“A Divine Image II” Critical Analysis By William Blake
This song is found in only one copy of the ‘Song of Experience’, that is in the reading room of the British Museum and as the watermark of the paper is dated 1832, it must have been printed from Blake’s engravings after his death. It was not included in any of the copies issued by Blake himself.
‘A Divine Image’ in the ‘Songs of Experience’ is a comment of Experience on ‘The Divine Image’ in the ‘Songs of Innocence.’ The evil attributes–cruelty, jealousy, terror, secrecy-he says, are human. And the implication is that man, created in image of God, bears some imperfections which belong rather to the nature of man than to the idea of God, unless we should invest God with the imperfections.
The poem is a very straight-forward summary of the traits that describe and decorate man in the state of Experience. The place of mercy, pity, peace and love has now been taken by cruelty, jealousy, terror, secrecy; mercy pity, peace and love are only ideals one can cherish so long as one has not had the experience of the hard realities of the world.
In Experience, cruelty, jealousy, terror and secrecy are so universal that they could well be regarded as parts of the human body like hands and feet. Mercy, pity, peace and love, united man with God; cruelty, jealousy, terror, secrecy are patents of man.