William Blake (1757-1827)
The Human Abstract
Pity would be no more,
And mutual fear brings peace,
He sits down with holy fears,
Soon spreads the dismal shade
And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
The Gods of the earth and sea,
The Clod & the Pebble
Love seeketh not Itself to please,
So sang a little Clod of Clay,
Love seeketh only Self to please,
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
In every cry of every Man,
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In what distant deeps or skies,
And what shoulder, & what art,
What the hammer? what the chain,
When the stars threw down their spears
Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And I saw it was filled with graves,
Ah, sunflower, weary of time,
Where the youth pined away with desire,
My Pretty Rose Tree
A flower was offered to me:
Then I went to my Pretty Rose-tree,
Never Seek to Tell thy Love
Never seek to tell thy love,
I told my love, I told my love,
Soon as she was gone from me,
The Question Answered
What is it men in women do require?
A Poison Tree
I was angry with my friend:
And I water’d it in fears,
And it grew both day and night,
And into my garden stole
I Saw a Chapel
I saw a chapel all of gold
I saw a serpent rise between
And along the pavement sweet,
Vomiting his poison out
Selected lines from Auguries of Innocence
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Selected prose from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
The voice of the Devil
All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors:
That Man has two real existing principles, viz: a Body & a Soul. That energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.
But the following Contraries to these are True:
Man has no Body distinct from his Soul, for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
Energy is the only life and is from the Body, and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
Energy is Eternal Delight
• • •
A Memorable Fancy
As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs. Thinking that as the sayings used in a nation mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.
When I came home, on the abyss of the five senses, where a flat sided steep frowns over the present world, I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock; with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth:
How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?
• • •
Proverbs of Hell:
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur’d by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure.
All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
• • •
Prisons are built with stones of Law,
Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
What is now proved was once only imagin’d.
One thought fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title!
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius; lift up thy head!
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Exuberance is Beauty.
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.
Where man is not, nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d.
Enough! or Too much.
• • •
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.