William Blake Quotes

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About William Blake

William Blake (November 28 1757 – August 21 1827) was an English poet, Christian mystic, painter, printmaker, and engraver.

Born: November 28th, 1757

Died: August 21st, 1827

Categories: Artists, Romantic poets, English poets, 1820s deaths, Mystics

Quotes: 173 sourced quotes total (includes 9 about)

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Words (count)292 - 230
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Enough! or too much.
In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire?
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright in the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Fun I love, but too much Fun is of all things the most loathsom. Mirth is better than Fun & Happiness is better than Mirth.
The Angel that presided o'er my birth Said, "Little creature, formed of joy and mirth, Go love without the help of any thing on earth."
And there the lion's ruddy eyes Shall flow with tears of gold, And pitying the tender cries, And walking round the fold, Saying: "Wrath by his meekness, And by his health, sickness, Is driven away From our immortal day."
But Want of Money & the Distress of A Thief can never be alleged as the Cause of his Thieving, for many honest people endure greater hard ships with Fortitude. We must therefore seek the Cause else where than in want of Money for that is the Misers passion, not the Thiefs.
They suppose that Woman's Love is Sin; in consequence all the Loves & Graces with them are Sin.
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.
When a Man has Married a Wife He finds out whether Her Knees & elbows are only glued together.
That the Jews assumed a right Exclusively to the benefits of God. will be a lasting witness against them. & the same will it be against Christians
When the stars threw down their spears, And water'd heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
O rose, thou art sick! The invisible worm, That flies in the night, In the howling storm, Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy, And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy.
No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.
A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent.
I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.
For Mercy has a human heart, Pity, a human face, And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress.
You cannot have Liberty in this world without what you call Moral Virtue & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue
…some say that Happiness is not Good for Mortals & they ought to be answerd that Sorrow is not fit for Immortals & is utterly useless to any one a blight never does good to a tree & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit let none say that the fruit was in consequence of the blight.
And did those feet in ancient time, Walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England's pleasant pastures seen? And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark Satanic mills? Bring me my Bow of burning gold, Bring me my Arrows of desire, Bring me my Spear — O clouds, unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire! I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem In England's green & pleasant land.
Jesus & his apostles & disciples were all artists
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all Heaven in a rage.
If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.
In every cry of every Man, In every Infant’s cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.
Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care, But for another gives its ease, And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.
Thinking as I do that the Creator of this World is a very Cruel Being & being a Worshipper of Christ, I cannot help saying: "the Son, O how unlike the Father!" First God Almighty comes with a Thump on the Head. Then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal it.
Blake deeply admired science; he never failed to portray it heroically. But he was concerned that science saw the universe from an odd angle that hid as much as it revealed. Science screened the value of things, the beauty of things, the sacredness of things as if these qualities might not really be there. Blake called this Single Vision, and contrasted it with his ideal Fourfold vision: an understanding that included the poetic, the sensuous, and the visionary along with the rational. ...he fervently prayed for our culture to be saved from the scientist's severe abbreviation of reality: "God us keep from Single Vision and Newton's Sleep."
Exuberance is Beauty.
True superstition is ignorant honesty & this is beloved of god and man.
But most, thro' midnight streets I hear How the youthful Harlot’s curse Blasts the new born Infant’s tear, And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
Little Lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee? Gave thee life and bid thee feed By the stream and o'er the mead; Gave thee clothing of delight, Softest clothing, woolly bright.
He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
Can I see another's woe, And not be in sorrow too? Can I see another's grief, And not seek for kind relief?
Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.
I have labour'd hard indeed, & have been borne on angel's wings. Till we meet I beg of God our Saviour to be with you & me, & yours & mine. Pray give my & my wife's love to Mrs Butts & Family, & believe me to remain.
Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity.
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.
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 sweet delight. Some are born to endless night.
Prisons are built with stones of law; brothels with bricks of religion.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure.
The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love All pray in their distress; And to these virtues of delight Return their thankfulness.
Love seeketh only Self to please, To bind another to its delight, Joys in another’s loss of ease, And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.
Then old Nobodaddy aloft Farted and belched and coughed, And said, "I love hanging and drawing and quartering Every bit as well as war and slaughtering."
Rouze up, O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court & the University, who would, if they could, for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.
