Monday, October 18, 2004

William Blake

I have always found William Blake to be a fascinating artist, not just because he illustrated (with his own method) his works by hand, but because of his ideas about organized religion and the state, which I think made him far ahead of his time. He distrusted organized religion; indeed, he set up his own mythology (clearly seen in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell") in which God is represented by Urizen, basically a tyrannt, and religion is the Tree which sends its roots deep into men's minds to imprison them. He believed in mysticism and that man knew God through personal revelation rather than religious teaching. I believe some of his ideas were solidified when he looked through a window to a meadow and had a "vision" of his dead brother. He was often considered a little mad by his contemporaries.

According to the Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia site,, "What he called his 'visions' were perhaps hallucinations, experiences that he allowed to guide his life. It was these that gave him such a strong and uncompromising belief in his own artistic direction." Still, his unique talent was pretty much ignored in his time, but was admired and copied by later poets, such as Yeats. And he has been popularized in the twentieth century by critics like Harold Bloom. His work is fascinating and has a dense and mystical quality that we don't often associate with 18th and early 19th century poets.


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