Tag Archives: best quotes on william blake

Seeing the Words Fly About the Room in All Directions

alex atkins bookshelf literatureIf you are a fan of poetry, you may not recognize the name Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867), a British lawyer who published his diary in 1869. What is significant about that work, titled Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence, was that it provided a window into the minds and daily lives of the key figures of the English romantic movement — William Blake, Coleridge, Charles Lamb, and William Wordsworth. Poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne who wrote extensively about Blake noted: “Of all the records of these his latter years, the most valuable, perhaps, are those furnished by Mr. Crabb Robinson, whose cautious and vivid transcription of Blake’s actual speech is worth more than much vague remark, or than any commentary now possible to give.” Here is an excerpt of Robinson interviewing Blake about his writing process and philosophy:

“I enquired about his writings. ‘I have written more than Voltaire or Rousseau—six or seven epic poems as long as Homer, and 20 tragedies as long as Macbeth.’ He showed me his Vision (for so it may be called) of Genesis—’as understood by a Christian Visionary,’ in which in a style resembling the Bible the spirit is given. He read a passage at random. It was striking. He will not print any more. ‘I write,’ he says, ‘when commanded by the spirits, and the moment I have written I see the words fly about the room in all directions. It is then published, and the spirits can read. My MSS. of no further use. I have been tempted to burn my MSS., but my wife won’t let me.’ She is right, said I—and you have written these, not from yourself, but by a higher order. The MSS. are theirs and your property. You cannot tell what purpose they may answer unforeseen to you. He liked this, and said he would not destroy them. His philosophy he repeated—denying causation, asserting everything to be the work of God or the Devil—that there is a constant falling off from God—angels becoming devils. Every man has a devil in him, and the conflict is eternal between a man’s self and God, etc. etc. etc. He told me my copy of his songs would be 5 guineas, and was pleased by my manner of receiving this information. He spoke of his horror of money—of his turning pale when money had been offered him, etc.”

Read related posts: What Would Famous Authors Order at Starbucks
The Daily Word Quotas of Famous Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Words Invented by Famous Authors
Daily Rituals of Writers: Truman Capote
Daily Rituals of Writers: William Faulkner
Daily Rituals of Writers: Isaac Asimov

For further reading: Diary, Reminiscences and Correspondence by Henry Crabb Robinson
William Blake: A Critical Essay by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: