William Blake had his first vision at age 10—a tree full of angels. Artistically precocious, Blake spent his youth at Henry Pars’s drawing school, copying the human figure from plaster casts of ancient statues. As a teenager, Blake was apprenticed to an engraver, and tasked with drawing the tombs and monuments at Westminster Abbey, a gothic experience that colored his world in metaphysical hues. Blake lived his whole life at the edge of the spiritual plane. His wife Catherine joined him in his search for visions, working by his side as he founded a successful print shop, pioneered a new form of color printing, and built a new religion for himself out of anti-enlightenment thinking, Swedenborgian Christianity, and Greek and Norse mythologies.
The Poetic Genius is the true Man and the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius.
And I made a rural pen, And I stained the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs — Every child may joy to hear.
Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence. From these contraries spring what the religious call Good and Evil... Good is heaven. Evil is hell.
I travelled through a land of men, A land of men and women too, And heard and saw such dreadful things, As cold earth wanderers never knew.