William Blake was born in London in 1757, he never went to school but he entered the Royal Academy when he was 22 after apprenticing as an engraver. From 1779 he was employed as an engraver and that became, along with painting, is source of income. He got married at 25 with Catherine Boucher and, in the same period, started writing poems whom never became famous while he was alive but found some appreciation during the 19th century. He died in August 1827.
Works and Poems
In 1789 he published “Songs of Innocence” a book which he himself carved in copper plates with a technique he invented which he called “illuminated painting”. In 1794 he added to “Songs of Innocence”, “Songs of Experience”. Between 1791 and 1804 he published his prophetic books such as “The French Revolution: a Poem in Seven Books”, “America: a prophecy” and “Milton, a Poem in Two Books, to Justify the Ways of God to Man”. He also engraved some books by other authors such as a book from the Old Testament, “Paradise Lost” by Milton and “The Bard” by Thomas Gray.
Blake uses a simple vocabulary and syntax even though he often treats complex arguments and reflection and his poems are often musical and rhythmic due to the repetition of some verses or words.
In each book there’s a poem which symbolizes the entire idea structuring Blake’s work. They are entitled “The Lamb” and “The Tiger”. The lamb represents infancy and his innocence while the tiger is adult life, a mixture of beauty and terror, creation and distraction. The two parts are, even if very different, connected to each other because, metaphorically, the tiger and the lamb are both innocent even when the tiger threatens other living beings her violence is innocent as the destructive impulse of a child. Blake’s view of this two parts as completely different but inseparable is very interesting because, even if one is beautiful and innocent the other is necessary to the development of society. This two parts of life are complementary opposites; one can’t exist without the other and there can’t be progress if they don’t coexist as for Love and Hate, Cruelty and Kindness, Death and Life, Illness and Health.