William Blake

Songs of Innocence
  • Either from perspective of or about children
  • Not all are happy – depict abandoned children, child labor
  • God is a guiding figure
William Blake
  • Apprentice to an engraver – became very highly skilled, but was interested in painting, poetry
  • Barely scraped by – living in poverty, sometimes on the charity of others
  • Did not believe his verse should be produced in books, instead put them on plates and engraved them with beautiful images
  • His language is very simple and basic in the Song – doesn’t choose to use elaborate or flowery language
    • deceptively simple – undercutting or ironizing on another level
  • The Chimney Sweeper – Innocence
    • Industrial revolution v. Religious promises
    • Present the childrens’ reality with the promises that are made to them
    • I think it is impossible to separate the text from the context
    • I do not see it as such a scathing criticism of religion
    • May say that religion is used by state and manipulated to carry out agenda
    • Can you separate religion and state?
  • The Chimney Sweeper – Experience
    • Creating a new mythology for himself
    • Religion isolated you from the negative abuses and injustices around you – but it may also bring them to your attention and push to resolve them
    • Devastating critique of capitalism – which had not been established as a term yet
  • Ciel’s Presentation
    • Symmetrical Continuum
    • Constructs his works with reflecting opposites
    • Reconciliation between two opposite images – humanity is full of contradictions
    • Shockingly complex observation of binaries
    • I find the “symbolic” of symbolic continuum problematic because the two states are not the same, but they do have fundamental connections/are inseparable
    • Symbolic – invisible, deceptive, not related to origins
    • Imaginative – visible, representative of truth
  • Introductions
    • loses pipe which is unnatural, unhuman
    • without pipe, as bard he uses his own voice, gaining insight from visions angel gives him
    • Pipe is obscuring the voice of the piper – reed pipe
      • The reed that makes up the pipe is also picked to make up the pen
      • Use things that are natural to your environment to use to communicate your art/words
    • In Experience introduction, Bard is not calling upon the earth instead of using the earth
      • break of day = allusion to Second Coming, salvation
  • An Hymn to the Morning – Phillis Wheatley
    • naturally rhymed, strict iambic pentameter
    • colloquial language for the time
    • One reading: the masculine sun is presented as strong and pressuring in the feminine scene
    • May indicate the pressure of the history and the cannon bearing down on her work
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