A Case Study of One Student’s Approach to Reading The Divine Image

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A Case Study of One Student’s Approach to Reading The Divine Image


When Marielle, an English 2 student, was given a series of critical thinking tasks, her first response to the poem, “The Divine Image,” by William Blake changed as she followed the direction of each task and built on her previous understanding of the poem. I describe her responses to the eight learning paper tasks and her dissection of the poem for hidden meanings.

The Tasks and Various Interpretations

For each learning paper, Marielle was given eight different ways to interpret

“The Divine Image,” by William Blake. Learning paper 1 asked her to read the poem out loud, write down any ideas that came to mind, then write a summary of what the poem was about. She familiarized herself with the poem when she asked questions such as “Do these words contradict each other?” and “Who is they?” This was her interpretation:

I interpret this songs to be a message. The speaker is trying to express the message that man always pray to the Divine God for Mercy Pity Peace or Love. This song applies all of the qualities of mercy pity peace and love to have a human characteristic. [I have not corrected Marielle’s grammatical or spelling errors because she was asked not to revise her responses.]

She feels all humans have these characteristics of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love. So when praying, one prays for these characteristics because one feels it is necessary. These were the main points that Marielle emphasized. She concluded: “I feel that this song may be able to be interpreted in many ways but when I read I may have received a different message than others.” She views poems as having various meanings that a reader reveals by absorbing a message...

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...pretation of a poem and she realizes that “as I completed the Learning Papers and studied different method of understanding the poem I began to enjoy the poem.” She receives self – gratification, responding to her feelings about the poem.

The Divine Image

To Mercy Pity Peace and Love,

All pray in their distress:

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy Pity Peace and Love,

Is God our Father dear:

And Mercy Pity Peace and Love,

Is Man his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart

Pity, a human face:

And Love, the human form divine.

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine

Love Mercy Pity Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, turk or jew

Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell.

There God is dwelling too.

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