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William Blake is s a 19th-century writer who is an influential person of the Romantic Age.
He was born on 28th November 1757 in London, England. Blake is so much potentially inspired by the Holy Bible. This inspiration made his life vibrant. The Bible raises intense spirituality in him.
His writings have influenced my authors throughout ages. He starts writing at an early age. He has studied engraving. Later he develops an interest in Gothic art.
Blake used to visualize imagery at an early age, while he was four years old. He states he has seen the prophet Ezekiel under a tree. Thus his visions have a great impact on his writings.
William Blake as a poet
Blake has studied engraving, and his main hobby is painting in watercolours. He has started writing from a very early age. In the early years of his life, he has attended the literary artistic salons of Harriet Mathew.
John Thomas Smith, a companion of William Blake, has mentioned about Blake “He was listened to by the company with profound silence, and allowed […] to possess original and extraordinary merit.”
Blake has used a different technique to publish his works. He used to draw his poems and their designs on copper in a liquid impermeable to acid.
Then he engraved them and, with the support of his kind wife, printed and coloured them, stitched them in rough sugar-paper wrappers, and set them for sale.
Later Blake creates his first poetical works for which he became popular, Songs of Innocence, with 19 poems on 26 prints. The poems are written for children and they represent the innocence and the vulnerability, and they are protected and raised by supreme powers.
In one of the best-known lyrics of Blake is called “The Lamb,”. a little boy gives to a lamb the kind of catechism which he had received In the church.
The logic is simple, the creator of the child and lamb has the same qualities as a creator.
William Blake At Felpham
In 1800, Blake shifts to a cottage at Felpham, in Sussex. He starts up a work of illustrating the works of William Hayley. In this cottage, Blake starts writing his epic poem, Milton.
Over time, Blake starts grudging his first patron, William Hayley. He believes that Hayley is not interested in true artistry, and so much preoccupied with “The Mere Drudgery of Business”.
In August 1803, when he is involved in a fight with a soldier, John Schofield, Blake faces trouble with authority.
Blake gets charged not only with harassment but also with uttering provocation and disloyal attitude against the king.
Return to London
Blake returned to London in 1804. He began to write and illustrate his most ambitious work, Jerusalem.
Having the idea of featuring the characters in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Blake approached the dealer Robert Cromek, with an offer to sell an engraving.
Knowing Blake is very unconventional to produce a work, Cromek immediately commissions Thomas Stothard, Blake’s companion to accomplish the concept.
When Blake learned he is being cheated, he breaks up all his contact with Stothard.
Then Blake writes his ‘Descriptive Catalogue’, which contains “brilliant analysis” of Chaucer and is anthologised as a tradition of criticism of Chaucer. It also contains a detailed explanation of his other paintings.
In 1818, Blake meets a young artist named John Linnell. Through Linnell, he is introduced to Samuel Palmer, who belonged to a group of artists who are called the Shoreham Ancients.
The group shares the same rejection of modern trends like Blake and his belief in a spiritual and artistic age.
Blake starts working on illustrations for the ‘Book of Job’, at the age of 65. Later it was admired by Ruskin.
After this Blake begins selling his works in a large number to Thomas Butt, especially his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butt.
Influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy
The authorization for Dante’s Divine Comedy comes to Blake through Linnell in 1826. Because of producing a series of engravings.
Blake’s illustrations of the poem are not merely partnering works, but rather seems critical or spiritual or moral as a text.
Some critics have said that Blake’s illustrations completely would take the issue with the text which they accompany.
In the margin of ‘Homer Bearing the Sword and His Companions’ Blake states, “Everything in Dante’s Comedia shows That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost.”
Blake seems to disagree with Dante’s admiration of the poetic works of ancient Greece, and with the evident pleasure with which Dante grants punishments in Hell.
Contrarily, Blake shared Dante’s distrust of materialism and the corruptive nature of power. He clearly takes advantage of the opportunity to represent the atmosphere and imagery of Dante’s work.
Even during the last days of his life, Blake works on the illustrations to Dante’s Inferno. Blake is told to have spent one of the very last decoying, he possessed on a pencil to continue sketching.
Literary Works of William Blake
Most of Blake’s poetry contains myths that he has invented Throughout his life. Blake takes his investigation about the nature of life to ‘The Book of Thel’, the first poem of his published myths.
The poem concludes with the terrified Thel seeing her own grave there, and escaping back to her valley.
