Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 58. The Everlasting Gospel
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
58. The Everlasting Gospel
By William Blake  (1757–1827)
  
THE VISION OF CHRIST that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;        5
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
Socrates taught what Meletus
Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,       10
And Caiaphas was in his own mind
A benefactor to mankind.
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.
 
Was Jesus gentle, or did He       15
Give any marks of gentility?
When twelve years old He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When after three days’ sorrow found,
Loud as Sinai’s trumpet-sound:       20
‘No earthly parents I confess—
My Heavenly Father’s business!
Ye understand not what I say,
And, angry, force Me to obey.
Obedience is a duty then,       25
And favour gains with God and men.’
John from the wilderness loud cried;
Satan gloried in his pride.
‘Come,’ said Satan, ‘come away,
I’ll soon see if you’ll obey!       30
John for disobedience bled,
But you can turn the stones to bread.
God’s high king and God’s high priest
Shall plant their glories in your breast,
If Caiaphas you will obey,       35
If Herod you with bloody prey
Feed with the sacrifice, and be
Obedient, fall down, worship me.’
Thunders and lightnings broke around,
And Jesus’ voice in thunders’ sound:       40
‘Thus I seize the spiritual prey.
Ye smiters with disease, make way.
I come your King and God to seize,
Is God a smiter with disease?’
The God of this world rag’d in vain:       45
He bound old Satan in His chain,
And, bursting forth, His furious ire
Became a chariot of fire.
Throughout the land He took His course,
And trac’d diseases to their source.       50
He curs’d the Scribe and Pharisee,
Trampling down hypocrisy.
Where’er His chariot took its way,
There Gates of Death let in the Day,
Broke down from every chain and bar;       55
And Satan in His spiritual war
Dragg’d at His chariot-wheels: loud howl’d
The God of this world: louder roll’d
The chariot-wheels, and louder still
His voice was heard from Zion’s Hill,       60
And in His hand the scourge shone bright;
He scourg’d the merchant Canaanite
From out the Temple of His Mind,
And in his body tight does bind
Satan and all his hellish crew;       65
And thus with wrath He did subdue
The serpent bulk of Nature’s dross,
Till He had nail’d it to the Cross.
He took on sin in the Virgin’s womb
And put it off on the Cross and tomb       70
To be worshipp’d by the Church of Rome.
 
Was Jesus humble? or did He
Give any proofs of humility?
Boast of high things with humble tone,
And give with charity a stone?       75
When but a child He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When they had wander’d three days long
These were the words upon His tongue:
‘No earthly parents I confess:       80
I am doing My Father’s business.’
When the rich learnèd Pharisee
Came to consult Him secretly,
Upon his heart with iron pen
He wrote ‘Ye must be born again.’       85
He was too proud to take a bribe;
He spoke with authority, not like a Scribe.
He says with most consummate art
‘Follow Me, I am meek and lowly of heart,
As that is the only way to escape       90
The miser’s net and the glutton’s trap.’
What can be done with such desperate fools
Who follow after the heathen schools?
I was standing by when Jesus died;
What I call’d humility, they call’d pride.       95
He who loves his enemies betrays his friends.
This surely is not what Jesus intends;
But the sneaking pride of heroic schools,
And the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ virtuous rules;
For He acts with honest, triumphant pride,      100
And this is the cause that Jesus dies.
He did not die with Christian ease,
Asking pardon of His enemies:
If He had, Caiaphas would forgive;
Sneaking submission can always live.      105
He had only to say that God was the Devil,
And the Devil was God, like a Christian civil;
Mild Christian regrets to the Devil confess
For affronting him thrice in the wilderness;
He had soon been bloody Caesar’s elf,      110
And at last he would have been Caesar himself,
Like Dr. Priestly and Bacon and Newton—
Poor spiritual knowledge is not worth a button
For thus the Gospel Sir Isaac confutes:
‘God can only be known by His attributes;      115
And as for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
Or of Christ and His Father, it’s all a boast
And pride, and vanity of the imagination,
That disdains to follow this world’s fashion.’
To teach doubt and experiment      120
Certainly was not what Christ meant.
What was He doing all that time,
From twelve years old to manly prime?
Was He then idle, or the less
About His Father’s business?      125
Or was His wisdom held in scorn
Before His wrath began to burn
In miracles throughout the land,
That quite unnerv’d the Seraph band?
If He had been Antichrist, Creeping Jesus,      130
He’d have done anything to please us;
Gone sneaking into synagogues,
And not us’d the Elders and Priests like dogs;
But humble as a lamb or ass
Obey’d Himself to Caiaphas.      135
God wants not man to humble himself:
That is the trick of the Ancient Elf.
This is the race that Jesus ran:
Humble to God, haughty to man,
Cursing the Rulers before the people      140
Even to the Temple’s highest steeple,
And when He humbled Himself to God
Then descended the cruel rod.
‘If Thou Humblest Thyself, Thou humblest Me.
Thou also dwell’st in Eternity.      145
Thou art a Man: God is no more:
Thy own Humanity learn to adore,
For that is My spirit of life.
Awake, arise to spiritual strife,
And Thy revenge abroad display      150
In terrors at the last Judgement Day.
God’s mercy and long suffering
Is but the sinner to judgement to bring.
Thou on the Cross for them shalt pray—
And take revenge at the Last Day.’      155
Jesus replied, and thunders hurl’d:
‘I never will pray for the world.
Once I did so when I pray’d in the Garden;
I wish’d to take with Me a bodily pardon.’
Can that which was of woman born,      160
In the absence of the morn,
When the Soul fell into sleep,
And Archangels round it weep,
Shooting out against the light
Fibres of a deadly night,      165
Reasoning upon its own dark fiction,
In doubt which is self-contradiction?
Humility is only doubt,
And does the sun and moon blot out,
Rooting over with thorns and stems      170
The buried soul and all its gems.
This life’s five windows of the soul
Distorts the Heavens from pole to pole,
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not thro’, the eye      175
That was born in a night, to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in the beams of light.
 
