William Blake as a poet of mysticism, symbolism and Morality- Part II

Use of Symbolism by William Blake:

Blake is known for the complex and personal symbolism he uses in his poetry. However, he does employ mythological as well as biblical imagery and references as symbols. In "The Lamb", Blake uses the symbol of "lamb" for Christ and God. The "child" itself is an image of the lamb, Christ, God as well as the innocence of man. "Garden" is the symbol of enclosed passions and secret desires. Here garden reminds of the "Garden of Eden" reminiscent of the loss of Eden and fall of man. "Rose", traditionally a symbol of love and beauty, represents the captive state of man: "O Rose, thou art sick!" "Tyger" is another symbol showing the violent and terrifying powers in man. It is also a reflection of the weaker and stronger state of bodily perfection endowed by the creator:

"Did he smile his work to see
Did he who made the Lamb make thee!"

In "Poison Tree", the poet symbolizes "tree" with the "forbidden tree", the reason for the fall of man. "Foe" is the word used to relate hatred in human society and its eternal linkage to Satan and Hell.


Blake repudiates the traditional concept of morality. He advocates the concept of forgiveness because "The Resurrection of Forgiveness" belongs to eternal life. It shall bring everlasting peace and joy for man. He relates the examples of Christ, Joseph and Mary. For Blake, chastity, a state of sublimity, is associated with religious misconceptions. Chastity can be acquired through forgiveness. Blake rejects the concept of physical chastity and virginity. He stresses upon the chastity of mind which, in itself, assures the chastity of soul and body itself. In the words of Saint Paul: "To the pure, all things are pure". Similarly, the clergy has cast the shadows of evil on sexual and love relationship of man. Blake condemns such restrictions and terms physical love is not "deed of darkness". Blake pronounces in "A Vision of the Last Judgment" that "The Treasures of Heaven are not Negations of Passion but Realities of Intellect".

Read Part I...

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