• Art of Inspiration

    • Of the English poets, Blake was the most visionary and indelible, he was able to invent a specific magic that is conjured in his poems and engravings.

    William Blake, imagination as the ultimate compass / 

    In the summer of 1827 he died singing.

    To suggest that he was inspired by invisible angels,

    he would stop at times and say: This is not mine, it is not mine!

    J.L Borges

    William Blake always told his readers that he didn’t write for the many men who spend their days working, but for children and angels. He believed that his texts could be understood by most, and he considered himself to be a child whose toys where the sun, the moon and the stars, the heavens and Earth. The best way of approaching his work is by reading it as children, perceiving the primal purity and evil within us and by bringing these out in the presence of his writing, of his engravings. ‘For Blake beauty,’ wrote Borges, ‘corresponds to that instant where the reader and the work meet, in a type of mystical union.’

    The desire to produce poems that went hand in hand with illustrations had to do with considering that the life of imagination was more real than material life. This philosophy demanded the identification of ideas with symbols that could be translated into images. In Blake’s work every work and symbol mutually supports the other. This is how the emblematic cosmovision if this artist, author and ‘prophetic’ engraver began to take shape. Blake, like Swedenborg, always trusted visitors from other world, and together with his voices, he incorporated alchemical concepts envisioned by Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme and Cornelius Agrippa.

    Perhaps Blake’s most indelible characteristic, aside from the perfect elegance with which he, as a messenger, introduced us to mystical and visionary latitudes, is the bridge he conjured by intertwining two worlds that by convention have always been separate: innocence and experience, heaven and hell. In his Songs of Innocence and Experience, although written at different moments in his life, the two themes are not separated. One can see signs from both states in his poems. ‘For Mercy has a human heart/Pity, a human face:/And Love, the human form divine, /And Peace, the human dress.’ (The Divine Image).

    In the same way, The Proverbs of Hell are clearly designed to make the reader question his role on what is considered good and bad. Blake satirises the oppressive authority of the Church and the State: ‘Prisons are built with stones of Law/Brothels with bricks of Religion,’ and by doing so he is not making a call to anarchy, but to a balance between energy and the opposing force. ‘Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.’ Blake includes demons in ‘All deities.’

    It can be easy to get lost in the complex mythology of ‘Blakean’ poetry and forget that it is not describing external events but a ‘cosmic struggle’ that takes place in our mind. Blake himself pointed out that he was not interested in ‘That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care. The wisest of the Ancients consider'd what is not too Explicit as the fittest for Instruction, because it arouses the faculties to act.’

    Among the other suggestions of eternity, the visions, prophetic dreams and parables, William Blake formulates a type of redemption for mortals. Redemption from the aesthetic and the rhythm (a divine pulse), that is able to seep through a crack in the doors of perception, to show things as they really are: infinite. The redemption Blake proposed was a reconnection with a divinity without the need of middlemen. His complete oeuvre, is actually, an intricate vault where worlds are interlaced, but one which we need not exhaust to know that in each of his poems we can also find all his poems (‘the infinite in a grain of sand’), and which we can access to find the primal eloquence that has inhabited us since we were children.

    Tagged: William Blake, poets, poetry, inspiration