Tag Archive: Religion


Milton martyrs himself as the savior of his people, which is ironic because he doesn’t agree on the ideas of war or any type of heroic characteristic for that matter. However, he’s being forced into the eternal death because God is inactive in the fight against satan; he takes off his robe of promise, that is, of righteousness, relieving himself from the oath of god (162). It’s evident that he does not want to break from god, as he asks “O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?/Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death” (162).

The situation at hand forces Milton to go down into self annihilation: satan is wreaking havoc in his entrance to earth, as he creates Seven deadly Sins on his infernal scroll (156). He also creates cruel punishments “with thunders of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease… saying ‘I am God alone'” (156). Note also the sibilance used in lines 23-24, when describing satan’s actions: with thunder of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease/Punishments & deaths mustered..” (156). This connects to image of satan being a serpent, as it creates a hissing sound. Also, the line is built of multiple multi-sllybalic words and cuts heavily into monosyllabic when satan speaks: “I am God/alone/There is no other!” (156); this creates a more urgent tone, truly making satan appear as powerful as god.

Milton of course realizes all of this and heeds the warning of the urgent tones, sounds, and beats, as he dives into eternal death.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

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Wisdom and Revolutions

William Blake’s “The Song of Los” is about processes. Blake deviates from Biblical accounts in making Adam and Noah contemporaries in efforts to tether historical moments to reveal patterns of revolutions. But Blake is thinking beyond religion and time. In addition to thinking about Adam and Noah as contemporaries, Blake also includes Brama, “the supreme God of post-Vedic Hundu Religion” (Damon 58). Blake moves us away from thinking about one religion and plugs characters into a larger narrative about human revolutions, physical and ideological revolutions.

Blake is thinking beyond a single time. Rather he is connecting multiple truths to reveal a larger process that see “The human race beg[in] to wither, for healthy built/Secluded places, fearing the joys of Love,” (plate 3). “The Song of Los” can be useful for thinking about contemporary revolutions and oppression. “To cut off the bread from the city,/That the remnant may lean to obey,” (plate 7). This sounds like something we read about in our history books about World War 2, but also when we go to our smartphones to read about leaders, entities with too much power.

 

-Israel Alonso

In William Blake’s “The Tyger” from Songs of Innocence and Experience is the essence of opposing energies of anything deemed guiltless.  In further analysing its twin poem “The Lamb,” we see this notion of opposition even more; the moral that is to be taken from having engaged in both texts, is that humanity possesses both sides: innocent and sinfilled.  

The “Tyger,” therefore, symbolizes not only the sin, and/or darker point of view of the world, but it represents the truest aftermath of a world that is full of injustice, inequality, and oppression.  It is the response to the push back of a society that are oppressed and marginalized -positioned in such a way because of the unabating greed of a higher power.

Hence, in the line “The Tigers couch upon the prey & such the ruddy tide” (Europe 18/15:17), we can conclude that the Tiger is responding to the 1800 years of dark times, when none of the political and/or societal issues were being resolved in France -the poorer were becoming poorer, and the rich were becoming richer; specifically, the monarchy. . The Tiger was essentially released from those shackles that represent oppression; full of rage and hunger; having an insatiable appetite for that of revolution.  This is a counterpart, really, of the apocalypse found in Revelations in the bible. In this manner, we see that the “prey,” therefore, are the very people who were greedily living out their lives, at the cost of the loss of everyone else. The blood is what has been spilt by the mass chaos taking place from the outbreak of the revolution -those from both sides.

The Tiger, furthermore, deviates from simply being seen as the darkness of the world; but, instead, transform into a victor.

Image result for tyger william blake

-Marcy Martinez

Although Enitharmon is this embodiment of “spiritual beauty”, Blake uses her character in Europe a Prophecy to represent the idea of female domination, as well as the limitation of women exploring their sexuality, preventing them from reaching the imaginative. Enitharmon’s character is a representation of humanity’s ability to flourish, but does not through the mode of self-limitation.  In addition, her mere existence seems very contradicting because of her representation of one idea, but preaching its contrary. In line 3 of plate 8/5, Enitharmon says “That Woman, lovely Woman! may have dominion”, however, in lines 8-9 of the same plate she also says “Forbid all Joy, & from her childhood shall the little female Spread nets in every secret path” (Blake, 101). If Enitharmon is the idea of female domination and empowerment, why is it that she herself limits women by forbidding them joy (sexual desires) and encouraging them to “spread nets” in slumber, which ultimately bound these desires? Through this we can further see Enitharmon’s slumber as the age of religious rule, which gives women a “sense of power” by their crucial role as birth givers, but restrain them from their sexual desires and enjoyment as it was viewed as “sinful”.

