The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness
by Thomas Phillips, oil on canvas, 1807
The Argument. As the true method of knowledge is experiment the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences. This faculty I treat of.
That the Poetic Genius is the true Man, and that the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all things are
derived from their Genius, which by the Ancients was call’d an Angel & Spirit & Demon.
As all men are alike in outward form, So (and with the same infinite variety) all are alike in the Poetic Genius.
No man can think write or speak from his heart, but he must intend truth. Thus all sects of Philosophy are from the Poetic Genius, adapted to the weaknesses of every individual.
As none by travelling over known lands can find out the unknown, So from already acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more. Therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists.
The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nation’s different reception of the Poetic Genius, which is every where call’d the Spirit of Prophecy.
The Jewish & Christian Testaments are An original derivation from the Poetic Genius. This is necessary from the confined nature of bodily sensation.
As all men are alike (tho’ infinitely various), So all Religions & as all similars have one source.
The true Man is the source, he being the Poetic Genius.
-William Blake, 1788