Piping down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee, On a cloud I saw a child, And he laughing said to me: "Pipe a song about a Lamb." So I piped with merry cheer; "Piper, pipe that song again." So I piped; he wept to hear.
Commerce is so far from being beneficial to Arts or to Empire, that it is destructive of both, as all their History shows, for the above Reason of Individual Merit being its Great Hatred. Empires flourish till they become Commercial & then they are scattered abroad to the four winds
One thought fills immensity.
The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
Children of the future Age Reading this indignant page, Know that in a former time Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime.
When my mother died I was very young, And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!'weep! So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.
I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, And be like him and he will then love me.
The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.
The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
Cruelty has a human heart, And Jealousy a human face; Terror the human form divine, And Secrecy the human dress.
God appears and god is light To those poor souls who dwell in night But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day
What is a Wife & what is a Harlot? What is a Church & What Is a Theatre? are they Two & not One? can they Exist Separate? Are not Religion & Politics the Same Thing? Brotherhood is Religion O Demonstrations of Reason Dividing Families in Cruelty & Pride!
If a thing loves, it is infinite.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius; lift up thy head!
The moon like a flower In heaven's high bower, With silent delight, Sits and smiles on the night.
Pity would be no more If we did not make somebody Poor; And Mercy no more could be If all were as happy as we.
Opposition is true Friendship.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.
Turn away no more; Why wilt thou turn away? The starry floor, The watery shore Is given thee till the break of day.
When the voices of children are heard on the green And laughing is heard on the hill, My heart is at rest within my breast And everything else is still.
The Stolen and Perverted Writings of Homer & Ovid, of Plato & Cicero, which all men ought to contemn, are set up by artifice against the Sublime of the Bible
And we are put on earth a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love, And these black bodies and this sunburnt face Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
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.
Little Fly, Thy summer’s play My thoughtless hand Has brushed away. Am not I A fly like thee? Or art not thou A man like me? For I dance, And drink, and sing, Till some blind hand Shall brush my wing.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.
"I die, I die!" the Mother said, "My children die for lack of Bread."
And I made a rural pen, And I stained the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear.
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
William Blake
For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise: [Epilogue] To The Accuser who is The God of This World
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes)
He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please. If the sun and moon should doubt They'd immediately go out.
Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau. Mock on, mock on — 'tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, And the wind blows it back again.
Art can never exist without Naked Beauty displayed.
In the morning glad I see My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.
The Foundation of Empire is Art & Science Remove them or Degrade them & the Empire is No More — Empire follows Art & Not Vice Versa as Englishmen suppose.
The modest Rose puts forth a thorn, The humble sheep a threat’ning horn: While the Lily white shall in love delight, Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.
The true method of knowledge is experiment.
A dog starved at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state.
Man was made for joy and woe, And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. He whose face gives no light shall never become a star.
And throughout all eternity I forgive you, you forgive me.
There is a smile of love, And there is a smile of deceit, And there is a smile of smiles In which these two smiles meet.
It is not because Angels are Holier than Men or Devils that makes them Angels but because they do not Expect Holiness from one another but from God only
Active Evil is better than Passive Good.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed.
What is Grand is necessarily obscure to Weak men. That which can be made Explicit to the idiot is not worth my care.
To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit — General Knowledges are those Knowledges that Idiots possess.
He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars; General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer: For art and science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars.
The Old and New Testaments are the great code of art.
He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
My mother groan'd! my father wept. Into the dangerous world I leapt: Helpless, naked, piping loud: Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
England! awake! awake! awake! Jerusalem thy sister calls! Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death And close her from thy ancient walls?
Hear the voice of the Bard, Who present, past, and future, sees; Whose ears have heard The Holy Word That walked among the ancient trees.
What is it men in women do require? The lineaments of gratified desire. What is it women do in men require? The lineaments of gratified desire.
He loves to sit and hear me sing, Then, laughing, sports and plays with me; Then stretches out my golden wing, And mocks my loss of liberty.
Does the Eagle know what is in the pit? Or wilt thou go ask the Mole? Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod? Or Love in a golden bowl?
This world of imagination is the world of eternity.
When nations grow old, the Arts grow cold, And Commerce settles on every tree.
Sing louder around To the bells' cheerful sound, While our sports shall be seen On the ecchoing green.
When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend.
"For washed in life's river, My bright mane forever Shall shine like the gold As Iguard o'er the fold."
Fiery the Angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll'd Around their shores: indignant burning with the fires of Orc.
