A2 'The Rivals' by Sheridan and Blake's 'The Songs of Innocence' and 'The Songs of Experience'


1.  Basic context for Blake and Sheridan and the expansion of these points, with a few examples (Quotes and Critics)

2. Plan for essay with example paragraphs linking both 'The Rivals' and 'SOI/SOE' (the para's are not full para's and would have to be extended but can act as a guide :) )

 1.       If I were to have the freedom to write any essay on any topic of Rivals/SOI/SOE what basic context could I include?


  • Artisan poet.
  • Blake was opposed to the restriction of society by the state and the church. 
  • Endorsed freedom of the spirit, freedom of love etc. 
  • He was a spiritualist and could see the heavens within the earth, e.g. when he saw a tree of angels.

these are basic points, if you have more to add then do so. 

Now, ideas may have formed in your head about where this fits within his poetry...

Blake did ALL of his work including the writing, engraving, priniting and the arrangement of the poems. This gave him the ability to express his political opinions as he had the freedom to write what he pleased as he published his own work. Blake was relitively poor and he got very little money for his work (most of which he donated to charities.) Therefore, he was not influenced by money to write these poems but did it from the heart. Thus he was an Artisan Poet. Thomson notes that "Blake was always poor in world's wealth [but] rich in spiritual wealth."

Blake believed that the shade of his brother showed him the technique on which he engraved his 'Illuminations'.  We can go onto two points from here, firstly in "To See a World.." By Blake, he speaks of the ability "to see a world in a grain of sand/ And a heaven in a wild flower." Thus showing his belief that Heaven and Earth are inter-mingled. As a spiritualist he hated the restriction of the church on the individual beliefs of the people AND its corruption. The two part "Holy Thursday" poems show the Church's corruption, as shown through both the poems and the 'illuminations'. Contextually, Blake was writing of the pardade of 'London's Charity Schools' on Ascension Day. In the SOI poem, the guardians  hold "wands as white as snow" which conveys the later sterility of the poem in SOE. There are other phrases that undercut the innocent scene, such as "mighty wind" and "harmonious thunderings" that may link to the death and despair in the second poem. In the second poem in SOE, the 'Illumination' is one of death (contrasting that in SOI)  as dead children litter the scene and are shrouded with a dark back-drop. The poem also shows the true extent of the corruption of the institutions as Blake writes of the "Babes reduced to misery,/Fed with cold and usurous hand?." Secondly, we can talk about Blake's hatred of the corruption of the state which is shown in his poem 'London…


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