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

Saturday, August 11, 2012

TRANSFORMATION

The period in Blake's life immediately before, after and during the time he resided in Felpham, was critical to his spiritual development. Before his move from London in September 1800, he was discouraged by political conditions and by personal experiences.
Link

Yale Center for British Art
Blake's Watercolours
for the Poems of Thomas Gray
We can follow some of the developments in Blake's life through letters he wrote to Thomas Butts from Felpham. 

In the second letter we have from Blake to Thomas Butts he enclosed a poem rejoicing in the new setting in which he found himself. He wrote of 'My first Vision of Light', of 'each particle' seen as 'a Man'. He identified himself with the 'Ram hornd with gold' awakening 'from sleep' and being introduced to the Fold by the visionary voice.

 
There is no doubt that Blake was reporting a true and immediate experience in his poem. He introduces it by saying: "verses such as Felpham produces by me tho not such as she produces by her Eldest Son." That is to say the verses are by his true identity, his imagination, and not by his reasoning powers: the Elder Brother who was conformed to this world and not to the eternal.

Blake may have identified the experience described in the poem to Butts as turning toward God and the beginning of a new life lived in God's kingdom. However there would be pitfalls and turning points to come because he would be tried by 'the Devil' as are many who are young in Christ. Jesus himself encountered Satan after he consented to baptism by John in the Jordan. For a detailed account of the attempts of 'Our Father Below' to subvert the newly committed Christian's attempts to alter his priorities and behavior, read C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.


Letters, (E 713)
[To] Mr [Thomas] Butts, Great Marlborough Street
Felpham Octr 2d 1800
...
I have not got any
forwarder with the three Marys or with any other of your
commissions but hope, now I have commenced a new life of industry
to do credit to that new life by Improved Works: Recieve from me
a return of verses such as Felpham produces by me tho not
such as she produces by her Eldest Son. however such as they
are.  I cannot resist the temptation to send them to you

To my Friend Butts I write
 My first Vision of Light
 On the yellow sands sitting
 The Sun was Emitting
 His Glorious beams
 From Heavens high Streams
 Over Sea over Land
 My Eyes did Expand
 Into regions of air
 Away from all Care
 Into regions of fire
 Remote from Desire
...
 Saying.  Each grain of Sand
 Every Stone on the Land
 Each rock & each hill
 Each fountain & rill
 Each herb & each tree
 Mountain hill Earth & Sea
 Cloud Meteor & Star
 Are Men Seen Afar
 ...
 My Eyes more & more
 Like a Sea without shore
 Continue Expanding
 The Heavens commanding
 Till the jewels of Light
 Heavenly Men beaming bright
 Appeard as One Man
 Who Complacent began
 My limbs to infold
 In his beams of bright gold
 Like dross purgd away
 All my mire & my clay
 Soft consumd in delight
 In his bosom sun bright
 I remaind.  Soft he smild
 And I heard his voice Mild
 Saying This is My Fold
 O thou Ram hornd with gold
 Who awakest from sleep" 
 
 In Blake's letters and poetry written over the next few years we can follow some of the 
roadblocks he encountered and some of the breakthroughs he achieved. 
We hear echoes of his poem in the letter to Butts in Milton and Jerusalem

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 116)
"While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals
On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me:
And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close
Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold.
Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also stoop'd down
And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood
Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale
Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health.
And I became One Man with him arising in my strength:
Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul:
His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength."

Jerusalem, Plate 99, (E 257)
"All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.
And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem

The End of The Song
of Jerusalem"

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