T.S. Eliot on William Blake

The question about Blake the man is the question of the circumstances that concurred to permit this honesty in his work, and what circumstances define its limitations. The favouring conditions include these two: that, being early apprenticed to a manual operation, he was not compelled to acquire any other education in literature than he wanted, or to acquire it for any other reason than that he wanted it; and that, being a humble engraver, he had no journalistic-social career open to him.

There was, that is to say, nothing to distract him from his interests or to corrupt these interests: neither the ambitions of parents or wife, nor the standards of society, nor the temptations of success; nor was he exposed to imitation of himself by anyone else. These circumstances—not his supposed inspired and untaught spontaneity—are what make him innocent. [Education for the ordinary man] consist[s] largely in the acquisition of impersonal ideas which obscure what we really are and feel, what we really want, and what really excites our interest. [Blake] was naked, and saw man naked, and from teh centre of his own crystal.

— “William Blake”