Blake’s Humanism by John Beer

By John Beer

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His Thel wandering in the garden was dimly aware of a presence missed, a God who once walked in the noonday heat of the garden but is now heard only as a voice in the evening. So Oothoon now walks, her search for ‘comfort’ immediately recalling Rachel weeping for her children or Mary Magdalene weeping outside the empty tomb. No visionary god appears to restore Oothoon to happiness, however. Instead, she devotes herself to the ‘bright Marygold’ of Leutha’s vale, which tells her that if her flower is plucked another will spring in its place, because ‘the soul of sweet delight / Can never pass away’.

F. Damon, op. , p. 316; Harold Bloom, Blake’s Apocalypse, 1963, p. 76. The Energies of Desire 50 passive that obeys Reason Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell. The contraries between these pairs of qualities correspond to the contraries between single and twofold vision. And here it is necessary once again to insist on the presence of irony. When the Devil speaks in the following pages he is to be regarded as speaking in the person of Blake only to the extent that Blake, as an artist, considers himself to be constantly in a state of twofold vision.

His art and poetry alike find their natural pitch at the point where eternal identity and organic change meet in the running line of energized form. Such are the permanent ideas and convictions by which Blake lived and organized his art. At the end of the eighteenth century they served for a time as the framework for 20 NB 737; NC 90; E 592. Quoted Hirst, op. , pp. 206-7. A Fourfold Vision his concern with the pressing question of liberty, sexual, political and religious. 39 3 The Energies of Desire At the time when the death of his brother Robert was confirming Blake in his early conviction of the importance of vision in human experience, the outbreak of the French Revolution, and its impact on English life and thought, gave him a new and urgent concern with the question of social and political freedom.

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