William Blake 1757 – 1827 (London) Poet Artist Mystic Visionary BBC.co.uk: Tom Paulin on Blake “Although Blake struggled to make a living from his work during his lifetime his influence and ideas are possibly the strongest of all the Romantic poets .” BBC.co.uk Poets .
1757 – 1827 (London)
Tom Paulin on Blake
“Although Blake struggled to make a living from his work during his lifetime his influence and ideas are possibly the strongest of all the Romantic poets.”
Songs of Innocence (1789)Songs of Innocence and Experience(1794)“On the surface, as simple as nursery rhymes, they offer profound insights into human nature, and the need for social justice.” BBC.co.uk, Poetry Season
Urizen: “The essence of the creation of Urizen . . . is the imposition of the rational methods of mathematics on chaos, the introduction into the universe of an order controlled by measurement. . . But this imposition of order means for Blake the reduction of the infinite to the finite, and therefore the destruction of the imagination. Urizen, as his name – a punning combination of Your
Reason – implies, is the the rational as opposed to the imaginative power, and he stands for all that Blake loathed in the materialism of his time, against which he struggled all his life. There are many passages in his writings which show how deeply he hated the limiting effects of reason and the destruction of the imagination to which it leads. 1794
“The Ancient of Days”:one of Blake’s most enduring images and personal favorites, its title comes from an Aramaic word for God. Blake claimed that this image came to him in a vision when he was young. Interpretations of the illustration vary, but the creator pictured is often linked to Urizen, a mystical architect of theuniversewho Blake created in ordertocriticizerationalism. 1794
Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar: 1795
the Babylonian king was driven to insanity as punishment for hubris
“The Body of Abel found by Adam and Eve”: in choosing Christian subject matter, Blake exercised a good deal of creative license, choosing scenes not necessarily depicted in the Bible, but that are frequently dominated by strong emotions. 1825
“Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils”: “This image epitomizes maintaining faith in God despite all hardship, pain and trials of life. A deeply religious man, Blake believed the artist was a prophet whose mission was to illuminate the realms of the spirit.” NYU Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database1826
“Beatrice Addressing Dante from the Car”: In illustrations of their works, Blake expressed both admiration for and harsh criticism of poets such as Dante and Milton. In Dante’s case, Blake seemed to reject his admiration of Ancient Greek poetry, while agreeing with his distrust of earthly power and materialism. (Blake detested the Greeks, and the Rationalism that he associated with them.) 1827
“Newton”: The scientist was another victim of Blake’s harsh critiques, due to his “single vision of scientific materialism,” illustrated here. This approach to philosophy, emphasizing knowledge and science, discredited the emotions and imagination. 1795
The Argument 
From The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1793
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burden'd air;Hungry clouds swag on the deep
Once meek, and in a perilous path,The just man kept his course alongThe vale of death.Roses are planted where thorns grow.And on the barren heathSing the honey bees.
Then the perilous path was planted:And a river, and a springOn every cliff and tomb;And on the bleached bonesRed clay brought forth.
Till the villain left the paths of ease,To walk in perilous paths, and driveThe just man into barren climes.
Now the sneaking serpent walksIn mild humility.And the just man rages in the wildsWhere lions roam.
Rintrahroars & shakes his fires in the burden'd air;Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
A Little Boy Lost .“Noughtloves another as itself,Nor venerates another so,Nor is it possible to thoughtA greater than itself to know..“And, father, how can I love you Or any of my brothers more?I love you like the little birdThat picks up crumbs around the door.“.The Priest sat by and heard the child;In trembling zeal he seized his hair,He led him by his little coat,And all admired the priestly care. .And standing on the altar high,"Lo, what a fiend is here! said he:"One who sets reason up for judgeOf our most holy mystery.".The weeping child could not be heard,The weeping parents wept in vain:They stripped him to his little shirt,And bound him in an iron chain,.And burned him in a holy placeWhere many had been burned before;The weeping parents wept in vain.Are such things done on Albion's shore?
Jerusalem: The Emanation of The Giant Albion, 1821 
I see the Four-fold Man, The Humanity in deadly sleep And its fallen Emanation, the Spectre and its cruel Shadow. I see the Past, Present and Future existing all at once Before me. O Divine Spirit, sustain me on thy wings, That I may awake Albion from his long and cold repose; For Bacon and Newton, sheath'd in dismal steel, their terrors hang Like iron scourges over Albion: reasonings like vast serpents Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations. .I turn my eyes to the schools and universities of Europe And there behold the Loom of Locke, whose Woof rages dire, Wash'd by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth In heavy wreaths folds over every nation: cruel works Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannicMoving by compulsion each other, not as those in Eden, which, Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace.
Blunt, Anthony. “Blake’s ‘Ancient of Days’: The Symbolism of the Compass”. Journal of the Warburg Institute, Vol. 2, No. 1. (Jul., 1938), pp. 53-63, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0959-2024%28193807%292%3A1%3C53%3AB%27ODTS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-X