WilliamBlake.com : Cybersongs of Innocence

Commentary: Main | Excerpts | Joseph Smigelski

Art & Media
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Excerpts from articles and essays — plus links to the actual document, where available — about William Blake and his works follow:

An Introduction to William Blake
Blake was a lyric poet interested chiefly in ideas, and a painter who did not believe in nature. He was a commercial artist who was a genius in poetry, painting, and religion. He was a libertarian obsessed with God; a mystic who reversed the mystical pattern, for he sought man as the end of his search. He was a Christian who hated the churches; a revolutionary who abhorred the materialism of the radicals. He was a drudge, sometimes living on a dollar a week, who called himself "a mental prince"; and was one...Blake was a man who had all the contraries of human existence in his hands, and he never forgot that it is the function of man to resolve them. — Alfred Kazin, 1997

The Anti-Teleological Dialogism of the Imagination in William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
In a work of art like The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which artistic alchemy creates a roiling boil of radicalized elements...Blake displays a threatening type of mental activity. He deranges the ordinary in the name of the eschatological future and the salvation of humanity: here seeming opposites can be fused into collaborative new elements, reintegrated from a fallen state of rationalized chaos and the material restrictions of a false ordering of reality. Perhaps it takes a madman to see the future--especially the future of art. — Steven M. Streufert, 1997

Artchive: William Blake
A deeply mystical man, Blake claimed he had visionary experiences that prompted him to invent his own belief system in which the creator of the universe, whom he renamed Urizen, wrought vengeance on mankind through Jesus, renamed Orc. His social and political conscience railed against the prevailing academic painting of the eighteenth century. He saw it as representing all that he came to despise about the rational, materialistic age in which he found himself. — Nicola Hodge and Libby Anson

Ch'an Buddhism and the Prophetic Poems of William Blake
The similarities between William Blake's philosophical system and that of Buddhism...are no less than astonishing...Both see the intellect not as inherently evil, but as overly active in the normal psyche. Ch'an, with its characteristic lack of all extraneous symbolism, points directly to the matter, while Blake employs a heavily symbolic mythology...The Divine Vision, Blake maintains, is the natural prelapsarian state of the integrated psyche in which all the zoas are harmoniously balanced. The Divine Vision is obscured from our everyday consciousness because the renegade intellect (Urizen) can see only the ratio, and not the infinity that lies just beneath it. — Mark S. Ferrara, 1997

The Academy of American Poets: William Blake
Blake was a nonconformist who associated with some of the leading radical thinkers of his day, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. In defiance of 18th-century neoclassical conventions, he privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. — The Academy of American Poets, 2003

The William Blake Page
As an artist Blake broke the ground that would later be cultivated by the Pre-Raphaelites. His work is for the most part done on a very small scale. His illuminated works and engravings are all only inches in size, yet they are meticulous in detail. And each of them is, in a sense, merely a part of a titanic whole. — Richard Record, 2001

William Blake Historical Context
Forgotten by his contemporaries but venerated by modern society, British poet, prophet, publisher, and artist William Blake was the earliest of a long line of reformist romantic poets. Regarded widely as a mad man, Blake was above all else a rebel whose anti-authoritarian spirit, and belief in freedom and individuality formed the basis of his revolutionary poetry. With it?s own unique style and form, Blake?s poetry outlived its critics, and William Blake is now widely identified as one of the greatest lyric poets of all time. — Classics Network



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