Thus, the reason why Issac Newton’s seizing of the “Trump” awakened Enitharmon from her eighteen hundred year-old slumber was because of Newton’s initial and important contribution to the Enlightenment, which went against the rule and teachings of the church. His radical scientific discoveries contradicted everything that religious authority had instilled within the homes of Europe. This created havoc, and gave birth to a revolution of new ideas and ways of thinking, which awakened Enitharmon by the disruption of her traditional implements on England.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Religion and Politics

Blake engages with the French revolutionary debates in his “A Song of Liberty.” Thomas Paine, who also engages in those same debates, believes that “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possess of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time’, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it” (24). Both thinkers understand the connection between religion and government, or religion as political and politics as religious. Blake, through his work, acknowledges the unbreakable link between religion and the political, “20. Spurning through the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying ‘Empire is no more! And now the loin & wolf shall cease’” (plate 27).

Both thinkers, while talking about the French Revolution have something to say about religion. Paine alludes to an “end of time” and a “commanding.” Similarly Blake alludes to “stony law.” The Ten Commandments are a reoccurring image in both thinkers’ work, alongside a celebration of moving away from a system that valorizes based on faith.

-Israel Alonso

Though William Blake is not anti-religious as Thomas Paine is, they both share a similar distaste for the church and state and how they operate (rule) society.

In Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man Part 1”, he argues against the fallacy of his government: “what is government more than the management of the affairs of a nation? It is not, and from its nature cannot be, the property of any particular man or family…” (3). Evidently, Paine’s views on his government are that no one particular being ought to run the government, but perhaps the society should influence government’s tactics and affairs. A radical thinker, especially for his own time. Though not so estranged from Paine’s beliefs, Blake also sees the fallacies in his own government, as he reflects in his songs, “The Chimney Sweeper” from experience to be exact.

As mentioned before, Blake was not against religious faith, but merely disgusted by the foul practice of formed religions. He expresses his thoughts about churchgoers throughout the poem, especially in lines 3-4: “where are they father & mother? say?/They are both gone up to the church to pray.” (35). The fact that these god-loving parents can abandon their child and leave them to die in the business of sweeping chimneys, buried in soot, is appalling; and Blake offers who is at fault: the church and state. The closing lines 9-12 suggest rulers of society are allowing children to be killed in a disillusion, rather than offering help: “And because I am happy, & dance & sing,/ They think they have done me no injury:/ and are gone to praise God & his Priest & King/ Who make up a heaven of our misery.” (35). Blake places the church and state at fault for the sufferings of the children, as Paine definitely would, while still being a faithful god believer; he does not question the power or will of god, but those who serve him and use his name to rule.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Chained by the Giant

Blake’s disagreements with the system of the Royal Academy was greatly influenced by his mother, who was before influenced by Zinzendorf, bishop of the Moravian Church. Zinzendorf strongly advocated a healthy mother-child relationship and Blake later incorporates themes of a mother-child relationship in many of his works. Zinzendorf’s childhood of being sent away to boarding school and instructed by puritanical pedants took part in this concept that “mother was the best teacher for a young child” (Schuchard 89).

The obsession with women dealt with their anatomical features, specifically, the breasts, which is symbolic of not only nursing a child, but also the passing of knowledge to child. The “Moravians advocated maternal breast feeding rather than farming infants out to wet nurses” because “the mother’s “school” for her infant took on a spiritualerotic connotation, which was vividly expressed in hymns for the embryo and suckling choirs” (89). This is the supposedly more natural form of education.

Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell describes his experience in a printing house in Hell. He witnesses and describes the process of book printing through images of creatures molding rubble together. He says, “There they were reciev’d by Men who occupied the sixth chamber and took the forms of books & were arranged in libraries” (Blake 76). Both Blake and Zinzendorf saw institutional training as artificial and evil. There is no definitive answers to Blake’s Christianity because priesthood and the church are their own forms of institution. Blake, as a Moravian, sees the contradictions within Moravian itself. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell points to Zinzendorf and calls him out for this reason. Institutions such as the Royal Academy are:

The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains, are in truth, the causes of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are the cunning of the weak and tame minds, which have the power to resist energy, according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning” (76).

Is the priest, the church, and/or religion members of these Giants that Blake has mentioned above?

-Van Vang

In two poems, William Blake shows how God creates Hope, but religion creates despair.

In William Blake’s The Songs of Innocence and Experience, I believe there are two poems that are linked by a loose thread. To find the link, one must employ equal parts close reading skill, knowledge of the historical cultural moment, and mental gymnastics. The link is so fine, so ephemeral and fleeting, that it is difficult to place the works into conversation, let alone open a discourse on their intertextuality. I speak of course of The Chimney Sweeper from The Songs of Innocence and The Chimney Sweeper from The Songs of ExperienceThe casual reader will invariably look at the titles of these two works and fail to see how they can possibly be placed in conversation with one another when their subject matter is so far removed. To this I cry “Folly!” I then put away my sarcasm, and begin my analysis of these two poems in earnest.

