Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/130

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THE POEMS OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

learn from them the strange fact that he who was mature in his childhood and youth became in his manhood a little child. A little child, pure in soul as the serenest light of the morning, happy and innocent as a lamb leaping in the meadows, singing all its joy in the sweetest voice with that exquisite infantine lisp which thrills the adult heart with yearning tenderness.[1] The

  1. Let the reader try to breathe like a child, and let the auditors of the breath decide whether he succeeds or no. There is indeed in adult breath such a peopling of multitudinous thoughts, such a tramp of hardness and troubles, as does not cede to the attempt to act the infantine even for a moment." (Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson: The Human Body and its Connexion with Man, p. 98, note.) What is true of common breathing, is true more conspicuously of breathing idealised and harmonised, of the breathing of song in which psychical have superseded the physical rhythms. The adult cannot sing like a child; but Blake in these Songs does so: he did not act the infantine, for he was infantine, by a regeneration as real while as mysterious as ever purest saint experienced in the religious life. And this regeneration, so far as we can learn, was effected without the throes of agony and doubt and despair which the saints all pass through in being born again.

    I am merely writing a few remarks on the poet, not sketching the life and character of the man; but I may be allowed to call the attention of readers to this wonderful life and character. Blake was always poor in world's wealth, always rich in spiritual wealth, happy and contented and assured, living with God. As to his soul's salvation, I do not believe that he ever gave it a thought; any more than a child thinks of the question whether its loving parents will continue to feed and clothe and cherish it. He had none of the feverish raptures and hypochondriac remorses which even in the best of those who are commonly called saints excite a certain contemptuous pity in the midst of our love and admiration: he was a thoroughly healthy and happy religious soul, whose happiness was thoroughly unselfish and noble. As to the "Christian Evidences," as they are termed, of which the mass of good people are so enamoured, in trying to argue themselves and others into a sort of belief in a sort (and such a sort!) of deity; he would have no more dreamed of appealing to them than he would have