Page:Facsimile of the original outlines before colouring of The songs of innocence and of experience executed by William Blake.djvu/22

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


doctrine is contained in Christianity, along with its balancing contrary, the love of God and one's neighbour, is, of course, no new contention, but Blake's care was to show how dogmatic morality in religion actually tends, not to righteousness, but rather to mere rebellion. This rebellion, he believed, would lead ultimately to the love of God and neighbour, while the dogma and moral law led to neither the one nor the other. Therefore he would make a clean sweep, not only of all law, but even of all disapprobation. In "Jerusalem," p. 3, he says:

"Therefore I print, nor vain my types shall be,
 Heaven, Earth, and Hell henceforth shall live in harmony."

In "London" the failure of restrictive law to give any energy to the real life or love of the soul is indignantly declared.

The "Human Abstract" is a lyrical epitome of many pages in the prophetic Books. The story and meaning of the person called "Urizen" in the myth is here to be found foreshadowed, but without the name. The "Book of Urizen" has the same date as the Songs of Experience.

Infant Sorrow is the companion to Infant Joy and repeats the story of the "Human Abstract" in its infantile form. This is the Natural Man, the mortal. His personality is purely selfish,—a fiend. His visible body, the cloud, hides it. His father, type of law and repression, is himself the maturity of mundane reason. His mother is the maturity of instinct, less cruel his soul, save deceitfully, as helping to solidify his body. These three persons, all of them living at one time in each of us, are continually recurring in Blake's myth. They are developed at length in the story of Los, Enitharmon, and Orc.

In the "Poison Tree" Blake gives one of his few sarcastic poems. There is little symbolism here. The Tree is the inevitable "Mystery" in one of its aspects. The parable repeats the doctrine that all suppression of impulse or truth is evil. It develops the saying from the "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," that "the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God," by showing, in contrast, the silence of dishonest submissiveness growing into the vindictive secrecy of Satan. It was probably based on an incident, the theft of some design of Blake's by a brother artist.

"A little boy lost" tells of an honest love destroyed by the pride and arrogance of the being to whom it was offered. It is a variation of the parable of Lear and Cordelia. "So young, my Lord, and true." Symbolically it shows old Reason jealously binding young Imagination.

"A little girl lost" is also an honest young love destroyed, but this time the destroyer is not consciously cruel and suffers also, for the "girl" is a fleshly instinctive emotion of his own, at variance with the white self-submissive hair of virtue, strong for the easy task of disapproval, but weak for the harder effort of sympathy and forgiveness.