It is commonly asserted and accepted that Paradise Lost is among the two or three greatest English poems; it may justly be taken as the type of supreme poetic achievement in our literature.
To know anything of a poet but his poetry is, so far as the poetry is concerned, to know something that may be entertaining, even delightful, but is certainly inessential.
So it is in poetry. All we ask is that the mood recorded shall impress us as having been of the kind that exhausts the imaginative capacity; if it fails to do this the failure will announce itself either in prose or in insignificant verse.
To take an analogy: if we say that a democratic government is the best kind of government, we mean that it most completely fulfills the highest function of a government – the realisation of the will of the people.
There can be no proof that Blake’s lyric is composed of the best words in the best order; only a conviction, accepted by our knowledge and judgment, that it is so.
A secret is a weapon and a friend.
What the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow.
Any fool can wash himself, but every wise man knows that it is an unnecessary labour, for nature will quickly reduce him to a natural and healthy dirtiness again.
You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also.
We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell.