Monday, April 30, 2018


Wikimedia Commons
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Copy Z, Plate 45
The Little Vagabond
Larry and I have written very little about Blake's Tyger although it is Blake's best known and perhaps most provocative poem. It may also be his most influential thought and message. In Robert Persig's Lila we find an instance of the content of The Tyger not being referenced directly, but by association entering the consciousness of a larger dimension.   

Like Blake, Persig in his book was attempting to provide an opening to a consciousness beyond the habitual frame in which we ordinarily operate. Pirsig's reference to Blake's Tyger in association with perceptions of exterior light in unexpected situations is a portent of receiving the inner transforming light.

If we reflect on the methods by which we receive light we may focus first on the light from distant objects which we receive through our physical eyes. Second might be the enlightenment which we experience in our minds when we break into new insight about a person, object, situation or idea. Third is consciousness of the light itself when it spreads its illumination in some unusual or intense fashion. Pirsig wrote of experiencing the light as it radiated from an object or person or event of peculiar significance. Blake's experience in the Truchsessian Gallery enhanced his ability to see more clearly in the external world because his inner light was intensified. Pirsig used the the internal generation of light by Blake's Tyger as symbolic of transformation taking place in the psyche.    

Lila by Robert Pirsig, Page 339:

"During Phaedrus' time of insanity when he wandered freely outside the limits of cultural reality, this light had been a valued companion, pointing out things to him that he would otherwise have missed, appearing at an event his rational thought had indicated was unimportant, but which he later discovered had been more important than he had known. Often it had occurred at events he could not figure out the importance of, but had left him wondering.

He saw it once on a small kitten. After that for a long time the kitten followed him wherever he went and he wondered if the kitten saw it too.

He had seen it once around a tiger at the zoo. The tiger had suddenly looked at him with what seemed like surprise and had come over to the bars for a closer look. The the illumination began to appear around the tiger's face. That was all. Afterward, that experience associated itself with William Blake's 'Tiger! Tiger! burning bright.'

The eyes had blazed with what seemed to be inner light."

Letters, To Hayley, (E 756)
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."

Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
  "And did the Countenance Divine,             
     Shine forth upon our clouded hills?"

Milton, Plate 5, (E 98)
"And this is the manner of the Daughters of Albion in their beauty
Every one is threefold in Head & Heart & Reins, & every one
Has three Gates into the Three Heavens of Beulah which shine
Translucent in their Foreheads & their Bosoms & their Loins
Surrounded with fires unapproachable: but whom they please
They take up into their Heavens in  intoxicating  delight" 

Milton, Plate 10, (E 104)
"Every thing in Eternity shines by its own Internal light: but thou
Darkenest every Internal light with the arrows of thy quiver
Bound up in the borns of jealousy to a deadly fading Moon
And Ocalythron binds the Sun into a Jealous Globe
That every thing is fixd Opake without Internal light"  

Jerusalem, Plate 19, (E 164)
"Where once he sat he weary walks in misery and pain:
His Giant beauty and perfection fallen into dust:
Till from within his witherd breast grown narrow with his woes:
The corn is turn'd to thistles & the apples into poison:         
The birds of song to murderous crows, his joys to bitter groans!
The voices of children in his tents, to cries of helpless infants!
And self-exiled from the face of light & shine of morning,
In the dark world a narrow house! he wanders up and down,
Seeking for rest and finding none! and hidden far within,        
His Eon weeping in the cold and desolated Earth.

All his Affections now appear withoutside:   

So Los lamented over Satan, who triumphant divided the Nations"

Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 81, (E 357)
"Thy roses that expanded in the face of glowing morn
Page 82 
Hid in a little silken veil scarce breathe & faintly shine
Thy lilies that gave light what time the morning looked forth
Hid in the Vales faintly lament & no one hears their voice"

Songs and Ballads, (E 477)
"Mock on Mock on Voltaire Rousseau
Mock on Mock on! tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind
And the wind blows it back again

And every sand becomes a Gem                          
Reflected in the beams divine
Blown back they blind the mocking Eye 
But still in Israels paths they shine

The Atoms of Democritus
And Newtons Particles of light          
Are sands upon the Red sea shore
Where Israels tents do shine so bright"

Songs and Ballads, From Notebook, (E 480)
"My Designs unchangd remain      
Time may rage but rage in vain
For above Times troubled Fountains
On the Great Atlantic Mountains
In my Golden House on high
There they Shine Eternally"     

Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye 
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day"

Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Plate 42, (E 24)
"The Tyger.                         

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.       
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?           
On what wings dare he aspire?     
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,       
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!               

When the stars threw down their spears   
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?          
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:                        
What immortal hand or eye,                     
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"  

Matthew 17
[1] And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
[2] And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
[3] And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
[4] Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
[5] While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
[6] And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
[7] And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
[8] And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

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