William Blake


William Blake (1757—1827) was a British engraver, poet, and religious mystic. He also affirmed the creative potential of the imagination and expressed distaste for the rationalist-scientific outlook of the Enlightenment, as is clear from these lines in his poem “Milton,” written in 1804.


…the Reasoning Power in Man:

This is a false Body; an Incrustation [scab] over my Immortal

Spirit a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway[s]

To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self- examination,

To bathe in the Waters of Life, to wash off the Not Human,

I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration,

To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour,

To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration,

To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albion’s covering,’

To take off his filthy garments & clothe him with Imagination,

To cast aside from Poetry all that is not Inspiration,

That it no longer shall dare to mock with the aspersion of Madness


To cast off the idiot Questioner who is always questioning

But never capable of answering, who sits with a sly grin

Silent plotting when to question, like a thief in a cave,

Who publishes doubt & calls it knowledge, whose Science is Despair,

Whose pretence to knowledge is Envy, whose