Proverbs of Hell – William Blake – Literary Podcasts

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. On today’s podcast, we are going to read some proverbs and text from William Blake’s famous work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, first published in 1793. If you enjoy unique proverbs and sayings, you will undoubtedly enjoy the Book of Zen collection, which is a collection of t-shirts, fashion, and accessories, which all feature inspirational (sometimes humorous) sayings and proverbs that I personally have written over the years.

Book of Zen shirts, jackets, scarves, posters, stickers, and smart-phone cases make for an original gift or unique way to express your own originality, while spreading epiphanies of insight. And by purchasing an item, you also help support our podcast. To learn more, please visit

Now on to today’s reading…..

As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius (which to Angels look like torment and insanity), I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, show the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.

How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,

Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.

Those who desire but act not, breed pestilence.

The cut worm forgives the plow.

Dip those in the river who loves water.

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise person sees.

Those whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

The busy bee has no time for sorrow.

The hours of folly are measured by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.

All wholesome food is caught without a net or a trap.

Bring out the number, the weight & measure in a year of dearth.

No bird soars too high, if it soars with its own wings.

A dead body revenges not injuries.

The most sublime act is to set another before you.

If the fool would persist in their folly, they would become wise.

Folly is the cloke of knavery.

Shame is Pride’s cloke.

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.

The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.

The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.

The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.

The nakedness of woman is the work of God.

Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of humanity.

The fox condemns the trap, not itself.

Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.

Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.

The selfish smiling fool & the sullen frowning fool shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.

What is now proved was once only imagined.

The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet: watch the roots. The lion, the tiger, the horse, the elephant: watch the fruits.

The cistern contains: the fountain overflows.

One thought fills immensity.

Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man or woman will avoid you.

Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth.

The eagle never lost so much time, as when it submitted to learn of the crow.

The fox provides for itself, but God provides for the lion.

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.

Those who have suffered you to impose on them know you.

As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Expect poison from the standing water.

You never know what is enough, unless you know what is more than enough.

Listen to the fools reproach! It is a kingly title!

The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.

The weak in courage is strong in cunning.

The apple tree never asks the beech how it shall grow; nor the lion, the horse, how it shall take its prey.

The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.

If other’s bad behavior not been foolish, we should be so.

The soul of sweet delight can never be defiled.

When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. Lift up thy head!

As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.

To create a little flower is the labor of ages.

Damn braces: Bless relaxes.

The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.

Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!

Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion.

As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.

The crow wished everything was black, the owl, that everything was white.

Exuberance is Beauty.

If the lion was advised by the fox, he would be cunning.

Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

Where humanity is not, nature is barren.

Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed.

Enough! or Too much.

The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve. And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity; until a system was formed, which some took advantage of & which enslaved the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects:

Thus began Priesthood, choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounced that the Gods had ordered such things. Thus men and women forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.


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