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Old 2nd February 2019, 07:49 AM   #1
shankara
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William Blake

Toss up whether this goes here or in "History, Literature and the Arts"... I think Blake was primarily a mystic.

“Create a System or be enslav’d by another Mans.”


William Blake was a poet and artist, famed for his mystical and visionary work. Yet he was a fierce individualist, a romantic and critic of the church’s doctrine:

“And Caiphas was in his own Mind
A benefactor of Mankind
Both read the Bible day & night
But thou readst black where I read white”


He was born in 1757 to a family of modest means. His education was of the kind usual for poorer children at the time, coming from his mother. He later celebrated this with the lines:

“Thank God, I never was sent to School
To be Flogg’d into following the Stile of a Fool.”


He had visions throughout his life, as a child seeing the head of God, Ezekiel and “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars”. He considered having such visions to be a natural human faculty, “all men partake of it—but it is lost by not being cultivated”, and according to a contemporary spoke of his visions with no particular emphasis, as if they were almost a trivial matter. One of Blake’s own essays (“The Last Judgement”) states:

“I assert for My Self that I do not behold the outward Creation… ‘What’ it will be Questiond ‘When the Sun rises, do you not See a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?’ O no no I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying ‘Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”


Many of his poems are now famous, “Songs Of Innocence”, written very simply in language a child could read, and “Songs Of Experience” being probably the best known collections. “The Marriage Of Heaven and Hell” which consists of a dialogue between Blake and an (arrogant) Angel, along with a collection of the “Proverbs Of Hell” is also somewhat well known. In this (and other works) he opposed morals in the sense of repressive commandments:

“Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren, whom, tyrant, he calls free. Lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religions letchery call that virginity that wishes but acts not.

For everything that lives is Holy.”


His art is also well known, his poetic work having mostly been printed with paintings, as Illuminated Manuscripts (in very small numbers using an etching technique he apparently received from his dead brother in a vision.)

https://66.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l...go1o1_1280.jpg

In his lifetime he had little success, being discovered posthumously. Eventually W.B. Yeats would publish his work and T.S. Eliot write an essay about him. He is now considered, alongside Milton, as one of the greatest mystic poets in English literature.

“If he had been Antichrist Creeping Jesus
Hed have done any thing to please us
Gone sneaking into Synagogues
And not usd the Elders & Priests like dogs
But Humble as a Lamb or Ass
Obeyd himself to Caiaphas
God wants not Man to Humble himself
This is the trick of the ancient Elf
This is the Race that Jesus ran
Humble to God Haughty to Man
Cursing the Rulers before the People
Even to the temples highest Steeple
And when he Humbled himself to God
Then descended the Cruel Rod”
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Old 2nd February 2019, 08:06 AM   #2
Porpoise of Life
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Yep, that's William Blake alright.

What do you want to discuss?
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Old 2nd February 2019, 08:57 AM   #3
shankara
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Originally Posted by Porpoise of Life View Post
Yep, that's William Blake alright.

What do you want to discuss?
Just thought it might be nice for people to hear about him... I quoted him in another thread and people were asking who the quote was from.

But ok, uh, discussion topics, let me see...

Do all children have similar visionary faculties which get shut down by school, tv etc? I like this question!

What about all this "raven-headed priests curse the sons of joy" business. Is religion (Christianity in particular, if you like) really so repressive? Does it have to be repressive to serve it's purpose, is this due to Christ himself or is it something added to the doctrine by organized religion? Do we really need to "create a system" or are dogmas sufficient? (for example, is it possible to be a complete human being and at the same time believe Catholic or Protestant (or etc etc etc) dogma?

Was Christ a social revolutionary? ("This is the Race that Jesus ran, Humble to God Haughty to Man, Cursing the Rulers before the People, Even to the temples highest Steeple")

Last edited by shankara; 2nd February 2019 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 09:44 AM   #4
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Though aside from those points, to be quite honest I posted this thread just to turn people on to Blake who maybe haven't read him or only read "Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience".

It would be quite interesting to hear people's perspective on him, especially people who identify as Christians...
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Old 2nd February 2019, 12:38 PM   #5
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Would be best then to have been put in History, Literature, and the Arts subforum.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 02:15 PM   #6
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Or one could refer to a more complete coverage of William Blake by visiting the quite comprehensive Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
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Old 3rd February 2019, 04:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by William Blake
Proverbs of Hell

Originally Posted by William Blake
In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
Dip him in the river who loves water.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.
All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.
No bird soars too high. if he soars with his own wings.
A dead body, revenges not injuries.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise
Folly is the cloke of knavery.
Shame is Prides cloke.
Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
Let man wear the fell of the lion. woman the fleece of the sheep.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
The selfish smiling fool. & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise. that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once, only imagind.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet; watch the roots, the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains: the fountain overflows
One thought. fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believd is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time. as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.
Think in the morning, Act in the noon, Eat in the evening, Sleep in the night.
He who has suffered you to impose on him knows you.
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction
Expect poison from the standing water.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title!
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the lion, the horse; how he shall take his prey.
The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest.
If others had not been foolish, we should be so.
The soul of sweet delight. can never be defil'd,
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. lift up thy head!
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to layer her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Damn, braces: Bless relaxes.
The best wine is the oldest. the best water the newest.
Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!
Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!
The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox. he would be cunning.
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd.
Enough! or Too much




From "The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell"

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Old 3rd February 2019, 06:58 AM   #8
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I recall that in high school we had a segment on the “Tiger, Tiger, burning bright” poem....

(Catholic school) With much discussion of the line... “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
As to the dichotomy of good and evil... And the endless discussion of how an omnibenevolent God allows evil...

And of course the use of the “Red Dragon” painting in the movie of the same name....
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Old 3rd February 2019, 10:14 AM   #9
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William Blake's painting The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun is a major plot point in Thomas Harris' Red Dragon (the first Hannibal Lecter book).
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Old 3rd February 2019, 01:02 PM   #10
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The Danish band The William Blakes (Wikipedia). The lead singer, Kristian, is a former (high school) student of mine.
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Old 4th February 2019, 04:45 AM   #11
shankara
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I recall that in high school we had a segment on the “Tiger, Tiger, burning bright” poem....

(Catholic school) With much discussion of the line... “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
As to the dichotomy of good and evil... And the endless discussion of how an omnibenevolent God allows evil....
Interesting question which Catholic dogma (and that of all the other Abrahamic religions) can't resolve...
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Old 5th February 2019, 07:26 AM   #12
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Shankara, are you familiar with the books on Blake and his supposed connections with 18th century occultism (especially Swedenborgian erotic spirituality) by Martha Keith Schuchard?
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Old 5th February 2019, 08:37 AM   #13
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I'm most familiar with Blake as the author of the poem which became the hymn 'Jerusalem'. The version by Billy Bragg was my late father's favourite hymn and when we sang it at his funeral, I had to do my best to avoid singing it in Bragg's Essex intonation.
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Old 5th February 2019, 09:36 AM   #14
shankara
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Shankara, are you familiar with the books on Blake and his supposed connections with 18th century occultism (especially Swedenborgian erotic spirituality) by Martha Keith Schuchard?
Nope but sounds interesting.
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
I'm most familiar with Blake as the author of the poem which became the hymn 'Jerusalem'. The version by Billy Bragg was my late father's favourite hymn and when we sang it at his funeral, I had to do my best to avoid singing it in Bragg's Essex intonation.
I've missed that. I'll have to look it up. I have a soft spot for BB as I learned to play guitar from his "Back to Basics with Billy Brag" book. Funnily enough I found my copy a few weeks back.
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