"The Human Abstract" - Sarah Carney ENG 3314...

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Sarah Carney ENG 3314 Paper #1 1/30/13 “The Human Abstract” “Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate”: The facets of human corruption and divinity that William Blake sets forth in the 1794 publication of Songs of Experience. On the surface “The Human Abstract” appears to be a critical poem on the false virtues cast upon society by the church. Blake relays his rebellious stance against organized religion by painting a subjectively (and negatively) idealistic image of a society confined within the restraints of false religion. Once again Blake challenges the motives of the church with the implication that religious figures inflict ideas such as having mercy or being poor upon those that seek a cure for those exact afflictions. (Akhavan) That is to say, the church then monopolizes the only source of hu- manity in any society. In his over-reaching fashion Blake also highlights the tension cre- ated between the human and the divine. He suggests that the heavy and invisible pres- ence of reason leads way to strife in society; that it “robs life of all its fullness and vigour” (Akhavan). “The Divine Image” in Songs of Innocence portrays the same virtues only in a very different light, they are shown as “virtues of delight”. “Mercy, Pity, Peace and
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Love” are continuously repeated in that order throughout the stanzas until the fourth stanza: “Then every man of every clime, That prays in his distress, Prays to the human form divine, Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.” (“Songs of Innocence and of Experience”) Love is the only virtue that is given the term divine. This foreshadows his future refer- ences to divine love and the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg in “The Human Ab- stract”. (Rumens, "The Romantic Poets: The Human Image and The Divine Image by William Blake.") Even in the more mild twin to “The Human Abstract” evidence of Blake’- s condemnation for the church’s views on salvation are noted. “In heathen, Turk or Jew. Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell, There God is dwelling too.” (“Songs of Innocence and of Experience”) Blake presents a progressive and atypical idea that salvation or spirituality can be
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