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William Blake

William Blake was born in London in 1757, he has been humble and poor all of his life and this influenced his sympathy for the poor. He has been trained as an engraved and painter, indeed all of his poems are followed by a painting. He was a political freethinker, supported the french revolution and remained radical all of his life.
He witnessed the evil effects of the industrial revolution on man's soul and started to think of the poet ad the guardian of the spirit; he had a strong sense of religion and the most important literary influence in his life was the Bible. He emphasised the importance of imagination over reason and believed that ideal forms should be created not from the observation of nature but from inner visions. His most important works are Song of Innocence (1789) Songs of Experience (1794) and the Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790s) . Songs of innocence were written before the french revolution, when his enthusiasm for liberal ideas was high. The narrator is a shepherd who receives inspiration from a child, who advises him to celebrate the divine in all of his forms. Its symbols are lambs, children and flowers. The poems deal with childhood as the symbol on innocence and the language is simple and musical. Its complementary Songs of Experience was written during the period of the Terror in France. It deals with the discussion of the themes of the previous collection, there is a more pessimistic view of life: experience, identified with adulthood coexists with innocence, indeed as to Blake contrary states exist not in linear sequence but in parallel: they are simultaneous. Experience is linked to suffering: one grows suffering, indeed innocence is not a value, because as a kid one has not known evil, it has to pass through experience and become wisdom.
to be a value. As to Blake the possibility of progress lays in the tension between opposite states of mind. In his patchwork of aphorisms The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake states “the road to excess leads to wisdom” and “without contraries there is no progression”. Blake then died in 1827

The Lamb

The poem opens with a question. The poem wants to know who created the lamb, and then the answer is given in the second stanza through a sort of riddle: the lamb was created by someone who calls himself a lamb and became a child. The child is the speaker and therefore the poet, so the divine and the poet share the power of creation, this is conveyed through the 17th and 18th lines: I a child and thou a lamb, we are called by his name. The rhythm is urging and riddle- like, thanks to the frequent use of repetitions and run on lines. The setting is pleasant and idyllic, reassuring and armonious the speaker is in a vale, a meadow.

The Tyger

This poem deals with the creation of evil, embodied in the tiger. The setting is a dark forest, in which the tiger is burning. The tiger symbolises the poet's genius, and it is burning in order to lighten up the dark forest symbolising reason: the poet's imagination can explain the mysteries of life, the tiger is burning to emphasise that imagination can hint at this ungraspable truth. The setting becomes then a blacksmith's workshop, because the smith is compared to the creator; furthermore, the smith works with fire, hinting at hell. While in lamb the answer to the initial question was provided, in the tyger it is not, which symbolises the fact that there is no rational explanation to evil. The tiger is the simble of experience; experience means everything that makes one grow up, that is to say evil and suffering, life is made of pain and reason can't explain it. The question that the poet asks is “how could the same creator of good, create also evil?” →Did he smile his work to see? Did he, who made the lamb, make thee? The poet also recall the myths of Icarus and Prometheus, who both challenged the divine, who created a lot of evil things who brought bad consequences, they tried but they failed, so this is a warning of the fact that we can't do nothing about the existence of evil. Style: the work is made of couplets, there are six stanzas of four lines (quatrains). The rhythm is hammering and fast thanks to rhymes, short words, questions, allitterations and run on lines.


London is a poem of four quatrains, in which the speaker criticises society and the outcome of the industrial revolution. In this poem the poet walks through the streets of London, the personal pronoun I increases the realism of the situation. He notices pain everywhere, indeed there is the repetition of “every” used to express a universal feeling: pain is everywhere, everybody feels the same.
The key image is the mind forged manacles, in everything he hears, he notices that everyone has handcuffs made by institutions, politicians and the church. The victims of this industrial development are three: children, soldiers and women. Children are exploited, for example as chimney sweepers, and the church has no reaction, it's not willing to make up for this sad situation, it could have helped poor children avoiding them to work. The image which conveys so is “every blackening church appalls” the church is blackening because of pollution and the church as an institution is shocked, but that is all it does. The second victim is a soldier, whose blood runs down the palace walls; politicians don't care about the death of people fighting for them, no institution cares. Finally women are exploited too, as prostitutes, who “blasts with plagues the Marriage hearse”, marriage is dead and it is because of married men who have sexual intercourses with prostitutes, there is a lack of respect and love, then these men contribute to the spread of venereal diseases and the birth of unwanted children. Style: there is a frequent use of repetitions: the words repeated are “chartered” “every” “i” “cry” “mark” and “hear”. The rhythm is urged by run on lines, and the rhyme scheme is ABAB.
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