Infinity, and beyond

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

Writers are often sustained by words, sometimes their own coming upon them like magic and visions, more often by those of the great visionaries like William Blake. The words, of course, lead writers higher than their own fragile wings can carry them without the power of what is infinite.

Frontispiece to Jerusalem is a painting by William Blake


The words and art of William Blake (November 1757 – August 1827) often suffice for me. I am drawn toward the words of mystics and visionaries. To my knowledge, no living person has mastered the fictional power of Gandalf or the wizards-in-training at Hogwarts. We have not yet learned how to use the higher powers within us to stop a bomb from exploding in downtown Nashville or a plane from crashing or a building from burning to the ground.

Our natural tendency to hate those responsible for exploding bombs and other terrorist activities probably impedes our progress toward mastery of what Marianne Williams was speaking of when she said, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” and what William Blake was speaking of when he said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

We are focused on the material close at hand, I think, rather than the larger picture of perception and what is behind the material universe we are aware of through our five senses. Until we grasp that larger picture, we’re not free, are we, and we will continue to view horrible events as fate or even the will of the gods.

When I look for quotations to post on Facebook before signing off for the evening, I find many soul-sustaining words. I choose Blake. Perhaps you choose Walt Whitman or Mary Oliver. No matter: the words that sustain us carry us higher than the sky where our destiny awaits.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism novels and short stories, including “Fate’s Arrows.”