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, February 9, 2010

Blake's Ladder

Blake had many such, but we'll concentrate on one that's already had a good bit of coverage:

"Look again at the end of a famous letter (23)to Butts in 1802:

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

What can we make of the last line? Blake mentioned Newton 91 times in his Complete Works; Newton was his exemplar for purely materialistic sight, and with Bacon and Locke the Unholy Trinity of materialistic culture. Like the logical positivists if it can't be weighed or measured, it's meaningless. Things like love, hate, inspiration have no meaning.

Blake thus called single vision 'Newton's sleep'. Not scientists but people with the least imagination, the flimsiest intellect are the ones gifted with single vision. They live in Blake's Ulro.

So what's twofold vision:
"Blake explains twofold vision very nicely in the poem. Open your heart to nature, let plants and animals speak to you, let trifles fill you with smiles and tears, respond to the world in its minute particulars, the cosmos in a grain of sand, etc." (from this).

"...three fold in soft Beulahs night"? Here's a description of Beulah; perhaps you've already read it. We have the Beulah of Pilrims Progress.

The original Beulah of course came from Isaiah 62:4.

Finally we have Fourfold. (Theodore Roszak began this essay ascribing his own poem to Blake, but no matter).

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