Essay: William Blake -1827) Was an English Poet

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William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, and printer who was largely ignored during his time, but is now considered to be one of the seminal figures in British romantic poetry. Blake not only produced poems, but also drawings and paintings that explored a rather unconventional side of the psychology of the mind and human existence. He was irreverent, considered insane by many of his contemporaries, and yet his combination of mysticism and skepticism seems to find a resonance in modern audiences (Jones, 2005). When we read his poetry knowing that he often said that every person had the potential to elevate themselves to the same level of divinity as Jesus, and that Satan, far from being the evil creature of Christian lore was rebellious, full of spirit, and a seeker of truth, then we understand why much of his poetry revolved around the question of what kind of a being God might indeed manifest (Damon, 1988, 30-44).

Blake was a consummate symbolist -- much of what is included in his poetry, prose and paintings has multiple meanings and, as was common in the style of his time, the intended audience was expected to have the ability and prior knowledge to make sense of the work. We must first understand Blake's version of religion, really of cosmology, to understand even his simple poems. Jesus is a liberator and, rather than the Son of God, is a representation of the source of the universe, simply the alpha/omega of all creation. Part of this poetry series is "The Lamb," which is meant to represent Chris, or the Lamb of God. This source is the Blacksmith, and the act of creation and the act of art are the same. The Tiger, for instance, was part of Blake's "creation poems," but Blake's version is quite different from that of Genesis. For Blake, creation came after a catastrophe, and the hierarchical manner in which the world was organized. Essentially, the most obvious question. Remember, too, that during Blake's time it was rare for people to view exotic creatures. There was no way for the common person to ever have seen such a terrible and fearsome creature as a tiger until British explores brought animals back to form a menagerie. Looking at this creature, with its long fangs, Blake marveled at the sheen of its fur and the manner in which it could be created (Stacy, aural).

The Tiger suggests contrary yet complimentary states of creation that may be relevant to the human soul. God, we understand, created both the innocence of the lamb and the ferocity of the Tiger. However, upon closer reading, one realizes that there is no good or evil in the act of consumption, nor in the ecological order of predator and prey. Modern ecologists have berated former scientists who thought they were doing the right thing by ridding an ecosystem of predators, only to find that that same ecosystem now collapses from within, being unable to supply the necessary materials for that system as a whole. So, too, for Blake, everything is connected, and as the Tiger needs the Lamb, the Lamb needs the Tiger -- a lesson in both chaos theory and the interconnectedness of all things (See: Frye, 1969). Yet, for Blake, one of the most important questions remains: If there is a just and kind creator, why do bad things happen to good people? (See Rowe,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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