Poet and artist William Blake is known for the complex mythology he created in his Prophetic Books. Among the characters that take shape in these writings is Orc, a positive figure symbolizing rebellion, passion, freedom, and revolution. He stands opposed to Urizen, a figure of order and tradition. Through characters such as these Blake analyzes the American and French revolutions, which took place during his lifetime. Orc’s life, which ends in rebirth, bears parallels to what religious figures? More… Discuss
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. A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage. A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons Shudders hell thro' all its regions. A dog starv'd at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state. A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood. Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear. A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing. The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight Does the rising sun affright. Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul. The wild deer, wand'ring here and there, Keeps the human soul from care. The lamb misus'd breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife. The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe. The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright. He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be belov'd by men. He who the ox to wrath has mov'd Shall never be by woman lov'd. The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity. He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night. The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief. Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the last judgement draweth nigh. He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar. The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them and thou wilt grow fat. The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from slander's tongue. The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of envy's foot. The poison of the honey bee Is the artist's jealousy. The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags. A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent. It is right it should be so; Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know, Thro' the world we safely go. Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine. Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine. The babe is more than swaddling bands; Every farmer understands. Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright, And return'd to its own delight. The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar, Are waves that beat on heaven's shore. The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes revenge in realms of death. The beggar's rags, fluttering in air, Does to rags the heavens tear. The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun, Palsied strikes the summer's sun. The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore. One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands; Or, if protected from on high, Does that whole nation sell and buy. He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mock'd in age and death. He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out. He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death. The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons. The questioner, who sits so sly, Shall never know how to reply. He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out. The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown. Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace. When gold and gems adorn the plow, To peaceful arts shall envy bow. A riddle, or the cricket's cry, Is to doubt a fit reply. The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile. 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. To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you. The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate. The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding-sheet. The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse. 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. We are led to believe a lie When we see not thro' the eye, Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light. 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.
- William Blake: Lost watercolour to exhibit at Frieze week (telegraph.co.uk)
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