Blake’s Humanism by John Beer

By John Beer

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L. McAdam), Oxford, 1941, p. 32. The Energies of Desire 49 And the just man rages in the wilds Where the lions roam. The roaring of the lion is another symbol of twofold vision—but there is a further development. Not content with the defensiveness of the rose or the bee, twofold vision is turning to the counter-offensive. Blake now feels impelled to attack the hypocrisy of the present age. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell represents an attempt to let the fire of twofold vision burst through the clouds of single vision that infest his world.

Blake, with his visionary preoccupations and nose for allegory, would fasten eagerly on such points which the modern reader, brought up in a different tradition, hardly notices. One of the first and most striking is Satan’s encounter with Sin and Death at the gates of Hell in Book Two. We are told immediately afterwards that they are respectively his wife and son—but any attempt to deal with this relationship realistically only makes it ludicrous. At this point Milton expects his reader to respond as to allegory.

J. Morley, Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and their Writers, 1938, I,330 N. Frye, essay in The Divine Vision (ed. V. de Sola Pinto), 1957, p. 101n A Fourfold Vision 34 between those two lovely ones farre on the hither side of carnall enjoyment. 11 The limitation of sexual pleasure to ‘the hither side of carnal enjoyment’ is evidently the point which Blake thought erroneous: and it is clear from Paradise Lost that while Milton allowed for physical pleasure in the raptures of Adam and Eve, he thought that ‘carnal enjoyment’ was the specific element in their love-making that arose after the Fall: but that false Fruit Farr other operation first displaid, Carnal desire enflaming; hee on Eve Began to cast lascivious Eyes, shee him As wantonly repaid; in Lust they burne.

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