William blake london critical essay

He was a meditative, dreaming, unsophisticated child. He loved to wander into the country; and, in later life, he was wont to relate, that one day, when, a mere child, he was at Peckham Rye, not far from Dulwich Hill, then a pretty rural region, he had his first vision, seeing a tree filled with angels; and on another summer morning he beheld angels walking in a field amid haymakers at work.

Both the fact and the matter of these visions are characteristic. His whole life was filled with visions that appeared to him not mere subjective images of his own active and exalted fancy, but realized themselves to his perceptions as having actual existence and external reality. Angels continually visited him: asleep or awake he was familiar with their presence. And never was poet more susceptible to the sweet influences of rural nature, or harmonized them more completely with the pure life of angelic existences.

Blake was essentially a poetic mystic, and his work is to be understood and fairly judged only so far as it is unreservedly accepted on its own terms. For the mystic assumes as divine the illuminations that dazzle and blind even when they enlighten. To him these revelations are above himself, and endow him with exceptional rights. A knowledge of spiritual things has been given to him, unattainable by the natural intellect,—a knowledge not to be questioned, doubted, analyzed, and made conformable to reason, but simply to be accepted and openly declared.

This is no case for modesty: the man is but the instrument of the Spirit. That his visions appear childishness or folly to the worldly-wise is of little concern to him: the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and that which is revealed to him bears in itself its warrant and security.


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His genius asserted its mastery from the first. His father, moreover, bought for him a few casts from antique models, that he might study from them at home, and gave him, from time to time, small sums of money to buy such prints as he might need. I saw and I knew immediately the difference between Raffaelle and Rubens. He wrote verses almost as soon as he began to draw; and a song, composed before he was fourteen, shows a freshness of fancy, a finish of expression, and a freedom from the mannerisms of verse then popular, surprising in the work of a child, and foretokening the rare originality and charm of his later poetry.

The imaginative character of his designs is the source of the deepest interest of his work; but the mere student of the art of engraving will find in his best plates, such as the Illustrations of the Book of Job, examples of technical skill, and of fine drawing, which prove not only admirable training of hand and eye, but give evidence of the integrity of his moral nature.

The stroke of his graver is both vigorous and tender: it is always sure and steady, however delicate. Fanciful as his conceptions may be, they are rendered with a distinctness that leaves no question of the clearness of the vision from which they proceeded, or of his power to express them with definite outline. The design, and the inscription upon it, are both characteristic. Such were the Christians in all ages. His life, during his apprenticeship, seems to have been regular, industrious, and uneventful, with nothing to distinguish it externally from any common, dull existence.

Yet its secluded, internal course was full of poetry; and the strong individuality of his genius, which made him solitary in the world, and set him apart from his generation, was defining itself to his own consciousness, and finding expression for itself in various forms, but especially in lyrics, such as for natural grace, sweetness, and melody, had not been heard in England for a hundred years and more. He had no pleasure in the faded poetry of his contemporaries, though he shared in the general admiration of Ossian, mistaking tumid shapes for grand forms, and misty vagueness for sublimity.

By Chatterton he was greatly impressed; but his real masters in poetry were the best. But, in the compositions of these early years, there is comparatively little of the mystic and prophet. Written during his apprenticeship, they were collected and printed by the aid of friends in a thin volume, in , when Blake was twenty-six years old. Blake, perhaps, never afterwards equalled the best things in this youthful volume, though he often did so in melody and feeling, and more than did so in depth of thought.

Critical Appreciation of William Blake's London

He had no training of the critical judgment; and the fine perceptions and native taste, which are manifest in his earlier productions, gradually ceased to exercise controlling influence over his work, as his imagination became more potent, and his self-confident genius claimed for itself an authority that he acknowledged as of supernatural validity. His apprenticeship ended, he studied for a time in the Antique School of the recently established Royal Academy, then in charge of a Swiss decorative artist named Moser.

From him Blake had little to learn. He drew from living models as well as from ancient statues, but he never mastered the human figure; and his design, however noble in conception, not infrequently exhibits, in some defect or eccentricity of form, the imperfection of his early training, and the influence upon his work of his theories of nature. But he had now to earn his livelihood, and it would have gone hard with him in London, had he had only his genius and his art to depend on.

Engraving, pursued as a trade, furnished him with the means of subsistence. In August, , when he was twenty-five years old, with happy confidence in the future, he married. This life of the imagination was the only one of which he himself would have thought the events worth recording.

Here was the real field of his activity. At this time its course was happy, if judged by its results. Blake wrote and designed them at once: the poems were, in his conception, both verse and picture; and they lose their perfect charm in the divorce of the text from the illustration. This is to be remembered in reading, as we now for the most part are compelled to do, the verse alone. Blake desired to get these poems published.

No publisher would venture on such an enterprise: there was no public for such poems. Blake went out with half a crown, all the money they had in the world, and of that laid out 1 s. Upon that investment of 1 s.

From these copper plates he printed off the page in brown, yellow, or whatever color it might be, that might best serve as the ground tint for the colors, to be afterwards laid on by hand, in imitation of the original drawing. He ground and mixed his colors himself, on a piece of statuary marble. The colors he used were few and simple. He taught Mrs.

