Study Guide

Auguries of Innocence Life, Consciousness, and Existence

By William Blake

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Blake likes to get cosmic, and "Auguries of Innocence" is no exception. We see tears turning into babies and God metamorphosing from beams of light into a human. But aside from the trippy special effects, Blake is really concerned with what makes us truly human. He's concerned with the way we see things. If we see them with a lot of imagination, energy, and love (and "see a world in a grain of sand"), we're becoming more divine, more fully human. But if we don't, and instead dull our perceptions, that's a recipe for insensitivity and cruelty. Life, for Blake, is a matter of heightening our consciousness of reality in order to become more compassionate. He's into "raising awareness"—but in a literal way.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. How does Blake think humans can learn to "see a world in a grain of sand / And heaven in a wildflower"? What's his method?
  2. What do you think Blake would say the meaning of life is, based on "Auguries of Innocence"?
  3. Does Blake explain why some humans suffer and others experience joy? Does he think that there's some sort of poetic justice that makes everything eventually work out?

Chew on This

The meaning of life is to raise the consciousness of humanity. And there you have it.

Actually, the meaning of life is to try to have compassion for people. (Psst—these aren't contradictory statements.)

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