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Literature Entry WEEK TWELVE: Thanks MG, the man with the light!


To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower.

You’ve taken each of us hand in hand,

And taught us about eternity in just one hour.

 

We’ve spoken of David and Gemmy, Janet and Jock,

And how the landscape shades away our ego.

That the poet practices integrity of vision compared to a Doc,

And that humanity is how we are connected amigo.

 

The tragedy is when we live within a cage,

And do not see the miracle of the minute, even the Wren.

When we cannot see the resurrection that comes from rage,

And use only our senses, we cannot call ourselves God’s men.

 

Our ancestors may be a different hue,

And their spiritual practices may cause fright.

But these poetic people only come in a few,

And we can learn of the magic that happens at night.

 

In our mini deaths our eyes are shut and we cannot see,

And in the darkness it is ignorance that we sow.

But Blake understood that that’s not how we should be,

And believed that through the eye is when we’ll know.

 

We have sailed through the stormy seas of regret and social curse,

And learned of men who lead themselves to believe a lie.

From Oothoon to Mary and England’s female hearse. ,

And the poor human soul that without imagination longs to die.

 

“Words reach into the silence”, a famous Elliot once said,

And Blake challenged Enlightenment’s praise of a human robot.

Without language and heart and humility we also read,

Our existence and experience is nothing better than rot.

 

Wordsworth’s “The child is father of the man” is allied with Blake,

And in Innocence and Experience he tells of the nature of the child.

Do not take away their freedom and their bliss, for God’s sake,

Let them play on the green and be heard by their echo in the wild.

 

With experience comes sorrow, sadness and doubt,

And the pangs of bringing children into a cursed world is made clear.

Organized religion corrupted God; its light has blown out,

 And so Blake bore the Poetic Genius that eradicated his fear.

 

His disgust of slavery and the suppression of our birth rite,

And his profound love of a Jesus who broke the rules to be heard.

His desire for liberation of the oppressed and gratitude for the gift of life,

Sum up Blake as a visionary though many dismissed him as absurd.

 

While his devil is the voice of passion and drive,

And his angel, filled with lies, has a predetermined fate.

Celebrating the contraries is something we should strive,

Rather than submitting to Swedenborg’s “monkey” state.

 

When you decide to experience a rich and holistic life,

And you care deeply for the humility of humanity.

A study of Blake will cleanse your doors of perception, remove you from strife,

So that everything would appear infinite with the death of vanity.

 

As you can see MG, words are not enough to express the burning light,

That you have passed to us throughout our years with you.

With sincere gratitude I can only hope that we might illuminate the night,

Rather than hold our “candles in the sunshine”.  MG, teacher’s like you are few.

Advanced English at high school undermined the joy that literature can bring,

And so it feels only fitting to acknowledge just how far you have brought us, the miles.  

 So here’s to you, good man, for being patient while you waited for us to sing. Ca-ching,

In your words, nothing is lost as we carry our experience with us forever, with smiles.

 

 

  

 

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Literature Entry WEEK ELEVEN: Jesus as portrayed in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


ichthys10c.gifJESUS plays an enormous role in making clear Blake's intention for writing the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. His profound significance can be noted obviously in A Memorable Fancy (pg 80):



The main event is not a marriage, but a conversion of an angel to a devil. This supports Blake’s anti-nomian belief in God that can be found IN man, in his heart, just as the devil expresses. When the devil gives his monologue saying Jesus “was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules” he is commenting on Jesus’ attunement to humanity and his reputation for challenging the constraints of the time. Blake’s attempt to strip back the accreted meanings, the layers of time, to find the truth at the core, is at play in this section. I love that Blake can take a man, a great man, like Jesus and transform him into something real and someone that is now very much like us, full of burning desire and energy, someone who understands there will be causalities in order to make a change, someone who is not put on a pedestal, but has partaken in actions that have had grave consequences. If we believe that Jesus was a ‘good’ man in the light of a naïve meaning of ‘good’, we are feeding ourselves lire. Jesus was not a man that always did what was right – he would not have been persecuted by his own people if he had. He did what he knew was virtuous and it was all based on the fact that Jesus was able to see the poetic genius in each of the people that he confronted – be it a prostitute or tax-collector. These were the people that had energy and drive and were not sitting on their laurels listening and accepting what a powerful tyrant was feeding them. It is the point of difference that counts - the ability to challenge and subvert a system that is not helping you to live a fulfilled life.

