Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Blake’s contemporaries and modern critics may have regarded him as a heretic or satirist when it came to matters of religion. Some might even consider him irreverent and radical in his views on institutionalized religion, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression and thought while critiquing the constraints imposed by religion. However, when it comes to unconventional depictions of the divine, Blake pales in comparison to the prophet Ezekiel.
While Blake’s portrayal of God can be enigmatic and unsettling to some at times, the God described by Ezekiel seems like a blend of the Greek deity Zeus, the conqueror Genghis Khan, and the whimsical Angela Lansbury from “Bedknobs and Broomsticks.” Ezekiel’s account involves the creation of an army of skeletal beings, a far cry from Blake’s harmless question: “Did he who made the lamb make thee?
For those who insist on the strictest interpretation of the Bible, it can be challenging. It’s a reminder that reconciling a Bible believed to be divinely authored by a God who doesn’t always conform to idealized expectations can be a complex endeavor.
Let’s not crucify Blake for his minor heresy, relegating him to a lesser heaven or even hell while at the same time praising Ezekiel simply because he has a role as a prophet in the bible.
Sorry for the use of strong language.
But, at least let’s be fair to both.
Indeed, when approached objectively and without biblical bias, Ezekiel’s religious views and experiences can be seen as more radical and subversive than those of William Blake. While Blake certainly challenged institutional religion and introduced ambiguity into his interpretation of God, Ezekiel’s biblical accounts push the boundaries of the conventional. Not just push, but plow through.
Ezekiel’s vivid visions and mystical encounters described in the Bible transport him into unconventional and even fantastical realms, a witness to God directly reanimating lifeless skeletons into living beings. This imagery carries undertones of myth and magic, challenging traditional religious narratives. He concludes his sentences with exclamation points, while Blake’s end in question marks.
The mystery surrounding God’s nature serves a vital purpose, preventing our understandings from becoming rigid or limiting. The varied, sometimes contrasting, depictions of the divine we find in texts like Ezekiel and Blake attest to this profound mystery.
Rather than spelling out definitive answers about God’s characteristics, the cryptic, visionary writings of Ezekiel and poetic questioning of Blake point to the inexhaustible nature of the divine. By confounding expectations and human categories, they keep our conceptions of God open and dynamic.
The mystery calls us to an ongoing, open-ended journey of spiritual seeking rather than a fixed destination. It means God is more than any single perspective can capture, always exceeding our grasp. As we wrestle honestly with scriptural challenges and religious questions, this sustaining mystery beckons us forward into deeper relationship with the sacred.
Whether we arrive here through poem or prophet, it mattereth not.