Study Guide

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell A Memorable Fancy (2)

By William Blake

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A Memorable Fancy (2)

  • In this next section, our speaker is having a meal with the Biblical prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel.
  • In between bites, he asks them how they knew that God was actually speaking to them.
  • Isaiah tells him that, while he never actually saw or heard God, he was still able to sense the infinite nature of the world. Once that happened, Isaiah really didn't care if folks believed what he wrote or not.
  • Our speaker wants to know if this is enough. Does believing that something is true make it actually true?
  • Isaiah tells him that this is what the poets believe. That faith used to be enough to move mountains, but these days folks have less conviction.
  • Now it's Ezekiel's turn to pipe up. He says that the people of Israel believed that all belief came from "Poetic Genius" (5.5), which is why they felt that other gods and forms of worship were off the mark.
  • The fact that now "all nations believe the Jews' code," Ezekiel continues, illustrates that they were right about this (5.6).
  • The speaker thinks that Ezekiel makes a good point.
  • Then he asks the pair what lost work they might want to share with him, but they both tell him that they're not holding back anything as important as what they've already written and published.
  • Then the speaker hits Isaiah with a hard-hitting question: what made Isaiah walk around barefoot and naked for… three years?
  • Isaiah has a simple answer: it's the same thing that likewise affected Diogenes of Greece. Hey, ask a simple question and get a simple answer.
  • Then our speaker is curious as to why Ezekiel used to eat dung and lay for a long time on his right and left style. (And what sort of stuff do you talk about after dinner?)
  • Ezekiel says he got the idea from "North American tribes" (5.9). He did so to help encourage others to see the infinite in the same way he did. Yeah… thanks a lot Eze, but we'll pass on the poop.
  • Next our speaker lets us know that it's true that, after 6,000 years, the world will be consumed in fire. He heard as much in Hell.
  • The angel in charge of protecting the tree of life will be commanded to step aside. When he does, the world will be destroyed.
  • On the plus side, it will seem "infinite and holy," as opposed to "finite and corrupt" like it does now (5.11).
  • Also, once that angel steps aside, folks will be able to enjoy their senses more—party time, y'all.
  • The speaker then reminds us that the idea that the body and soul are separate is total nonsense. He's going to stamp out that idea through his printing methods, which he picked up in Hell. They have the effect of revealing the infinite, which sounds… useful.
  • Is it us, or is our speaker starting to sound a lot like William Blake? Check out our "Speaker" section for more.
  • The speaker feels like, if the "doors of perception" were cleaned up, everything would be seen as infinite (5.14).
  • Trivia note: In 1954, writer Aldous Huxley wrote a book about his drug use called The Doors of Perception, based on this line. Then, in the 1960s, the psychedelic rock back The Doors named themselves after Huxley's book. So, Blake's poem indirectly influenced Jim Morrison, almost 200 years after he wrote it.
  • The speaker concludes with the point that people these days have closed themselves off to the reality of the world around them. They only see a small portion of it, as if they're looking at it through a narrow cavern.

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