Dark Satanic Mills- The William Blake Thread

Einherjar86

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Jan 15, 2008
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The Ivory Tower
William Blake is one of my favorite artists of western history. His Illuminated Books, his prophetic works, his plates and his poetry all possess such a mystic quality, perhaps owing to his desire to gain unity with a form of higher consciousness. He comes to us at the beginning of the Romantic Movement, but I feel that he can be categorized as neither Romantic or Classical. He falls into his own category. There is an endless amount of material to discuss regarding his life and works, so I thought I'd open the thread to all ideas and questions. His impact on modern culture cannot be denied, and his works have influenced everyone from his contemporaries to writers of the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries. William Wordsworth praised the man, even though he was surely "mad," and Salmon Rushdie utilizes some of Blake's ideas for his own characters to discuss. Throughout history there can be found pieces owning inspiration to Blake. Perhaps to properly understand Blake, we must go even further back to John Milton; but perhaps that will come out later in the discussion. For starters, let's look at how Blake has touched even the metal community.

Virgin Steele's set of concept albums, 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Pts. I and II' owe their title to Blake's 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,' an ingenius re-defining of Biblical prophetic texts but from the perspective of hell (eg: "The Proverbs of Hell").

Also, Norwegian experimental black metal band Ulver has released an album called 'Themes From William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell,' which I have yet to hear. So my first question on this thread is going to regard this record: has anyone ever heard it, and what did you think?

As for other topics, I open the thread to any ideas or questions or proclamantions of admiration or disgust (after all, I'm certain that not everyone enjoys his cryptic writings). I hope some good issues are raised and debates begun!
 
William Blake is one of my favorite artists of western history. His Illuminated Books, his prophetic works, his plates and his poetry all possess such a mystic quality, perhaps owing to his desire to gain unity with a form of higher consciousness. He comes to us at the beginning of the Romantic Movement, but I feel that he can be categorized as neither Romantic or Classical. He falls into his own category. There is an endless amount of material to discuss regarding his life and works, so I thought I'd open the thread to all ideas and questions. His impact on modern culture cannot be denied, and his works have influenced everyone from his contemporaries to writers of the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries. William Wordsworth praised the man, even though he was surely "mad," and Salmon Rushdie utilizes some of Blake's ideas for his own characters to discuss. Throughout history there can be found pieces owning inspiration to Blake. Perhaps to properly understand Blake, we must go even further back to John Milton; but perhaps that will come out later in the discussion. For starters, let's look at how Blake has touched even the metal community.

Virgin Steele's set of concept albums, 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Pts. I and II' owe their title to Blake's 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,' an ingenius re-defining of Biblical prophetic texts but from the perspective of hell (eg: "The Proverbs of Hell").

Also, Norwegian experimental black metal band Ulver has released an album called 'Themes From William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell,' which I have yet to hear. So my first question on this thread is going to regard this record: has anyone ever heard it, and what did you think?

As for other topics, I open the thread to any ideas or questions or proclamantions of admiration or disgust (after all, I'm certain that not everyone enjoys his cryptic writings). I hope some good issues are raised and debates begun!

Here, here. I love Blake. There's some new biographies out on him, that I read some positive book reviews for. I will search and post them tomorrow.

Such uniqueness, depth and simplicity are found in his immortal poems!!! I know of no other great poet other than Horace (although I very much enjoy the poetry of Sologub, who I suppose is barely known outside of Russia) who wrote such simple but profound lines.

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
 
Ah, wonderful! Thanks for the posts. Indeed, Blake is one of the most important literary figures in all of Western history, I feel (and yes, even in world literature). I own a collection of his complete works edited by Harold Bloom. His writing is wonderful, I only wish that there was a class on him here at my university. There is such a deep mysticism to his work that I'm afraid we'll never completely understand (although part of me enjoys the mystery). Personally, I love The Marriage of Heaven and Hell the best, and I'm excited now to explore Ulver's interpretation of it! I hope to buy the album soon. Blake's idea of Proverbs for Hell is ingenius, as is all of that work. My favorite passage from 'Marriage:'

Without Contraries there is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence. From these contraries spring what the religious call Good and Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.

Oh gods, it gives me goosebumps. Also, one last quote for the day; this one concerns the deceased genius and Blake's great fascination, John Milton:

Note. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.

I've always thought "Devil's Party" would be a great name for a metal band; or at least an album.
 
Here, here. I love Blake. There's some new biographies out on him, that I read some positive book reviews for. I will search and post them tomorrow.

Such uniqueness, depth and simplicity are found in his immortal poems!!! I know of no other great poet other than Horace (although I very much enjoy the poetry of Sologub, who I suppose is not considered great outside of Russia) who wrote such simple but profound lines.

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

Ah, the Songs of Experience; I truly think it is amazing that these poems were written in a style for children, and yet they continue to fascinate even the most intellectual adults. I love "The Fly," it's so beautiful. Blake had the best way of phrasing what he wanted to say. This is one of my favorites from "Songs of Experience."

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I had never seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys & desires.

Amazing.