vision, 'Newton's sleep' or using sense data only. This is a limited way of interpreting the world based upon data received from the external world without understanding or applying the full range of man's ability to perceive and process the data. In A Blake Dictionary Damon explains on page 436 that, "Single vision is not properly 'vision' at all: it is seeing with the physical eye only the facts before it. It 'it leads you to Believe a Lie / When you see with, not thro' the Eye'" (Everlasting Gospel, E 520)
Twofold vision - 'Always' in the poem - begins to assimilate experience into patterns by the intellect which gives a partial and unclear perspective or interpretation because the dimensions of emotion and intuition have not been incorporated. Paul says that 'childish things' were 'put away' when he became 'a man.' However we rely on the intellect to tell us the meaning of our experience although it is blind to emotions and to the spirit whose image resides within us.
Threefold vision - 'Beulah's night' - requires a transition to the ability to look for the effect that the gathered data has internally and in relationship to other people. Blake looked for more than what could be seen two-dimensionally. In Beulah man must learn to reconcile the contraries which contribute to a complete vision. Paul called this perspective seeing 'through a glass darkly', knowing 'in part.'
The fourfold vision puts to use all of the mental skills with which mankind is endowed. It is called by Blake his 'supreme delight'. Paul calls it seeing 'face to face' and knowing 'even as also I am known.' It is the Soul of Man which incorporates every dimension into a unified whole. In it all of the dimensions reflect and interact with one another. This is the faculty which Blake calls Imagination, Paul calls Christ in you, and Jung calls Intuition.
Milton, Plate 4, (E 97) t "Beneath the Plow of Rintrah & the harrow of the Almighty In the hands of Palamabron. Where the Starry Mills of Satan Are built beneath the Earth & Waters of the Mundane Shell Here the Three Classes of Men take their Sexual texture Woven The Sexual is Threefold: the Human is Fourfold" Jerusalem, Plate 12, (E 156) "Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away, Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels. Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold, The great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west Each within other toward the four points: that toward Eden, and that toward the World of Generation, And that toward Beulah, and that toward Ulro: Ulro is the space of the terrible starry wheels of Albions sons: But that toward Eden is walled up, till time of renovation: Yet it is perfect in its building, ornaments & perfection." Jerusalem, Plate 97, (E 256) "Then Albion stretchd his hand into Infinitude. And took his Bow. Fourfold the Vision for bright beaming Urizen Layd his hand on the South & took a breathing Bow of carved Gold Luvah his hand stretch'd to the East & bore a Silver Bow bright shining Tharmas Westward a Bow of Brass pure flaming richly wrought Urthona Northward in thick storms a Bow of Iron terrible thundering. And the Bow is a Male & Female & the Quiver of the Arrows of Love, Are the Children of this Bow: a Bow of Mercy & Loving-kindness: laying Open the hidden Heart in Wars of mutual Benevolence Wars of Love" Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 123, (E 393) "four Wonders of the Almighty Incomprehensible. pervading all amidst & round about Fourfold each in the other reflected they are named Life's in Eternity. Four Starry Universes going forward from Eternity to Eternity And the Falln Man who was arisen upon the Rock of Ages PAGE 124 Beheld the Vision of God & he arose up from the Rock"