Take one of the “Proverbs of Hell” and write a short account of what you think it means and how you think it helps to explain an aspect of Blake’s thinking.

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.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.

The obvious meaning to the about proverb of hell is that effort and experience are rewarding. The first line can is metaphor for the human life. The seed represents childhood, a time of learning and experience. The harvest is from the beginning to the end of adulthood, a time when lessons learnt and experience can be taught to others. In the winter years of life, that is when a person is elderly they can enjoy the fruits of their labour, the wisdom of their efforts and their experience.

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The second line describes procession. A push to continue with life, to make a better re-use of the experience that has come before you.
The third, fourth and fifth line are connected by their repetitive proverbial style.  The first ends in a rich outcome, Blake values a great capacity for experience, a road travelled that results in a lot of experience means that eventually those who are experience will gain wisdom through their efforts.  The second and third are negative proverbs. A person unable to manage their lives is destined to live cripplingly cautiously and unimaginatively in their future. Also a person who doesn’t actively pursue what they want in life will be devastated by what Blake describes as pestilence a fatal disease; this has clear negative connotations indicating an unhappy end.
The final line is another short proverb, relating to the rewards of effort and experience. If a worm is cut into two, it will grow another tail, some worms have even been proven to grow new heads and as such from one worm, two form which is a process heavy with positive connotations. This positive comes from the effort put in by the plow.

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