Tag Archives: Blake

Blake, Contraries, and the modern day.

A while ago I wrote a story about a farmer finding God. I reread it today and thought how it ties in with what we have learnt this semester about William Blake and Contraries. About black and white, good and bad. This story shows that but also shows a man seeking God on his own terms, finding God where he is, not in a church. I think the nearest church to this bloke would have been a few hundred kilometres away. Read it for yourself and see if you can see the connection. Please feel free to comment ( or peer review if you are in my lit class)

Dave

Prayer from the heart of the land

©Dave McGettigan 2 August 2011. Edited version may 2013.

 

Well God, I really don’t know how to start. I have heard of praying before but I have never done it, so I don’t know the right words to say. I will just say what’s on my mind.

I never believed in you before. You were never mentioned in my childhood home, except when dad lost on the horses, then he was heard to yell out your name.

I just got on with life here on the station. There was work to be done, so we rounded up some of the hands and did it. We rode the boundary fences, and sometimes didn’t come home for weeks if there were repairs to do.

Every once in a while, we mustered a few hundred head, and sent them off on trucks. A few weeks later, our bank account swelled so we could pay our tabs and workers, and save a bit for a not so rainy day.

The stationhands had their own ideas where we came from and how everything came into being. There was a story for everything; including how we got the space between the clouds and the Earth when Yondi pushed up the sky.

Some of the tales I found quite credible; but I always thought there was more to it.

When the droughts came, I heard other farmers over the UHF cursing you. Men would sob over the airwaves telling us how they didn’t have enough feed and the bank wouldn’t extend their credit any further. I listened while they unashamedly wept because they had to shoot cattle so emaciated that their legs wouldn’t hold them up any longer. The women would do wonders with what little food they had in the pantries; and cry when they didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

More than once I had to tell the aboriginal workers that they were free to wander the property to search for food and water and to take care of themselves and their families as they could no longer rely on me. I would tell them they could shoot a bull or cow if they couldn’t find any other tucker. We couldn’t afford to feed the cattle anyhow. Often during these times, I would open the door to an unexpected knock, to find a slaughtered kangaroo or emu, given as a gift from a grateful farmhand.

We couldn’t go to the city. We wouldn’t survive there. We don’t know the ways of the people in the cities, and growing beef cattle is all I know.

I was thankful that the kids were in boarding school. The school offered the boys a full boarding scholarship so I didn’t have to worry that they would starve. They would also have hope and wouldn’t see the despair in my eyes. At best, with the learning, they could get work and live in the city; if the station failed and they couldn’t take over.

Then the rains came. The station flooded, but we were prepared and had dug extra dams in anticipation of promised rains. All the creeks and rivers overflowed and dams that had been empty for quite a while now broke the banks.

The stationhands returned and claimed credit for the rains stating they had been to see Uncle Bert and he calls water from the sky. There was dancing in mud puddles by all and sundry. The men all stripped to their shorts, grabbed some soap and had a welcome shower. The women dressed in summer frocks also welcomed the drop in temperature as the water began to cool everything by a couple of degrees.

The grasses grew, and trees sprouted new shoots. The birds were quick to return. Their songs once again woke me each morning and I was grateful that I had no further need for that wretched alarm clock.

I rode out to see the extent of the damage the drought, then the floods had caused. When I was a couple of miles from the homestead, I saw no living cattle. White bones were the only evidence that cattle once roamed these plains.

I realised I would have to take the chopper out to do a major muster. Then we would know exactly what financial position we were in.

We had to buy more stock from the south and with the rains, the banks would extend us credit and our accounts would swell with the rivers.

Last night I looked up at the stars. There is no possible way that they were all set in place by the ancestors of our stockhands.

I think about all the beauty in the world around me. The red earth, the green grass and the blue sky and I know there has to be someone responsible. My wife says a bloke on the telly talked about you and how even when we stuff up, you still look after us. I think that’s great. Fair Dinkum.

Well, I just wanted to say thanks God, for everything. You know, I think without the hard times, we wouldn’t know how good we got it. I reckon that when I am out on the land, fixing fences or whatever and I get a bit lonely, I can talk to you because you are always there.

So… well, see ya. Talk soon.

 

Oh yeah…Amen.

