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William Blake can rightly be described as one of the most important Romantic poets, but he is set apart from the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats by his mysticism and radical social and religious beliefs. Following in the tradition of poetic geniuses such as Dante and Milton, Blake's remarkable collection The Marriage of Heaven and Hell describes a descent into the netherworld.
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The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN
RINTRAH roars and shakes his fires in the burden’d air,
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
Once meek, and in a perilous path
The just man kept his course along
The Vale of Death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow,
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.
Then the perilous path was planted,
And a river and a spring
On every cliff and tomb;
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth:
Till the villain left the paths of ease
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.
Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility;
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.
Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burden’d air,
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years since its advent, the Eternal Hell revives. And lo! Swedenborg is the angel sitting at the tomb: his writings are the linen clothes folded up. Now is the dominion of Edom, and the return of Adam into Paradise.—See Isaiah xxxiv. and xxxv. chap.
Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good and Evil. Good is the passive that obeys reason; Evil is the active springing from Energy.
Good is heaven. Evil is hell.
THE VOICE OF THE DEVIL
All Bibles or sacred codes have been the cause of the following errors:—
1. That man has two real existing principles, viz., a Body and a Soul.
2. That Energy, called Evil, is alone from the Body; and that Reason, called Good, is alone from the Soul.
3. That God will torment man in Eternity for following his Energies.
But the following contraries to these are true:—
1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul. For that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
2. Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3. Energy is Eternal Delight.
Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place and governs the unwilling.
And being restrained, it by degrees becomes passive, till it is only the shadow of desire.
The history of this is written in Paradise Lost, and the Governor or Reason is called Messiah.
And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the heavenly host is called the Devil, or Satan, and his children are called Sin and Death.
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