Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Friday, June 17, 2011


We have often remarked on the restricting of the eternal senses as a consequence and symptom of the fallen state of man. Oothoon experienced the closing of her senses when she felt cut off from the divine vision. However when she perceived that everything that lives is holy her senses no longer enclosed her infinite brain.

Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 2, (E47)
"Because the night is gone that clos'd me in its deadly black.
They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;
They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos'd my infinite brain into a narrow circle,"

After the first publication on Europe Blake added a plate to the beginning in which his imagination ranged freely in exuberance. As windows, the five senses are experienced as gift rather than as limitation.

Europe a Prophec
y. Plate iii, (E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the air;
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant.

So sang a Fairy mocking as he sat on a streak'd Tulip,
Thinking none saw him: when he ceas'd I started from the trees!
And caught him in my hat as boys knock down a butterfly.
How know you this said I small Sir? where did you learn this song?
Seeing himself in my possession thus he answered me:
My master, I am yours. command me, for I must obey.

Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?
He laughing answer'd: I will write a book on leaves of flowers,
If you will feed me on love-thoughts, & give me now and then
A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so when I am tipsie,
I'll sing to you to this soft lute; and shew you all alive
The world, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.

I took him home in my warm bosom: as we went along
Wild flowers I gatherd; & he shew'd me each eternal flower:
He laugh'd aloud to see them whimper because they were pluck'd.
They hover'd round me like a cloud of incense: when I came
Into my parlour and sat down, and took my pen to write:
My Fairy sat upon the table, and dictated EUROPE."

In this poem we get a intimation of the eternal senses that can not only see and hear fairies but can catch them and learn their secrets.

Blake's question to the fairy was not about the eternal world for he knew and understood that world intimately and spent much of his time there. Blake asks if the material world is dead. To the fairy the material world is not a dead world but one in which 'every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.' He is aware that the material not only gives its life to man but receives life from man as well. The limited senses we rely on each moment are of the material world, but the eternal senses are available to us in the material also - like a 'cloud of incense' hovering around us.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews felt some of the same exuberance that Blake felt when he spoke of being 'compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses' and coming to 'an innumerable company of angels.'

Hebrews 12
[1] Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
[22] But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
[23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

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