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The Idea of Divinity in William Blake’s Jerusalem and the Divine Image

In: English and Literature

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INTRODUCTION
In Religious terms if we define Divinity, so it is the state of things which come from a deity or supernatural power, such as God and therefore are regarded as holy or sacred. These things are divine due to their transcendental origin. Divine things are eternal and also they are based in truth. These Divine things are visions, prophecies, grace, miracles, salvation, and apparitions. The word “Divine” literally means “Godlike”. Divine force or power are the forces that are universal. Divinity always carries the connotations of beauty, goodness, justice, beneficence, positive and pro-social attributes. In monotheistic faiths there is an equivalent group of malefic supernormal beings and powers, like the demons, afreet and devils etc. They are not conventionally referred to as divine, for them what used is demonic. Demons, devils, afreet, etc., which are not conventionally referred to as divine; demonic is often used instead. Polytheistic and pantheistic faiths never make such distinctions. About the power of divine many writers have talked about in English literature, one among them is William Blake who was a 19th century poet, writer and artist. Blake is regarded as a very influential figure of the romantic age because of his writings which have influenced the artists and writers through ages. He was a major poet and considered as an original thinker. William Blake was a visionary poet, and a greatest contributor to art and English literature. Blake was born on 28th November 1757, in the Soho district of London. He attended school for a very less time and was taught by his mother. The Christians holy book Bible had a great influence on Blake and that remained a source of information lifetime which brought colour to his life and made him understand spirituality. At an early age, William Blake began to experience visions and saw God and prophets. These visions which Blake experienced had a lasting effect on his art and writings which he produced. William Blake’s artistic abilities became evident at the young age of 10, when in an art school he sketched a human figure, later Blake was sent to Westminster Abbey to make drawings of monuments and tombs, there Blake’s lifelong love of Gothic art was seeded. Blake rejected the18th century literary trends that preferred the Elizabethans which were Shakespeare, Jonson, and Spenser and also he rejected the ancient ballads. At the age of 21 Blake started preparing himself for a career as a painter and also started exhibiting his own works. In August 1782, William Blake married Catherine Sophia Boucher, who was illiterate. William Blake taught her how to read, colour, write and draw. Blake also helped her to experience the visions as he did. Catherine believed overtly in her husband's visions and his genius, she also supported him in everything he did up to his death 45 years later. One of the most traumatic events of Blake's life occurred in the year 1787 when his beloved brother Robert died due to tuberculosis. At the very moment, Blake saw the spirit of Robert rise through the ceiling, joyously. That moment entered into Blake's psyche and it greatly influenced his Blake’s poetry. The next year, his brother appeared to Blake in a vision and he presented him with a new method of printing his works, which Blake called "illuminated printing." Incorporating this method allowed Blake to control each and every aspect of the production of his art. Blake tried to make the common people divine through his art work and poems. He wanted to bring forward the vision of divinity which Christ saw. He was against rationality and all the intellectual ideas of putting Christ to the mere level of human beings because he was himself divine and could understand Christ.
IDEA OF DIVINITY IN JERUSALEM AND THE DIVINE IMAGE
Jerusalem is a short poem by William Blake from the preface of Milton a poem. This poem was originally called ‘And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time.’ It was first printed in 1804 and today it is best known as the anthem ‘Jerusalem,’ with the music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. This poem is one of the three hymns which are being sung at the Royal Wedding and was also considered to be the British Anthem.
Jerusalem represents holiness and purity and he takes this idea to speak about the spiritual meaning of Jerusalem. It was a place where Christ was born and Blake wanted to make England Jerusalem. The poem Jerusalem was inspired by the story that- Young Jesus was accompanied by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea to travel to the area that is now England and visited Glastonbury and tried to establish a new Jerusalem, a place where there is peace, purity, humanity and divinity.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
Blake referred to the feet of Jesus to establish a New Jerusalem. The word Jerusalem has been used by the English Church as the metaphor for heaven, which is a place of universal peace and love. The holy lamb refers to Jesus and the visit of this holy lamb will make the place heaven. Blake wanted to bring forward the vision of divinity which Christ saw, but he found out that the vision is completely distorted and is opposite of what Christ was. He wanted to make England a place to live in, a beautiful and peaceful place like Jerusalem because Jerusalem with all its aspects cannot be built in a place which is full of tyranny and injustice.
Blake understood that the condition of England had become worst, there is destruction of nature, human relationships so, through this poem Blake put up questions whether a Divine place can be formed at the clouded hills, the polluted clouds, the clouds filled with injustice, inequality, tyranny, cruelty.
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?
Blake in this poem uses the phrase "dark Satanic Mills", the phrase entered English language from this poem and is often interpreted as referring to the post Industrial Revolution. It had a negative side as well along with development it brought destruction of nature and human relationships. The place lost its peace; there was pollution and mirth of religion, loss of innocence. Blake wanted to make England Jerusalem but Jerusalem cannot be built in these dark Satanic Mills.
Blake believed that the visit of Jesus will create a heaven in England. Blake wanted people to understand the power of Divine, he tried to make the common people divine. He wanted to bring forward the vision of divinity which Christ saw. He was against rationality and all the intellectual ideas of putting Christ to the mere level of human beings because he was himself divine and could understand Christ. His motive as seen through this poem was to make England Jerusalem, a heavenly place, a place where people can talk of divine and achieve that oneness with God. His idea of divinity in this poem is that, one can achieve the state of divine when he forgets the materialistic pleasures and creates peace from within. This was his vision and he wanted people to realise the importance of Divinity and Christ.
Another poem of William Blake The Divine Image from the book Song of Innocence in 1789, in this poem Blake pictures his view of an ideal world in which Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love are found in the human heart and stand for God comfort and support. He says that these are the essential qualities of God.
To Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
All pray in their distress:
In The Divine Image, Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love are presented by Blake as the four virtues that are the objects of prayer in moments of distress. He says that God should be praised for his lovely caring and blessing to comfort man. These virtues should not be the objects of prayer in moments of God but one should realise that these are the virtues of divine. To achieve that state of divine one should have these qualities. These qualities are essential not only in God but humans as well.
For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Mercy has a kind human heart, full of forgiveness like the divine Christ, who forgives the Jews, his own people who killed him. Pity a human face, love is the human form and peace the human dress. William Blake in this poem has tried to present an idea that God is the essence of all the virtues and a man who possesses these divine virtues can achieve the state of divinity.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
God’s place is not in the heaven but he lives within our hearts. He says if a man shows the qualities of mercy, pity, peace and love, if follows that man has a divine character and with these viruses man can achieve oneness with God and can become divine. Blake says that every human possess these virtues but fails to realise them. A human being can rise up to the level of God if he realises the inherent qualities which are inside them.
Thus, in this poem Blake expresses his belief in the divinity of human nature. Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love are divine attributes to which man may attain. Therefore, if a man perfects any or all of these virtues, he is in that regard divine. Just as Christ in his divinity became human, so humans, insofar as they possess these holy attributes, are divine. These qualities will not only bring peace in the minds of people but they will achieve the state of divine and become one with God. Blake expresses his belief in the divinity of human nature. Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love are divine attributes to which man may attain. Therefore, if a man perfects any or all of these virtues, he is in that regard divine.

