On William Blake

Blake, reason and the passions by W.B. Yeats The reason, and by the reason he meant deductions from the observations of the senses, binds us to mortality because it binds us to the senses, and divides us from each other by showing us our clashing interests; but imagination divides us from mortality by the immortality of beauty, and binds us to each other by opening the secret doors of all hearts. He cried again and again that everything that lives is holy, and that nothing is unholy except things that do not live- lethargies, and cruelties, and timidities, and that denial of imagination which is the root they grew from in old times. Passions, because most living, are most holy-and this was a scandalous paradox in his time-and man shall enter eternity borne upon their wings.

-William Butler Yeats (1865-1969), from ‘William Blake and the Imagination

Blake’s Visions by W.H. Auden

Self-educated WILLIAM BLAKE
Who threw his spectre in the like,
Broke off relations in a curse
With the Newtonian Universe.
But even as a child would pet
The tigers VOLTAIRE never met,
Took walks with them through Lambeth, and
Spoke to Isaiah in the Strand,
And heard inside each mortal thing
Its holy emanation sing.

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-73), from ‘New Year Letter, Jan. 1, 1940


1 Response to “On William Blake”

  1. June 4, 2007 at 11:23 am

    I clicked on your link from the Poetry Thursday group. I’m glad you chose to highlight the infamous William Blake with background information such as “denial of imagination” and the “scandalous paradox of passions during the time he lived” because this very topic was discussed at length at one of my real life poetry groups. (We happened to be discussing the works of John Donne, but there are similarities.)

    It’s been a while since I’ve read this poem about Blake by Auden, but I recognize it immediately. Good choice! That poem spurred many a discussion back in my younger years in high school English class. Even as an adult, I’d welcome a discussion of such right now!

    I’ll be back to explore your blog in more depth soon.

    Hope you stop by my is site: I’m an artist (fine art, jewelry and photography) as well as a writer: My poem is here:

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