William Blake’s visionary mission still calls us. Even in times that can be cynical, or nihilistic; even in times when people say they have no time for the imagination. I find it hard to shake off his apocalyptic eye, the intensity of his dreams; impossible for me to evade his Proverbs of Hell: “If a fool persists in his folly he may become wise.” That is one of my favourites. It could be my life’s maxim. “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees…” That is a motto of perception, of training the eye to see more. “Billy Blake,” I want to say. I see him striding down a Chelsea street towards the Thames, chiding fellow Londoners for their lack of enthusiasm, condemning poverty and slavery, singing to the angels he saw in trees. Blake is talkative company—Rintrah with a Cockney accent (I want him to sound like Michael Caine)—speaking his lines in my ears when I’m walking in my small edge town, often in my mind when I travel down electronic avenues.
Blake insists across the distances, saying to the dreamland in our imaginations, where all time is now, these words: loving is a portion of eternity. Give us each day our shiver of recognition that eternity is in love with the productions of time. What we make is our truth. If only we knew… if only we knew what happens when we open our caverned minds and breathe in the air that carries the music of the angels and the particles of Homer and Milton. Blake says, get on with your call, crackle with life-fire. He grew older while his spirit grew younger. He instructs me: don’t be a poet or an artist, be all imagination, be all intelligible dreams: make things, and more: make worlds.
“Facing Eternity, Each Day: lyrical essays” B.W. Powe (Upcoming Publication)