The Divine Image

The Divine Image :

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love

All pray in their distress;

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is God our father dear,

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, turk, or jew;

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

William Blake was a poet, painter and engraver. He abhorred the rationalism and materialism of his times. What he saw and painted were human beings beset with evil, yet striving for the divine within them. Blake’s lyrics appeared in two sets of volumes. Songs of Innocence (from which The Divine Image has been chosen) and Songs of Experience (from which The Human Abstract has been taken) representing the two contrary states of the human soul. Most of the poems in the first volume have counterparts in the second.

Blake’s poetry was published in a manner most unusual in literature and art history; he personally manufactured each copy. The verses were not typeset but were, with the engravings that illustrated them, cut into copper plates. The pages themselves he illuminated in water colours. Thus Blake can be called the first multi-media artist.

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