The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Synopsis

These two collections of Blake's finest and best-loved poems--printed on vellum--offer the text of each poem in letterpress on the page facing a beautiful color reproduction of the design Blake created to illustrate the particular poem.

Excerpt

The marriage of heaven and hell holds a unique position among the works presented by Blake in his series of Illuminated Books. It came early in the sequence, being preceded only by the Songs of Innocence and The Book of Thel and differs from these and from all the other books by being written principally in prose; and it was Blake's first full-scale attempt to present his philosophic message. Blake was primarily a poet, but both his poetry and his prose were concerned with philosophy, often to the dismay of readers of poetry. He was a philosopherpoet, putting Imagination above Reason and so seemed to upset what is usually regarded as the foundation of the doctrines propounded by his predecessors such as Bacon, Newton, and Locke. They placed God above and separate from Man, whereas Blake regarded human imagination as the essential divine quality 'by which God manifested himself in Man. This was almost equating Man with God and Art with Christianity. Blake had therefore reached the extremity of humanism, an attitude which seemed to his contemporaries, startled by so revolutionary a mode of thought, to be explicable only as a form of insanity. So complete an artist was quite beyond their comprehension.

It is believed that Blake began to compose The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in about 1789, when he was already aged 32, having had ten years since emerging from his apprenticeship as an engraver, during which he developed his mental attitudes by thought and reading. His output as poet and pictorial artist had been limited to the Poetical Sketches of his adolescence and Songs of Innocence and The Book of Thel of his young manhood and a few minor books. His flair for effective use of satire had been . . .

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