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William Blake

A poet, painter and engraver of great originality, William Blake's work has been variously classified as a product of a mystic, or a naïve uneducated fellow, or a holy fool, or a raving lunatic, or a revolutionary, or a wise artist-poet of genius. He received no formal education but was educated at home - mainly by his mother. She must have been fairly a good teacher, for besides reading much in Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible, he knew French, Italian, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. He worked as an illustrator of Dante's works, Virgil, the Book of Job, Gray's "Poems", Young's "Night Thoughts", Chaucer. He also illustrated his own work, being convinced that image and word were united. Blake earned his living by engraving and illustration; the poetry he wrote, he claimed, was gleaned by listening to his own ghosts and spirits, and he only sparingly allowed his poetic work to be published. As a poet, he might be termed a symbolist. Blake saw not an outer reality, as you or I might see things, but symbols in nature and man; the poet glimpsed what was hidden, seing a higher reality, one more grand than what met the eye. Blake created his own legends, peopling his poems with mythic figures whom he invented. His initial poems, entitled "Poetical Sketches", came out in 1783; their tone was simple, much akin to folk songs. "Songs of Innocence" appeared in 1789; in 1794 "Songs of Experience" was published, whereby both books for the poet were antithetically conceived. For Blake "Innocence" meant inner harmony; thus bliss was best expressed in and only granted to an unselfconsciously living human child; as soon as "Experience" or the knowledge of good and evil enters, fateful mistakes occur, destroying inner harmony. Therefore each human being must struggle to regain his original inner harmony. In 1793 he came out with "Visions of the Daughters of Albion", introducing many figures from his own personal mythology: for instance, Orc, the archetypal rebel; Urizen, a dark symbol of constrictive morality. Urizen makes another appearence in "America: a Prophecy" (1793). Blake was not much appreciated in his time, though it would be exaggerated to claim that he was completely isolated, as many have suggested; yet it was mainly left to later generations, particularly of the twentieth century, to see his importance. His practice of remarking myths and legends in terms of what best suited the poet did point the way to the aesthetic work of later writers.

Blake described London as a horrible city, to demonstrate the see-able consequences of Industrial Revolution.


The repetition of some sounds reinforces the sense of violence which dominated London and the disease between people.

The commercials were attacked by the poet. Society is dominated by commercial interest over nature. There is a metaphor: mind- forg’d manacles which would represent the psychological status of man. He forged with is mind the manacles and they limit his imagination the manacles stand for the cities quacked by industrialisation, for ex. he provided London as an awful city.

Child chimney sweeper and soldiers. First is an indictment of the indifference of church who had lost the touch. The soldier’s death is on the king’s responsibility and on political powers. The other characters are the prostitute. In the last stanzas was a deal with prostitution, which is victim of lack of job. Another important feature is the hears, a word linking marriage to death because the marriage with a prostitute comports the death for venereal illness so the marriage could become funeral hearse.
The tone is grave and often is a sign of indignation of the poet regarding the oppressed that is directed to the oppressors.

Speaker is the poet. Child and the poet are speaking to a lamb. Poet compared himself to a child, which god was compared to the innocence of a lamb.
In the 1 stanza there are various expression dealing goodness so the real nature of lamb. Various nouns can be grouped in SOFTNEES, WARMTH, SWEETNESS, and GENEROSITY.
There connotations have a positive Quality in commons and the creator appears to be good.
The characters are pure not mixed with civil elements and corruption.
In the second stanza it’s the define the Creator (meek, kind, lamb)
There is a comparison: god was compared with the innocence of a lamb and child. Lamb and child represent innocence, goodness, sweetness

The lamb could stand both as a real animal as a symbol of perfect innocence oh childhood (some mental states of soul that the poet loves.) Real is caused by natural setting.
The Symbolism is based on the image of Christ, the Lamb of God, who was personified in human child. The purity was stressed.
The three protagonists (lamb, god and child) have a common element. Sacrifice as lambs were traditionally used for sacrifice, as Christ, son of God, he was sacrificed and Children were INNOCENT VICTIM OF THE SOCIETY.

1. rhetorical figures In first line repetition creates an effect of urgency and energy.
Every sentence of poesy is interrogative to create WONDER. Kissing rhymes. The tone: by candid innocence it passes to a wondering one.

Language and meaning Analyse some important linked words.
• Burning bright: word burning referred to tiger, evokes the image of animal’s eyes burning with rage and violence, but the addition

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