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Analysis Of William Blake's Poems "A Divine Image" And "The Human Abstract"

972 words - 4 pages

William Blake, one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism, wrote the "Songs of Innocence and Experience" in the 1790s. The poems juxtapose the innocent, pastoral world of childhood against an adult world of corruption and repression. The collection explores the value and limitations of two different perspectives on the world. Many of the poems are in pairs, so that the same situation or problem is seen through the lens of innocence first and then experience. "A Divine Image" and "The Human Abstract" are two companion poems that look at the virtues Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love. Both poems possess contrasting philosophies pertaining to the virtues. "A Divine Image," a song of innocence, strives for reverence on the one hand, while "The Human Abstract" exhibits cynicism.In "A Divine Image" Blake writes about God and his existence within humanity. The personified figures of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love are listed as four virtues of delight. The speaker states that everyone prays to these in times of distress and thanks them for blessings because they represent "God, our Father dear." In addition, the virtues are characteristics of humanity. Mercy is found inside the human heart, pity in the human face, peace envelops humans, and love exists in the "human form divine." To further prove that man and God are alike "the four virtues that Blake assigns are the ones conventionally associated with Jesus, who was both man and God" (Gleckner 37).Blake creates a world of brotherhood, acceptance and the sense of community spirit among mankind in the third stanza.Then every man, of every clime,That prays in his distress,Prays to the human form divine,Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace."All people in the world must love and respect the 'human form divine'" regardless of their religion or culture (Ferber 23). This establishes a common bond between people that brings people together. The stanza emits an impression of family involving the whole world. This idealized world is far from reality, but envisioned through the innocent lens."The Human Abstract" satirizes the virtues that appear pure and innocent in the first poem. In the first stanza, the speaker proves that the virtues would not be possible without the distress of others.Pity would be no more,If we did not make somebody Poor;And Mercy no more could be,If all were as happy as we;He says that without poverty, there would be no way for people to exercise pity, and that if everyone were happy, there would be no chance to ease the suffering of other people. Therefore, mercy and pity "only exist in an imperfect world"; they are "not intrinsic to the human soul" (Erdman 33). In the second stanza, Blake attacks the remaining two virtues, peace and love.And mutual fear brings peace,Till the selfish loves increase;Then Cruelty knits a snare,And spreads his baits with care.The...

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