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Zeppelin and William Blake


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I've read a bit on this site about Jimmy Page's interest in Aleister Crowley but not much has been said (that I can find) about William Blake --the romantic poet and artist--as a literary or philosophical inspiration for the band. Robert Plant once said that he and Jimmy talked about Blake when they were first getting to know each other.

Blake was one of Crowley's influences from what I understand and he is now a Thelemic saint.

And of course there's a reference to Blake's Albion in Achilles Last Stand.

I reread Songs of Innocence and Experience recently but Blake's work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell seems to relate to Zeppelin even more considering the importance of energy to the band's music and live shows. Plus, the hedonistic lifestyle that was created in the wake of the music's success.

Here are some quotes from TMoHaH for those who haven't yet encountered it.

"Without contraries is no progres-

sion. Attraction and repulsion, rea-

son and energy, love and hate, are

necessary to human existence.

From these contraries spring what

the religious call Good and Evil.

Good is the passive that obeys reason;

Evil is the active springing from


Good is heaven. Evil is hell.

All Bibles or sacred codes have been

the cause of the following errors :

1. That man has two real existing

principles, viz., a Body and a Soul.

2. That Energy, called Evil, is alone

from the Body ; and that Reason, called

Good, is alone from the Soul.

3. That God will torment man in

Eternity for following his Energies.

But the following contraries to

these are true :

1. Man has no Body distinct from his

Soul. For that called Body is a por-

tion of Soul discerned by the five senses,

the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

2. Energy is the only life , and is from

the Body; and Reason is the bound

or outward circumference of Energy.

3. Energy is Eternal Delight.

Those who restrain desire, do so

because theirs is weak enough to be

restrained; and the restrainer or

reason usurps its place and governs

the unwilling.

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

The road of excess leads to the

palace of wisdom.

He who desires, but acts not, breeds


He whose face gives no light shall

never become a star.

No bird soars too high if he soars

with his own wings.

If the fool would persist in his folly

he would become wise.

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.

What is now proved was once only


Everything possible to be believed

is an image of truth.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than

the horses of instruction.

Expect poison from the standing


You never know what is enough

unless you know what is more than


If others had not been foolish we

should have been so.

The soul of sweet delight can never

be defiled.

To create a little flower is the labour

of ages.

Improvement makes straight roads,

but the crooked roads without Improve-

ment are roads of Genius.

Truth can never be told so as to be

understood and not to be believed.


For everything that lives is holy."

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That's an interesting insight - Blake is a great poet and he and the other English Romantics (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, et al) are some of my favorite writers. The link between rock music and Romanticism has been well gone over; pretty much all the classic rock groups of that era could be called Romantic in their outlook. Consider:

The Doors took their name from Blake via Aldous Huxley (If the doors of perception could be opened)

Mick Jagger read from Shelley's Adonais at the Stones' 1969 memorial concert for Brian Jones

The Beatles expressed a love of nature with "The Fool On the Hill," "Here Comes the Sun," "I'll Follow the Sun," and others

I believe even Iron Maiden did a version of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

There are many other examples of rock overlapping with Romanticism, but Zeppelin certainly fits into the category. I'd also add that LZ (esp. Page) had a lot of interest in the later Pre-Raphaelite artistic movement, the influence of which can also be detected in their music. Rock and read on!


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What an interesting thread. I don't have much to add, but I will mention a few things. Blake was well known for his mystical and spiritual visions, which he experienced his whole life. (Even as a toddler, he saw an angel's face peering in at him through his nursery room window.) It's obvious that many people in the 60's and 70's were using music and hallucinogens to experience and explore the same mystical visions -- and alternate/astral realities -- which Blake seemed to experience naturally.

The romantic poets were the rock stars of their era: They were exploring the worlds of nature and experience, the worlds of feeling and sensation, and most of them died young. Lord Byron, in particular, seems to have embodied the rock n roll spirit and lifestyle: He was famously expressive, sensual, fearless, hedonistic, etc. Another towering figure of the romantic age whose art, I believe, is similar in some respects to Led Zeppelin's, is Richard Wagner. Plant once called Page the "Wagner of rock."

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Thanks for the responses, guys! I'm adding the works you mention to my reading list.

It's interesting that Robert Plant mentioned Wagner since he also mentioned Nietzsche who loved Wagner. The Zep & Philosophy book featured a nice essay about Nietzsche's Apollo/Dionysus dichotomy as related to Zep. Now I want to read Nietzsche's first book although I'm worried it will be difficult for a person without a philosophy background.

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William Blake is my idol. He may not be technically the greatest poet of all time, but certainly was the most passionate and vivid. I've always loved his adoration of nature, and the contrast of his subtle eroticism with his Christianity. I've at times thought that if I had had children, I would have named them Blake and Page (which conveniently can be either male or female names). I once wrote a poem in the style of Blake, as an homage. Thanks for posting the excerpts. I only have collections of the poetry so I don't recall seeing some of what you posted before.

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^ I like all the romantic poets but I agree he is different than the others...more powerful and for his time very controversial in theme.

Regarding Lord Byron, here's the 2012 interview in which Zep are asked about Joe Perry saying that in the 70s they were like Byron "mad, bad, and dangerous to know", which i think Caroline Lamb said of Byron. Jimmy's response around 7:30 in the video is great: "and also to *hear*."


When I was trying to come up with a username for this site, that quote was the inspiration.

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Thanks for posting this interview.

These days, it's easy to forget how controversial and "scandalous" men like Blake and Byron sometimes were back in their time.

Also, I don't think you'll have any problems "getting through" Nietzsche's books or understanding the basics of his philosophy. Just be deeply thankful that you aren't reading something like Kant's "Critique Of Pure Reason." Lol.

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I have never heard of William Blake before. And I didn't know he had an influence on Robert and Jimmy. Thank you for posting!

This is the best way to express what I thought of those proverbs of hell.

"You never know what is enough
unless you know what is more than

"The road of excess leads to the
palace of wisdom."

Matthew 7:7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

"Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of
joy weeps."

Luke 6:20

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now,for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

"The soul of sweet delight can never
be defiled."

"He who desires, but acts not, breeds

Mark 7:14

When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

"Improvement makes straight roads,
but the crooked roads without Improve-
ment are roads of Genius."

"Energy is the only life , and is from
the Body; and Reason is the bound
or outward circumference of Energy."

Matthew 7:13

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

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