Tag Archive: acquiring Poetic Genius status


Hindering the Poetic Genius

Within the mind’s frame, the contrary systems of thought go to war.  Each image holds the mind’s space forcing one to watch, follow it, and succumb it its desires and this activity hinders the divine energy from being made apparent.  When one is sufficiently engaged in the stories repeatedly told by the mind, the infinite, as Blake would say, cannot be seen in all things and since “the Poetic Genius is the true Man” (Pg, 5),  Blake wrote much about its experience as well as condemning what he believed deflated it.  This essay attempts to process the differing ways Blake saw Poetic Genius, or the divine energy interrupted.  To do this, first I demonstrate, in Blake’s terms, that Man is in fact constructed from the Poetic Genius and therefore, there must be an internal rather than external interruption blocking the manifestation of Poetic Genius.  Next, I illustrate how Songs of Innocence and Experience depict this energy stoppage, or how the filled mind keeps out the Poetic Genius.  Indicated by his poetry, Blake was obsessed with the various ways human’s hinder access to the Poetic Genius because he wanted to unlock the prophet in everyone.

When critiquing and responding to Sir Joshua Reynold’s Works, Blake asserts, “These things that you call Finishd are not. Even Begun how can they then, be Finished? The Man who does not know The Beginning, never can know the End of Art” (Blake 462). This statement wholly coincides with the philosophy evident in some of Blake’s earlier poems such as “All Religions are One” and “There is No Natural Religion.” In these pieces, Blake likens seeing visions to seeing into eternity and, thus, the artistic form becomes not only an aesthetic manifestation of knowledge and imagination but also a ceaseless vortex enlivened by desire and experience. Art in itself continually invents and reinvents itself because art is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. These two poems not only characterize art as a means of salvation but also equate art with faith. Blake openly shares his perspective that prayer is an act of prophecy and, through prayer, one may aspire to the status of Poetic Genius. Considering this parallel relationship, appreciating art similarly may be seen as a means of acquiring Poetic Genius standing.