Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/244

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Moral virtues do not exist: they are allegories and dissimulations. But Time and Space are real beings, a male and a female; Time is a man, Space is a woman, and her masculine portion is Death. Such is the mighty difference between allegoric fable and spiritual mystery. Let it here be noted that the Greek fables originated in spiritual mystery and real vision, which are lost and clouded in fable and allegory; while the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Gospel are genuine, preserved by the Saviour's mercy. The nature of my work is visionary, or imaginative; it is an endeavour to restore what the ancients called the Golden Age.

Plato has made Socrates say that poets and prophets do not know or understand what they write or utter. This is a most pernicious falsehood. If they do not, pray is an inferior kind to be called 'knowing'? Plato confutes himself.

The Last Judgment is one of these stupendous visions. I have represented it as I saw it. To different people it appears differently, as everything else does.

In eternity one thing never changes into another thing: each identity is eternal. Consequently, Apuleius's Golden Ass, and Ovid's Metamorphoses, and others of the like kind, are fable; yet they contain vision in a sublime degree, being derived from real vision in more ancient writings. Lot's wife being changed into a pillar of salt alludes to the mortal body being rendered a permanent statue, but not changed or transformed into another identity, while it retains its own individuality. A man can never become ass nor horse; some are born with shapes of men who are both; but eternal identity is one thing, and corporeal vegetation is another thing. Changing water into wine by Jesus, and into blood by Moses, relates to vegetable nature also.

The nature of visionary fancy, or imagination, is very little known, and the eternal nature and permanence of its ever-existent images are considered as less permanent than the things of vegetable and generative nature. Yet the oak dies as well as the lettuce; but its eternal image or individuality