"The first time I was converted, in content, to traditional Christianity; the second time, to honesty; the third time to the love of God and men, first in theology and gradually in life."
|Library of Congress
Here is an account of a conversion experience of William Blake which he included in Milton. Blake speaks in the first person in this passage which he rarely does in his poetry. The experience he describes took place near the end of his sojourn in Felpham where he had been sorely tried by outer circumstances and inner doubts.
Some may say that this passage is merely a poetic device to further the narrative of the poem, but Milton is recognized as autobiographical. Blake saw the experience of an encounter with the figure of Los as a powerful movement of his own psyche to enter a new phase of psychic/spiritual development. In fact the confidence to write the poem Milton grew from such an expansion of his consciousness.
We see in this passage that Blake has been given a new ability to write from the Universal Dictate as had been Milton before him. The spiritual level that enabled him to receive this gift is the suffering he had endured. Because he can pity the world of sorrow, he can help to renew it to Eternal Life. Blake is ready to walk forward in spite of his fears because he perceives that Los, the Eternal Prophet, has inducted him into the brotherhood of prophets.
Milton, Plate 21 , (E 116) "Then the Divine Family said. Six Thousand Years are now Accomplish'd in this World of Sorrow; Miltons Angel knew The Universal Dictate; and you also feel this Dictate. And now you know this World of Sorrow, and feel Pity. Obey The Dictate! Watch over this World, and with your brooding wings, Renew it to Eternal Life: Lo! I am with you alway But you cannot renew Milton he goes to Eternal Death So spake the Family Divine as One Man even Jesus Uniting in One with Ololon & the appearance of One Man Jesus the Saviour appeard coming in the Clouds of Ololon! Plate 22  Tho driven away with the Seven Starry Ones into the Ulro Yet the Divine Vision remains Every-where For-ever. Amen. And Ololon lamented for Milton with a great lamentation. While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me: And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold. Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also stoop'd down And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health. And I became One Man with him arising in my strength: Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul: His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength. [change of voice] I am that Shadowy Prophet who Six Thousand Years ago Fell from my station in the Eternal bosom. Six Thousand Years Are finishd. I return! both Time & Space obey my will. I in Six Thousand Years walk up and down: for not one Moment Of Time is lost, nor one Event of Space unpermanent But all remain: every fabric of Six Thousand Years Remains permanent: tho' on the Earth where Satan Fell, and was cut off all things vanish & are seen no more They vanish not from me & mine, we guard them first & last The generations of men run on in the tide of Time But leave their destind lineaments permanent for ever & ever. So spoke Los as we went along to his supreme abode."
These are the phrases which lead me to call this a conversion experience:
1) "reveal the secrets of Eternity"
2) "I stooped down & bound it on to walk forward thro' Eternity."
3) "And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold."
4) "And I became One Man with him arising in my strength:"
5) "Twas too late now to recede. Los had enterd into my soul: His terrors now posses'd me whole! I arose in fury & strength"