Abstinence sows sand all over The ruddy limbs and flaming hair, But desire gratified Plants fruits of life and beauty there.
This life's dim windows of the soul Distorts the heavens from pole to pole And leads you to believe a lie When you see with, not through, the eye.
My mother bore me in the southern wild, And I am black, but O! my soul is white; White as an angel is the English child, But I am black as if bereaved of light.
Forgiveness of enemies can only come upon their repentance.
Why art thou silent and invisible, Father of Jealousy?
Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burden'd air; Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
Without contraries there is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate are necessary to human existence.
Time is the mercy of Eternity; without Time's swiftness Which is the swiftest of all things, all were eternal torment.
I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's; I will not Reason and Compare: my business is to Create.
When I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of Convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who Do
How sweet I roamed from field to field, And tasted all the summer's pride, Till I the prince of love beheld, Who in the sunny beams did glide!
Like a fiend in a cloud, With howling woe, After night I do crowd, And with night will go; I turn my back to the east, From whence comforts have increased; For light doth seize my brain With frantic pain.
It is not at all certain that a merely moral criticism of society may not be just as "revolutionary" — and revolution, after all, means turning things upside down — as the politico-economic criticism which is fashionable at this moment. Blake was not a politician, but there is more understanding of the nature of capitalist society in a poem like "I wander through each charter'd street" than in three-quarters of Socialist literature.
You'll quite remove the ancient curse.
William Blake
• No. 5, An Ancient Proverb
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes, Poems from Blake's Notebook (c. 1791-1792), Several Questions Answered)
My Brother starv'd between two Walls, His Children's Cry my Soul appalls;
The iron hand crush'd the Tyrant's head And became a Tyrant in his stead.
Degrade first the arts if you'd mankind degrade, Hire idiots to paint with cold light and hot shade.
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright, Dreaming o'er the joys of night. Sleep, sleep: in thy sleep Little sorrows sit and weep.
Reason, or the ratio of all we have already known, is not the same that it shall be when we know more.
He who binds to himself a joy Does the wingèd life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sunrise.
How have you left the ancient love That bards of old enjoyed in you! The languid strings do scarcely move! The sound is forced, the notes are few!
My silks and fine array, My smiles and languished air, By love are driv'n away; And mournful lean Despair Brings me yew to deck my grave: Such end true lovers have.
For a tear is an intellectual thing, And a sigh is the sword of an Angel King, And the bitter groan of the martyr's woe Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow.
If you trap the moment before it's ripe, The tears of repentance you'll certainly wipe; But if once you let the ripe moment go You can never wipe off the tears of woe.
The vision of Christ that thou dost see Is my vision's greatest enemy. Thine has a great hook nose like thine; Mine has a snub nose like to mine. Thine is the Friend of all Mankind; Mine speaks in parables to the blind. Thine loves the same world that mine hates; Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
It may seem to be a long way from Blake's innocent talk of love and copulation to De Sade's need to inflict pain. And yet both are the outcome of a sexual mysticism that strives to transcend the everyday world. Simone de Beauvoir said penetratingly of De Sade's work that 'he is trying to communicate an experience whose distinguishing characteristic is, nevertheless its will to remain incommunicable'. De Sade's perversion may have sprung from his dislike of his mother or of other women, but its basis is a kind of distorted religious emotion.
I assert, for myself, that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hindrance and not action. "What !" it will be questioned, "when the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire somewhat like a guinea !" Oh ! no, no ! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host crying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty !" I question not my corporeal eye any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it.
Damn sneerers!
Terror in the house does roar, But Pity stands before the door.
There is no century in which Blake would not have seen angels.
Nothing can be more contemptible than to suppose Public RECORDS to be True.
The Goddess Fortune is the devils servant ready to Kiss any ones Arse.
There can be no Good Will. Will is always Evil; it is persecution to others or selfishness.
If you have formed a circle to go into, Go into it yourself and see how you would do.
Grown old in love from seven till seven times seven, I oft have wished for Hell for ease from Heaven.
The look of love alarms Because 'tis filled with fire; But the look of soft deceit Shall win the lover's hire.
William Blake
• No. 2, The Look of Love
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes, Poems from Blake's Notebook (c. 1791-1792), Several Questions Answered)
Love to faults is always blind, Always is to joys inclined, Lawless, winged, and unconfined, And breaks all chains from every mind.
My specter around me night and day Like a wild beast guards my way, My emanation far within Weeps incessantly for my sin.
Poetry fettered fetters the human race. Nations are destroyed, or flourish, in proportion as their poetry, painting, and music are destroyed or flourish!
This cabinet is formed of gold And pearl and crystal shining bright, And within it opens into a world And a little lovely moony night.
The sword sung on the barren heath, The sickle in the fruitful field; The sword he sung a song of death, But could not make the sickle yield.
Freud was frank to admit that Romantic artists like Blake had discovered the unconscious before he had. But... he could hardly adopt Blake's unsettling view of the scientific psyche.
Seeing this False Christ, in fury and passion I made my voice heard all over the nation. … I am sure this Jesus will not do Either for Englishman or Jew.
