The Divine Image - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

Blake's virtues relate to the Beatitudes which Jesus gave his followers during the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:1-12, and Love for enemies). In these instructions for living, the merciful, the peace-makers and the loving are called the truly blessed, and promised the reward of eternal life. One way of interpreting these beatitudes is to see them as an illustration of Jesus himself, so giving us a picture of God.

The qualities of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love are also inferred in a famous passage about love from the New Testament written by Paul (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). This describes perfect human love as a gift from God, with the implication that these qualities are attributes of God. They also seem to characterise the life of Jesus (seen by Christians as God in human form) and his teaching about God's love and mercy.

Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • Look up the Beatitudes and explore the way in which this poem reflects the values they describe.


How the human mind sees the nature of the world and its creator

The poem's speaker suggests that there are only gentle qualities in ‘God, our father dear'; there is no wrath, fierce energy or anything suggesting power or might. By excluding ‘contrary' dimensions, humans falsify their understanding of the creator and of the human beings made ‘in his image'. Here, the speaker here can only see human beings in the light of his/her own partial vision of God.

God in man's image

A related theme is the role of the human mind in creating a limiting vision of the creator, as a projection of its own qualities. Here, the innocent speaker can imagine only a tender, gentle creator.

Investigating themes

  • Compare this poem with The Lamb
    • What similarities in theme can you find?
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