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The Flight of the mind

From the "Auguries of Innocence" (1803) William Blake states the phrase "To see a World in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower,Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour." Imagination is the human faculty which allows us to form mental images of what we are not directly experiencing at the moment; furthermore, we can even conjure up events and feel sensations that are evoked by words we hear or read. Much of the fascination literature has always had for mankind is due to our mind's power to build up pictures of the invented worlds we are drawn into whenever we open a book. The greater an author's skill, the more involved we are in situations she or he presents to us, no matter how far from our present reality they are. Since the 1890s, psychologists have put the study of human functions on a scientific basis, but the interest in how our brain works and how it controls our feelings and emotion goes as far back in history as the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Eastern civilizations. At the beginning of the 19th century , romantic poets gave imagination a primary role in the process of poetry making.

In his Biographia Literaria (1817) Samuel Taylor Coleridge considers it as "the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the future mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM". In his opinion, therefore, imagination was a creative driving force which the poet had the duty to stimulate in his readers through his works.

The Rainbow by William Wordsworth

MY heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

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