WILLIAM BLAKE

 

"When the chimneys of perception are truly cleaned, I will pay that scruffy little urchin, and not a moment before."

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So asserted William Blake, 19th century poet, nutter and man who never really did figure out how to draw hands properly.

 Born in the eel basketers' district of south, north, south London in seventeen twenty twenty, to a Blacksmith's dancing assistant and the daughter of a mother, from an early age, the minor details of architecture seemed to him to reveal a path to the deeper mysteries of being.

 "The Doors of perception" was a concept that arrived only after much stumbling. "The window sills of consciousness", his first poetical work of note, opens with the memorable line: "Remember this line" and goes on to ask the startled reader:

"Did you remember that line?                                        Are you sure?                                                     What was it then?                                                 Eh?"

And so on for three hundred pages, richly illustrated with pictures of tormented souls slaving in the call centres of the mind and asking strange questions concerning feet: "Did those feet, just yesterday, walk past my bedroom door?"

After which he was committed to the Bedlam Home for Weird Citizens of North west south, in what was then East London, where it is said he dribbled.

Having given a squirrel to Thomas Paine and so started the French revolution, he married Molly McCormagillian, a daughter's mother from the western part of the east coast of Wales. Then he devoted himself to his greatest work: "The Chimneys of Confusion" Before being murdered by Wordsworth's grandmother in a brutal hammer brawl that erupted one night following an argument about ducks in a library in Wolverhampton upon Thames near Woollich.

On his simple gravestone, buried deep beneath his body in Buckingham Palace's famous Lizard Gallery, are written three simple words: "Leg, Vole" and "Sorry".

A fitting epitaph.