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

Monday, July 21, 2014


The son of George MacDonald became an admirer of William Blake as was his father. Greville MacDonald had grown up under the influence of his imaginative father and the literary associates who visited his home. He did not however follow his father's profession but entered the field of medicine. He tried his hand a various endeavors as well, including writing a defense of William Blake's unconventional system of thought, and body of work. Aware that Blake has been considered by some of his contemporaries as 'mad', he entitled his book the Sanity of William Blake.
British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Exerpts from Sanity of William Blake, 1907: "And one remarkable point of distinction between these two classes is this : that the sane majority find the language provided for them by their country's traditions vastly in excess of their needs, while the insane minority are for ever discontent with their native tongue because of its total insufficiency to express what they feel and know, the visions they see and believe in. These, though they have the whole wealth of culture at command, are nevertheless for ever seeking and finding new forms of expression, but often only to discard them because they fail to express the truth. It is these who paint uplifting pictures the wealthy can never possess, whatever they pay for them ; who sing divine songs, as did William Blake, for fashion to laugh at ; who make wooden fiddles wail passionately, as did Joachim, whom even the quite sane applaud." ... "In what he leaves unsaid,' declared Schiller, 'I discover the master of Style.' This is very near to Blake's 'seeing through, and not with the eye.' And if style is indicated by what is left unsaid, imagination is indicated by the perception of what is not seen, and often but pointing to it, rather than telling it. So the idealist Blake discards the algebraical equation, the logical argument; and in place of them his only method of teaching is Appeal. Appeal to what? To that very consciousness in man of deeps in his existence which science has not fathomed, but which the greatest teachers touch with their poetry, their music, their paintings, and call into conscious life." ... " When thou seest an eagle thou seest a portion of genius ; lift up thy head ! " In other words, do not dare to think you can cage an eagle. It cannot be done ; for an eagle caged is but divine energy prosti- tuted to the tyranny of man ; it ceases to be a portion of genius and is become a product of constraint, and a lie to the living truth. It is life robbed of purpose. Everywhere Blake is crying the same truth in the wilder- ness, and no one hears. Life robbed of liberty to fulfil breeds pestilence : this is the key to The Daughters of Albion. The glory of all desire, of all inspiration, is its purpose ; and if you seek to restrain these tigers of fire by the " horses of instruction," they become "tigers of wrath." This is the key to the books of Los and of Urizen. And both must be opened if we would enter the disordered treasure-house of the Jeru- salem. Blake is absolutely and persistently assertive of the truth of life's purpose." ... "Reason is minister to the imagination, and must never become its master." ... "And this much must be confessed, that the more patiently we study Blake, the more clearly are we convinced of his consistency. We find, if we keep close to him as he leads us through the jungle, the abyss, the empyrean, that the path is certain to him, and that he is guided by the stars no less than by the pitfalls he would have us fathom. He has but one purpose: to lead us out of the eternal jungle of our individual warfare with death. Of the path he is sure, and in his purpose he never falters or misses the light. Nevertheless the jungle is as much the outcome of natural law as pleasant pastures; in their subjection to human purpose lies the difference. So what appears unprofitable in Blake's luxuriant imagination is but unprofitable perhaps from the point of view of our matter-of-fact utilitarian minds. He is but running wild like a child who feels that nursery restrictions are altogether immoral when judged from the standpoint of his need to live in the full vigour of delight ; who feels that he must show the wise old people how they have forgotten the glory of life."
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 6, (E 35)
  "A Memorable Fancy.                     
   As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the 
enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and
insanity. I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as
the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs
of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any
description of buildings or garments.
   When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a
flat  sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty
Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock,
with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now
percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.   
   How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
   Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"

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