William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Poems from the Rossetti MS.: The Everlasting Gospel


WAS Jesus humble? or did He

Give any proofs of humility?

Boast of high things with humble tone,

And give with charity a stone?

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:

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.’

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

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.

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,

And this is the cause that Jesus died.

He did not die with Christian ease,

Asking pardon of His enemies:

If He had, Caiaphas would forgive;

Sneaking submission can always live.

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,

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;

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

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?

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,

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.

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

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.

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

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.’

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,

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,

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

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

That was born in a night, to perish in a night,

When the soul slept in the beams of light.