“JESUS WAS ALL VIRTUE, AND ACTED FROM IMPULSE, NOT FROM RULES”




BLAKE HAS HELPED ME BECOME CLOSER TO A JESUS THAT I HAD NEVER CONSIDERED. A JESUS THAT IS MORE LIKE ME THAN A SAINTLY FLAWLESS BEING. A REAL JESUS THAT FOUGHT HARD FOR THE KINGDOM THAT HE CREATED. A JESUS THAT UNDERSTANDS ME AS I AM.


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Literature Entry WEEK TEN: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (To Mariam)


I came across this video and thought ti was a nice sum up of some of the issues we've been speaking about in class. It combines both the images and the words to create that "third text" that we also have experienced throughout the course. Mariam, this video picks up on many of the aspects that you have brought up in your entry as well so i thought it would be a good doorway into tackling Blake's BIG questions in the Marriage.

I think both you and Jeff have mentioned some really great things that i have perhaps put on the back burner for the moment! Things like the "mind forg'd manacles" that Blake does tend to subvert in his overtly 'anti-organised society' works such as The Marriage. Sorry if that came out a bit lumpy, but in other words I am trying to pick up on Blake's discontent with an ordered universe because to maintain order, one is given rules, and when rules are given it means a sacrifice of the imagination and all things poetic because of the constraints that rules put on people's lives. So yes, I agree with your argument Mariam that Blake was attempting to challenge our trapped emotional, mental and social state.

When you said Blake "embraces limitless energy and spirituality" that so many of us to today still lack, it reminded me of the quote "IF THE DOORS OF OUR PERCEPTION WERE CLEANSED, EVERYTHING WOULD APPEAR TO MAN AS IT IS, INFINITE" (pg. 75)and the fact that seeing through the eye as opposed to with the eye allows many opportunities to come to fruition. As humans, innately flawed, we often limit our experiences to that of which we can touch, smell, taste, see or hear and thus we miss the very magic of such experiences because ignore our heart and soul. Even though Blake is one of us, what ultimately sets him apart is his instinctual touch with humanity and his deep understanding of what it is to be human. Malouf once said that the beauty of writing is that you can stop action and put it in slow motion to make the reader attend to the moment that has happened. this in turn makes the reader stop time and look closer and closer at the minute that radiates the extraordinary. SO often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our busy city lives that we forget to stop and appreciate the song of the bird that woke us in the morning, the faint smile line that has formed around a loved-one's eyes, the perspiring leaf or the amazing toothpick stalk that is growing out of a tree that had endured a horrific bush fire. We miss these things because we are human and if we didn't have people like Blake reminding us to stop and transform our inner beings, we would continue at such a pace that our deaths could only be of regret (as morbid as that sounds).



