My teacher made this claim in context of Alicia Keys' song "New York" with reference to the line

the lights will inspire you

(which I just read to mean that the lights will spark ideas and emotions in me) and I highly doubt that he is right. However, with edge cases like this one, there is not always a right or wrong answer, especially in natural language.

In fact, a friend informed me that "to inspire" was used with the meaning of "to blind" in a Biblical passage about the binding of Isaac, which I, very unfamiliar with the text and not knowing which Bible version he referred to, could not find anywhere. Does anyone know other instances of the word being used in this way and could point me to the passage? Any help would be much appreciated.

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    Inspire comes from Latin words meaning breathe into. I know of no connection with blindness, and it seems highly improbable. Dec 5, 2022 at 10:15
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    I agree with Kate. There is no sense for inspire in the OED which has anything to do with blinding.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 5, 2022 at 10:22
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    There are links in myth between blindness and prophecy or inspiration. This is prominent in Greek legend with figures such as the seer Tiresias and the poet Homer. It's less common in the Christian Bible (St Paul of Tarsus was briefly struck blind, when he was converted). That does not mean that blindness and inspiration are the same.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 5, 2022 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


Your teacher's interpretation is highly metaphoric, and there is no need to attach any linguistic rigor to it. Something can be so inspiring that it can blind you from seeing anything else. Or the lights are so bright that you are blinded to see the rest of the world and can inspire you to focus more on your inner world. Poetry is free for subjective interpretations...

As for your friend's claim, it is not supported by any reputable source and the reference to the Bible is at least obscure.

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