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

Thursday, April 7, 2016


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Watercolor, 1795
Our experience in this world is framed by two doors: birth or the entrance into life and death or the entrance into the grave. But poets encourage us to explore additional meanings to life and death by using the word 'door' symbolically.  

In the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos stated 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' He was inviting his readers to be conscious of an invitation to enter a relationship. His readers subsequently have attached John's invitation to Jesus and portrayed him inviting us to open the door which will allow Christ to transform us.
Revelation 3
[19] As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
[20] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The writer of the Gospel of John develops the image of the 'door' in a different way. Jesus states that it is the shepherd who enters the door and is recognized by his sheep who follow him. However, Jesus follows the narrative of the parable with an explanation identifying himself with the door. By
passing through Christ men may find salvation, enter and exit, and be fed.

John 10
[1] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
[2] But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
[3] To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
[4] And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
[5] And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
[6] This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
[7] Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
[8] All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
[9] I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Blake was fascinated by the use of the symbol of the 'door' as the transition between mortal life and Eternal life. Man's ability to perceive is a 'door' which may be cleansed to reveal the infinite and eternal. The limited individual perception may be passed through to revel the resurrected possibilities of the spiritual body.

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." 
Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception. Luvah must be Created                  
And Vala; for I cannot leave them in the gnawing Grave.
But will prepare a way for my banished-ones to return"
The contrary activity of entering the mortal world of decay and death, is passing through the same door in the opposite direction. Los entered the door of Death for the sake of Albion, an echo of Christ entering the mortal body for the sake of humanity.

Jerusalem, Plate 1, (E 144)
"Half Friendship is the bitterest Enmity said Los
As he enterd the Door of Death for Albions sake Inspired
The long sufferings of God are not for ever there is a Judgment" 
When an individual perceives his Immortality, the door between death and life is opened to him. He may enter and exit as John said of the sheepfold in the gospel. But to the awakened man the world of mortality increasingly becomes a dream world - less real than the world on the other side of the door.

Gates of Paradise, The Keys, (E 268)
"13   But when once I did descry 
     The Immortal Man that cannot Die
14   Thro evening shades I haste away 
     To close the Labours of my Day
15   The Door of Death I open found                             
     And the Worm Weaving in the Ground
16   Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb 
     Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb 
     Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife
     And weeping over the Web of Life"
The grave which is final to the man who sleeps in doubt, is seen to be a Golden Door which opens to heaven's blossoming to those who use the key. Blake's key is the visions which his soul has seen. By illustrating Edward's poem The Grave he has encouraged the reader to open his soul to the vision which flies on wings of imagination.

Songs and Ballads, (E 480)
[Dedication to Blake's Illustrations to Blair's Grave, printed 1808]

             "TO THE QUEEN    
The Door of Death is made of Gold,
That Mortal Eyes cannot behold;
But, when the Mortal Eyes are clos'd,
And cold and pale the Limbs repos'd,
The Soul awakes; and, wond'ring, sees
In her mild Hand the golden Keys:
The Grave is Heaven's golden Gate,
And rich and poor around it wait;
O Shepherdess of England's Fold,
Behold this Gate of Pearl and Gold!        

  To dedicate to England's Queen 
The Visions that my Soul has seen,
And, by Her kind permission, bring 
What I have borne on solemn Wing,
From the vast regions of the Grave,
Before Her Throne my Wings I wave;
Bowing before my Sov'reign's Feet,
"The Grave produc'd these Blossoms sweet
"In mild repose from Earthly strife;
"The Blossoms of Eternal Life!"            

                         WILLIAM BLAKE"

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