A Divine Image: a Direct Contrast to the Humanitarian Idealism

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"A Divine Image"
In his 1932 article, "An Interpretation of Blake's "'A Divine Image,'" Stephen Larrabee views the entire poem as a direct contrast to the "humanitarian idealism" (307) of "The Divine Image," with the author making direct line-by-line comparisons of the two. Not until 1959, however, does a critic actually examine Blake's "virtues of delight." In his The Piper & the Bard: A Study of William Blake, Robert Gleckner traces the psychological roots of each of those virtues, while asserting that Mercy, Pity, and Peace are each a part of, but distinct from, the fourth and greatest virtue - Love. Gleckner finally affirms the "human form divine" as a composite of all of the four virtues. Gleckner returns in 1961 with a comparison between "The Divine Image" and "The Human Abstract." While primarily concerned with "The Human Abstract," Gleckner does position the unity of humanity and divinity in the four virtues of "The Divine Image" against the fall into fragmentation of the later poem. Gleckner also dismisses "A Divine Image," the poem sometimes compared with "The Divine Image," as a work with no subtlety of theme. Another comparison between "The Divine Image" and "The Human Abstract" occurs in Harold Bloom's 1963 text, Blake's Apocalypse: A Study in Poetic Argument. Here, Bloom asserts the deliberate incompleteness of "The Divine Image" by arguing that its God is a "monster of abstractions, formed out of the supposedly human element in each of Innocence's four prime virtues" (41). Bloom continues by exploring the changes in the virtues from one poem to the other, finally exposing them as "founded upon the exploiting selfishness of natural man" (143). "The Divine Image" receives due critical recognition for the first time in 1964, when E. D. Hirsch asserts the centrality of the poem to the Songs of Innocence and of Experience by proposing as its theme the divinity of humanity and the humanity of divinity. Hirsch theorizes that Blake's choice of virtues...
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