Summary and Analysis of The Divine Image by William Blake
In this article, you will read about introduction to the poem and poet, summary of The Divine Image, analysis and critical appreciation of the poem and major themes in the poem The Divine Image.
Introduction to Poet and Poem
The English poet William Blake is the author of the poem, “The Divine Image”. It is from his book “Songs of Innocence” which was published in 1789. Later, a combined version of his two books, “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience” came out with the name “Songs of Innocence and Experience”. That joint collection of 1794 now has this poem.
As the name suggests, The Divine Image, is the image of an ideal world, in which ideal human beings live. According to Blake’s beliefs of Christianity, a human has to have the four virtues of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love to be ideal. This type of human being will be connected to God and will find comfort and support in Him. This world and its humans will be full of joy and gratefulness and will enjoy equality. The name of the poem also refers to the point that God’s image is Divine and perfect, so the creation that he created can get closer to Him through taking up virtues that God has, like treating everyone with equality. Verse 26th of chapter 1, of Book of Genesis states, “And God said: Let us make man in our image”, so the title refers to that as well.
Structure of the poem:
The Divine Image is in ballad form, consisting of five stanzas. The stanza type is quatrain, which means that every stanza comprises of four lines. The beats alternate between four and three for every line. The rhyme scheme of this poem is mostly ABCB.
This type of rhyme scheme is simple and is useful mostly for songs or kid’s poems. The simplicity and repetition of words and phrases in this poem gives it a touch of sincerity and openness.
Summary of The Divine Image
Summary of Stanza 1
In the first line of first stanza, the poet is referring to God by stating his four virtues, Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love. In first half of the stanza, poet says that whenever there is a problem, or a distressful event, the creation of God turns towards Him and ask Him for help. God, who is full of Mercy and Pity, solves their problems and puts ease in their hearts.
In the next half of the stanza, the poet is expressing the fact that people are grateful towards the God with such delightful virtues. The creation of God pays thanks to Him for every blessing that He put on them.
So, if there is a calamity, or when the calamity is resolved, God’s creation looks up at Him at all times because of His wonderful qualities.
Summary of Stanza 2
In the first two lines of second stanza, the poet restates his idea that God is made with Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love. He also uses the word father for God, because as a father takes care of his children, God takes care of us.
In the rest of stanza, Blake refers to humans as children of God, because we are His creation. He wants to present the idea that, as children take up attributes of their father, just like that, God’s attributes have been passed on to His creation. Of course, we are not children of God, but God has created us humans and put His qualities into us as well. The only difference is that God is complete in His attributes and virtues, and we human beings are incomplete.
Summary of Stanza 3
In this stanza, Blake explains how humans have qualities of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love. He says that Mercy is present in every human’s heart; a big and kind heart is the one, which can show mercy. People show expressions through their face and Pity is also seen in facial expressions of humans.
In the third line of this stanza, poet says that Love can turn a human being into its Divine form. As God is Love, for everyone, when a person becomes Love for everyone, he gets connected to God. In the last line, Blake has called Peace the dress of human kind. Peace is the virtue which is keeping the world go round and keeping it safe. If you take Peace off of human race, there will be no existence.
Therefore, in this stanza, poet has clearly explained how these four virtues of God are also present in His creation and how each of those is expressed through them.
Summary of Stanza 4
In this stanza, poet expresses his idea that when anyone prays in events of distress, they are actually praying for Love, Mercy, Peace, and Pity. These are the four virtues, which turn humans into their highest form, the divine form. So people of every region, climate or place ask and pray for these.
In this stanza, poet is also showing how every human is the same, as they seek the same things. Also, note that Blake has put Love first in this stanza in list of virtues, as Love is the most dominant and most important part of the divine form.
Summary of Stanza 5
In this stanza, Blake is referring towards equality of all human beings. As all the human forms seek the same virtues, everyone is same and equal. It does not matter if one is heathen, Turk or Jew, all that matters is that one is human. Love is present everywhere and is equal for all races and forms of human beings. So the poet encourages us that we should also love everyone as loving each other is same as loving ourselves.
In the last two lines of the poem, the poet still emphasizes on Love, Mercy, and Pity, and says that where these attributes are present, God is there too. God is with the person who exercises these qualities and has special regard for this type of human.
The thing to notice in last stanza is that with Love, Mercy and Pity, poet does not mention Peace this time. It can be for mocking the present human race, as there is very little peace present among us and everyone, every state and race has hatred for each other. It can also mean that if human beings take up the values of Love, Mercy and Pity in their living, Peace will automatically manifest itself in the human society.
Critical Appreciation and Analysis of The Divine Image
The poem “The Divine Image” is rhetorical in nature. By repetition, the poet has tried to convince us of the idea that all it takes to take the divine form is to have the four main virtues of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love. Throughout the poem, Blake has given explanations of how God has these four virtues and how he has transferred these into us as well. He has also expressed that having these qualities can turn us humans into our ideal versions and our world into an ideal world.
If a human being does not have Mercy in his heart, he cannot have good relations with other people. He cannot be kind. If a human being does not show Pity, he cannot understand other people’s problems and cannot be sympathetic. If a person does not Love others than he cannot love himself, as we are all one. Therefore, a society where Mercy, Pity, and Love are not present, Peace cannot reside there as well.
Blake has also encouraged us to see everyone as equal, as we are all made from the same soul, and to Love every human form. Love is very dominant in the last two stanzas of the poem and where there is Love, there is God.
Major Themes in The Divine Image
Major themes in, “The Divine Image” are Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace, equality and the connection of a human being with its creator, God. Blake has tried to give message of love and humanity through this poem and have made readers imagine a world full of equality and peace. Blake has also expressed the importance of turning towards God for every matter and strengthening our relationship with him. This poem inspires readers to try to be the best version of themselves.