“Otherness as Origin”


William Blake’s comments about the origins of his creativity are fairly well known and often cited. His comments usually include references to other figures with whom he has conversed, and these conversations, Blake claims, provide him with inspiration for his poems. In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated July 6,1803, he writes about a newly completed poem: “I may praise it since I dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors are in Eternity” (E 730). About his designs, Blake writes to Dr. Trusler on August 16, 1799, “And tho I call them Mine I know that they are not Mine being of the same opinion with Milton when he says That the Muse visits his Slumbers & awakes & governs his Song” (E 701). On May 6,1800 Blake writes to William Hayley, “Thirteen years ago. I lost a brother & with his spirit I converse daily & hourly in the Spirit. & See him in my remembrance in the regions of my Imagination. I hear his advice & even now write from his Dictate— … I am the companion of Angels” (E 705). In another letter to Butts, dated April 25, 1803, Blake describes the reason for his happiness about returning to London and escaping his patron, Hayley: “That I alone carry on my visionary studies in London unannoyd & that I may converse with my friends in Eternity” (E 728). Although these spirits with whom Blake claims to have conversed may have appeared to him only in his imagination, his rhetoric externalizes them, particularly when he gives them names and refers to them as others.


Social Institution Creative Process Arbitrary Sign Muse Figure Authoritative Voice 
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© John H. Jones 2010

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