ALL RELIGIONS are ONE
The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness
The Argument As the true method of knowledge is experiment
the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which
experiences. This faculty I treat of.
PRINCIPLE 1st That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic
Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are derived from
their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit
PRINCIPLE 2d As all men are alike in outward form, So (and
with the same infinite variety) all are alike in the Poetic
PRINCIPLE 3d No man can think write or speak from his heart,
but he must intend truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from
the Poetic Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every
PRINCIPLE 4. As none by traveling over known lands can find out
the unknown. So from already acquired knowledge Man could not
acquire more. therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists
PRINCIPLE. 5. The Religions of all Nations are derived from
each Nations different reception of the Poetic Genius which is
every where call'd the Spirit of Prophecy.
PRINCIPLE 6 The Jewish & Christian Testaments are An original
derivation from the Poetic Genius. this is necessary from the
confined nature of bodily sensation
PRINCIPLE 7th As all men are alike (tho' infinitely various) So
all Religions & as all similars have one source
The true Man is the source he being the Poetic Genius
Origination: William Blake: author, inventor, delineator, etcher, printer, colorist
Origination: Catherine Blake: printer
Publisher: William Blake
Note: Blake does not name himself as the publisher in this work, but the only known copy was printed by him.
Place of Publication: London
Note: The place of publication is not given in the work, but Blake was living in London during its etching and printing.
Composition Date: c. 1788
Print Date: c. 1795
Note: The only known copy of All Religions are One is part of Blake's large-paper printing of his illuminated books c. 1795.
Leaf Size: plate 2, 29.5 x 23.2 cm.; plates 1, 3-10, 37.8 x 27.0 cm.
Printing Style: relief, with rudimentary color printing and pen and ink outlining
Note: The pen and ink framing lines and additions to the images were probably added at a much later date than the printing c. 1795. Perhaps these additions were not made until shortly before the book left Blake's hands (1818 at the earliest).
Ink Color: green
Through aphoristic declarations and accompanying emblem-like designs, Blake argues for the essential unity of all religions as expressions of the "Poetic Genius" within all human beings. As the quoted phrase suggests, All Religions are One implies the unity of the artistic and religious imagination. Several of the numbered "Principle[s]," the term used as a heading to each text plate, assert a causal connection between inner spirit and outer body. Because of shared graphic styles, themes, and genre, All Religions are One is closely associated with There is No Natural Religion of the same year.
Blake etched the work on ten small plates c. 1788. There is only one known copy (A), now in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. This copy, lacking the title page now in the Keynes Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, was printed (with some touches of rudimentary color printing) as a large-paper copy in 1795. Some years later, probably in 1818 or later, Blake returned to these impressions and drew between four and six framing lines in black ink around each plate. The pen and ink work in the designs may have been executed at this same late date. There is one further example of the title page, produced in a different printing and with hand coloring, in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness
The background of the design is filled with a wilderness of thick tree trunks and leaves.
The large stone or mound on which the figure sits and the ground beneath him and to the right may be covered with moss or grass.
A youthful male, nude from the waist up, sits on a large stone or mound of earth and points with both arms to the right. The index fingers of both hands are extended, thereby emphasizing the pointing gesture. His lower legs are crossed; the knees are prominent. At least his left leg is covered with drapery. His right foot is clearly defined and prominent. He looks out at the viewer; his hair appears to be short and curly. Given the text beneath, quoted from all four Gospels, the figure is very probably John the Baptist.
An old, bearded man sits on the right. His hands rest on an open book perched on his lap in such a way that allows the viewer to see the book's pages. His eyes may be raised or closed. His legs appear to be crossed at the ankles beneath his long gown; his right foot projects from beneath the gown's hem. Behind him and to the left is an angel with large wings. His left arm extends behind the bearded man's head; the angel's left hand appears to rest on the old man's shoulder. The angel's right arm extends over, and his right hand rests on, a large tablet with a double- arched top reminiscent of the stone tablets of the decalogue or tombstones. The tablet bears the title words, "ALL RELIGIONS are ONE," as though they were inscribed on the tablet. The angel may be looking down toward the tablet. Both figures and the tablet appear to be raised on a (stone?) plinth. The background above and behind the angel is composed of non-representational lines of hatching.
A tablet, reminiscent of the stone tablets of the decalogue or tombstones, bears the title letters. Its double-arched top suggests two tablets side by side, but no seam appears between them.
An open book rests, rather uneasily, on the old man's lap. It is tilted toward the viewer and thus its pages are clearly visible.
Both figures and the tablet would seem to be placed on a (stone?) plinth.
The title letters are inscribed on a tablet.
A figure, probably clothed and male, lies on the ground on his right side. His head is propped on his right hand in a position traditionally indicative of melancholy. His left elbow is bent so that his left forearm extends under his chest. A few lines indicate a plant or grasses right of his feet and extending over his lower body; a smaller clump of vegetation appears left of his right arm. A few broken lines on the right may represent the side of a hill or cliff.
