Riffs

Jah Wobble on William Blake's 'Auguries of Innocence'
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The Independent Culture
This is one of Blake's most famous poems, the one that begins with him seeing the world in a grain of sand and then goes on for four or five pages. It's very long and very angry, starting with that lovely airy four lines and then getting more and more accusatory as he intensifies his diatribe against all the things in life that separate you from the grace of God. That's the dynamic of the poem - it's about separation from things you should not be separated from.

Blake is the English psyche. I was introduced to his poems and paintings by a friend from the East End. They are visionary and full of a qualified anger - anger that is channelled and leads you somewhere else. They remind me of the feelings I used to have as a kid, when I was constantly frightened of being absorbed into the molecular structure of the walls around me. Blake connects with both Hinduism and nuclear science in his recognition that the world is not a single structure but a state of flux. This is important to me - not being rigid. I also think it's important to allow people to be fearless. One of my favourite lines from Auguries is, "He who shall teach the child to doubt/ The rotting grave shall ne'er get out."

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