Now if we move to the idea that without contraries there would be no progression, i have to thank you for posting up John's comment about how a rose grows its thorns before its bud because i didn't know that and it speaks loudly to what Blake was portraying. As we know, one of Blake's, if not his soul intention for his literature, is to try and mend the division that occurred within man (the separation of his Zoas) to create a state of equilibrium. For Blake, to achieve his aim, he suggests that we need contraries and i couldn't agree with him more. How would you know love if you didn't know how terrible if feels to lose someone that you love? or how would you know saftey and comfort if you had never experienced fear and anguish? Why would you value your freedom if you didn't know what it felt like to be trapped? How would you know what is good if you didn't know what shape something evil took? All these are the contraries that Blake is speaking of that we need to experience in order to enjoy a full experience of life. We also know that the Enlightenment is the “Age of Reason” when emotions and desires were seen as destructive and many decided to follow only the path of logic by taking the ‘heart’ out of all things (“the colder or less ‘human’, the better” was perhaps the ideology). It was the time when Kant, a philosophical father of reasoning decided that utilitarianism should be the governing rule and so that morality lay in the hands of your ability to conform to our duty and fulfill responsibility. It was this exact mentality that Blake has effectively and satirically attacked in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. So Blake is a Romantic trying to regain a sort of unity that the Enlightenment sucked dry. Similar to the list I tried to create above, Blake says “Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence”. I tend to think that when Blake uses the word “energy” he isn’t just speaking about the physical exertion that links closely with the Enlightenment theory, but rather emotional energy like love or hate. What comes next is the reason why I think Blake is taking a good dig at the Logicians and Kant’s beliefs in particular. He says “Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell”, which if we know Blake a little, we can realize is something he would not believe because he is opposed to ‘reason’ ruling the body. While he is striving for goodness in the world, he does not seriously believe that you will find it in a detached life! Furthermore, by bringing religion into the picture, it gives Blake a chance to position it as a demonizing force that wills only one perspective – that which is ultimately good. I think he is condemning its black and white view of morality because of its disconnection from humanity. If organized religion truly understood human nature, it would realize that there is much grey in our lives.
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Post to Gary Messenger from the Clemente Program

In response to a poem Gary wrote (that was editted by MG):

I never knew my father well
he was always there, as if i could tell
his brutality was an inherited one
passed on & on from father to son
he worked hard night and day
at least that’s what he would say
to put some food on our plate
but all I needed was a friend, a mate
the things he gave me were important ones,
lessons of life that seemed so dumb
he never looked inside of me
to see the things that I could see
a life of youth with reason to fight
but never quite finding that distant light

You’re stupid, stupid, stupid & dumb
thats what I’ve got for a son

a boy within with mistakes to make
with opening eyes and a world to take
venturing out to the world around
with a narrow vision too what I found
Anger, Darkness, Envy and Greed
your gift to me, your life, your seed
his brutality was an inherited one
passed on & on from father to son

You’re stupid, stupid, stupid & dumb
thats what I’ve got for a son

my teenage years for I’m nearly a man
responsibility I accept the best I can
lessons in life I could have been taught
well at least you would have thought
Instead I struggle to learn them right;
as I try to stay on track, looking in to the light
It gets harder and harder to stay on track
self-esteem and guidance are the things I lack
I stumble and fall I feel like a burden
I feel in myself I really am hurting
A negative thought the first one I’m feeling
from the rest of the world I must be concealing

You’re stupid, stupid, stupid & dumb
thats what I’ve got for a son

well that’s it, he must be right
and I have lost the will to fight
I thought I had a talent somewhere,
something to give something to share
but I was mislead confused deceived
that my talent would shine If I believed,
now my feelings are down to three
Anger, Hate & Stupidity
until this time my feelings were strong
that fate was pulling me along
I had a place a meaning a future
but now I know I’m only a dreamer
this thing I inherited at my birth
is in my mind- the thing that’s first

stupid, stupid, stupid dumb
thats what I’ve got for a son

well now I’m older and wiser as well
my future is brighter as far as I can tell
I’m smarter & stronger and the guidance I lacked
I’ve found for myself and I’ve taken it back
self-esteem wasn’t on your list
one of the important things that you missed
I was stupid and ridiculed beaten and broken
held on my bed turning blue from a chocking
the wrongs I have commited in my life
will be paid by me x trice
so if that punishment fits the crime
I will always be able to pay in time
this thing I inherited at my birth was molded
and folded by you at first

You’re stupid stupid stupid dumb
I’m your creation that’s what you’ve done

Hi Gary,

My name is Roselie and I am a third year here at ACU. Im studying high school teachin through a BT/BA course and I am hoping to one day teach my joy and passion for English, Business Studies and Religion. That's a little about me just so you know that we are all in this together and are sharing a similar experience here at uni. If you don't mind, tell me a little about your hopes and dreams and where you're from...

