William Blake - A Selection of Quotes
"Innocence dwells with Wisdom, but never with ignorance..."
"A truth that's told with bad intent, Beats all the lies you can invent..."
"love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself have any care, But for another gives it's ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell's despair..."
"To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour..." Auguries of Innocence, 1789.
William Blake - poet, artist and mystic - has to be one of the most extraordinary literary figures who ever lived. Thought by friends and admirers alike to have been insane, he was a man well ahead of his time and his concepts may have been unsettling for some in the 18th century.
Obviously one hub cannot do justice to such as William Blake but this is more of a small tribute to a mystical poet and artist who has not only inspired, but helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. I hope that the snippets I have chosen from his numerous works will help some of you as well to find 'a heaven in a wild flower' .
"...Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
what immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?..." The Tyger.
William Blake was born in London on 28th November, 1757. He was the second son of five surviving children of James and Catherine Blake. His father's trade was as a hosier - selling stockings, gloves, haberdashery etc. William had the strongest relationship with the youngest brother Robert - a frail child who died at a young age.
A Selection of Quotations
“If a thing loves, it is infinite"
Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache; do be my enemy - for friendship's sake”
“I am in you and you in me, mutual in divine love."
"The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”
“He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.”
"He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sunrise”
William Blake seems to have had the kind of early childhood that we would all have loved. For a start he missed formal schooling and was taught by his mother at home. But there seems to have been plenty of time to explore London and frequent excursions into the countryside.
At the age of ten it is possible that William became enrolled in a local art school run by Henry Par. Even at this early age the uniqueness of Blake's mind and ideas was showing and would sometimes get him into trouble. For example on one occasion he claimed to have seen a tree filled with angels - It was only the intervention of his mother that prevented the young William from getting a beating from his father.
“Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.”
Before entering The Royal Academy at the age of 21 Blake had been an apprentice to an engraver. While he studied at the academy he continued to work as a journeyman engraver, mostly designing illustrations for booksellers.
As well as working and studying William Blake also taught his wife to read and write. Catherine was the daughter of a market-gardener and although their union was scorned by his family the match proved to be a very loving and enduring one for both of them.
"In seed time learn,
in harvest teach,
in winter enjoy.”
"He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star"
"The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”
"What is now proved was once imagined."
"To the eyes of a miser a guinea is more beautiful than the sun,
and a bag worn with the use of money has more beautiful proportions than a vine filled with grapes."
William Blake lived within his mind or more accurately his imagination. For Blake, the imagination was as real as the stone streets and houses where he lived. He often referred to his imagination as 'paradise'. It was within this 'paradise' that he captured the images and sounds and translated them into a more earthly form of poetry, art and songs. Blake believed that his work was spiritualy inspired. But like most great people not fully appreciated or understood in their time, William Blake died in poverty in 1827. He lies close to two other literary greats - Danief Defoe and John Bunyan.
Not only has Blake's work been enjoyed by the masses but he has also been a significant influence on other poets and writers even in to modern times. Author of 'Silence of the Lambs', Thomas Harris, was inspired and influenced by Blake. Poets such as Coleridge and Ginsberg have also fell under the Blake spell.
William Blake will continue to enthrall many of us now and in the future, with his beautiful art, words and insights into the human condition, the spiritual and nature. But does he know now how much his work is appreciated? Or is he too busy musing in another paradise - perhaps not of the imagination?