· A printer before a writer, hence the amount of engravings next to his work and why a lot of critics hold him in high regards from not being a traditional pastoral writer with the same education. Although, he did study at The Royal Academy of Arts.
· Blake often had visions throughout his life and saw himself as a prophet.
· Blake’s main concern is that of the Poetic Genius: man’s natural creativity and valued it above higher regards to logic, which he often saw as restrictive to natural thought.
· Every religious concept is derived from the Poetic Genius and so, he believed all religions were one.
Blake wrote (mainly) during the 18th century during a time of Industrialisation, Enlightenment and Romanticism which is a lot of ideas for one period of time.
The Industrial Revolution:
Cities like London saw a massive population increase due to machinery replacing the jobs of labourers, who then moved to the cities for work. The cities were dirty and crowded from factories and their workers.
The Age of Enlightement: A cultural movement which saw rational thought and science replace traditional religious and superstitious paradigms.
Romanticism: A cultural movement rebelling against Enlightement. Romanticism focused on feelings, creativity and mainly the imagination. Blake was a Romantic figure.
Songs of Experience
THE SICK ROSE
SUMMARY: A worm destroys a rose (this is a symbolic poem).
FORM: Lyrical ballad
LANGUAGE: symbolic, metaphor, negative imagery
STRUCTURE: 2 small stanzas, “destroy” ends the poem
PASTORAL CONCERNS: corruption, innocence,
IMAGE: A bended rose (bent towards darkness) with two figures holding themselves on the branches in a pained fashion.
KEY QUOTES: ‘the invisible worm’, ‘bed of crimson joy’, ‘does thy life destroy’, ‘dark secret love’, ‘howling storm’
SUMMARY: Blake describes a city full of repression and corruption.
FORM: Lyrical poem
LANGUAGE: Rhymed stanza, repetition, negative imagery,
STRUCTURE: Four stanzas, ‘hearse’ ends the poem
PASTORAL CONCERNS: Memento mori, corruption, (a lack of) tranquillity and innocence
IMAGE: A child leading an old man from the shadows into light (but there are shadows on the light side too)
KEY QUOTES: “chartr’d Thames’, ‘charter’d streets’, ‘marriage Hearse’, ‘in the cry of every man’, ‘marks of weakness, marks of woe’, ‘blackning’ , ‘hapless soldiers cry runs in blood down palace walls’, ‘the mind-forg’d manacles I hear’
Songs of Innocence
SUMMARY: The speaker leaves his shepherd role after being approached by a cherub. He becomes a writer, or the “the bard”.
FORM: Lyrical poem
LANGUAGE: repetition, idyllic imagery
STRUCTURE: Four heroic stanzas
PASTORAL CONCERNS: The idyll, the shepherd, innocence, religion, tranquillity
IMAGE: Figure looking to cherub in sky, which trees grow towards, making the top half of the image darker. There are interweaving vines at the side of the poem, which contain images of people.
KEY QUOTES: ‘Piping’, ‘rural pen’, ‘stained the water clear’, ‘on a cloud I saw a child’, ‘Lamb’ .
The Ecchoing Green
SUMMARY: Children play on a green whilst adults look at them and remember their youth.
FORM: Lyrical Poem
LANGUAGE: Contrast, positive imagery, rhyming couplets
STRUCTURE: 3 stanzas, morning afternoon and night, cyclical,
PASTORAL CONCERNS: Nostalgia, memento mori, innocence, the idyll, the Golden Age
IMAGE: One above the first stanza and half of the second: Mothers and children playing
One with other half and last stanza: No more play, darker, pointing man
KEY QUOTES: ‘The sun does arise/And make happy the skies’, ‘the darkening green’, ‘sky lark and thrush’, ‘Old John with white hair’, ‘among the old folk’, ‘and sport no more seen’