Blake rejected the traditional Christian notion of creation as a single act performed by a distant God. Instead, he saw creation as an ongoing, dynamic process that involved the active participation of both humans and spiritual beings. For Blake, the world was not a separate, physical realm but a spiritual reality that was constantly being shaped and transformed through the interplay of imagination, energy, and divine forces. In Blake’s cosmology, he proposed the existence of multiple spiritual realms and beings, including angels, demons, and emanations of the divine. He believed that human beings possessed a divine spark or “Eternal Soul” that connected them to the spiritual realm. This perspective allowed Blake to see the material world as a manifestation of the spiritual and emphasized the importance of imagination and creativity in perceiving and participating in this reality. Blake saw the imagination as a powerful force that could access higher truths and reveal the spiritual nature of existence. He believed that artists, poets, and visionaries had a special role to play in the creative process, as they could tap into the divine imagination and bring forth new visions and insights. In this sense, Blake’s understanding of creation extended beyond the physical world and encompassed the realm of ideas and artistic expression. Furthermore, Blake rejected the binary opposition between good and evil that was prevalent in conventional religious thinking. He believed that the interplay of contrary forces was necessary for the vitality and progress of creation. According to him, the forces of reason and energy, innocence and experience, heaven and hell, were not in opposition but rather in a dynamic relationship that fueled the creative process.
William Blake’s mythology is an integral part of his work, and it plays a significant role in his collection of poems titled “Songs of Innocence and of Experience.” Blake developed a complex and personal mythology that he believed encompassed the spiritual and mystical nature of the world. In Blake’s mythology, he explored themes of creation, spirituality, and the nature of good and evil. He envisioned a universe inhabited by a host of divine beings, including angels, devils, and various mythological figures. These beings represented different aspects of the human psyche and were often engaged in cosmic struggles. The “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” is a collection of poems that juxtaposes the innocent and pure state of childhood with the harsh realities and corrupted nature of adulthood. Blake believed that the state of innocence was a reflection of the divine and that society, with its social conventions and institutions, often corrupted and suppressed the innate goodness of individuals.
In the “Songs of Innocence,” Blake portrays a world of purity, joy, and unspoiled innocence. The poems celebrate the wonder of childhood, the beauty of nature, and the connection between humanity and the divine. The figures in Blake’s mythology, such as the lamb, the child, and the angel, represent the innocent and uncorrupted aspects of the human experience. On the other hand, the “Songs of Experience” delve into the darker aspects of human existence. They explore themes of oppression, hypocrisy, and the loss of innocence. The figures in Blake’s mythology, such as the tiger, the devil, and the fallen angel, represent the corrupting influences of society and the struggles faced by individuals in a world marked by experience. Through his mythology, Blake sought to illuminate the eternal and spiritual aspects of human existence, as well as the forces that inhibit or enhance individual freedom and creativity. His vision of a divine and mythological universe provided a framework for exploring the complexities of human nature and the tensions between innocence and experience.
Firstly, Blake’s poems, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” can be given as an example to Blake’s understanding of creation. “The Lamb” reflects the Romantic fascination with nature and the innocent beauty found within it. The poem presents the image of a gentle, innocent lamb as a symbol of divine creation. Blake contemplates the lamb’s creator, portraying God as a benevolent and nurturing force. This poem highlights Blake’s belief in the interconnectedness of the natural world and the spiritual realm, emphasizing the harmony and innocence that exist in creation. In contrast, “The Tyger” delves into the darker aspects of creation, exploring the existence of evil and the powerful, mysterious forces at play. The tiger symbolizes the fierce, destructive side of nature, evoking awe and fear. Through vivid imagery and rhetorical questions, Blake contemplates the origin and purpose of such a creature, pondering whether the same divine creator who made the lamb could also create such a fearsome being. This poem reflects the Romantic interest in the sublime and the exploration of the contradictions and complexities within the natural world. In both poems, Blake’s understanding of creation aligns with Romantic ideals. He emphasizes the power of imagination and symbolism in exploring the deeper truths of existence. His portrayal of creation goes beyond the physical realm, delving into the spiritual, moral, and social dimensions. Additionally, Blake challenges conventional religious and moral beliefs, questioning the established order and seeking to uncover the inherent complexities of the human experience. His works embody the Romantic spirit of individualism, emotional intensity, and a deep connection with nature and the spiritual realm.
Secondly, “The Divine Image” and “A Divine Image” can be given as an example to Blake’s mythology. “The Divine Image” presents Blake’s vision of the inherent virtues of humanity. It portrays the divine qualities of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love as fundamental aspects of human nature. This poem reflects the Romantic emphasis on the innate goodness of individuals and their capacity for empathy and compassion. Blake rejects the idea of a distant and judgmental God, instead highlighting the divine attributes as qualities that humans possess, making a profound statement about the divinity within every individual. “A Divine Image” further explores the nature of the divine by examining the virtues in contrast to their opposing vices: Cruelty, Jealousy, Terror, and Secrecy. Blake’s poetic vision here reflects the Romantic interest in exploring the dualities and contradictions of human experience. By juxtaposing the positive and negative aspects, he suggests that both virtues and vices exist within the human psyche, but it is the choice to embrace the virtues that leads to true divinity and harmony.
Finally, William Blake’s poem “The Human Abstract” can be given as an example to both his understanding of creation and his personal mythology. “The Human Abstract” begins by presenting the concept of a “pitying” God who sees the suffering and injustice in the world and creates the virtues of mercy, pity, peace, and love as a response. However, Blake challenges the traditional understanding of these virtues by suggesting that they are merely the products of human hypocrisy and deceit. He argues that these virtues, when divorced from their genuine and heartfelt manifestations, become oppressive forces that contribute to the perpetuation of social inequality and moral corruption. Blake’s mythology is interwoven throughout the poem, as he introduces personified abstractions, such as Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, as characters who take on human forms. These abstractions represent both the idealized concepts and the corrupted manifestations of these virtues. For example, Mercy is portrayed as an “Angelic” figure who gives respite to the weary, while Pity is depicted as a “naked” and vulnerable being. These personifications serve to emphasize the human qualities and the flawed nature of these virtues when they are distorted or insincerely employed. Moreover, Blake’s understanding of creation in “The Human Abstract” challenges conventional religious views. Instead of presenting a benevolent God who creates virtuous qualities to alleviate suffering, Blake suggests that the human mind is the true creator of both virtues and vices. He implies that these moral concepts are human inventions and can be twisted to serve self-interest and control. Blake’s poem reflects his critical stance towards the prevailing societal structures and institutions that exploit and oppress individuals. Through his personal mythology, he highlights the consequences of hypocrisy, the distorted nature of virtues, and the inherent potential for corruption within human creations.