|Illustrations to Poems of Thomas Gray|
"In retrospect I realize that the shortcoming of my own work on Blake - the tracing of the many sources within the excluded tradition which I have called "the learning of the Imagination" - was that which is inherent in all modern scholarship I did not experience and explore that world imaginatively, as Blake did, and as Jung did, but in terms of academic 'history of ideas' and 'sources' and 'influences': in exploring the writings of Jakob Boehme, the Neoplatonists, alchemists, and the rest, I didn't enter those regions of the imagination as these were inhabited and explored by cabbalists, mystics, and visionaries themselves. True, I wrote of these with the assumption that their view of reality was really the truth itself, not an old cosmology superseded by modern science. These were regions of knowledge likely to be rediscovered with the change of premises now taking place in the West, belatedly and uneasily awakening from three centuries of domination by materialist ideologies. I was even impassioned in my advocacy of the universe of thought opening before me with every volume I studied in those happy days in the North Library, but I made little effort to live my thought. Certainly I made interesting and useful discoveries of some of Blake's sources - mainly Neoplatonic - and insofar a I did, uncovered affinities with regions of experience - I will not say 'schools of thought,' for the affinities are of a deeper and a different kind from what is comprised under the term 'history of ideas' - neglected by orthodoxy.
In such inner explorations I was only intermittently and superficially engaged. But Jung understood 'knowledge' - as Boehme and Blake and all mystics, cabbalists, Gnostics, holy men, and indeed true poets and musicians, and all who enter into the realms of the imagination - as the thing itself and not book-learning about those living regions. Jung placed in our hands the key that leads into Blake's 'bosom of God, the Human Imagination.' But many continue to read books and to write them about these realities rather than confronting them and themselves venturing into those regions that Jung, like Blake, invites us to explore. My own work on 'sources' and affinities, whatever its value to students, was no more than a signpost to those seeking that reality itself.
The transforming influence on Western Civilization of Christendom has been wonderful indeed, and the flowering of the arts that accompanied the Christian vision testifies to the reality of the vision itself. But being myself in my eightieth year, neither 'art or 'religion' any longer concerns me as ends in themselves but, like the images of dreams, I see them as traces of the passage of the sacred reality itself - of 'Thought's eternal flight.' [Shelley]
Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147) "Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me. Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task! To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love: Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life! Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages, While I write of the building of Golgonooza, & of the terrors of Entuthon: Of Hand & Hyle & Coban, of Kwantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton: Of the terrible sons & daughters of Albion. and their Generations."
Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 258) "every Word & Every Character Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen And seeing: according to fitness & order. And I heard Jehovah speak Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine On Chariots of gold & jewels with Living Creatures starry & flaming With every Colour, Lion, Tyger, Horse, Elephant, Eagle Dove, Fly, Worm, And the all wondrous Serpent clothed in gems & rich array Humanize In the Forgiveness of Sins according to the Covenant of Jehovah."
Vision of Last Judgment,(E 560) "If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy"
With Illustrations to Gray's Poems, (E 483) "To Mrs Ann Flaxman A little Flower grew in a lonely Vale Its form was lovely but its colours. pale One standing in the Porches of the Sun When his Meridian Glories were begun Leapd from the steps of fire & on the grass Alighted where this little flower was With hands divine he movd the gentle Sod And took the Flower up in its native Clod Then planting it upon a Mountains brow 'Tis your own fault if you dont flourish now WILLIAM BLAKE"