“The Human Form Divine”

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William Blake was viewed as one of the most eccentric, but brilliant, poets of the Romantic period. In his works could be found “recurring themes of good and evil, knowledge and innocence, and external reality versus inner” (Merriman). Many of his poems were Biblically based and spiritually uplifting. And then there were the counterparts: realistic illustrations of men of the age. These poems were often harsh, blunt, and dark and not accepted well by society. Blake’s poems “The Divine Image” and “A Divine Image” are only two in the vast collection of contradictions.

Swedenbourg, a scientist, philosopher, and theologian of Blake’s time, was primary inspiration. He believed in “God as man” (Griffiths) and often spoke to Blake of his ventures to heaven. Following closely in his shadow, Blake became overwhelmed with visions of his own. His early poems were collected in Songs of Innocence (including “The Divine Image”) where many of his ideal fantasies about God and His people are described. Some poems were harshly directed to churches he felt were established and managed indecently; Blake was opposed to institutionalized religion (Griffiths). He soon reached the title of an apocalyptic visionary when his naivety shed and the horrid beast within all men was revealed, as is expressed in Songs of Experience (including “A Divine Image”). An excerpt from “The Mental Traveler” provides an image of his revelation: ‘I traveld thro’ a Land of Men, A Land of Men and Women too, And heard and saw such dreadful things, As cold Earth wanderers never knew.’

“The Divine Image” is a light- hearted, comforting piece which personifies four essential virtues in Godliness: Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love. The poem carries an alternating meter of iambic t...

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...ave had some supernatural encounter with a being that does live, possibly within him. If men “and Women too” made it a desire, a priority even, to attain the essential virtues of righteousness and we were able to personify Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love through our actions and attitudes, the world could be that much closer to harmony with God.

Works Cited

Merriman, C.D. "William Blake."

Jalic Inc., 2006. Web. 11 Mar 2010.


Griffiths, Nick. "Poetry analysis: William Blake and religion."

Helium, Inc., 2002-2010. Web. 11 Mar 2010. .

Gardner, Brian. "On Blake's "A Divine Image"."

Rethink, 2007. Web. 11 Mar 2010.

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