Treasure Island

William Blake

(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

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A Divine Image


Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001
Edited: Wednesday, May 09, 2001

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  • Chris Nasiyaya (2/13/2014 1:42:00 AM)

    Impressive analysis of the human being by dear old Blake here. What are our clothes concealing and showing? they are showing another side of the human heart -always afraid to fully open up to another human.Is it because of the fiery form the other humans possess? Indeed one can never fully understand the human being (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (2/13/2013 11:52:00 PM)

    The secret to unlocking this poem, 'A Divine Image' by William Blake is in the title. Blake correctly reminds that it is declared in Genesis that mankind, humanity was created in the divine image of God, our alleged perfect creator. Both quatrains of this poem immediately declare a denial any perfection or divine image, in the state of fallen humanity.
    Blake focuses totally upon dark images and faults within people, who deny love compassion forgiveness kindness; and this theme of an inability to love, a passion to hate, is the entire theme and meaning of the poem. Failures in the character of base humans, are described as a succinct list, of several of the most despicable treacherous, human characteristics; listed as Cruelty, Jealousy, Terror and Secresy in the first quatrain. Each characteristic is capitalized for emphasis and used to describe the condition of the human heart, face, form and dress of the fallen state of humanity.
    Blake declares we secretly hide our motives intentions deceits behind clothes, meant to symbolize our evolved civilization, but in reality necessary after the fall of Adam and Eve, created in God's image divine, but now estranged from the divine. The next stanza focuses upon negative aspects of the human condition; clothes or the dress, 'forged iron', form 'a fiery forge', face 'a furnace sealed' and lastly 'The human heart its hungry gorge'. The last emphasis is the terrible greed of humanity, consuming, feeding upon insatiable lust, devouring. The symbolism strongly suggests warfare, forged weapons of iron, the conquest of armies in hate, cruelty; yet perhaps to beat swords into plough shares. The genius, mastery of Blake, is to say so much, imply so much more through title and symbolism. An excellent example of a highly crafted succinct poem rich in extended metaphors. William Blake is one of my favourite poets and artists. (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (2/13/2013 5:48:00 PM)

    I think he is telling us not to put down blame for all bad things to the temptation of the Devil, but to accept responsibility for our dark side.
    Also it can mean not to dehumanise our enemies, which we like to do so that we can justify our revenge.
    How often have we heard the phrase 'cruel and inhuman'? Yet we know that cruelty is human. (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (2/13/2013 8:53:00 AM)

    you must possess a fiery character
    to survive this new age. if you blink
    you miss something nowadays. why
    this poets predicting my culture. were
    they space travelers. (Report) Reply

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (2/13/2013 5:42:00 AM)

    Inside every human is a fiery complex spirit, where the fight between our good and evil thoughts occur. Sometimes we can be very cruel even while thinking we are being so good or doing so good. Our faces and dress can hide these conflictions within quite well. Many times we allow our hearts to do our thinking for us, sometimes it is good and sometimes it can allow us to be suckered into lies. The heart is always hungry for love and with that will always come a willingness to accept even a lying tongue. Whether one yearns for love, or fame, or power, or money, we tend to see and justify ourselves as having good intent, when sometimes we know that's not at all true.

    A very good poem by Blake, the master who makes one think. Though I feel it's structure is not as good as many of His poems are. (Report) Reply

  • Ninja Soul (2/13/2012 9:58:00 PM)

    cool poem....but I will say secresy is spelled wrong...It's secrecy. Sorry, had to correct that....I'm bad to correct misspelled words when I catch it...So, forgive me on that part. (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (2/13/2012 10:31:00 AM)

    Blake was also a fine artist, an authority on image in all forms; in fact, one of his works, a charcoal portrait, is currently being shown at The Frick Collection in New York. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (2/13/2010 12:56:00 AM)

    Human form has everything in it! The inbuilt nature of man is well expressed by Blake! (Report) Reply

  • Omar Ibrahim (1/15/2010 12:32:00 PM)

    i searched for wordsworth in this site but i'm afraid i didn't find him.it's strange.
    this poem is true.i studied many of blake's poems at school.i like him. (Report) Reply

  • Anthony Foster (2/13/2009 1:36:00 PM)

    Yes this is about us. Not some other species of animal that inhabitate this or any other planet, but us. The only critic that I can see is that the experience of terrer as we know it, is felt in most other animals that we share this planet with. I think that what Blake meant was that with our intellect comes responsibility. (Report) Reply

  • Jake Erkens (2/13/2009 8:03:00 AM)

    What a spectacular poem.
    So clear and understandable are thou words.
    Amazingly accurate, I find.
    What an amazing poem indeed! :) .
    Wolkens (Report) Reply

Read all 19 comments »

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