The Human Abstract 

The Human Abstract :

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.

And mutual fear brings peace,

Till the selfish loves increase:

Then Cruelty knits a snare,

And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,

And waters the ground with tears;

Then Humility takes its root

Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade

Of Mystery over his head;

And the Caterpillar and Fly

Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,

Ruddy and sweet to eat;

And the Raven his nest has made

In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea

Sought thro’ Nature to find this Tree;

But their search was all in vain:

There grows one in the Human Brain.

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.

The Human Abstract :

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