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Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is one book by William Blake that has even the most wise of scholars confused and befuddled. I myself can shed little light. What I share here has probably been discussed by scholars on numerous occasions without seeing a true solution to the paradox. What is Good? What is Bad?  Is it true what churches tell us; that Heaven is good and Hell is bad?

What is Good? I believe that the word good can be very subjective. It depends on a persons perspective. This perspective is swayed or biased to how one is raised, in what cultural context, traditions within the home or taste in food. While my partner may enjoy extremely spicy food, I do not. So what is good for him is not so good for me. In Europe, nudity is accepted much more readily whereas in our culture which has its heritage in the prim and proper British way, says that nudity is not so good. Most certainly nudity in middle eastern cultures and certain religions is not accepted at all.

What is Bad? I think most of us would agree that a rotten apple is bad in most cultures, religions and countries, but to a gardener, a rotten apple is full of opportunity. You are able to harvest the seeds to grow another apple tree or you are able to use the apple in your compost bin, to assist in putting nutrients in the soil. Some say that the best Apple sauce is made with apples that are bruised or over ripe. The black sheep is colloquial language of a person that doesn’t match up to the standards of his peers or family. But a black sheep is often just different. A black sheep means you don’t have to dye the wool if you want a black jumper (pullover).

Good people go to heaven, bad people to hell?

Jesus asked a man why he called him good when only God is good. We often called morally upright, heroic, or people with a warm open heart good people. Well again that is subjective. If we compare a person whom we consider good to say, Mother Teresa, they would probably fall short. If we compare a person to Hitler, we would look favourably upon that same person.

Do we have the right to judge whether one is better than another? Is a person defined by his actions, or does he deserve the dignity that comes from being a fellow member of the human race? My thoughts are that a persons actions do not define who he is as a person. A person is able to act in a very poor way in a moment of madness, or in a very grand way in a single moment of heroism. One should not be judged on actions, but be given the dignity deserved by all members of the human race.

So, if we do not have the right to judge who is good and who is bad, how do we know who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell?

It comes down to faith. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was God manifest as man, who sacrificed himself taking upon himself the punishment of men who accept his gift of righteousness. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Only God is good. so only those who believe that Jesus sacrificed himself for them, took upon himself their badness so they are made good, can go into heaven.

My explanation of Heaven and Hell is simple. Heaven is where God is. Hell is where God isn’t. God is love. So wherever love is, God is.

I know that when I die, Heaven will be home

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Such a Pity: The Human Abstract

Pity, Mercy and Peace are the 3 Virtues represented in this poem by William Blake.

The poem says that without US making someone poor, there would be no need for pity. WE are the ones who made someone poor, now we look down upon them. They had no strength to fight against us. I am using the We in this stanza, as civilised, organised capitalistic society. While we pity those who are homeless, or poor, some of us see and say, like Malcolm Turnbull, “There but for the grace of God be I”.

We can distribute mercy, in the form of benefits from the government, if the poor jump through the hoops. We, the people, donate to charities, or some of us do, to assist those less fortunate. But how about this… Next time you see a homeless person, don’t judge, just buy him a meal.

I am upset by those who like to do “social experiments” by giving homeless people

something, and putting it on YouTube to show what good people they are for doing this. When you donate, do it anonymously: without thought of what you might get out of it.

When you donate, you should give freely, not out of compulsion. You should not place conditions on your giving, but give to a person to do with it whatever they see fit. Once a dollar leaves your hand, it is no longer yours to govern. You have no right to protest, if your donated dollar is not used the way you think it should be.

 

 

Peace, when is the last time we had worldwide peace? I think that at no time has the whole world been in total peace with one another. Selfish greed is the cause of most wars. We who have want more. Those who have not, get what little they do have taken away. All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

 

Peace in the poem is said to be bought about by mutual fear. That sounds like the peace of The Cold War to me. Both sides knew that each had nuclear bombs but neither were going to use them, for fear that the other would as well. It would be nice if peace came about by mutual respect and care for one another, not fear.

The poem also talks about Selfish Love. This is the type of love that says “What’s in it for me?” It is not a love that is truly self-sacrificing, but one that has ulterior motives. It gets rooted deep but when the right time come, it spreads depression and despair. This type of love also produces emotional blackmail. “If you don’t do this, then I won’t love you”, or “If you do that, I will love you more. It also has its roots in fear. we are afraid what will happen if that love is removed.

The Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear. True love is a sacrificial love. It says, “I will do anything for you”. This type of love is not exclusive to man and woman couples, but can be same sex, it can be a love between a parent and child, even a child and a pet.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor:13. 4-8.

The love mentioned in the Blake poem is not true love, but a selfish one. I think Blake is imploring us to take a look at the love we give and the motives behind our giving. True love comes from God. Let’s love with the love that comes from God above.

Dave

 

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On Another’s Sorrow

This poem was written by William Blake as the last poem in his book “Songs of Innocence”.

It asks the question, who is without heart that he can sit and watch another in pain and sorrow and not be touched by it?

He goes on to explain that such empathy comes from God himself. God became the little child (Jesus). God became the man of woe, when He hung on a cross. He feels our pain, He knows our sorrows.

It reminds me of songs, and verse written since the time of Blake. “His eye is on the sparrow”  He cares for the seemingly most insignificant creature, and if He cares that much for a bird, how much more will he care for us. Matt 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

The Poem “Footprints (In the sand)” reminds us that we are never alone when we feel we are struggling. When we see only one set of footprints, it was then He was carrying us.

I don’t know about you, but there are times I really need carrying. I’m glad He is there.

on anothers sorrow

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William Blake, Prophet, visionary, anarchist

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William Blake was a prophet, poet and artist who lived from 1757 to 1827. He had visions of Angels, Heaven, God and the whole spiritual realm from an early age. He implored people to look beyond what they can see with the natural eye. He asked people to see through the eye, from the soul of your being into the soul of others.

Blake had revelations and visions of how life ought to be. He was not content with the status quo and sought to change some injustices in the world and illuminate that which was hidden to the natural eye.

Many regarded him as strange, but others illuminated. in his book of poems entitled Songs of Innocence, there is reflected a carefree innocence. The songs or poems themselves being written in a naive or childlike manner, with simple rhymes and simple ideas. Such is the world of children or innocence. He also penned a book entitled Songs of Innocence and Experience, where we can see in contrast, not the carefree world which was expressed in his earlier book, but one with darkness, conflicted by worry. A world where the opinions of others mattered more dearly than the freedom of self.

Sad, isn’t it, how we lose our innocence and start to care how we compare with the social norm. There are whole industries that deal with changing peoples looks and attitudes to comply with what is right and good with society.

I think we can learn from Blake and follow our passions no matter what society thinks. I think that if more people were not so reliant on the almighty dollar we would feel freer to be ourselves.

 

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Palm Sunday Painting; William Blake

 

The text below comes from an app on my phone called DailyArt. Each day they present an artwork and provide commentary on the artwork presented. Since the entry today was from William Blake, I decided to share it here for my fellow 19th Century Literature students. I hope you enjoy, and maybe subscribe to this great free app. The painting comes from artuk.org

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

Blake, William; Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/christs-entry-into-jerusalem-83204

 

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It is the Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.

This image by William Blake painted for Thomas Butts is out of the ordinary even for Blake. The subject of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday receives a distinctive treatment. Jesus and his party of disciples enjoy a conventional treatment although they display the elongated bodies and reduced sized heads which Blake adopted for a period of time. The crowd gathered around Jesus are definitely unconventional since they are in various degrees of undress. The contrasting sizes of the various figures leads to a confusion of scale and perspective.

The Window through which Jerusalem is visible is framed by trees which are being climbed by figures of individuals attempting to reach a higher level. Jerusalem is not pictured as the earthly city of Jesus’ day but as the heavenly Jerusalem of the vision of John of Patmos.

During the period when Blake was reevaluating Classical thought as an influence on his myth and prophecy, he seems to have reconsidered the neoclassical style of art which he had adopted in much of his work. Neoclassicism gained prominence with the enlightenment; Blake looked to replace them both. This picture owes much to Mannerism, a style of the 16th century. According to this National Gallery website Mannerism demonstrated that “excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention, and virtuoso technique, criteria that emphasized the artist’s intellect.” Blake found that this technique allowed him to use his intellect and inventiveness to stimulate a fresh view of a Biblical scene which could be opened to vision

 

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