The Divine Image: by William Blake - Summary and Analysis

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The Divine Image

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine;
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

Summary and Analysis


      In 'The Divine Image' the poet gives us the meaning of 'divinity' or God. God is, in fact, the being of all virtues such as mercy, pity, love and peace. Blake's concept of God leads us to think that God is not a piece of block or stone but the essence of all virtues. A man who possesses the divine virtues is no less than God. The poet reminds us of our capability of being at the height of divinity or on an equal footing with God. God, according to him, is not a dweller of heaven, he dwells within our heart. When one lives up to the best that is inside him, exercising the inherent divine qualities, he becomes God. 

'The Divin Image' contains no visionary or sensory images and so it is a slight deviation from the right path towards 'experience'.
The Divine Image


      'Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love' for which a man prays in distress are synonyms of Christ or God. Blake says that these virtues count more than the form. If man assumes all these divine virtues and lives up to them he is one with God. Man has inherently imbibed these virtues as a heritage from God, his Father. That is why Blake says that the human heart can be merciful, for man can show pity to his fellow beings. The human body can be made an abode of love, and peace can be worn as his dress. If a man thus practises all these virtues it can be said that in distress he is not praying to God but to the man who holds the divine virtues. Blake concludes his poem on a moral note. He says that all should love one another irrespective of the nation, race or religion his fellow human being belongs to. He adds that where there is mercy. love and pity. there is God.

The Essence of God:

      The poet stresses on three of the most important and essential virtues a man must have. They are love mercy and pity. These are the links that bring all into mutual understanding. The ultimate aim of human life is to help others be happy and be happy ourselves. Blake's protest against blind idolatry is obvious in this poem.


       The poet substantively argues that man can become God. The only procedure he is to undergo is to cultivate the divine qualities which lie dormant in every human being. Human being whichever nationality or race they belong to, can come up to the level of God because God is one who possesses those virtues which make us love everybody and sacrifice ourselves for another's cause. So, it is these primary virtues of 'love, pity and mercy' that constituent the Concept of God. C.M. Bowra holds Blake means that every sign and every tear evoke a response from our divine nature and through this we are cured and turned to joy. Compassion is part of man's imaginative being, and through it he is able to transform existence. For Blake, God is the Divine essence which exists potentially in every man and woman. The power and appeal of this belief appear in The Divine Image. The divine image, of course, is man, but man is part of his complex being and seen from a special point of view.

A Poem of Innocence:

      Critics have pointed out that no child can, as a matter of fact, rise up to this level of thought as is described by the poet. Thus they have questioned the poem's inclusion in the section of Innocence. But we have to bear in mind that innocence lies, not in the reasoning of the subject but in the subject matter itself. Children are characterised with innocence but its limits do not get held up at a particular point. Innocence is the term that stands for all the pure, human and divine virtues such as love, mercy, pity or sympathy. Critics vary in their opinion with regard to this poem. Some hold that 'The Divine Image' contains no visionary or sensory images and so it is a slight deviation from the right path towards 'experience'. But we can convincingly say that projecting so far the representatives of innocence, it is no mistake if the poet transcends the human level and rises upto the level of the ultimate and substantial Truth.

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