Question: Discuss William Blake as a mystic poet with reference to “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”.
William Blake (1757-1827) is considered to be a mystic poet and seminal figure in the history of poetry of the Romantic Age. His major poems involve religious mysticism as there are a lot of mystic elements in them. In his acclaimed collection of poetry “Songs of innocence and of Experience”, he has flaunted his spiritual or mystic qualities.
Mysticism is a religious practice that aims at the “union with the Absolute or God” through secret prayer or meditation.
According to the Oxford Dictionary,” The term mysticism means a person who tries to become united with God through prayer and meditation and so understand important things that are beyond normal human understanding”.
Blake as a mystic poet
To evaluate William Blake as a mystic poet, we should match the concept of mysticism with the poems of William Blake. Here is the analysis of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” which is as follows.
The first and foremost poem of “Songs of Innocence” published in 1789 is “Introduction” in which a very mystic concept is found when the poet talks about a child.
“On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me,
Pipe a song about a lamb”
The above lines are the indicator of Blake’s mysticism as the critics are in accord that the child is not a simple child but Jesus Christ himself. The same title poem of “Songs of Experience” published in 1794 bears mysticism as it was also written in a visual poem.
“The Lamb and The Tyger”
These two poems are contradictory as they depict the two opposite states of God’s quality. The former one limns naïve and mild nature of God and later one flaunts the harshness of Almighty. The representation of the subject matter of these poems is so mystic that the critics are to evaluate Blake as a mystic.
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
A person who has a union with the Omnipotent can understand and feel by heart such quality of the Creator.
“The Chimney Sweeper”
The most illustrated mystic poem is “The Chimney Sweeper” of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”. This is one of the visionary poems of William Blake which proves him very deep mystic because of the message of the poem.
And the angel told Tom if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.
Thus, Blake clarifies his union with God by conferring the message that a pious person seeks God’s satisfaction and gets satisfied when he gets God as his guardian.
“The Little Black Boy”
This is one of the mystic poems of “Songs of Innocence”. This is basically a poem of consolation for the people of the world who are deprived of materialistic facilities that is why the poet asserts that children will one day gather around God’s golden tent and will rejoice like lamb.
“…. Come out from the grove, My love, and care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.”
From this quotation, it has been crystal that the poet himself is not only mystic but he has tried to make all the deprived human beings of the mystic world.
Basically, almost all of the poems of Blake bear the concept of mysticism. The most illustrated poems of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” which are pregnant with mystic elements are “The Divine Image, The Little Boy Lost, The Little Boy Found. The Little Girl Lost, The Little Girl Found” etc.
It can be said that Blake is a luminary figure in the history of English poetry for his mystic and symbolic quality. His prophecy proves him a pious one because he is the first one in English literature who satires the authority in support of common people.