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Human Abstract Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 2601

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Pity would be no more,

If we did not make somebody Poor;

And Mercy no more could be,

If all were as happy as we;

And mutual fear brings peace,

Till the selfish loves increase;

Then Cruelty knits a snare,

And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,

And waters the ground with tears;

Then Humility takes its root

Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade

Of Mystery over his head;

And the Caterpillar and Fly

Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,

Ruddy and sweet to eat;

And the Raven his nest has made

In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea,

Sought through Nature to find this Tree,

But their search was all in vain;

There grows one in the Human Brain.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2017-11-18 | by a guest

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The Human Abstract had major themes of nature, morality and religion. William Blake explored the origins of vices and virtues and concluded that without suffering there could be no goodness in the world as the two are invariably linked.
The Human Abstract was written in six quatrains with the use of AABB rhyming couplets and employment of imagery and metaphors throughout. It does not have a consistent rhythm, which reflects it’s somewhat hectic and irregular nature.
The Human Abstract was a darker and more mature response to his earlier poem, The Divine Image, which looked at the seemingly innocent virtues; mercy, pity, peace and love. Blake challenged accepted religious views by voicing that if God and the church wants its followers to exhibit these virtues towards each other then God must, to an extent, desire or accept a world of poverty and suffering.

| Posted on 2015-05-16 | by a guest

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Themes of this poem \"the human abstract\" are exploitation ,hypocrisy , corruption ,death line 2 says if we did not make somebody poor that clearly shows exploitation, hypocrisy:and it bears a fruit of deceit , corruption:soon shade the dismal shate

| Posted on 2013-05-16 | by a guest

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In my last reading, in a deep fever state, it seemed to me that Cruelty had his boot stamped on Humilities face.
This one is really not straight forward it says Humility grows under his foot not that Humility is the root of Cruelty.

| Posted on 2011-04-03 | by a guest

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This poem can be viewed as linking to both the "tiger" in songs of experience and "the divine image in songs of innocence" all of which question the role of religion in a society.

| Posted on 2010-05-02 | by a guest

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“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee” (Job 40:15)
“Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?” (Job 41:1)
“The Gods of the earth and sea” is a clear reference to Behemoth and Leviathan. The two biblical monsters that appear on Job and are refereed by God to reside on man and were create from human nature itself.
Blake has made an illustration of them in his own book of Job.

| Posted on 2010-02-06 | by a guest

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This poem offers a closer analysis of the four virtues--Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love--that constituted both God and Man in "The Divine Image." The speaker argues that Pity could not exist without poverty, that Mercy would not be necessary if everyone was happy, that the source of Peace is in fear, which gives rise to only "selfish loves." The poem describes how Cruelty plants and waters a tree in "the human Brain." The roots of the tree are Humility, the leaves are Mystery, and the fruit is Deceit.
The poem has six quatrains, each comprised of two rhyming couplets. The lines have none of the lilting quality so typical of Blake; the poem's didactic tone and austere subject matter occasion the harsh, severe rhythms he employs.
This poem asserts that the traditional Christian virtues of mercy and pity presuppose a world of poverty and human suffering; so, too, do the virtues represent a kind of passive and resigned sympathy that registers no obligation to alleviate suffering or create a more just world. The speaker therefore refuses to think of them as ideals, reasoning that in an ideal world of universal happiness and genuine love there would be no need of them. The poem begins as a methodical critique of the touchstone virtues that were so praised in "The Divine Image." Proceeding through Pity, Mercy, and Peace, the poem then arrives at the phrase "selfish loves." These clearly differ from Love as an innocent abstraction, and the poem takes a turn here to explore the growth, both insidious and organic, of a system of values based on fear, hypocrisy, repression, and stagnation.
The description of the tree in the second part of the poem shows how intellectualized values like Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love become the breeding-ground for Cruelty. The speaker depicts Cruelty as a conniving and knowing person; in planting a tree, he also lays a trap. His tree flourishes on fear and weeping; Humility is its root, Mystery its foliage; but this growth is not natural; it does not reflect upon the natural state of man. Rather, the tree is associated with Deceit, and its branches harbor the raven, the symbol of death. By the end of the poem we realize that the above description has been a glimpse into the human mind, the mental experience. Thus the poem comments on the way abstract reasoning undermines a more natural system of values. The result is a grotesque semblance of the organic, a tree that grows nowhere in nature but lies sequestered secretly in the human brain.

| Posted on 2008-07-24 | by a guest

.: human abstract :.

