Blake’s Humanism by John Beer

By John Beer

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Example text

10 Blake regards himself as the rough honest character now called upon to re-assert the dominion of energy and overcome the smooth rogueries of Jacob-like deceivers. In this militant context it is not surprising that he announces the necessity of dialectic more openly than he has done before. The oppositions which have been described in previous poems are now openly affirmed: Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.

238. H. G. Hewlett (Contemporary Review, 1876, XXVIII, 779) cites names such as Oithana, Tonthormod, Brumo and Lutha from Ossian. The Energies of Desire 43 Her story now unfolds. And although the poem is, throughout, a story of oppression by the moral law, Blake immediately suggests the link between moral and political restraint by making a connection between Oothoon and America: Enslav’d, the Daughters of Albion weep: a trembling lamentation Upon their mountains; in their valleys, sighs towards America.

She develops the point, asserting that glorious differences exist between different animals, between different men, and between different emotions in the same man. As she does so, however, she thinks of some ‘different’ men who illustrate her theme—but in another way: With what sense does the parson claim the labour of the farmer? What are his nets & gins & traps. & how does he surround him With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude, To build him castles and high spires, where kings & priests may dwell.

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