Next work of Blake in Illuminated Printing is ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. It has become one of his most popular works. It is prose with no familiar form. Like on the first page there is no name of the author, printer, or publisher mentioned.
‘The frontispiece to Europe’ is one of Blake’s most popular images. Sometimes it is called ‘The Ancient of Days’. It features a naked, bearded old man leaning out from the sun to define the universe with golden scopes.
He seems to be familiar with the image of God, but the usual notions about this deity are challenged by an image, of what is the reason that God has created a coiling serpent with an open mouth and forked tongue.
In the same year, Blake published ‘Songs of Experience’ and combined it with his ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul’.
The poems of ‘Songs of Experience’ is about unprotected souls in despair.
Blake’s other most impressive writings are The Four Zoa, Milton, and Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion. In these works, he is exposed, to Urizen and Los the Zoas Thomas and Luvah. Milton is about Blake’s attempt to correct the ideas of Paradise Lost. The poem originated from Felpham. It includes the lyric that is called “Jerusalem” which has become some sort of alternative national anthem in Britain.
Blake’s last years are from 1818 to 1827. These years made him comfortable and productive since he was a friend of the artist, John Linnell.
Through Linnell, Blake met the physician and botanist Robert John Thornton.
Blake is also introduced to the young painters George Richmond, Samuel Palmer, and Edward Calvert, who later became his disciples, as “the Ancients”.
Linnell helped Blake with his piece of work for the drawings and engravings of the ‘Book of Job’ and ‘Dante’. In these last years, Blake achieves a new tranquillity.
Blake died in his cramped rooms in Fountain Court, London, on 12th August 1827. He has been buried in Bunhill Fields, a burial ground for Nonconformists. He has been provided with the most beautiful funeral service of the Church of England.
Complete list of Poems by William Blake
“But in the Wine-presses the Human Grapes Sing not nor Dance:”
A Cradle Song
A Divine Image
A Little Boy Lost
A Poison Tree
A War Song to Englishmen
An Imitation of Spenser
Auguries of Innocence
Blind Man’s Buff
England! awake! awake! awake!
Gwin King of Norway
Holy Thursday (Experience)
Holy Thursday (Innocence)
How Sweet I Roam’d
I Heard an Angel
I Rose Up at the Dawn of Day
I Saw a Chapel
I see the Four-fold Man
If It Is True What the Prophets Write
Love and Harmony
Milton: The Sky is an Immortal Tent Built by the Sons of Los
Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau
My Pretty Rose Tree
My Spectre Around Me Night and Day
Never Seek to Tell thy Love
Now Art Has Lost Its Mental Charms
Nurse’s Song (Innocence)
Nurses Song (Experience)
On Anothers Sorrow
Piping Down the Valleys Wild
Preludium to America
Preludium to Europe
Proverbs of Hell (Excerpt from The Marriage of Heaven and H
Several Questions Answered
Silent, Silent Night
Song for the Rainy Season
Song: Memory, hither come
Songs Of Experience: Introduction
The Angel that presided o’er my birth
The Book of Thel
The Book of Urizen: Chapter I
The Book of Urizen: Chapter II
The Book of Urizen: Chapter III
The Book of Urizen: Chapter IV
The Book of Urizen: Chapter IX
The Book of Urizen: Chapter V
The Book of Urizen: Chapter VI
The Book of Urizen: Chapter VII
The Book of Urizen: Chapter VIII
The Book of Urizen: Preludium
The Caverns of the Grave I’ve Seen
The Chimney -sweeper
The Chimney Sweeper
The Clod and the Pebble
The Crystal Cabinet
The Divine Image
The Echoing Green
The Everlasting Gospel
The Four Zoas (excerpt)
The French Revolution (excerpt)
The Garden of Love
The Grey Monk (excerpts)
The Human Abstract
The Land of Dreams
The Little Black Boy
The Little Boy Found
The Little Boy Lost
The Little Girl Found
The Little Girl Lost
The Little Vagabond
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (excerpt)
The New Jerusalem
The Question Answered
The School Boy
The Sick Rose
The Sky is an Immortal Tent Built by the Sons of Los
The Song of Los
The Two Songs
The Voice of the Ancient Bard
The Wild Flower’s Song
Three Things to Remember
To The Accuser Who is The God of This World
To the Evening Star
To the Muses
To Thomas Butts
When Klopstock England Defied
Why Should I Care for the Men of Thames
Why Was Cupid a Boy
You Don’t Believe