Historical People Who Practiced Servant Leadership: William Blake (1757 - 1827)





Have you ever wondered where you fit into the realities offered by this world? Perhaps the British poet, artist, and mystic might help you feel that you are not alone?


He lived during the American and French Revolutions. He was disillusioned by the world's political, social and inhumane power struggles and turmoil. Blake rebelled against authority. A man of deep faith, he valued Christianity's simple message of love, charity and mercy while expressing his outrage about the practices of organized religion. He cherished spiritual values while rejecting the growing power of materialism in the nineteenth century. Through his artistic talent he spurned the life of reason while giving free reign to his imagination, ignited by his boundless admiration for all living things.

In his art work and his poetry, Blake looked for inner reality and truth. His sensitivity, mystic imagination and contradictory visions of reality continue, two hundred years later, to touch our soul with his lovely words.



Stanza from "Auguries of Innocence"

 To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower;
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.


The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this chapel were shut,
And "Thou shalt not" writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore:
And I saw it filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.



I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appalls,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.



As a leader in the arena of human imagination, Blake found freedom not in notions of progress in this world, but in soul. In the present course of history, as he saw, led to doom. The world's reality is ours to confront and to overcome. The liberating, God-given spirit within our grasp is where we find reality.


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