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William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Selections from ‘Milton’

[Reason and Imagination]

(Milton, f. 42, l. 34–f. 43, l. 28.)

THE NEGATION is the Spectre, the Reasoning Power in Man:

This is a false Body, an Incrustation over my Immortal

Spirit, a Selfhood which must be put off and annihilated alway.

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 and 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, and Newton from Albion’s covering,

To take off his filthy garments and 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

Cast on the Inspirèd by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots

Indefinite or paltry Rhymes, or paltry Harmonies,

Who creeps into State Government like a caterpillar to destroy;

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 and calls it Knowledge; whose Science is Despair,

Whose pretence to knowledge is Envy, whose whole Science is

To destroy the wisdom of ages, to gratify ravenous Envy

That rages round him like a Wolf, day and night, without rest.

He smiles with condescension; he talks of Benevolence and Virtue,

And those who act with Benevolence and Virtue they murder time on time.

These are the destroyers of Jerusalem! these are the murderers

Of Jesus! who deny the Faith and mock at Eternal Life,

Who pretend to Poetry that they may destroy Imagination

By imitation of Nature’s Images drawn from Remembrance.

These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation,

Hiding the Human Lineaments, as with an Ark and Curtains

Which Jesus rent, and now shall wholly purge away with Fire,

Till Generation is swallow’d up in Regeneration.