Did Jesus teach doubt? or did He
Give any lessons of philosophy,
Charge Visionaries with deceiving,      180
Or call men wise for not believing?…
 
Was Jesus born of a Virgin pure
With narrow soul and looks demure?
If He intended to take on sin
The Mother should an harlot been,      185
Just such a one as Magdalen,
With seven devils in her pen.
Or were Jew virgins still more curs’d,
And more sucking devils nurs’d?
Or what was it which He took on      190
That He might bring salvation?
A body subject to be tempted,
From neither pain nor grief exempted;
Or such a body as might not feel
The passions that with sinners deal?      195
Yes, but they say He never fell.
Ask Caiaphas; for he can tell.—
‘He mock’d the Sabbath, and He mock’d
The Sabbath’s God, and He unlock’d
The evil spirits from their shrines,      200
And turn’d fishermen to divines;
O’erturn’d the tent of secret sins,
And its golden cords and pins,
In the bloody shrine of war
Pour’d around from star to star,—      205
Halls of justice, hating vice,
Where the Devil combs his lice.
He turn’d the devils into swine
That He might tempt the Jews to dine;
Since which, a pig has got a look      210
That for a Jew may be mistook.
“Obey your parents.”—What says He?
“Woman, what have I to do with thee?
No earthly parents I confess:
I am doing my Father’s business.”      215
He scorn’d Earth’s parents, scorn’d Earth’s God,
And mock’d the one and the other’s rod;
His seventy Disciples sent
Against Religion and Government—
They by the sword of Justice fell,      220
And Him their cruel murderer tell.
He left His father’s trade to roam,
A wand’ring vagrant without home;
And thus He others’ labour stole,
That He might live above control.      225
The publicans and harlots He
Selected for His company,
And from the adulteress turn’d away
God’s righteous law, that lost its prey.’
Was Jesus chaste? or did He      230
Give any lessons of chastity?
The Morning blushèd fiery red:
Mary was found in adulterous bed;
Earth groan’d beneath, and Heaven above
Trembled at discovery of Love.      235
Jesus was sitting in Moses’ chair.
They brought the trembling woman there.
Moses commands she be ston’d to death.
What was the sound of Jesus’ breath?
He laid His hand on Moses’ law;      240
The ancient Heavens, in silent awe,
Writ with curses from pole to pole,
All away began to roll.
The Earth trembling and naked lay
In secret bed of mortal clay;      245
On Sinai felt the Hand Divine
Pulling back the bloody shrine;
And she heard the breath of God,
As she heard by Eden’s flood:
‘Good and Evil are no more!      250
Sinai’s trumpets cease to roar!
Cease, finger of God, to write!
The Heavens are not clean in Thy sight.
Thou art good, and Thou alone;
Nor may the sinner cast one stone.      255
To be good only, is to be
A God or else a Pharisee.
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
That didst create this Body of Mine,
Wherefore hast thou writ these laws      260
And created Hell’s dark jaws?
My Presence I will take from thee:
A cold leper thou shalt be.
Tho’ thou wast so pure and bright
That Heaven was impure in thy sight,      265
Tho’ thy oath turn’d Heaven pale,
Tho’ thy covenant built Hell’s jail,
Tho’ thou didst all to chaos roll
With the Serpent for its soul,
Still the breath Divine does move,      270
And the breath Divine is Love.
Mary, fear not! Let me see
The seven devils that torment thee.
Hide not from My sight thy sin,
That forgiveness thou may’st win.      275
Has no man condemnèd thee?’
‘No man, Lord.’ ‘Then what is he
Who shall accuse thee? Come ye forth,
Fallen fiends of heavenly birth,
That have forgot your ancient love,      280
And driven away my trembling Dove.
You shall bow before her feet;
You shall lick the dust for meat;
And tho’ you cannot love, but hate,
Shall be beggars at Love’s gate.      285
What was thy love? Let Me see it;
Was it love or dark deceit?’
‘Love too long from me has fled;
’Twas dark deceit, to earn my bread;
’Twas covet, or ’twas custom, or      290
Some trifle not worth caring for;
That they may call a shame and sin
Love’s temple that God dwelleth in,
And hide in secret hidden shrine
The naked Human Form Divine,      295
And render that a lawless thing
On which the Soul expands its wing.
But this, O Lord, this was my sin,
When first I let these devils in,
In dark pretence to chastity      300
Blaspheming Love, blaspheming Thee,
Thence rose secret adulteries,
And thence did covet also rise.
My sin Thou hast forgiven me;
Canst Thou forgive my blasphemy?      305
Canst Thou return to this dark hell,
And in my burning bosom dwell?
And canst Thou die that I may live?
And canst Thou pity and forgive?’
Then roll’d the shadowy Man away      310
From the limbs of Jesus, to make them His prey,
An ever devouring appetite,
Glittering with festering venoms bright;
Crying ‘Crucify this cause of distress,
Who don’t keep the secrets of holiness!      315
The mental powers by diseases we bind;
But He heals the deaf, the dumb, and the blind.
Whom God has afflicted for secret ends,
He comforts and heals and calls them friends.’
But, when Jesus was crucified,      320
Then was perfected His galling pride.
In three nights He devour’d His prey,
And still He devours the body of clay;
For dust and clay is the Serpent’s meat,
Which never was made for Man to eat.      325
 
Seeing this False Christ, in fury and passion
I made my voice heard all over the nation.
What are those…
 
I am sure this Jesus will not do,
Either for Englishman or Jew.      330

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