William Blake

Easton Press William Blake books

The Poems - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1995

Franklin Library William Blake books

Songs of innocence and experience - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1980
Romantic Poets From Blake To Poe - imitation leather - 1982
Romantic Poets - Oxford Library of The World's Greatest Books - 1983

Poet William Blake

William Blake biography
William Blake, born on November 28, 1757, in London, England, was a
largely self-trained visionary poet, painter, and printmaker who left an indelible mark on the realms of literature and art. His life was characterized by a mystical and imaginative spirit, and his work challenged the conventions of his time. Blake grew up in modest circumstances, and his innate artistic talents manifested early. He began writing poetry at the age of twelve, and at fourteen was apprenticed to a London engraver by his father. William Blake began to earn his living as an engraver at the age of twenty-one, and for the remainder of his life he supported mainly by illustrating books. William Blake's first literary work, Poetic Sketches (1783), is a collection of verse written before his twenty-first year. In his mature literary and artistic work William Blake is concerned principally with describing and interpreting visions which he claimed to have experienced of God, Jesus Christ, angels, and the spirits of great men of earlier times. Thus, his  engravings, book illustration, and paintings are characterized by the elimination of realistic detail and the infusion of his supernatural subject matter with intense, mystical emotion. William Blake's early poetry is notable for great purity and simplicity of diction, in his mature work, these lyrical qualities give way to power and grandeur, designed to express his complex personal theology. He developed both his technical skills and a deep appreciation for the art of the past. Blake's artistic vision, however, extended beyond the conventional. He claimed to have mystical experiences and visions from a young age, a theme that would permeate his later works. In 1783, Blake married Catherine Boucher, and the two formed a close partnership that endured throughout their lives. Catherine became an essential collaborator in Blake's artistic endeavors, aiding him in printing and coloring his illuminated books.

Blake's illuminated books, including Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794), are celebrated for their integration of text and hand-colored illustrations. Through his unique combination of poetry and visual art, Blake explored themes of innocence, experience, and the duality of human nature. His iconic poem The Tyger, found in Songs of Experience, exemplifies Blake's ability to delve into complex themes. The poem reflects on the nature of creation, good and evil, and the divine. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793) further showcased Blake's philosophical and mystical inclinations, challenging traditional religious and societal norms.

The Lamb by William Blake

The Lamb is a poem by the English poet and artist William Blake. It was published as part of his collection titled Songs of Innocence in 1789. The poem is notable for its gentle and pastoral imagery, portraying the lamb as a symbol of innocence and purity. The speaker addresses the lamb directly, asking about its creator and then identifying the creator as someone who is meek and mild, ultimately connecting the lamb to the divine. The repetition of the question Little Lamb, who made thee? emphasizes the theme of creation and the relationship between the created and the Creator.

Despite his visionary contributions, Blake's work was often overlooked during his lifetime. He faced financial struggles and lived on the outskirts of mainstream recognition. However, Blake's unwavering commitment to his artistic vision never wavered.

In his later years, Blake continued to produce remarkable works, such as Jerusalem (1804-1820), a poetic and artistic exploration of a utopian vision. Blake's artistic endeavors extended to commissioned engravings and illustrations for others, including his well-known illustrations for John Milton's Paradise Lost. William Blake passed away on August 12, 1827, largely unrecognized by the wider public. However, his influence grew in the following centuries, as later generations recognized the depth and brilliance of his visionary art and poetry. Today, William Blake is regarded as a key figure in Romantic literature and art, with his innovative approach continuing to inspire artists and thinkers across disciplines.


Songs of Innocence and of Experience

This book appeared in two phases. A few first copies were printed and illuminated by William Blake himself in 1789; five years later he bound these poems with a set of new poems in a volume titled Songs of Innocence and of Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.

The work compiles two contrasting but directly related books of poetry by William Blake. Songs of Innocence honors and praises the natural world, the natural innocence of children and their close relationship to God. Songs of Experience contains much darker, disillusioned poems, which deal with serious, often political themes. It is believed that the disastrous end to the French Revolution produced this disillusionment in Blake. He does, however, maintain that true innocence is achieved only through experience.

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