Tag Archives: William Blake

Milton Understood Ambitious Con Men

A recent “Atlantic” article argues that Milton’s Satan is quintessentially American, with the archangel as both rugged individualist and honey-tongued con man. Sounds a lot like our current president.

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Immigrants Face a Sophie’s Choice

Republicans have recently been outdoing themselves in cruelty, both regarding immigration and health care. William Styron and William Blake weigh in.

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The Twisted Fingers Letting Go

Catherine Alder has a beautiful poem in which she calls upon us to unclench our fists. I reflect also upon two other works that feature clenched fists, Blake’s “Grey Monk” and George MacDonald’s “Lilith.”

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All Must Love the Human Form

In “The Divine Image,” Blake gives us a poem for our time, a call to pray for mercy, pity, peace, and love and to recognize the human form in diversity. In “The Human Abstract” he adds that prayer is not enough. It must be accompanied by human justice.

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Teachers, Don’t Nip Their Buds

In “Songs of Experience,” William Blake worries that authority figures will nip the promise of budding schoolboys. “The Schoolboy” serves as a timely reminder for all teachers.

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Ted Cruz–Dark and Satanic?

When NYT columnist David Brooks called Ted Cruz “dark and satanic,” he was referencing a Blake poem. But although the allusion is apt, it struck most people as weird or offensive because they didn’t recognize the source.

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The Utterly Amazing William Blake

William Blake spoke to protesters in the 1960s but that is far from his only audience. A recent “New York Review of Books” articles surveys his greatness.

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He Doth Sit By Us and Moan

Last week I was honored by my friend Jean Yeatman when she asked me to sit with her at her mother’s deathbed. We talked about childhood excursions that our families took together and also about the importance of ritual in our lives. Today’s William Blake poem is for her and her brother Clay. Blake finds […]

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Swimming with the Water Babies

Swimming with my granddaughters put me in mind of Charles Kingsley’s “Water Babies.” Kingsley helped us enter into the rich imaginative lives of children.

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To See God, the Eye Must Catch Fire

Blake’s poem “Pentecost” explains what is necessary to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Pantry Moths in the Howling Storm

Faced with an infestation of pantry moths, my mind turned to Blake’s “The Sick Rose.”

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Relationship Advice from Blake

Blake’s “Clod and the Pebble” warn us to steer between two opposite dangers in our relationships.

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Cherish the Angel at Your Door

William Blake’s “Holy Thursday” poems challenges those members of Congress voting to cut food stamps.

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God Dwells in Mercy, Pity, Peace, Love

Pope Francis ! might well embrace the vision of love found in Blake’s “Divine Image.”

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My Father Piped Songs of Pleasant Glee

As I read my dying father poems from Blake’s “Songs of Innocence,” I relived cherished memories.

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Blow Out Your Candles, No Darkness

This Richard Wilbur poem has fun kidding the poet’s esoteric friend.

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Drones Put Heaven in a Rage

This Scott Bates poem protesting aerial killing machines could apply to today’s drone program.

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My Heart Leapt Up

A rainbow sighting led to a discussion about how humans often turn to nature for guiding metaphors.

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Songs of Innocence Destroyed

Blake captures the tragic clash between childhood innocence and worldly corruption that we witnessed in Sandy Hook.

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Lit Featured in Olympic Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics were rich in literary allusions.

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To Esmé and Alban with Love (No Squalor)

With names from Salinger and Blake, my two new grandchildren have promising destinies.

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Campaign 2012: Assorted Lit Allusions

Literary allusions are flying fast and free in this primary season.

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Read Blake, Stand Up to Your Boss

Businessman David Whyte turns to poetry to hold on to his soul in the corporate world.

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Jerusalem in a Green and Pleasant Land

William Blake’s “Jerusalem” has been used for both religious and patriotic purposes. One must negotiate the relationship between religion and politics very closely since God can get bent to serve narrow agendas, and this poem is frequently misinterpreted.

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Spain’s Tiger Burning Less Bright

Did the god that made the elegant strokes of Roger Federer also make the bruising style of Nadal? Like William Blake gazing at the lamb and the tiger in “Tyger, Tyger,” we can only shake our heads bemused.

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Revolution in Tunisia–A Good Thing?

While I want to be optimistic about the recent Tunisian overthrow of its dictatorial ruling family, I also appreciate Anne Appelbaum’s pessimistic assessment in a Washington Post column. Her caution brings to mind one of my father’s witty animal fables entitled “The Revolutionary Mice.”  You can read it below. Appelbaum succinctly expresses her concern thus: […]

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The Church and the Chimney-Sweep’s Cry

In his August 29 Washington Mall speech, rightwing television commentator Glenn Beck attacked (among other things) the notion that Christianity should be concerned with issues of social justice. He accused Barack Obama and liberation theology of distorting Jesus’s message. For the President, Beck said, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, […]

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Seeking a Spiritual Connection with Nature

from Songs of Innocence and Experience  My Introduction to Literature class (focus on Nature) has just moved from Robinson Crusoe to William Blake, and we are seeing in the 18th century a  conflict similar to one we are witnessing today over the environment. Defoe’s protagonist is an advocate of the “drill, baby, drill” approach to nature although, […]

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