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

Sunday, June 5, 2011


One of the better known sayings of William Blake concerns "Fourfold Vision." This is from a letter he wrote to his long term friend and supporter Thomas Butts.

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

Blake's ability to envision the psyche as fourfold can be used as a guide to reading Blake on four different levels.

1) It would be possible to read him at the literal level as an account of material, sensual events. This may be the most difficult way to read him because his account would be of historical characters meeting mythological or fictional ones, people being thrown into furnaces or ground up by harrows, curtains being hung in the far reaches of space, and individuals dividing into multiple individuals. Our mind would reject these images as accounts of material activities just as we reject reading all mythologies as history. This kind of reaction could be said to be that of Tharmas. ("a portion of the Soul discerned by the five Senses")

2)We may read Blake on a reasoning level, associating his images with thought forms or patterns which are familiar to our rational minds. So we split off various dimensions of his thought and influences and look at these objectively building systems to explain some aspect of the body of work he produced. In this case we are viewing Blake as Urizen (symbolizing Reason) would view him. Blake portrayed this level of thinking with his famous image of Newton. Image of Newton

3)At the level of emotion we may become involved with the processes he describes, as psychic realities. We begin to see our own psychological process in terms of the characteristics and functioning of Blake's Men, Emanations, and Specters. As Luvah (who include all emotions) we enter into the dynamics of the interactions among Blake's portrayals of our inner functions.

4)The level of imagination represents a transformation or conversion to a spiritual perception. At this level the spirit will speak through the words, not just with or in the words. If Blake is inspired himself, (and he seemed to believe that he was a prophet in the same sense as the OT prophets;) his words can transmit to our spirits through a direct connection with the spirit in him. This level of communication, which Blake called Imagination, was his primary interest. His time, his energy, his goods, his thought, his labor were directed toward expressing Imagination and trying to awaken it in others. Through Imagination we get the fullest understanding of Blake. Non-sensory perception is represented by Urthona (the creative imagination of the individual.)

America a Prophecy,
Title Page "In the mental realm of the prophetic cloud a female and a male philosopher are assisted by a page-turning child . The alert female is already doing so, for the girl at her back is directing us, not her, to the subtitle and the battlefield....The leaping female turns the page." (Erdman)

If we focus on which of these fourfold methods we are using to read (or to understand one another, or to teach our children, or preform various other tasks), we gain a better understanding of the meaning for Blake of fourfold vision, and a greater ability to perceive fourfold reality.

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