Prophetic Vision in Blake’s Poetry
In a previous study, Blake’s Eyes of God Cycles to Apocalypse and Redemption, the seven Eyes of God in Blake’s prophetic books were correlated with biblical and historical periods. Directed by the spirit of imagination, these cycles were seen as intrinsic to apocalypse. Here we examine the poetic inspiration of Blake’s eighth Eye and relate it to the prophetic vision in some of Blake’s designs.
Blake created two versions of his Illustrations of the Book of Job, and it is now agreed that about twenty years separates his first watercolour series and the final engraved set of plates. The first (‘Butts’) series of water-colours was the product of the tumultuous and creative years 1805-10, following a time when Blake experienced a strong sense of vision and Christian regeneration; whereas the engraved set was produced 1821-1826, at the end of his life.
This article explores Blake’s treatment of the Job theme, in which the ‘friends-turned-accusers’ seem to have been a central pre-occupation. Blake’s illustrations contain important elements which are not found in the Old Testament text, and I consider Blake’s imaginative use of this material, exploring in particular the importance to Blake of St.Teresa, Fenelon, Mme. Guyon, Hervey and other people of ‘prayer’.
Blake’s Job was unique in the corpus of his work. Previous studies have followed Wicksteed in concentrating on the engraved set, and no one has explored the implications of the earlier dating now agreed for the watercolour series. The thesis is essentially concerned with Blake’s Christocentric theme, and Job’s inner journey of prayer, in these illustrations.
Is reason the root of all evil? That’s the core theme romantic era poet and artist, William Blake, tackles in his alternative-to-Genesis creation story, The Book of Urizen.
William Blake is justifiably considered to be among the greatest of England’s poets and artists. His place in the books of art history is assured despite his general disengagement from any definable movement, except perhaps romanticism, to which he belonged in spirit more than in form. Blake was professionally an engraver and acquired little acclaim for his work in his lifetime. To a degree this was due to Blake’s strange beliefs and obsessions – he at times claimed to see the dead, communicate with Biblical prophets and experience ecstatic visions. The Book of Urizen, Blake’s masterpiece – an epic poem originally created in seven copies using copperplate engravings, is of particular interest since it displays a unique artistic style, complex poetic form and most interestingly a spiritual vision whose intensity is at the least a mystic’s, if not a prophet’s.
Jerusalem and the Origins of Patriarchy
“O Albion why wilt thou Create a Female Will?” Los wails in Jerusalem (30:31). The term “Female Will” here makes its first appearance in Blake’s poetry, though for years critics have used it retroactively to explicate prior works, because it ties together so many of the sinister actions of the women characters of the earlier poetry.
The word “deluge” hails from the Latin “diluvium,” meaning to wash away or dissolve. The Deluge, as a world-shaping event, is recorded in the collective mythologies of nearly every ancient culture from Pre-Inca Tiahuanacu, the story of Vishnu and Manu in the Hindu tradition, and the Turtle Island myth of the Anishinaabe to our most antiquated accounts in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and “The Book of Genesis.”
The common narrative that binds them is the meeting of a man (often a demi-god) with a greater divinity. The divine being warns the man of the coming flood and gives him instructions to build a ship, in which he is taken away to a Holy Mountain where he waits until the Earth is restored or cleansed by the waters. One of the most interesting details of Deluge mythology is the adaptation of the myth to best suit the cosmological understanding of the culture meant to receive it. Both the ancient Sumerian and primitive Hebrew cultures relied heavily upon the symbolic use of numbers to transmit ideas.
Through examination of numerical variations in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” in relation to “The Book of Genesis,” one will discover that although the details of Deluge mythology are as divergent as human culture, this is not a result of the mistranslation of an ancient historical account, but an adaptation of symbols to conjure the same meaning; thus transcending both cultural and religious differences, in order to communicate “the secret of the gods.”
New York is essentially a spiritual city, one of the most occult and esoteric cities on Earth. As David Ovason has suggested in The Secret Architecture of our Nation’s Capital, New York – like Washington DC (the main focus of his study) – is laid out according to a whole matrix of secret symbolism and occult geometry.
Introduction: Future Tense
There have been men who loved the future like a mistress, and the future mixed her breath into their breath and shook her hair about them, and hid them from the understanding of their times. William Blake was one of these men, and if he spoke confusedly and obscurely it was because he spoke things for whose speaking he could find no models in the world about him.
He announced the religion of art, of which no man dreamed in the world about him; and he understood it more perfectly than the thousands of subtle spirits who have received its baptism in the world about us, because, in the beginning of important things – in the beginning of love, in the beginning of the day, in the beginning of any work, there is a moment when we understand more perfectly than we understand again until all is finished.
In his time educated people believed that they amused themselves with books of imagination but that they “made their souls” by listening to sermons and by doing or by not doing certain things. When they had to explain why serious people like themselves honoured the great poets greatly they were hard put to it for lack of good reasons.
In our time we are agreed that we “make our souls” out of some one of the great poets of ancient times, or out of Shelley or Wordsworth, or Goethe or Balzac, or Flaubert, or Count Tolstoy, in the books he wrote before he became a prophet and fell into a lesser order, or out of Mr. Whistler’s pictures, while we amuse ourselves, or, at best, make a poorer sort of soul, by listening to sermons or by doing or by not doing certain things.