Nov 04 2009

William Blake – The Divine Image

Published by at 9:16 am under Poetry

The Divine Image
by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity and Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

— from Music of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Patrick Laude / Edited by Barry McDonald


/ Photo by alicepopkorn /

If you’re like I am, you probably cringed at that line in the final stanza referring to “heathen, Turk or Jew.” The phrase sounds disparaging taken out of context. But reread what Blake is actually saying: He is using the common prejudice of the day, that white British Christians are superior to heathens, Turks and Jews, and he turns it on its head. He declares that “Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell / There God is dwelling too.”

In other words, Blake is offering a truly universal vision of God that transcends religious, racial, and cultural boundaries. God isn’t limited to specific dogmas. God doesn’t favor one skin color or one national flag over another. God dwells where the human heart in fruition has made a home for “Love, Mercy, Pity, and Peace.”

Where there is love, where there is mercy and compassion and empathy, where there is deep peace — that is where God is found among people, regardless of who those people are or by what name they call God.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

If more poems like this were read, think how different the world would be.

William Blake, William Blake poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry William Blake

England (1757 – 1827) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Christian

More poetry by William Blake

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “William Blake – The Divine Image”

  1. Barbara Smith Stoffon 04 Nov 2009 at 11:04 am

    It’s good to have you back, Ivan…although I know you have not been far away. Last night, we watched a really wonderful movie…’Mrs. Palfrey at the Clairemont’… Blake and Wordsworth play a part in this story. I thought of you as I contemplated the young man in this film.

  2. Jason N.on 04 Nov 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you for the poem and the description. When I first read it, I did not appreachate it. Though, after reading your discription, I found joy in understanding it meaning.

  3. Shernazon 04 Nov 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Ivan, many many such poems are read around the world…the crux is in being able to interpret them correctly in toto, without taking words out of context and imbuing them with personal hues. Really good to have you back.

  4. Sunitaon 04 Nov 2009 at 8:33 pm

    its really beautifull.

  5. J. DeShazoon 05 Nov 2009 at 7:30 am

    Thought the commentary was better than the poem which I felt was a bit weak and disjointed. He has better. Like your site and what you send us and shall be sending my contribution.

  6. Yermalon 05 Nov 2009 at 10:55 am

    Ivan,

    Excellent commentary. William Blake is also conveying the message that we are all under the care of God who dwells where there is Mercy, Love and Pity. He is also telling us to dress ourselves in the garb of Peace to welcome God.

    Yermal

  7. Michael Youngon 06 Nov 2009 at 10:15 am

    This poem brings to mind a song in Latin, “Ubi caritas et amor, Ubi caritas deus ibi est.” Translated:”where there are caring and love, there is God.”

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