Reading this poem gave me shivers - that's a fabulous reaction to have given a reader! It highlights your amazing ability to express a moment with precision and accurate focus - something many of us third year students still find difficulty doing! I love that i hear a certain broken, saddened and then hopeful voice throughout the poem ringing in my head...it makes the experience come to life! Obviously a highly emotional and personal subject for you to write about, i would just like to congratulate you on your courage and thank you for sharing your story, because that is what literature is all about - sharing your story in any creative way that you can. You are great! Keep them coming...

Roselie

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Literature Entry WEEK NINE: Plate 9 "Visions of the Daughters of Albion"


I was taken aback by plate seven that compliments the text "tell me where dwell the thoughts forgotten till thou call them forth...then Oothoon waited silent all the day, and all the night".

 

It is a ghastly looking image with a soft heart, if that juxtaposition makes any sense. The left hand surroundings are cold and sterile created through the dark ashen hues and the shadows that are cast in the background. Perhaps they are symbolic of the rocky cave that the three opposing characters have been enclosed in but there is a brilliant burning light that totally engulfs the right hand side of the image. With knowledge of the how visual images work, we know that the left hand side of an image is termed the given, meaning what is shown is symbolic of the situation that the characters feel they are part of right here, right now. It says something about the characters states of mind and also the circumstances which have put them there. So with that in mind - the left side of the image reflects the dejection Oothoon feels in relation to her unresponsive lover and the betrayal Theotormon found within himself through his disappointment.

 

If we then move our eyes over to the right hand brilliant side of the image - the new - we are confronted with perhaps what is to come in the future or in Oothoon's case, the insight that she is trying to convey to her helpless and hopeless lover. It is interesting to examine where the light is positioned in the image because it speaks loudly to the kind of person Theotormon is. Crouched and contracted low in the foreground of the image, Theotormon has his back to the light. Just as Plato's cave theory suggests - we humans tend to live in the shadowy darkness, with our backs facing the ideal light, the new insight, the imagination, the beauty in life. In this case, the image constructs Theotormon as a man closed off from inspiration and the world, a man who would rather wallow in his sorrow than see the wonderful, powerful and strong woman that is begging him to love her - stupid coward! If Theotormon (and all humans) open "the doors of perception" and cleansed their inner being, "everything would appear to man as infinite" - Blake's motive in life I would think.

 

I would say then that Oothoon, the twisted woman with her hands clenched as if in prayer that peers down upon her lover with wide open eyes of hope and sadness simultaneously, hangs above Theotormon in a wave. She waits "silent all the day, and all the night" waiting for Theotormon to change but when she realises that her lover is too engrossed in his needless lamentations, she begins to curse Urizen, the creator, for making man so vulnerable and unchangeable.

 

Her nudity as compared to Theotormon's clothing, perhaps is indicative of her raw expressions and because she is perhaps more pure than any other character in the poem due to not only her actions, but also the amazing spiritual and intellectual insight Oothoon has about the world and life. Her nudity may also loosely link to the fact that Blake and his wife would regularly lay in their front garden nude to feel attuned with nature and because there is a load of Blake within Oothoon's thoughts - her appearance may be somewhat Blakean too.

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Literature Entry WEEK EIGHT: Mary

 

My entry this week is inspired by the discussion that took place in a tutorial that I was not part of but heard through Windows Media Player thanks to MG who taped the interactions. It was all about the poem “Mary” that was written by Blake and shows great comparison with Oothoon from his “Visions of the Daughters of Albion”- a well-respected woman that become ‘ruined’ when her slave master raped her and striped her of her dignity. In the same sense, Mary, the persona of the poem, is set up in the first three stanzas to be a virtuous, loved, angel… from the heavenly Climes”, with a sweet, innocent and untouched face and a beautiful personality that compliments her. Her name in itself and the poet’s intention to set it in the month of May (a month dedicated to Mary in Christian calendar) links her to the heavenly mother Mary, mother of God and hence endows her with a rich sense of power and gentle, genuineness.

