William Blake (28 November 1757 - 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.

His work is notable for being at once highly religious and very critical of the established churches and traditions.

Many of his poems take place in a {{Verse}} of Blake's own invention, peopled with [[{{Mythopoeia}} original mythological characters]].

By most accounts, he suffered frequent bouts of hallucinatory madness which often served as inspiration for his work. He may have been schizophrenic. It's also been suggested that he had what is known as a bicameral mind, wherein information is exchanged between the subconscious and conscious mind in the form of visions of gods and spirits, supposedly more common in ancient peoples, rather than the more linear thought processes most peoples' brains have evolved. This could have been the result of a mental illness or brain defect of some kind.

Blake is also generally regarded as one of the earliest [[{{UsefulNotes/Anarchism}} anarchists]] (e.g. by Peter Marshall in ''William Blake: Visionary Anarchist''), and is also noted for [[ValuesResonance opposing slavery and championing free love]] decades or even centuries before either became particularly common. The lines from the Preface to his long poem ''Milton'' beginning ''And did those feet in Ancient Time'', set to music by Hubert Parry, is a strong contender for England's national anthem and is indeed sung in this capacity at international sporting events. [[note]] Israeli and evangelical Christian believers in the other UsefulNotes/{{Jerusalem}} wouldn't like the words, though.[[/note]]

Blake came in at #38 in ''Series/OneHundredGreatestBritons''.

His poems include:
* ''Literature/SongsOfInnocenceAndOfExperience''
** ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tyger The Tyger]]''
** ''[[http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172929 London]]''
* ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''
* ''The Four Zoas'' (his longest, about 100 pages)
* The "Bible of Hell" sequence, which aimed to retell the creation story in the terms of Blake's {{Mythopoeia}}:
** ''The Book of Urizen''
** ''The Book of Ahania''
** ''The Book of Los''
* ''Milton, a Poem''
** The preface to ''Milton'' includes the short poem "And did those feet in ancient time", adapted into the hymn "Jerusalem" ([[NamesTheSame not to be confused with Blake's epic poem]] ''Jerusalem'', as seen below) by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. This hymn is now considered one of England's greatest candidates to a national anthem, and is a staple at the Last Night of the Proms. Music/EmersonLakeAndPalmer opens their album ''Brain Salad Surgery'' with a CoverVersion.
*** The hymn was also used in the opening of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
* ''Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion''
!!Tropes found in the Poems:

* AlienGeometries: Tons of these. Morphing spheres, interdimensional vortexes, and intersecting planes of of existence abound.
* ApocalypseHow: One hinted at at the end of ''Milton'', which finally happens in ''Jerusalem''. A Class X - 5, bordering on a class Z. But this is a ''good'' thing, allowing us to return to our eternal, non-physical states of being. YMMV on how literally this should be interpreted.
* {{Arcadia}}: "The Shepherd" is set in one.
* AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: Ideally.
* AssimilationPlot: In the attempt to resurrect Albion.
* AudioAdaptation[=/=]SpokenWordInMusic: His poetry has been revisioned by artistes including Music/VanMorrison and Music/{{Ulver}} (the latter of whom adapted ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' in its entirety).
** The Preface to ''Jerusalem'' has been set to music and is a serious contender for National Anthem, if Britain ever becomes a republic.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Depends how much of one you consider there to be. Blake is very conscious that you're holding a book.
* ChaoticGood: [[invoked]] Discussed the idea centuries before it was named - essentially, he argues that LawfulGood is an oxymoron by nature, since following rules obviates the individual of moral authority. ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' reaches its climax with the following: "I tell you, no virtue can exist without breaking these ten commandments; Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules."
* ComicBooks: Blake's combination of narrative and visual storytelling going above simple illustration has led some (including Creator/AlanMoore) to cite Blake's work as a proto-example of the Graphic Novel.
* DesignStudentsOrgasm: Every page of his illuminated books.
* FourElementEnsemble: The Zoas: Luvah = Fire; Urizen = Air; Tharmas = Water; Urthona = Earth.
** Also Urizen's sons in ''The Book of Urizen'': Thiriel = Air; Utha = Water; Grodna = Earth; Fuzon = Fire.
* GainaxEnding - Surprisingly, somewhat averted. The rest of his narrative is so mind-screwy that the apocalyptic endings are rather comprehensible. Still bizarre though.
* AGodAmI: Urizen certainly thinks so, being (in some versions) the first consciousness to emerge from eternity.
* GodIsEvil: A worry usually articulated through the Demiurge figure of Urizen.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: Urizen does this to Fuzon.
* LongList: All over the place.
* MindScrew: This too.
* {{Mythopoeia}}: A rare non fantasy/sci-fi example.
* TheOldGods: The Four Zoas are this not only to Blake's eternals, but to all human gods, angels and demons, [[CrossoverCosmology a few of whom cameo.]]
* OurNudityIsDifferent: Expect illustrations of the characters to be uniformly starkers. May cross over with AuthorAppeal considering Blake was a practicing nudist.
* PantheraAwesome: "Tiger, Tiger, burning bright in the forest of the night..."
* PunnyName: With his 'eternals', usually with some indication to their [[{{MeaningfulName}} symbolic role]] within the story. Urizen = Horizon/Your Reason; Luvah = Lover; etc.
* RedShirt: Thulloh is killed by Satan less than ten lines after his introduction.
* RealityWarper: Many characters, but particularly Urizen.
* {{Romanticism}}: One of the Big Six of the English school, along with Creator/WilliamWordsworth, Creator/SamuelTaylorColeridge, Creator/LordByron, Creator/JohnKeats and Creator/PercyByssheShelley
* {{Satan}}: As [[TheCameo we know him]], and also as an independent character of Blake's cosmology, as Urizen's time-bound form.
* TimeyWimeyBall: A literal example in Milton. See the AlienGeometries above.
* UltimateEvil: The Covering Cherub.
* TheVerse Good luck on trying to find out what it all means.

!! William Blake in popular culture:
* One of the protagonists of ''Film/DeadMan'' is a Blake fan, and quotes him extensively. The other is ''named'' William Blake, but otherwise has no connection to the poet.
* The premier trailer for ''VideoGame/DeathStranding'' opened with a quote 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
* ''Series/{{Revenge}}'' quotes his famous Infinite/Perception statement in the episode 'Perception'
* ''Comicbook/FromHell'' reveals that his famous portrait of a monster "The Ghost of a Flea" was actually a portrait of the ghost of Sir William Gull, aka UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper. Earlier in the novel, Gull visits his grave and explains the mystical significance of his works to his sidekick, Netley.
* The ''[[ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX Punisher MAX]]'' one-shot "The Tyger" depicts the child Frank Castle studying Blake's poem at school, with strong comparisons between Blake's terrifying tiger and the person Frank will grow up to be.
* Bill "Taleswapper" Blake is a major supporting character in the alternate history series ''Literature/TheTalesOfAlvinMaker''.
* Music/BruceDickinson's album ''The Chemical Wedding'' derives inspiration from Blake's paintings and poetry, using Blake's painting ''The Ghost of a Flea'' as the album's artwork.
* In the Comicbook/SpiderMan story ''ComicBook/KravensLastHunt'', quotations from "The Tyger" are spread all throughout the storyline with "tyger" replaced by "spider".
* Music/{{Ulver}} set all of ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' to music for their fourth album, resulting in EpicRocking to the extreme.
* In the ''1831 AD'' one-shot of ''ComicBook/TheWickedAndTheDivine'', one of the early-nineteenth-century Pantheon members who is already dead when the issue starts, the Angel of Soho, is clearly analogous to Blake.