|Yale Center for British Art|
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
On page 384 of The Visionary Hand, edited by Robert N. Essick, we read of Blake's approach to illustrating Young's Night Thoughts:
"When Young wrote Night Thoughts in the middle of the eighteenth century, he considered he was offering 'plain truths' with which his readers would agree. But when Blake illustrated the Night Thoughts at the end of the century, he found ideas with which he was in confirmed opposition.
The immediate basis for Blake's picture  is the lines, 'Where Sense runs Savage, broke from Reason's chain,/ And sings false Peace, till smother'd by the Pall.'
Blake's girl personifying Sense is not 'running savage,' but does wear the manacle of Reason's chain, appears to be singing, and is about to be smothered by the pall of Death.
[Seen in the context of Young's poetry] Blake's picture seems to embody a conception of literature. Sense now represents the aesthetic pleasure of those poets whose creative or imaginative energy Young rejects.Young hopes to restrain imaginative energy with Reason's chain, but a central theme of all Blake's work celebrates the liberation of Imagination from domineering reason. Young is suspicious of Apollo, but Blake asserts that 'One power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision.'"
Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems, (E 465) "PREFACE [PAGE viii] Wordsworth: The powers requisite for the production of poetry are, first, those of observation and description. . . . whether the things depicted be actually present to the senses, or have a place only in the memory. . . . 2dly, Sensibility, . . . Blake: One Power alone makes a Poet.-Imagination The Divine Vision".