ENGL 3315 Lecture 4: 1-26-2017 Blake Continued

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ENGL 3315
Reality is a mental construct for Blake
We are coloring what we see with our own ideas and beliefs
Blake believes we are creating meaning but we think we are just seeing meaning
Wordsworth believes in a natural religion existing in the environment, but Blake argues
that where man is not, nature is barren
Humans create the meaning that wordsworth claims is naturally existing
Percy shelley wrote “nothing exists except as it is perceived”
Blake argues that most people lack the imagination to perceive ultimate reality
o But says he is a divinely inspired poet so he understands the ultimate reality
His Songs of Innocence are associated with childhood
o This is the way childlike people see the world, this is also how innocent adults see
the world
o Living in pastoral eden, free of guilt, sin, and evil. But this life will also make one
unaware of the full scope of the world, naïve, they are unaware of sin and evil.
They would also accept the world as it has been taught to them, they accept the
teachings of their parents, religious leaders, society
o This dependence and acceptance of the teachings of others prevents them from
being Blake’s ideal
New testament view of reality
In The Lamb, the subject is who created the universe
o In the poem, the child is identifying the creator with jesus, not with god the father
o He identifies him with the lamb of god, and emphasizes the traits of meekness and
o Irony that the child is totally unaware of the fact that jesus is referred to as the
lamb of god because he was a sacrifice
o Taking on human flesh, the incarnation, Blake’s “the human form divine”
o Blake writes that all human deities reside in the human breast, in contrast with a
god living in the sky
o The poem is repeating by rote what one has been taught catechism = reciting
creeds that you’ve been taught to memorize.
This poem is a social criticism
A time when there were no child labor laws, and no compulsory education for the poor
There is no echoing green here, no world of mercy, pity, and love
This poem presents a world of human sacrifice
The little boy will be rewarded with heaven if he does his duty, if he obeys his god
Vale of tears (vale being a form of the word valley)
o Christian teaching that the world is a valley of tears, a land of suffering, but you
should accept it so you can be rewarded with heaven
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