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

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Pierre Berger holds back from going the whole distance with Blake although his grasp of Blake's symbolic techniques is impressive. Berger, in William Blake, Poet and Mystic, has more loyalty to the poet than to the mystic. Seeing that Blake has abandoned any allegiance or attachment to the material world as opposed the the eternal, infinite world of imagination, Berger longs for the poet who finds his meaning in the beautiful, brightness of earthly loves.

 Quotes selected from Page 255 to Page 276:
"He sees not only the first plane, that of the material world, and the second, wherein lies the soul of things, but also a third, the mystical plane, the world of those beings which do not come within the field of our vision, of the angels who preside over all things, the powers that struggle in the soul of inanimate nature as well as in man's soul, the proud and jealous Urizen, the indolent Tharmas, Orc the passionate, the Theotormon the unhappy. They are in all things and behind all things. It is towards them that the prophet's threefold vision is directed. And who knows whether, in these spirits themselves, who appear to him as living men, there may not be hidden a deeper soul still, another new principle, perhaps some spark of Los's fire, perhaps some sense of the great primal unity, perhaps one of the Eternals, perceptible only through his faculty of fourfold vision?
And so the process may be continued to infinity. Every external form conceals an internal principle, which itself encloses another, and so on always, until we come to the pure Essence, the Indivisible; that is to say, to God.
He could not detach himself from the object described, nor look at it without always projecting into it something of his own imagination, which changed its shape or its colour, and often, to ordinary eyes, transfigured it entirely.
Here came in the faculty of twofold vision, the power to see the soul of things, which is more real than the ephermeral form perceived by our eyes. We know already that he regarded all things as " men seen from far." This feeling of humanity in all things, which never left him, changed the character of all his poetry.
On the other hand, it is to his mysticism that Blake owes his extraordinary power of projecting into all things some small portion of his own soul, of causing lifeless things to live, love and act, as we have seen him do in our study of his feelings. His tenderness of soul, joined with his power of vision, enabled him to describe, in words of exquisite delicacy, all creatures that are small and feeble; and these he seems to have loved almost as ardently as he did the gigantic beings that peopled his dreams. Moreover, the soul of the lily, the lamb or the glow-worm is as great as that of the lion, the oak or the mountain. The humble flower has no less vast a usefulness than the planet.
And the question keeps on repeating itself: How can such freshness and such power of imagination have become so spoiled? Why did this man, possessing, as he did, the genius to create these exquisite pictures, lose himself in the gloomy and chaotic wilderness of his invisible universe?

The reason is that even this twofold vision did not satisfy him. The mystic in him went further than the poet. Behind our world of Time and Space he saw the world of the Eternal, which we can never behold until the door of death opens and reveals it to us. He himself had crossed its threshold, and returned, laden with the treasures of his threefold or fourfold vision, the " Flowers of Eternal Life."
It is when he leaves our world to describe the other that his imagination attains its full creative power. His creations are no longer the personification of a material object, the soul of some lifeless thing, the embodiment of a metaphor: they come whole from his brain, produced out of nothing. In these far-off regions, our world has ceased to exist, even as a delusive mirage. 'Nothing is, but what is not.' This imaginative quality Blake regarded as indispensable in all true art. 'The man who never in his mind and thoughts travelled to heaven is no artist.' Now, therefore, the trend of his imagination is towards the evocation of things without form, the creation of beings that exist only in the nebulous kingdom of his dreams
The material world became too indistinct to his eyes when he had passed out of the planes of single and double vision. He chose rather to remain among the mists of the higher regions; and, as a consequence, his work, strange and mysterious as it often is, fails to give the reader any impression of strength or picturesqueness. Sometimes, he builds up his visions out of quite abstract ideas.
Why could not Blake remain upon the earth? He had beautified our world by sending his angels to it, and making it radiant with celestial colours. He had peopled it with visions so bright that they make us feel as if the illuminated pages of some old missal had suddenly come to life, or as if the haloed and many-coloured saints from some cathedral window had come down to walk in our midst. Why need he have sought to go further, and transport us into that heaven of his own, where we find nothing of all that we have loved upon earth, and where our only pleasure lies in the glimpses he still sometimes allows us of our poor lost world?"

Few who have been drawn into Blake's world of imagination would ask that he exchange the pleasures of our poor lost world for the terror and delight of his visionary one.

British Museum 
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

Letter to Thomas Butts, 22 November 1802, (E 721)

     "And God himself in the passing hours
     With Silver Angels across my way
     And Golden Demons that none can stay
     With my Father hovering upon the wind
     And my Brother Robert just behind
     And my Brother John the evil one
     In a black cloud making his mone
     Tho dead they appear upon my path
     Notwithstanding my terrible wrath
     They beg they intreat they drop their tears
     Filld full of hopes filld full of fears
     With a thousand Angels upon the Wind
     Pouring disconsolate from behind
     To drive them off & before my way
     A frowning Thistle implores my stay
     What to others a trifle appears
     Fills me full of smiles or tears
     For double the vision my Eyes do see
     And a double vision is always with me
     With my inward Eye 'tis an old Man grey
     With my outward a Thistle across my way
     'If thou goest back the thistle said
     Thou art to endless woe betrayd
     For here does Theotormon lower
     And here is Enitharmons bower
     And Los the terrible thus hath sworn
     Because thou backward dost return
     Poverty Envy old age & fear
     Shall bring thy Wife upon a bier
     And Butts shall give what Fuseli gave
     A dark black Rock & a gloomy Cave.'"

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