2007: 250th anniversary of the birth of Blake


What I’ve come to cherish most of all in Blake, as I’ve grown older, is a quality that (to use his own term) I have to call prophetic. It is prophetic in two senses: it foretells, and, like the words of the Old Testament prophets, it warns, it carries a moral force. Furthermore, without being a Blakeian (except in the sense that I follow his own proclamation “I must create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s”), I admit that the words of Blake have joined a very small number of other texts as the best expression of the most important things I believe. If I didn’t believe them, I wouldn’t be able to work. How I came to believe them is another story, but I seem to have been feeling my way towards the principles set out below all my life. When I needed to find words for them, I found that Blake had already said what I wanted to say more clearly and powerfully than I ever could.

. . . and shew you all alive

The world, where every particle of dust

breathes forth its joy.

more from The New Statesman here.