CHAPTER IX
THE BIG PROPHETIC BOOKS

BLAKE'S "three years' slumber," as he called it, hypnotized, I presume, by Hayley's lulling kindness, were amongst the most important in his life. If he slumbered, yet his dreams were unusually active; and, since feelings are more intense in dreams than when wide-awake, it is not surprising that Blake's inner life was in a violent commotion. Any stirring of his feeling immediately set his supersensual faculty vigorously to work. Visible persons and things were tracked back to invisible principalities and powers, his cosmic consciousness quickened, the need to create possessed him, and he found relief only in giving rhythmic expression to his spiritual reading of mundane things.

This was the mental process that we saw at work in his French Revolution and America. Now it was moving among the persons and things connected with his own life; but it is not less important, for the same mighty agencies govern individuals and nations alike, and link them up together, so that they are interchangeable manifestations of eternal laws and states.

The practical outcome was Milton, Jerusalem, and a revision of The Four Zoas, begun some time about 1795. These claim our close attention, for they contain, for those who have patience to probe their forbidding exterior, the treasure of one who had run the road of excess, not of profligacy but rebellion, and now reached the palace of wisdom.

-131-

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William Blake: The Man
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 9
  • List of Illustrations 10
  • Chapter I- Childhood and Apprenticeship 11
  • Chapter II- Coming of Age and Marriage 21
  • Chapter III- The Blue-Stockings 26
  • Chapter IV- Early Married Life and Early Work 37
  • Chapter V- Wesley, Whitefield, Lavater, and Swedenborg 46
  • Chapter VI - The Rebels 81
  • Chapter VII- Action and Reaction 102
  • Chapter VIII- William Hayley 114
  • Chapter IX- The Big Prophetic Books 131
  • Chapter X- Cromek, Sir Joshua, Stothard, and Chaucer 153
  • Chapter XL- The Supreme Vision 165
  • Chapter XII- Declining Years and Death 169
  • Epilogue 189
  • Index 195
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