Mary, although an angel, can perhaps be a figure that represents Blake in the world because just as he (and any human) was sent by God to Earth, she is actually willing to explore her sexuality and be involved in humanly things. So the fact that Blake positions her as a pure being, he too suggests that innocent people are connected to humanity and our sinful “envious race”. Beginning in third person, the reader becomes aware that Mary attended a party and perhaps went home the next day a changed woman due to a sexual experience that she encountered. Much like Oothoon really, Mary is then (in first person) treated as an outcast and is completely torn down by her gossipy society and their hatred for those who are beautiful. It seems though that the people are missing some part of themselves, which could be Mary because they have expelled her from their lives. They condemn her and scorn her for being human and a woman, in particular, because her actions were unacceptable. It is also very Blakean with its comment that innocence is always ruined by experience and that the external world is always present to pass judgment so in fact, no human is ever truly free. We could ask if the piece was autobiographical, not because Blake was comparing himself with Mary’s promiscuousness, but rather his own outlandish ways that he was constantly pilloried for.

The concluding stanzas of the poem further suggest that Mary either turns her back on oppression and lives her own life and proclaims freedom or  that her experience is a horrible case of victimization and she is now a ruined female forever. I personally believe the latter because of its link to reality and the fact that this woman that was once part of a conforming whole, enjoyed herself one night to the society’s distaste and is now set apart for the entirety of her life. It is just all to similar to Oothoon’s horrific experience that led to her husband’s own moral conflicts that barricaded him from loving her again.

 

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Literature Entry WEEK SEVEN: Songs of Innocence/Experience continued


I have to say that i am extremely happy that we are still delving deeply into the works of Blake because i feel that i get to know him best when doing so. this week we furthered our studies on the Songs of Innocence and Experience and although it is not a poem that we together have had a look at, i would like to give some insight i have gathered from the poem "The Tyger".

Now i found that whenever i do "Blake" internet searches, this poem seemed to creep up and it was its innumerable mentions that inspired me to have a read. what i found most interesting is that like some of the poems we've had a look at as a class, this one also has an 'opposite'. These poems, for me, tend to exude the most meaning because they are expressed in two different ways.



The gentle lamb (Songs of Innocence) and the dire tiger (Songs of Experience) define childhood by setting a contrast between the innocence of youth and the experience of age. "The Lamb" is written with childish repetitions ("Little Lamb who made thee" and "Little Lamb I'll tell thee") and a selection of words which could almost satisfy a nursery rhyme form. In this poem the Lamb could represent youthful immaculateness. In contrast, "The Tyger" is hard-boiled in respect to word choice and representation. "The Tyger" is a poem which has the author still making many inquiries, like in "the Lamb”, but these are almost chant-like in their reiterations. The question at hand: could the same creator have made both the tiger and the lamb?


The Romantic Period’s affinity towards childhood is epitomized in "The Lamb". "The Lamb’s" introductory lines set the style for what follows: an innocent poem about a amiable lamb and its creator. It sounds similar to a child's story book (have you ever read " Guess how much I love you?). What follows are lines that contain questions of whom it was who created such a docile creature with "clothing of delight" and then it goes on to answer the question - to know the creator. The author then attempts to explain. What the author reveals is something magical - that the lamb’s creator is none different then the lamb itself (Jesus Christ is often described as a lamb). The poem is one of a child’s curiosities, untainted conception of creation, and love of all things celestial.

The Lamb’s nearly polar opposite is The Tyger. Instead of the innocent lamb we now have the frightful tiger- the emblem of nature red in tooth and claw- that embodies experience. William Blake’s words have turned from heavenly to hellish in the transition from lamb to tiger. "Burnt the fire of thine eye," and "What the hand dare seize the fire?" are examples of how sombre and serrated his language is in this poem. No longer is the author asking about origins, but is now asking if he who made the innocuous lamb was capable of making such a dreadful beast. Experience asks questions unlike those of innocence. Innocence is "why and how?" while experience is "why and how do things go wrong, and why me?" In the poems, innocence is exhilaration and grace, contrasting with experience which is ill-favored and formidable.

