Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
February 16, 2003
Blake's Heaven

I listened to Jane Siberry's album Love is Everything with Alistair yesterday. I'd heard the name, but never the music - very Kate Bush in style. It was autobiographical programme music with an introspective, mystical tone.

The booklet accompanying the CD set puzzled me. Pages of biographical detail and no lyrics (they're on the web site). And, buried in the text, a quote from Blake "Exuberance is Beauty".

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93). Proverbs of Hell

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty
the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt
to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox. he would be cunning.
Improvent makes strait roads, but the crooked roads
without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd
Enough! or Too much

I've never studied Blake, so found this very opaque. Checking on the Internet, I can only find random references by people who have chosen the quote simply because it links the words exuberance and beauty, not to derive benefit from the meaning of Blake's words.

Reading around this, Blake seems to value nature as worthless without humanity. He seems to be firmly on the classical side of the ‘great divide’. He looks for a uniting force between intelligence and art – the impulses within us are holy and good. Man's drive to intelligent expression and love are not the result of the Fall, but of a creative force (a God) acting to make nature purposeful through the intelligence of mankind. Man’s exuberant expression of wonder at the natural world is thus essentially and necessarily beautiful, as it must lead to the fusion of intellect and nature. Art is the gateway to paradise, and creation the divine will to form man within nature.

I think I'd better read some more about Blake. Tough luck, doing Science A-levels.

For an alternative approach to the exegesis of this text, look for these words of wisdom.

Posted by nathan at February 16, 2003 04:10 PM

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