Page:Facsimile of the original outlines before colouring of The songs of innocence and of experience executed by William Blake.djvu/18

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a portion of God, in separated form. Even in the "Dream" the glowworm is human. It is represented in the margin as a watchman with lantern and staff. Of human insects we hear also in "Vala," Night IX., lines 738, &c., in "Milton," p. 24, &c. "Man looks out in tree, and herb, and fish, and beast," as we are told in "Vala," Night VIII., 1. 553, &c., for these contain the "scattered" portions of his immortal body. They are all, in fact, Little Boys Lost in their way.

"On Another's Sorrow," goes on with "Night." Humanity, or God, who "suffers with those that suffer" (Jerusalem, p. 25, 1. 7), here "sits beside" them, as he does in the forms of Angels, in "Night." This is placed among the Songs of Innocence to make evident the doctrine that sorrow is not necessarily a punishment inflicted. It is an initiation, among other things. In our modern Protestant Christianity, Judgment plays so large a part that we sometimes look on the idea that all suffering must necessarily be punitive as though this were an essential part of a belief in Divine Justice. The Catholic Church still reminds us that there is another view of pain. She holds up the image of the Virgin Mary with seven swords in her breast, while preaching the doctrine that her wounds were no punishment for her own short-comings, for she was born free, even of the taint of "original sin," while they were still less a vicarious sacrifice; that of her Son being complete in itself.

Blake has the clearest view of the purpose of sorrow. In "Jerusalem," p. 38, fallen man (fallen into the deceived state of unimaginative and selfish convictions) is followed by the Divine Saviour who:—

"Display'd the Eternal Vision, the Divine Similitude
 In loves and tears of brothers, sisters, sons, fathers, and friends,
 Which if Man ceases to behold he ceases to exist."

In passing now to the Songs of Experience we enter altogether a new region. It is understood now that we are in the state when the soul has "lapsed" in the evening dew. Five years have passed since the Songs of Innocence were written, perhaps even more, for the date, 1789, on their title-page represents the year when the plates were engraved, not necessarily that of the composition of the poems. The Songs of Experience bear date 1794. They may have been written from time to time during the whole of this period. These five years saw an important ripening of Blake's mind. It is the habit of those whose acquaintance with his works is but slight to speak as though the "Songs of Innocence and Experience" were a single set of poems, belonging to the early, or as they fancy, the sane period of Blake's life, while the "Prophetic Books" and all the symbolic writings are to be classed as mere ravings, the result of a falling away of a once bright and promising intellect. But the year 1789 is not only the date of the Songs of Innocence, but also of the Book of Thel,