Once he said to me in the height of his imperial propaganda, 'Tell those young men in Ireland that this great thing must go on. They say Ireland is not fit for self-government but that is nonsense. It is as fit as any other European country but we cannot grant it.
All the great masters have understood that there cannot be great art without the little limited life of the fable, which is always better the simpler it is, and the rich, far-wandering, many-imaged life of the half-seen world beyond it.
Nor dread nor hope attend A dying animal; A man awaits his end Dreading and hoping all; Many times he died, Many times rose again. A great man in his pride Confronting murderous men Casts derision upon Supersession of breath; He knows death to the bone – Man has created death.
Round these men stories tended to group themselves, sometimes deserting more ancient heroes for the purpose. Round poets have they gathered especially, for poetry in Ireland has always been mysteriously connected with magic.
I passed a little further on and heard a peacock say: Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathers gay, He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.
I no longer went to church as a regular habit, but go I sometimes did, for one Sunday morning I saw these words painted on a board in the porch: 'The congregation are requested to kneel during prayers; the kneelers are afterwards to be hung upon pegs provided for the purpose.
And yet the wise are of opinion that wherever man is, the dark powers who would feed his rapacities are there too, no less than the bright beings who store their honey in the cells of his heart, and the twilight beings who flit hither and thither, and that they encompass him with a passionate and melancholy multitude.
Now as to magic. It is surely absurd to hold me weak or otherwise because I choose to persist in a study which I decided deliberately four or five years ago to make, next to my poetry, the most important pursuit of my life…If I had not made magic my constant study I could not have written a single word of my Blake book.