Anyone may learn to know and love William Blake. Small steps include reading, asking questions, making comments about posts made here (or anywhere else for that matter). We are ordinary people interested in Blake and anxious to meet and converse with any others. Tip: The primary text for Blake is on line. The url is Contents.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This was central to Blake's evolving theology. It came to him at 42 and delivered him from his need to flog Old Nobodaddy; he had experienced the 'healing balm'. Henceforth he loved and adored Jesus, the bearer of Forgiveness.

In this form Blake experienced the new birth, which Baptists tell us occurs when you "accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior". For Blake (and for me) it came with recognition of God's love, and particularly in his case a feeling of being accepted (for me, too actually). The First Vision of Light described his jubilation at being accepted and called "thou Ram hornd with gold".

For Blake (and for me) this led to an excess of power. It appears that Blake had a sense of guilt that came to a head during his three years at Felpham (by the sea). He had been invited there by a fashionable poet and man of affairs named Hayley.

That was wonderful, but Blake soon found that Hayley proposed to "assist" him to becoming succesful by producing miniatures. Blake had struggled with the temptation to pursue worldly success instead of the "main chance", by which he meant artistic integrity (no doubt something all or most artists struggle with). Blake spoke of this in a letter to Cumberland dated 2 July 1800.

The pressure of Hayley on him to conform to worldly expectations was the last straw, and he returned to London a new man, no longer concerned about the approval of those who could reward him monetarily.

His best work came then with Milton and Jerusalem, but his new life is also expressed in the last part of The Four Zoas.

This experience of Blake's strikes me as a universal, applicable to many of us. The world calls, and God calls. Happy are those who hear and respond to the second call.

1 comment:

  1. As an architect it's often a matter of doing the best one can under the circumstances, so the artistic integrity is seemingly always compromised. In art, it's perhaps easier, if somebody WANTS to stick with that, rather than catering to what sells... but it's still the harder path...