To contextualize: chimney sweeps’ apprentices, as they were formally called, were young children, often in single digit age brackets. These boys were unpaid laborers who were fed by their masters, and tasked with climbing into chimneys. The work conditions were such that they often perished.

The Chimney Sweeper (Innocence) looks at this profession with interesting optimism. The poem appears to tell the story of a boy named Tom who is visited by an Angel and is shown the coffins of thousands of dead children. This is, of course, a good thing. Consider the following truncated version:

As Tom was sleeping he had such a sight.
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,
And by came an Angel who had a bright key
And he open’d the coffins & set them all free
And the Angel told Tom if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
Tho’ the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.  (Blake 18)

This truncated version exemplifies the idea that there is joy and hope to be found in God. It is an optimistic text that reminds the reader that thanks to God, even the barbarism of child slavery that results in death can have a happy ending. Thus, The Chimney Sweeper of Innocence equates God with Hope.

The idea that God creates Hope is complicated by The Chimney Sweeper of Experience. The second poem creates, in lieu of the optimism and hope of God, the dread and despair of religion. The poem is markedly darker, and there is less focus on God and more focus on religion. The church has created the monsters, by preaching the ideal that “If all do their duty, they need not fear harm” (18). The adults that should be caring for and protecting this young boy “are gone to praise God & his Priest & King Who make up a heaven of our misery” (35). For symmetry, gaze upon the truncated version.

Where are thy father & mother? say?
They are both gone up to church to pray.
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
They think they have done me no injury:
And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King
Who make up a heaven of our misery. (35).

It is, therefore, God who creates hope, but Religion that allows despair.

 

Ross Koppel

In William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, “Holy Thursday”, partaking in the religious is a communal affair, one that the youth is a part of; the children are in a way facilitating the religious. The last stanza is indicative of this:

“Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song

Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among

The youth is shown here to be the fore bringers of the religious: without them, there is no “mighty wind”, and furthermore, without the youth there is no religion to pass on. The lines following these show the contrast between the youth and the elders more:

Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor

Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door

This lines appear to show that while the youth are the future of the church in their innocence, the elders champion them. This is buttressed by the fact the elders, sit “beneath them” (11), and must act as “guardians of the poor” (11), which may or may not be some of the youth. The final message of the poem is to “cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door” (12), alluding to the fact that the youth could in fact grow up to be the future of the church, and to shut your doors to them is to be denying them of that future.

The “contrasting” piece, therefore, (of the same name, “Holy Thursday”) works to further instill and drive this meaning home. “Holy Thursday” in Songs of Innocence and Experience, takes a less hopeful approach. Instead of arguing in an optimistic light, the speaker of the poem is much more pessimistic and dark: “Babes reducd to misery / Fed with cold and usurious hand?” (2-3). Blake uses the imagery of children suffering to show in a much more realistic light what was actually going on in England. While the previous poem focused on the potential power of the child, this one shows the reality of children’s future. Without the protection of the elders, and without charity, “their sun does never shine…their ways are fill’d with thorns / It is eternal winter there” (9-12). This offers an important commentary on Blake’s philosophy of thought: if we are cruel and uncharitable to children, we stifle their potential and prevent them coming to Christianity. Christianity is the place where a “babe can never hunger there, / Nor poverty the mind appall” (15-16).

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

I Was Lost, Then I Was Found

Before finding inner peace, I was lost.

Where can I venture to find peace within myself?

Along the path I see nothing but darkness,

My feet feel as if they are becoming one with the ground.

Never to move again.

 

Will I be forever trapped in this pit of darkness?

This realm of shadows filled with nothing but looming darkness,

The trees that hang o’er me seem to be closing in.

The little boy los

What is that light?

Do not leave me, allow me to wander with you.

I just want to follow you, let me see the light.

I do not want to be lost anymore.

s-inn.b.p1-2.100

Where am I now?

I can see more than I did before.

Are you the light I found?

Are you the one to guide me to the true light?

s-inn.z.p8-10.100

Please father, even with my sun burnt skin,

Allow me into your arms, allow me into your light.

Why is it impossible for you to accept me?

Why does the color of my skin matter?

 

Simply because his skin is fairer than mine,

He is allowed into your warm arms?

I thought you were all accepting?

It seems you are all accepting of fair skinned lambs,

For I am only a dark skinned lamb.

 

I decided to write a short poem/story about religion and acceptance because religion is supposed to be all around accepting. Though I began to think about cases where it might not be true. Like in slavery for instance, from the moment they were born, they were taught that they belong to people; people of fairer skin. We all share “one” God, but from the slave’s point of view, it probably seemed like the people who “owned” them, had life better than they did. They were able to roam free and enjoy the light, while the slaves continued living confined by chains and beaten by their “owners.” I incorporated mainly Eden and childhood in my short poem/story in the sense that the light the lost black lamb wanted to enter was his Eden. While with childhood, I chose to use lamb in the sense of a follower; a child of God, except in this case, he was rejected as a child of God.

-Anderson Tang