The Human Abstract reflects on the pity and mercy of the human form. The poem state that humans can only have these characteristics through the poverty and unhappy of others due to the result of their actions. This poem also states the other characteristics mankind (Cruelty, Mystery, and Deceit). Mankind cannot resist the urge to lie and cheat to get where they what in life, no matter how many people are harmed mentally or physically in the process. The only reason one has humility is because of their “Holy Fears”, the fear of being damned for eternity because of their actions.

”He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears,
Then humility takes its root
Underneath his foot”
(Stanza 3, “The Human Abstract”)

“Of Mystery over head“ seems to be referring to the tree, which “bears the fruit of Deceit”. That would mean the caterpillars and flies that feed on the “dismal shade of Mystery” would be symbols of disease, a sickness in the human mind, which would be corruption. Caterpillars causes great amount of damage to trees like a “plague”, and flies can transfer sickness from one person to another infecting them implying that mankind corrupts or destroys everything the touch they.

Use the adjectives “Ruddy” and “Sweet” to describe the “fruit of Deceit” would imply that mankind cannot resist the temptation to deceive everyone around whether it is to impress people by masking your true qualities, or features to serve their own selfish desires. The tree that Blake is referring to is the tree, which bears the fruit that grants the knowledge of good and evil to the person whom consumes it (referring to Adam and Eve).

The Raven has symbolized many things, such as death, pestilence, filial gratitude and affection, wisdom, hope, longevity, death, and fertility, but this poem most likely relates the Christian’s out look on ravens. Christians believed ravens carried off the souls of the damned therefore associating the raven with the Fall of Man and Satan, the one how dulls sinner’s moral senses, blinds them, and feasts on their corruption. This would mean these characteristics would be the downfall of man, damning them for eternity.

Referring to the context of the poem, these characteristics exist in the human form due to their selfishness and self-absorption. This would account for the word “Abstraction” of the human characteristics. This poem is stating the flaws in the human character, and shows how mankind in naturally evil and corrupt.

| Posted on 2007-05-30 | by a guest

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Blake's poem uses an analogy to question the way we live our lives... Yes. But there is so much more to the poem than that. If you read lines 12-16
"He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot."
He makes a reference to religion. This section of the poem describes the process of accepting God, asking for forgiveness, and accepting humility. Humility taking "its root" is an analogical reference to the Christian religion that the man has now accepted. In the next lines, though, this religion that took root now casts a shade of mystery. Could it be that Blake is questioning religion? Yes it could be so, and the Caterpillar and the Fly represent the devout Christians and religious figures that feed off of the questionability of their practices.

The next lines make a reference to "the fruit of Deceit" which only reiterates the religious theme of the piece. It also represents a rebellion toward the corruption and mystery of the church. When you create this shade of mystery, you are bound to make a few people question what is really going on. In the last few lines, Blake poses the question of why? Why is this vicious cycle of realization, forgiveness, humility, and deceit so common? The answer is this:
"There grows one in the Human Brain." It is human nature for all of these things to occur. It is not an act of the devil, an act of God, or caused by any other force. We as humans are inclined to take risks. Well, Blake made a huge risk. This entire poem is an analogy questioning religion.

| Posted on 2007-02-09 | by a guest

.: the other stanzas :.

The fourth stanza in this poem suggests a “Dismal shade of mystery”, that may represent something growing and spreading like a tree, that may be uncertainty, fear or evil. Blake adds a caterpillar and a fly to feed of this mystery, suggesting that the dismal shade is associated with rot and sickness. In the fourth stanza the mood and theme seem to change from “pity, humility, mercy .etc” to “fear and uncertainty.

In the fifth stanza we introduced to the fruit of this “tree” and are associated with biblical imagery of “Adam” and “Eve” and the tree of knowledge which bore the fruit of deceit. The image of the Raven, with his nest in the thickest shade of the tree, seems to represent darkness and evil in waiting.

In the final stanza we are given an image of the “Gods”, which can be likened to man, searching in vain for this tree of knowledge. Only in the end do we realise that this tree grows in the human brain. In the bible the tree is the knowledge of good and evil which suggests that all men can choose to do good or to do evil. This links us back to the first stanzas in which mankind can choose to create peace, goodness, and equality in the world.

| Posted on 2005-07-20 | by Approved Guest

.: First three stanzas :.

In this poem, William Blake shows us the conditions that would make the world a nicer place. He demonstarates this by saying that if people didn’t make others “poor” there would be no more “pity” and that if everyone was “happy” there would be no more “mercy”. When people sympathize with one another, shown in the peom as “mutual fear”, there is peace, but when people become selfish “cruelty” becomes the more powerful attribute, and then underneath this attribute, lost in importance, is “humility”.

| Posted on 2005-07-20 | by Approved Guest

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