 



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BEST LITERATURE ENTRY BETWEEN WEEKS ONE AND SIX


Week Four's Entry found at http://roselie87.livejournal.com/8181.html

 
Blake, the visionary, attempts to "recover the connection" (Malouf, Remembering Babylon p.29) between the unconscious and real state of humanity because as it appears, we have become obsessed with the materialism of world and have naively forgetton to find "a heaven in a wild flower". Blake's wish for us to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary and to regain our touch with our sensuality, instinct, passion and wisdom is his way of attempting to recreate a Golden Age - a world that was in touch with its humanity and knew no boundaries to the richness of nature. Blake understood and advocated that if humans could reunite their "zoas" (as featured in the above image), the Golden Age could be restored and humans would be able to enjoy a completed identity. Being a man that had utter distaste for structured religion, Blake understood that God was inside him and all, like a guiding light, and so to become in touch with one another would be to interact with a transcendent. In this case, he was well aware of the integrity of humans. In the end, if we can learn to see through our eyes and not with them, just as a child does, we could experience the true beauty of the world, it only takes one human force - the force of the imagination. As Blake believes, the imagination is of a higher order and an integral part of our lives. It can enhance and deepen our experience of the world. If you take your colour palette, (your life) squeeze out as many paints as you wish, (bring to the present as many memories that you can think of), and mix them up in wierd and wonderful ways, (good and bad) you will be amazed at the beauty that you can create at the tip of your fingers (finding the extraordinary). Guided by our Poetic Genius, we could experience the spiritual nature of the world without compromising its bliss through our limited perceptions.  
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Literature Entry WEEK SIX: "The Sick Rose"


I believe this week’s entry is going to be inspired by some insights that I have formed as part of the Blakean discussion that is currently taking place. And I shall begin by introducing “The Sick Rose” as interpreted by a budding short film maker in a clip from YouTube. Challenging my initial thoughts on the poem, this film offers an alternative reading to the poem which is based around the idea of a doomed relationship. The grand difference between our understandings however, is the fact that the film takes the standpoint that although the love that these two figures feel is tainted, it is an eternal love that cannot be broken or measured. I personally got the impression that the love that Blake is describing is rather fatal and that there is no hope because the couple is destined for failure.
On first reading I noted that the whole poem consists of only 34 words and 29 of these are single syllabic which gives the impression of a nursery rhyme. We all know that nursery rhymes can have disturbing subject matters (for example “rock a bye baby” and “ring around the rosey”) and, to me, this poem is no different. Whilst the diction is quite simple and easy to understand (such as 'night" and "storm"), the words have many associations. Take for instance "night". Not only is it a word that is used often in Blakean poetry but one that has connotations of darkness, sleep, sex, ignorance, danger, etc. In contrast (or maybe not??) is representation of the 'rose' - a symbol of love, passion, life, joy, femininity and beauty. The colour of the rose is "crimson" which has associations with blood, sin or passion. Furthermore, the word "bed", in context, has inklings of sexual desire also. What becomes interesting is that whilst all these mentioned symbols are stagnant, the "worm" is contrasted by its active movement, which comes across as villainous. It is "invisible", "dark", "secret" and "destroys." The worm travels under the cloak of darkness which suggests its evil nature and while it "loves" the rose, it is entirely destructive.

If we put these understandings together, we can assume that the rose stands for beauty and innocence whilst the worm signifies corruption and decay - perhaps Blake is making the comment that all beauty will eventually grow rotten? It may be also saying something about society's view towards love and the consequent shame and secrecy that is attached to uncommitted passion in general. This is supported by its very root in the "Songs of Experience" which are typically characterised by the idea of innocence becoming ruined.