CONCLUSION
It is believed that William Blake was an incarnation of Saint Michael who is the archangel of England. Blake’s role was to talk about divine in the open in a fearless manner. He had to use symbolic language; he has expressed the power of Divine in a very simple manner. Blake was a realised soul and had an amazing sense of humour. He did a lot to bring the society to a proper shape without fear. Blake was extremely open and straight forward, the vision of Christ that he described is the one he sees through his own enlightened eyes and he found out that the vision is completely distorted and is opposite of what Christ was.
Blake tried to make the common people divine. He wanted to bring forward the vision of divinity which Christ saw. He was against rationality and all the intellectual ideas of putting Christ to the mere level of human beings because he was himself divine and could understand Christ. Blake was such a fine soul that he came on earth to talk of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, where Christ was born, he wanted to make England Jerusalem. He wanted to make people understand the meaning of spirit. He wrote a poem “And did those feet in ancient time” which is today best known as the anthem “Jerusalem”.
Jerusalem represents holiness and purity and he takes this idea to speak about the spiritual meaning of Jerusalem. He referred to Jesus as a holy lamb in the poem. Jerusalem cannot be built in a place which is full of injustice and tyranny, so he wanted people to understand divine. His idea of divinity in this poem is that, one can achieve the state of divine when he forgets the materialistic pleasures and creates peace from within. This was his vision and he wanted people to realise the importance of Divinity and Christ.
Another poem The Divine Image Blake says that to achieve the state of Divinity one should have the qualities of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love. These qualities are essential not only in God but humans as well. William Blake in this poem has tried to present an idea that God is the essence of all the virtues and a man who possesses these divine virtues can achieve the state of divinity.
Thus, William Blake through his poems not only discusses about the divine state but he also had discussed the process of achieving divinity. He says that Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love are divine attributes to which man may attain. Therefore, if a man perfects any or all of these virtues, he is in that regard divine. A place can become Jerusalem if people forget the materialistic possessions and attain these virtues. Blake says that God is inside every human being and there is no need to search for God, we can only become one with God if we attain that state of divinity and this divinity can be achieved by having the quality of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love as Mercy has a kind human heart, full of forgiveness like the divine Christ, who forgives the Jews, his own people who killed him. Pity a human face, love is the human form and peace the human dress.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Blake, William. And did those feet in ancient time.1808.English
Blake, William. Songs of Innocence.1789.English
Dorick.“WilliamBlake”.Bbc.co.2014.Bbc08january2014
Ferber, Michael. The Poetry of William Blake.1981.English
Jacob, Leah. “William Blake Poetry”. highbeam.com. 2014. highbeam 18january2014
Moore, Andrew. “Poems by William Blake”. Universal teacher.org. 2004. Universal teacher 05 july 2004

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