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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Martin Nurmi wrote a chapter titled On The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in Discussions of William Blake, Edited by John E Grant. Nurmi considers that Blake's idea of 'spiritual sensation' is basic to the message he attempted to convey. It is through 'spiritual sensation' that man accesses the world of vision. It is not through the 'organs of perception' that Blake can identify Christ with the One Man, the Universal Family in whom we live and who lives in us. It is only when the doors of perception are cleansed and man sees the infinite that he may as Nurmi says: 'begin to know directly by perception that on Earth there are only shadows, that the Real is elsewhere.' 

There is No Natural Religion, (E 2)
  " I   Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he 
percieves more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover." 

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 14, (E 39)  
" If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite. 
 For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."

Quotes from Nurmi in Discussions of William Blake on page 93-4:
"Blake is probably the most extreme humanist of all time. When he says 'God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is', he is not uttering a bit of vague piety; he means it literally. Man is not merely capable of divinity, but is, even in his fallen state, divine in essence.

British Museum
Illustration to Young's Night Thoughts
The Christian Triumph

The full measure of Blake's humanism, however, may be taken from his conception that the ultimate order of the cosmos, when perceived by the synoptic vision which perceives the grand order of all things at once, takes on the real or eternal form of 'One Man.' The identity of man and God is reinforced when we learn that the One Man is Christ:

Jerusalem, PLATE 34 [38], (E 180)
"Mutual in one anothers love and wrath all renewing
We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,        
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses." 
... Blake makes the moral nature of man not only the center of the universe, but literally the universe itself.
This Christian-humanist cosmological idea - or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a grand archetype - is the closest thing we find to a 'first principle' in Blake's thought. All of his ideas can be related to it. Especially closely related to it is his conception of spiritual sensation, since only by spiritual sensation can we know the human character of the cosmos.".

On page 95 Nurmi points out that in consequences of reaching the fourfold vision of directly experiencing the oneness, an individual is returned to a state of innocence:

Letters, Oct 2, 1800, (E 717)
To Thomas Butts
    "I remaind as a Child
     All I ever had known
     Before me bright Shone"
"A vision like this is not, in the usual sense of the word, otherworldly. The significance of Blake's four-fold vision does not lie merely in it enabling us to transcend the limited sphere of practical life, but in revealing the order and unity of life as a whole, so that even our practical life is transformed by the knowledge that 'everything that lives is Holy'".    

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