The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true poet and of the Devils' party without knowing it.
If He had been Antichrist, Creeping Jesus, He’d have done anything to please us; Gone sneaking into synagogues, And not us’d the Elders and Priests like dogs; But humble as a lamb or ass Obey’d Himself to Caiaphas.
Acts themselves alone are history, and these are neither the exclusive property of Hume, Gibbon nor Voltaire, Echard, Rapin, Plutarch, nor Herodotus. Tell me the Acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish. All that is not action is not worth reading.
William Blake
• Blake's Exhibition and Catalogue of 1809, A Descriptive Catalogue of Pictures: Number V. The Ancient Britons
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes)
Never seek to tell thy love Love that never told can be; For the gentle wind does move Silently, invisibly. I told my love, I told my love, I told her all my heart; Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears— Ah, she doth depart. Soon as she was gone from me A traveler came by Silently, invisibly— Oh, was no deny.
In the modern world, the Romantics were the last major cultural movement to assert the "truth of the imagination," defending art as a way of knowing the world that equalled or surpassed scientific reason. In their resistance to what Blake called "Satan's Mathematik Holiness," their goal was not to reject science but to enlarge it. ...the Romantics sought to understand by augmentation.
About William Blake
• Betty and Theodore Roszak, "Deep Form in Art and Nature" Alexandria 4, Vol.4 The Order of Beauty and Nature (1997) ed. David Fideler
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes about Blake)
God wants not man to humble himself: That is the trick of the Ancient Elf. This is the race that Jesus ran: Humble to God, haughty to man, Cursing the Rulers before the people Even to the Temple’s highest steeple, And when He humbled Himself to God Then descended the cruel rod. ‘If Thou Humblest Thyself, Thou humblest Me. Thou also dwell’st in Eternity.
I asked a thief to steal me a peach: He turned up his eyes. I asked a lithe lady to lie her down: Holy and meek, she cries. As soon as I went An angel came. He winked at the thief And smiled at the dame— And without one word said Had a peach from the tree, And still as a maid Enjoyed the lady.
To me, it seems best to read Blake in company with his truest peers, Shakespeare and Milton, and with his greatest contemporaries, Wordsworth and Shelley. He was a visionary, rather than a mystic, and, like D. H. Lawrence and Sigmund Freud, he hoped to encourage us to exalt our human potential. Perhaps Blake can be best termed an apocalyptic humanist, who urges us never to forget that all deities reside in the human breast.
About William Blake
• Harold Bloom (May 22, 2007) The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake ed. David V. Erdman (2008) Forward
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Blake" (Quotes about Blake)
Most scientists would make very hard work of explaining how the concept of soul fits into the material universe, where there is nothing but "atoms and the void." Was this what Blake meant when he said that science was a tree of death? The death of religion? Of imagination? Both have been frequently suggested. ...Science is certainly our prime weapon against superstition and irrationalism, but in a world in which science flourishes—with of without God—love and fear remain, as do pleasure and regret, poetry and humor, art and music. The arts are not lessened by the sciences. Blake was mistaken: man's ineradicable gift, his questing curiosity, the divine discontent, is the common source of the arts and sciences.
Art is the tree of life. SCIENCE is the Tree of DEATH ART is the Tree of LIFEGOD is JESUS
I see the Four-fold Man. The Humanity in deadly sleep, And its fallen Emanation. The Spectre & its cruel Shadow. I see the Past, Present & Future, existing all at once Before me; O Divine Spirit sustain me on thy wings!
And now let me finish with assuring you that, Tho I have been very unhappy, I am so no longer. I am again. Emerged into the light of day; I still & shall to Eternity Embrace Christianity and Adore him who is the Express image of God; but I have travel'd thro' Perils & Darkness not unlike a Champion. I have Conquer'd, and shall still Go on Conquering. Nothing can withstand the fury of my Course among the Stars of God & in the Abysses of the Accuser. My Enthusiasm is still what it was, only Enlarged and conform'd.
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. The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all Ridicule and Deformity, and by these I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is, So he Sees. As the Eye is formed, such are its Powers..
The ancient poets animated all objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive. And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity; Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of, & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began priesthood; Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things. Thus men forgot that all deities reside in the human breast.
What is most needed today is a fundamental theological thinking, one centered upon the Godhead itself, and centered upon that which is most challenging or most offensive in the Godhead, one which has truly been veiled in the modern world, except by our most revolutionary thinkers and visionaries. If we allow Blake and Nietzsche to be paradigmatic of those revolutionaries, nowhere else does such a centering upon God or the Godhead occur, although a full parallel to this occurs in Spinoza and Hegel; but the language of Hegel and Spinoza is not actually offensive, or not in its immediate impact, whereas the language of Nietzsche and Blake is the most purely offensive language which has ever been inscribed. Above all this is true of the theological language of Blake and Nietzsche, but here a theological language is a truly universal language, one occurring in every domain, and occurring as that absolute No which is the origin of every repression and every darkness, and a darkness which is finally the darkness of God, or the darkness of that Godhead which is beyond “God.” Only Nietzsche and Blake know a wholly fallen Godhead, a Godhead which is an absolutely alien Nihil, but the full reversal of that Nihil is apocalypse itself, an apocalypse which is an absolute joy, and Blake and Nietzsche are those very writers who have most evoked that joy.

End William Blake Quotes