Wednesday, October 12, 2016


William Blake's religious position is that God and man are not separated by a chasm which requires bridging. God resides in man, and the life of man is within the Divinity. Just as a magnet exercises its force on iron filings which come into its field of influence causing them to create a pattern, so the Spiritual force draws man to it. Within the magnetic field there is a reciprocal response from the particles within it; each particle attracts the magnet and the other particles within the field. Blake's position is that God and man are in such a reciprocal relationship, influencing one another and responding to each other. In reality there is no isolation of man from man, or man from God.

But the ties which bind the system must be in communication. Blake postulates that the Spiritual Force never rests but is always reaching out to draw together the scattered pieces. Blake uses 'Gates' as an image to suggest that man must be prepared to receive communication. Blake specifies a particular gate through which the communication between man and God passes. This he names the Gate of Los. Furthermore Blake develops a metaphor for the movement of communication or messages which pass through the Gate of Los: messages are carried by 'Larks' from the human perspective or 'Angels' from the divine. 

When Blake illustrated Milton's poem L'Allegro he choose to enhance these four lines with an illustration:
         "To hear the Lark begin his flight
          And singing startle the dull Night
          From his Watch Tower in the Skies
          Till the dappled Dawn does rise"

Blake added this explanatory note to clarify his illustration: 

"The Lark is an Angel on the Wing Dull Night starts from his
Watch Tower on a Cloud.  The Dawn with her dappled Horses arises
above the Earth   The Earth beneath awakes at the Larks Voice"

Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro
Night Startled by the Lark
The arrival of the Lark or angel announces an awakening. Night is dispelled with a message to man (or to Earth) which comes in the form of a dawning. Earth has become receptive to communication from the Eternal dimension and has responded by passing the message on to receptive ears.

God's communications to us comes in such a way: an awakening to a possibility which had previously been concealed. Messages from God to man are not rare. Any time man seeks an opening in the surrounding wall he has constructed around himself in order to remain separated, the Lark can find the Gate of Los and arrive with a new dawning. 


Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"Thou hearest the Nightingale begin the Song of Spring;
The Lark sitting upon his earthy bed: just as the morn
Appears; listens silent; then springing from the waving Corn-field! loud
He leads the Choir of Day! trill, trill, trill, trill,
Mounting upon the wings of light into the Great Expanse:
Reecchoing against the lovely blue & shining heavenly Shell:
His little throat labours with inspiration; every feather
On throat & breast & wings vibrates with the effluence Divine    
All Nature listens silent to him & the awful Sun
Stands still upon the Mountain looking on this little Bird
With eyes of soft humility, & wonder love & awe.

Then loud from their green covert all the Birds begin their Song
The Thrush, the Linnet & the Goldfinch, Robin & the Wren         
Awake the Sun from his sweet reverie upon the Mountain:
The Nightingale again assays his song, & thro the day,
And thro the night warbles luxuriant; every Bird of Song
Attending his loud harmony with admiration & love.
This is a Vision of the lamentation of Beulah over Ololon!"       

Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 136)
"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.           

Just at the place to where the Lark mounts, is a Crystal Gate
It is the enterance of the First Heaven named Luther: for
The Lark is Los's Messenger thro the Twenty-seven Churches
That the Seven Eyes of God who walk even to Satans Seat
Thro all the Twenty-seven Heavens may not slumber nor sleep      

But the Larks Nest is at the Gate of Los, at the eastern
Gate of wide Golgonooza & the Lark is Los's Messenger"

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