William Blake at 250

Blake's work (and life) forms one of the central pillars of my poetics. I missed this piece by Terry Eagleton in The Guardian last month, on the occasion of William Blake's 250th birthday:
Politics today is largely a question of management and administration. Blake, by contrast, viewed the political as inseparable from art, ethics, sexuality and the imagination. It was about the emancipation of desire, not its manipulation. Desire for him was an infinite delight, and his whole project was to rescue it from the repressive regime of priests and kings. His sense of how sexuality can turn pathological through repression is strikingly close to Freud's. To see the body as it really is, free from illusion and ideology, is to see that its roots run down to eternity. "If the doors of perception were cleansed," he claims, "everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." Political states keep power by convincing us of our limitations.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “William Blake at 250”

  1. joseph, for the upcoming year a poem in homage to william blake in concert with what you have so simply said about him: i posted it about 2 years ago now in the north african journal ARABESQUES (algeria and morroco) at http://www.arabesquespress.org/journal/contemporary/3753221.html

    BLOOD ENEMY

    The enemy of my enemy
    is my friend. The friend
    of my enemy is my enemy.

    The friend of my friend is
    my friend (unless that
    friend is a friend of the
    friend of my enemy). The

    feud of my family is
    a breach in the friendship
    of my blood. My blood is

    my enemy? Is this the edge
    of my world? How canine
    is the tooth of my despair?
    Where is a pulse for peace?

    Edward Mycue

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