Concept of Religion: in William Blake's Poetry

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National Religion:

      Blake deplores both the concepts of Natural and Supernatural Religion. For him God is within us and so we have to listen only to our own inner voices. He says that he knows no other Christianity and no other Gospel than the liberty of body and mind to exercise the divine arts of imagination - "imagination, the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow." He chides the notion of supernatural deities too. As far as Blake is concerned.

Thou art a Man. God is no more
Thine own humanity learn to adore.

 

Real love is mutual and it remains sanctified and sacred in the life of man. It is not sexual in the sense that it is to be banished and hidden from the society of a moral set up. It is eternal and spontaneous and it facilitates the human way for salvation. Contrary to the orthodox belief that conjugal love is a 'deed of darkness' Blake proclaims boldly : "copulation is the imagination of the body and imagination is the copulation of the soul"; and that it is not sinful at all. Therefore, any moral law that functions as an obstacle in the way of love's freedom is the most reproachable in the eyes of the poet.
William Blake

Blake on Love:

      Real love is mutual and it remains sanctified and sacred in the life of man. It is not sexual in the sense that it is to be banished and hidden from the society of a moral set up. It is eternal and spontaneous and it facilitates the human way for salvation. Contrary to the orthodox belief that conjugal love is a 'deed of darkness' Blake proclaims boldly : "copulation is the imagination of the body and imagination is the copulation of the soul"; and that it is not sinful at all. Therefore, any moral law that functions as an obstacle in the way of love's freedom is the most reproachable in the eyes of the poet.

Blake Depreciates Conventional Morality:

      Blake holds the old obsolete orthodox groundwork of religion that instructs its members to follow its oppressive principles and norms as deprecatory. Furthermore, he offers a radical and entirely novel meaning to the Christian concept of Devil, God and Heaven. For him the voice of one's own conscience is more conspicuous than any other professed doctrine on God. Therefore. he rejects the institutional set up of clergies and popes. For Blake. human body is a cloud (as Dante puts it is his Purgatory) and it is our soul that is immortal. He protests against the 'don'ts' of. 'Ten Commandments' which annual the human vigour and energy - the fountainhead of man's life. Blake appears the most radical and revolutionary when in his Jerusalem he calls Virgin Marry "a Harlot and an adulteress." Never before in the history of Christianity did the phrase "for she is with child by the Holy Ghost" bear such meaning as Blake here imparts it.

      In the vista of Blake's thought forgiveness' occupies a remarkable importance. It is an eternal act existing beyond the realm of time and therefore, embracing past. present and future. It is prevailing all through the flow of time but we only feel its presence or 'Nativity' when someone like Jesus expresses. it and unveils its significance.

      Blake's Poetic Theory Blake's theory of poetry is entirely different from one that was held by the Neo-classicists such as Dr. Johnson and Dryden. For Dr. Johnson the aim of poetry is to please and instruct: but for Blake it is to reveal the universal truth by way of the poet's imagination. Neoclassicists hold reason as supreme. but for Blake imagination or inner vision is supreme and it is his criterion of versification. In theory as well as in practice. Blake, as all the other Romantics, started his career smashing the traditional and social fetters that crippled the world of art as well as the hunan world. He also opposed the Nco-classical mode of laying down laws and regulations upon the body of art. I is one's inner vision a poet should obey when he starts writing poems.

To Reveal is the Poet's Objective:

      Blake maintains that the objective of the poet is not to please and instruct or to provide a rational analysis of things, but to reveal; to reveal what is felt as true to the mind and imagination of the poet. It holds good for the analysis of all that belongs to the universe, God or nature. Blake regards art not as an expression of the individual but as the representation of eternal truth. Blake the Portrayer and Poet : Most of Blake's poems, especially the Songs of Innocence and Experience accompany his own portrayal of the ideas expressed in it. His engravings are Exceptionally helpful when we come to disentangle the complex symbolism and deep meanings of his works. Thus whilst his poetry is marred by the mystic's practice of mingling imagery and dogmatism, his paintings and engravings are relatively consistent in revealing his true artistic genius. There the artist is not confounded with the prophet and preacher.

Blake the Symbolist:

      One of the noteworthy characteristics of Neo-classical poetry is its use of personification. In the poems of Pseudo classicists, especially of the transitional poets such as Collins and Gray we notice them clothing the abstractions such as ambition and desire as human beings and treating them in that perspective. But when we come to Blake we perceive him not as a classicist but as a symbolist. Perhaps the only two successful symbolists in English literature are Yeats and Blake. In Blake. what is more. allegory and symbolism are interwoven and gems of lyrical beauty are studded most exquisitely. Blake's poems compared with those of his contemporaries such as Thomas Taylor suffered neglect and underestimation: but in the following centuries the became the model for eminent writers like Wordsworth and Yeats.

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