Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Finding meaning is not an objective experience. Dissection and analysis destroys the living energy of a work of art. Immediate intuitive response connects with the mind which the artist employed in creating. Blake called this looking not with the eye but looking 'thro' the eye. It is not the surface where the meaning lies; its hidden in the depths where images are formed.

Northrop Frye contributed a chapter Poetry and Design in Blake to the book of essays The Visionary Hand: William Blake's Art and Aesthetics. On page 157 he makes this statement contrasting two levels of discerning Blake's meaning:

"[It] is only when literary critics stand back far enough to see the imagery as one pattern that they are in a position to solve the problem of structure, of genre, and of archetype...The propositional content of Blake's Europe could be expressed somewhat as follows: the root of evil and suffering is the fallen nature of man; this fallen nature is part of physical nature; hence the basis of superstition and tyranny is the deification of physical nature; this definition has polluted Western culture from the sky-gods of Greece and Rome to the gravitational universe of Newton. But its poetic meaning, its total meaning, is given to us by Blake himself in his frontispiece to the poem, the famous picture of the Ancient of Days, the bearded god whose sharp cruel compasses etch the circumference of the human skull and of the spherical universe which is its objective shadow."
Wikimedia Commons
From Houghton Library of Harvard University
Europe a Prophecy
Songs and Ballads, Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye                                    t
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light" 
Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 115)
"for man cannot know
What passes in his members till periods of Space & Time
Reveal the secrets of Eternity: for more extensive               
Than any other earthly things, are Mans earthly lineaments."

Four Zoas, Night VIII, Page 104, (E 378)
"Los said to Enitharmon Pitying I saw
Pitying the Lamb of God Descended thro Jerusalems gates
To put off Mystery time after time & as a Man
Is born on Earth so was he born of Fair Jerusalem
In mysterys woven mantle & in the Robes of Luvah 

He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body 
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body may be Reveald"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556) 
"it ought to be understood that the Persons
Moses & Abraham are not here meant but the States Signified by
those Names the Individuals being representatives or Visions of
those States as they were reveald to Mortal Man in the Series of
Divine Revelations. as they are written in the Bible these
various States I have seen in my Imagination when distant they
appear as One Man but as you approach they appear
Multitudes of Nations."

Letters, To Hayley (E 759)
"My wife joins me in wishing you a
merry Christmas.  Remembering our happy Christmas at lovely
Felpham, our spirits seem still to hover round our sweet cottage
and round the beautiful Turret.  I have said seem, but
am persuaded that distance is nothing but a phantasy.  We are
often sitting by our cottage fire, and often we think we hear
your voice calling at the gate.  Surely these things are real and
eternal in our eternal mind and can never pass away."

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