A man, apparently old and bearded, sits among clouds. His knees, drawn up to his chest in a contracted posture, may be covered with drapery. His arms are raised horizontally, with each arm and hand resting on a cloud. The figure may be one of the manifestations of the "Poetic Genius ... which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel & Spirit & Demon"
A figure, probably male and nude, sits on the ground. He props up his torso with his left arm; his face is turned upwards. His left leg is extended, his right bent at the knee. Immediately behind him is another figure, also probably nude. Their proximity and posture recall portrayals of the birth of Eve from Adam's side (hence, the more distant figure is probably female). She too raises her face as though looking skyward; her hands are together as if in prayer. The figures are surrounded by branches and perhaps large leaves extending from the tree (a palm?) in the design below the text.
A second figure, probably nude, sits on the ground just behind the figure closest to the viewer. She may be Eve emerging from Adam's side. Her face is turned upward and her hands are together as if in prayer.
The figures are surrounded by branches and large leaves growing from the tree, perhaps a palm, in the design below the text.
Below the text, a flock of sheep graze on grassy ground. On the right is a small tree, apparently a palm. A much larger tree, perhaps also a palm, ascends along the left margin of the text and spreads its branches or leaves around the figures in the top design. The lower trunk of the tree on the left is surrounded by a spiraling vine.
A large tree, perhaps a palm, grows up the left margin of the text and spreads its branches and leaves around the figures in the top design. A vine spirals around the lower trunk of the tree.
A vine with two loops extends from the end of the text and into the space below the text. A second branch of the vine terminates in a leaf. The last letter of "every" in the last line of the text extends into the lower margin as a vine.
A bearded old man sits in a chair with an arched back and writes with a pen or quill on a tablet or in a book resting on his lap. His long gown covers his legs and cascades to the ground. Behind him is another seated man, apparently also wearing a long gown. His beard and curly hair are darker. He too holds a book or tablet resting on his lap; he may be reading. Both men look down to their book or tablet. They may be philosophers representing the "sects of Philosophy" (E1) mentioned in the text. To the left is a row of three tree trunks or fluted pillars. Further to the left are a few lines, possibly representing vines or branches. Along the right margin is a curving form that may be a vine, possibly with a flower at the top, or a serpent twisting upward with its tongue extended.
A vine with several loops and perhaps a few leaves climbs along the left margin of the text and extends horizontally between the heading and the first line of text.
A man wearing a calf-length coat strides to the right. He wears a hat and holds a staff or walking-stick in his right hand. His right arm is extended horizontally in front of him. The shading right and left of the figure may represent hills. The man is probably a traveler, a representative of those who, "by traveling over known lands," cannot "find out the unknown."
A vine with thorns zigs and zags horizontally between the heading and first line of text.
A vine, or perhaps a branch with long, slender leaves, grows downward from the end of the last line of text.
Above the text, a group of five or six small figures, possibly children and wearing long gowns, stands or kneels and looks right toward a much larger figure seated in a chair. This gowned figure is probably male; he looks to the left and leans forward toward his audience. The background consists of a curtain or the inside of a large tent open on the side facing the viewer. This may be a scenof religious instruction, given the comments about the "Religions of all Nations" (E1) in the text.
A nude male strides energetically to the left. His bearded face is raised as though he were looking upward. His hair is probably curly. He holds a large harp; his left arm extends along its left side and his left hand rests on top of the harp. One or more of the fingers on his left hand point upward at a 45 degree angle. He may be a bard or prophet and thus a representative of the "Spirit of Prophecy" (E1) named in the text. The forms right and left of the figure are probably clouds
Above the text, two (stone?) tablets probably represent the decalogue—see "The Jewish & Christian Testaments" (E1) in the text—but also recall tombstones. A few horizontal lines on the tablets indicate an inscription. The background shading suggests clouds or a cave.
Below the text, a figure, wearing a long gown and of uncertain gender, strides to the right, arms raised horizontally. The heavy background shading probably represents dark and dense vegetation. The design would seem to signify the "confined nature of bodily sensation" (E1).
A figure, probably male, dominates the center of the design above the text. He is pictured from the chest up, with his arms raised energetically at 135 degrees. Below him on the left is a figure lying on the ground but with his upper body raised slightly on his right elbow. His left arm is raised and bent at the elbow so that his forearm extends over his (upraised?) head. On the right is another figure lying on the ground, with his upper body twisted away from the central figure and his arms extended horizontally to the right. He may be looking back and up at the central figure. The central figure may be Christ rising from the tomb with two startled soldiers below (see Matthew 28:4). The dark background might represent clouds or a cave-like tomb.
Below the text, a bird, wings extended, hovers over horizontal lines probably representing dark water. The bird may be the dove of the Holy Ghost moving "upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). The shading left and right of the water are edges of the etching border and are probably not representational.