It is said of William Blake that he was a madman and also that he was a genius. To me he was a genius, and the power of his imagination is breathtaking. What is most striking about William Blake’s work is the passion that it instils. You cannot simply like Blake’s work; if you respond to his vision then you love it with a passion that seems to come from the man himself. His ability to encapsulate ideas that are felt rather than thought is amazing.There are many websites that have analysis and critical appreciation of Blake’s work such as www.blakesociety.org and www.friendsofblake.org. William Blake had a unique view of the world, and like other Romantic poets with whom he is often classified, he believed in the power of the imagination to create. He saw nature uniquely also. He said, ‘the tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicules and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself’. (Letter 23rd August 1799). It is his imagination expressed through extraordinary imagery that is so compelling. His nature is not always cosy and pleasant: who else would use the image of something as beautiful as a rose to explore ideas of corruption as Blake did in ‘The Sick Rose’. Even the most simple of his poems makes the reader, like Blake, reflect on the world and man’s place in it. Although much of his poetry is long and prophetic and could therefore be seen as ‘difficult’, he is also a genius of what we would now call the ‘sound bite’. Works such as Auguries of Innocence and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell consist of short statements of profound meaning. Blake was indeed able ‘to see a world in a grain of sand’. His work was also time consuming and therefore costly, due to the way his works were engraved and coloured. This expense limited the market for his work so that he never gained the reputation or income his work deserved. His spiritual life had many influences; from a child he saw visions and his belief in angels transferred to his art work and his poetry. Blake disliked authority, which he saw as corrupt and this view extended to organised religion. Although Blake was interested in the teachings of Emmanuel Swedenborg and was influenced by him to some degree, he came to ridicule Swedenborg’s ideas. Although Blake disliked organised religion he was still a spiritual man and interested in the connection between man and God, which he explored through much of his poetry such as The Book of Urizen, The Song of Los and The Four Zoas, and Songs of Innocence. As a man who found authority and the institutions of government corrupt, Blake, like many of his contemporaries, was supportive initially of the American and French Revolutions. From his works it seems logical that Blake was a man who wanted to see change in the work but he was not a revolutionary. He was a thinker rather than a man of action. He was of the view that ‘prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of religion’. His poem ‘London’ expresses the corrupt nature of several institutions, including marriage. Like many men of genius, Blake was ahead of his time in taste and thinking and remained unappreciated in his life time. He lived most of his life in poverty and even some of his friends thought of him as mad. However, his work endures and is as relevant now as it was in his time – the difference is that his art and his poetry are now appreciated. Blake has a place in the world of art through his engravings and his paintings; they are skilfully executed and powerfully imaginative. He also is a poet if considerable skill. His rhyme schemes are simple generally, often using alternate rhyme or rhyming couplets and he uses plain language on the whole, but the combinations of words and the images engendered are the work of genius: he has the ability to say so much with so few words.