Study Guide

Auguries of Innocence Allusions

By William Blake

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Literary and Philosophical References:

  • The Book of Jonah (127)
    Blake references the Book of Jonah 4:10 when discussing how the physical eye (and the material world itself) was "born in a night to perish in a night." In Jonah, the same terms ("came up in a night and perished in a night") are used by God to describe a gourd plant that shelters Jonah and then dies.
  • Emmanuel Swedenborg (128-132)
    Blake might not actually owe this idea to the Swedish mystic Swedenborg, but scholars have always pointed out that Blake's idea of God as a Cosmic Human is really close to (or actually identical with) Swedenborg's idea of God. You can see this reflected at the end of "Auguries" in lines 128-132.

Pop Culture Inspirations:

  • "End of the Night" by The Doors
    Jim Morrison was a huge Blake fan. In fact, the name "The Doors" comes from another Blake poem, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," which talks about cleansing "the doors of perception." In this track, Morrison quotes Blake's lines from "Auguries" about how some people are either born "to sweet delight" or "endless night."
  • "Every Grain of Sand" by Bob Dylan 
    This '80s song dates from the period when Dylan was writing a lot of religious and Christian music. This track from the album
    Shot of Love makes reference to Blake's "to see a world in a grain of sand," as Dylan tries to see God's power reflected in "every grain of sand" and "every leaf that trembles."
  • Red Dragon by Thomas Harris  
    Harris's serial killer thriller (which was made into a movie starring Ralph Fiennes as the bad guy) features a villain with a famous William Blake painting (The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun) tattooed on his back.
  • Dead Man directed by Jim Jarmusch 
    This odd, art-house flick takes place in the Wild West and stars Johnny Depp as a character named "William Blake." He makes friends with a Native American named Nobody who happens to be a fan of the actual, famous William Blake and likes to quote his poetry.

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