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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Because Urizen (who is associated with reason) plays the villain in so much of Blake's poetry, some may have drawn the conclusion that Blake is anti-intellectual. In fact Blake values the intellect highly. The problem with Urizen was that he abstracted reason from human values. Urizen (reason) attempting to dominate Los (imagination) and Luvah (emotion) is cut off from the possibility of creative activity. Urizen's ideas become fixed in books of laws which limit and regulate the freedoms which are meant to be expressed and enjoyed. Blake's Urizen is unable himself to create and unwilling for others to create through their imaginative and emotional lives.

Book of Urizen
Plate 11
Reason in Manacles

On the contrary intellectual activities are meant to be the primary activities of humanity as they are in Eternity. Blake spoke frequently about the value he placed on intellect as is demonstrated by the following quotes:

Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251)
"I never made friends but by spiritual gifts;
By severe contentions of friendship & the burning fire of thought."

Jerusalem, Plate 34, (E 180)
"Albion! Our wars are wars of life, & wounds of love,
With intellectual spears, & long winged arrows of thought:"

Jerusalem, Plate 68, (E 222)
"Once Man was occupied in intellectual pleasures & energies
But now my soul is harrowd with grief & fear & love & desire
And now I hate & now I love & Intellect is no more:
There is no time for any thing but the torments of love & desire"

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
"What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours? What is that Talent which it
is a curse to hide? What are the Treasures of Heaven which we are
to lay up for ourselves, are they any other than Mental Studies &
Performances? What are all the Gifts. of the Gospel, are they not
all Mental Gifts?
O ye Religious discountenance every one among
you who shall pretend to despise Art & Science! I call upon you
in the Name of Jesus! What is the Life of Man but Art & Science?"

Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251)
"Go, tell them that the Worship of God, is honouring his gifts
In other men: & loving the greatest men best, each according
To his Genius: which is the Holy Ghost in Man; there is no other
God, than that God who is the intellectual fountain of Humanity;"

Four Zoas, Page 21, (E 313)
"Terrific ragd the Eternal Wheels of intellect terrific ragd
The living creatures of the wheels in the Wars of Eternal life"

Four Zoas, Page 139, (E 407)
"Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns"

Vision of Last Judgment, Page 70, (E 554)
" Imaginative Art &
Science & all Intellectual Gifts all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost
are [despisd] lookd upon as of no use & only Contention
remains to Man then the Last Judgment begins & its Vision is seen
by the [Imaginative Eye] of Every one according to the
situation he holds"

Vision of Last Judgment, Page 87, (E 564)
"The Treasures of
Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect
from which All the Passions Emanate in their Eternal
Glory The Fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so
Holy. Holiness is not The Price of Enterance into Heaven Those
who are cast out Are All Those who having no Passions of their
own because No Intellect."

Jerusalem, Page 91, (E 252)
"I care not whether a Man is Good or Evil; all that I care
Is whether he is a Wise Man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness
And put on Intellect:"

No comments:

Post a Comment