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William Blake and his wife once got caught reciting Paradise Lost together in the nude.

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November 18, 2020, 10:33am

If you find yourself bored as the new lockdown hits, consider taking a leaf out of William and Catherine Blake’s book, and doing a naked reading of Paradise Lost with your roommates.

The Blakes’ strange leisure activities live on through an anecdote told by the Blakes’ friend Thomas Butts. When he came to visit the Blakes in their small summer house at Lambeth, Butts was stunned to see . . . the Blakes completely naked. But Blake was unfazed: “Come in!” Blake purportedly cried. “It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!” The Blakes were simply reciting Paradise Lost, in character.

Blake, whose work deeply engaged with Milton’s, famously wrote in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that Milton “was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” According to this anecdote (as well as, you know, Blake’s entire corpus), so was Blake—not only embracing unrestrained desire, but literally placing himself in the shoes of the fallen. Or rather, the lack of shoes. Or anything else.

[via Poetry]

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