Literary Quotations
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WILLIAM BLAKE QUOTES


Annotations to Lavater (1788)

True superstition is ignorant honesty & this is beloved of god and man.

Forgiveness of enemies can only come upon their repentance.

Active Evil is better than Passive Good.

They suppose that Woman's Love is Sin; in consequence all the Loves & Graces with them are Sin.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790–1793)

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burdened air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
The Argument

Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.

The Argument

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 Devil's party without knowing it.

Note to The Voice of the Devil

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.

The Voice of the Devil

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.

The Voice of the Devil

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

A Memorable Fancy

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

A Memorable Fancy

Opposition is true Friendship.

A Memorable Fancy

The worship of God is, Honouring his gifts in other men each according to his genius, and loving the greatest men best; those who envy or calumniate great men hate God, for there is no other God.

A Memorable Fancy

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Proverbs of Hell

He who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.

Proverbs of Hell

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

Proverbs of Hell

He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.

Proverbs of Hell

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

Proverbs of Hell

The busy bee has no time for sorrow.

Proverbs of Hell

The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom no clock can measure.

Proverbs of Hell

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.

Proverbs of Hell

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

Proverbs of Hell

Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion.

Proverbs of Hell

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.

Proverbs of Hell

The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.

Proverbs of Hell

One thought. fills immensity.

Proverbs of Hell

Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.

Proverbs of Hell

The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

Proverbs of Hell

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.

Proverbs of Hell

The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Proverbs of Hell

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

Proverbs of Hell

The weak in courage is strong in cunning.

Proverbs of Hell

When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius; lift up thy head!

Proverbs of Hell

Exuberance is Beauty.

Proverbs of Hell

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

Proverbs of Hell

Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed.

Proverbs of Hell

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.

Proverbs of Hell

Poetical Sketches (1783)

Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!
To Spring
O Thou who passest thro' our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitchedst here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy, thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
To Summer
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof, there thou mayest rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
To Autumn
O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain'd, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear'd his sceptre o'er the world.
To Winter
O Holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heaven's golden gates and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light
Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring
The honey'd dew that cometh on waking day.
O radiant morning, salute the sun,
Roused like a huntsman to the chase, and with
Thy buskin'd feet appear upon our hills.
To Morning
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!
How Sweet I Roamed
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.
How Sweet I Roamed
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.
My Silks and Fine Arrays
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.
Mad Song
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!

To the Muses

Songs of Experience (1794)

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.
introduction, Songs of Experience
Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.
introduction, Songs of Experience
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.
The Clod and the Pebble
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.
The Clod and the Pebble
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.
The Sick Rose
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 Fly
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 Lily
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.
London
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.
London
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.
The Human Abstract
My mother groan'd! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud:
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
Infant Sorrow
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.
A Poison Tree
Children of the future Age
Reading this indignant page,
Know that in a former time
Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime.
A Little Girl Lost
Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secrecy the human dress.
A Divine Image
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
in the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger

Songs of Innocence (1789–1790)

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.
introduction, Songs of Innocence
And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
introduction, Songs of Innocence
Sing louder around
To the bells' cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the ecchoing green.
The Ecchoing Green
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.
The Lamb
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.
The Little Black Boy
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 Little Black Boy
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 Little Black Boy
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.
The Chimney Sweeper
To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
The Divine Image
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity, a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
The Divine Image
The moon like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight,
Sits and smiles on the night.
Night
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."
Night
"For washed in life's river,
My bright mane forever
Shall shine like the gold
As Iguard o'er the fold."
Night
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.
Nurse's Song
Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

On Another's Sorrow

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