William Blake (1757-1827)

William Blake (1757-1827)

William Blake (1757-1827) Born in London, father a tradesman Only formal education in art; studied at the school of the Royal Academy of Arts At 24 married Catherine Boucher, daughter of a market gardener, taught her to read and write; no children Began to experiment with relief etching in 1788like illuminated

manuscripts of Middle Ages; many times his wife did the water colors Moved to Felpham in 1800 to take advantage of the patronage of William Hayley (also supported Charlotte Smith) 1803 brawl with John Schofield, private in the Royal Dragoons; accused Blake of sedition, but he was acquitted

Influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg Died in London 1827 with his wife at his side Blakes cottage at Felpham The dominant literary and artistic fashion of Blakes youth involved the notion that the future of British culture would involve the recovery, through archaeology as well as literary history, of an all but lost past Blake located the sources of poetic inspiration in an archaic native

tradition that, according to the prevailing view of national history, had ended up eclipsed after the seventeenth century, when French court culture, manners, and morals began their cultural ascendancy. Norton Anthology The Nature of my Work is Visionary or Imaginative. That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care. William Blake

All I know is in the Bible. The Old and New Testaments are the Great Code of Art. In The French Revolution, America: A Prophecy, Europe: A Prophecy, and the trenchant prophetic satire The Marriage of Heaven and Hellhe, like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, and a number of radical English theologians, represented the contemporary Revolution as the purifying violence that,

according to biblical prophecy, portended the imminent redemption of humanity and the world. Norton Anthology Blake places words and images in a relationship that is sometimes mutually enlightening and sometimes turbulent, and that relationship is an aspect of the poems argument. Norton Anthology Showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul

In his songs of innocence Blake assumes the stance that he is writing happy songs Every child may joy to hear, but they do not all depict an innocent and happy world; many of them incorporate injustice, evil, and suffering. These aspects of the fallen world, however, are represented as they appear to a state of the human soul that Blake calls innocence and that he expresses in a simple pastoral language Norton Anthology

The vision of the same world, as it appears to the contrary state of the soul that Blake calls experience, is an ugly and terrifying oneepitomized in the ghastly representation of modern London. Though each stands as an independent poem, a number of the songs of innocence have a matched counterpart, or contrary in the songs of experience. Norton Anthology Piping down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child, And he laughing said to me: Pipe a song about a Lamb! So I piped with merry cheer. Piper, pipe that song again. So I piped: he wept to hear. Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; Sing thy songs of happy cheer! So I sung the same again, While he wept with joy to hear.

Piper, sit thee down and write In a book, that all may read. So he vanished from my sight; And I plucked a hollow reed, And I made a rural pen, And I stained the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear. Little lamb, who made thee?

Does thou know who made thee, Gave thee life, and bid thee feed By the stream and oer the mead; Gave thee clothing of delight, Softest clothing, woolly, bright; Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoice? Little lamb, who made thee? Does thou know who made thee? Little lamb, Ill tell thee;

Little lamb, Ill tell thee: He is calld by thy name, For He calls Himself a Lamb. He is meek, and He is mild, He became a little child. I a child, and thou a lamb, We are calld by His name. Little lamb, God bless thee! Little lamb, God bless thee!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever! Revelation 5:13 To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,

All pray in their distress, And to these virtues of delight Return their thankfulness. For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, Is God our Father dear; And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, Is man, His child and care. For Mercy has a human heart; Pity, a human face; And Love, the human form divine:

And Peace the human dress. Then every man, of every clime, That prays in his distress, Prays to the human form divine: Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace. And all must love the human form, In heathen, Turk, or Jew. Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, There God is dwelling too.

THE TIGER Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire? And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And, when thy heart began to beat, What dread hand and what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee? Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? Chimney sweeping was a nasty business, and the children who worked as chimney sweepers didn't bathe very often (usually just once a week), which means they were probably often covered in soot and looked, um,

not their best. The job was also dangerous. Children could get stuck and suffocate (which did happen), or get burned and bruised on a regular basis. In addition, chimney sweeps often developed what became known as soot wart, a form of cancer related to prolonged exposure to the carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) --Shmoop THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER When my mother died I was very young, And my father sold me while yet my tongue

Could scarcely cry Weep! weep! weep! weep! So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep. Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head, That curled like a lambs back, was shaved; so I said, Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your heads bare, You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair. And so he was quiet, and that very night, As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key, And he opened the coffins, and set them all free; Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run And wash in a river, and shine in the sun. Then naked and white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind: And the angel told Tom, if hed be a good boy, Hed have God for his father, and never want joy. And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,

And got with our bags and our brushes to work. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm: So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm. THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER A little black thing among the snow, Crying! weep! weep! in notes of woe! Where are thy father and mother? Say! They are both gone up to the church to pray. Because I was happy upon the heath,

And smiled among the winters snow, They clothed me in the clothes of death, And taught me to sing the notes of woe. And because I am happy and dance and sing, They think they have done me no injury, And are gone to praise God and His priest and king, Who made up a heaven of our misery. HOLY THURSDAY Twas on a holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,

The children walking two and two, in red, and blue, and green: Grey-headed beadles walked before, with wands as white as snow, Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow. O what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London town! Seated in companies they sit, with radiance all their own. The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs, Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands. Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song, Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among: Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor.

Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door. HOLY THURSDAY Is this a holy thing to see In a rich and fruitful land, Babes reduced to misery, Fed with cold and usurous hand? Is that trembling cry a song? Can it be a song of joy? And so many children poor?

It is a land of poverty! And their sun does never shine, And their fields are bleak and bare, And their ways are filled with thorns, It is eternal winter there. For whereer the sun does shine, And whereer the rain does fall, Babe can never hunger there, Nor poverty the mind appal.

LONDON I wander through each chartered street, Near where the chartered Thames does flow, A mark in every face I meet, Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every man, In every infants cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forged manacles I hear: How the chimney-sweepers cry

Every blackening church appals, And the hapless soldiers sigh Runs in blood down palace-walls. But most, through midnight streets I hear How the youthful harlots curse Blasts the new-born infants tear, And blights with plagues the marriage hearse. The Four Zoas (1796) A struggle of four aspects split from eternity

written in long verse line (the march of long resounding strong heroic verse) Four Mighty Ones are in every Man; a Perfect Unity cannot exist, but from the Universal Brotherhood of Eden, the Universal Man. To Whom be Glory Evermore, AmenLos was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night, days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name in Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagatedDaughter of Beulah, Sing His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity.

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north... Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings... As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle... And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.... Ezekiel 1:4, 10-12 The four animals materialize again in the Book of Revelation. John of Patmos sees

the four in a vision of the Apocalypse. No longer in transit, their chariot has become a throne upon which sits Christ in judgment. Blake alternates this representation of the Fall (as a fragmentation of the one Primal Man into separate parts) with a different kind of representation, in terms of two sharply opposed ways of seeing the universe. In this latter mode the Fall is a catastrophic change from imaginative insight (which sees the cosmos as unified and humanized) to sight by the physical eye (which sees the cosmos as a

multitude of isolated individuals in an inhuman and alien nature). Norton Anthology In the Fall, Urizen usurped the place of Los. Urizen speaks: We fell. I seiz'd thee, dark Urthona. In my left hand falling. I seiz'd thee, beauteous Luvah, thou are faded like a flower.... Then thou didst keep with Strong Urthona the living gates of heaven but now thou art bow'd down with him, even to the gates of hell. Of all the Zoas it is only Los who "keeps the vision" of Albion's divinity and through whom God's Spirit still speaks to direct Albion to history.

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