William Blake, a critical essay - Wikisource, the free online library

Blake to take off the impressions with care and delicacy, and to help in tinting them from his drawings. They were done up in boards by Mrs. The little volume had no general circulation. It was not published in any proper sense. From time to time a copy was ordered by some friendly person, but probably not fifty copies were ever printed and colored by Blake.

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William Blake's London - Essay Example

Prophecies in a literal sense they are not; but fanciful expositions of things human and divine, material and moral, more or less professedly inspired. It is a poetic, allegorized answer of Faith to the complaint of the uselessness of life, and of the horror of death. Its lesson is, that every thing that lives, lives not alone, nor for itself: life is renewed by death, the form alone changes. This morality, however excellent, is common-place enough, and only redeemed from triteness by the beauty of its poetic expression, and the sympathetic tenderness of the story by which it is conveyed.

Suddenly, with the last twenty lines of the poem, a new and more poetic episode begins; but the clouds of mysticism close round us, broken here and there with splendid flashes of imagination; and the poem ends with curious abruptness, leaving the reader groping after the intent of this striking, final passage. Various interpretations have been attempted. Each reader may frame one for himself. In this quality it is like the work of a child, who expects no followers, and looks for no converts, but amuses himself with an impossible world of his own imagining, more important and absorbing to him for the time than the actual world of the nursery, the schoolroom, and the garden.

Blake was a most childlike man,—childlike in simplicity and in faith; childlike even to childishness, as mystics are apt to be, in the indulgence of wayward moods, and in the defect of the sense of proportion between individual conceits and the wisdom of mankind. Its more interesting portions, those which most clearly illustrate the character and the speculations of its author, may be found reprinted in Mr.

In its literary and pictorial matter alike, this volume was, indeed, in a true sense, a prophecy, which a keen intelligence might easily have read, of the descent of its author along paths which could issue only in a wilderness.

The books that followed year by year became more and more delirious and extravagant, with gleams of high poetic power, and true imaginative vision, in the midst of a waste of cloudy mythology, and a desert of perplexed philosophy. There is nothing of serenity in them, little of self-possessed strength, but a frequent surrender of the intelligence to the control of lawless and uncertain visions and passionate emotions, in a baffled attempt to solve the deepest problems of theology, and the riddles of the moral order of the universe.

A state of mental exaltation was habitual with him, and he indulged himself in the most dangerous mental stimulants. Hence the insane cosmogony, blatant mythology, and sonorous aberration of thoughts and theories.

William Blake's London Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - words

Hence, also, much of the special force and supreme occasional loveliness or grandeur in expression. It were useless to attempt to present a rational analysis of the inner meaning and significance of these Prophecies, or to attempt to draw from their confusions a clear, smooth thread of logical doctrine. But, for the most part, they are great banks of mist, in which the adventurous voyager soon loses sight of either sun or stars, hears no voice but of the heavy wind, and sees no forms but the shifting wreaths of fog.

This creed, so far as it had consistency, was a strange blending of Pantheism with historical Christianity, and with speculations of a confused Platonism. Blake professed himself a devout Christian; though he interpreted Christianity by a light of his own, and in a manner the reverse of orthodox.

The God whom most men worship,—the God of the moral law, exacting penalty for sin, and under whose rule man had been taught to look upon himself and the creation as reprobate, sinful, fallen, and requiring redemption,—was to Blake but the image of the Devil,—. Atheism, consequently, signified to Blake, belief in the received God of this world, and was to him the sum of impiety. The Devil is in us as far as we are nature. The word apocalypse derives from the Greek word meaning "revelation", lending its name to the last book of the New Testament, The Book of Revelations.

It refers to a prophetic vision which, through elaborate and often violent symbolism, signals an This poem is concerned with the theme of England's loss of innocence; this is important because it shows that development is William Blake is arguably one of the most eccentric and enigmatic artists of the Romantic era. His ideas about religion, art and society The speaker argues that Pity could not exist Each subsequent stanza Blake challenges the status quo, questioning stagnant, They took advantage of the freedom of The motif of the fall of man is quite often used in poems and prose alike.

The use of the word "chartered" is ambiguous and goes against control and ownership.

It may express the political and economic control that Blake considered London to be enduring at the time of his writing. Blake's friend Thomas Paine had criticised the granting of Royal Charters to control trade as a form of class oppression. Blake makes reference to the "Blackening church" suggesting that the church as an institution is not only physically blackening from the soot of London, but is actually rotting from the inside, insinuating severe corruption.

This is presented through the verbs 'curse', 'cry' and 'sigh'. The poem was set to music in by Tangerine Dream on their album Tyger ; the album is based on the poems of William Blake. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


  1. Ferguson-Wagstaffe, "'Points of Contact': Blake and Whitman" | Romantic Circles;
  2. Looking at the manuscript of William Blake’s ‘London’ - The British Library.
  3. Blake, William: An Introduction - Online Library of Liberty?
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  5. William Wordworth's London and William Blake's Upon Westminster Bridge.
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