5 things to know about him…
1. He was anti all forms of organized religion, like the Church. Considering that this was back in the 1700s that was pretty spunky.
2. He was a major part of the Romantic age of poetry and the arts, which is elaboratedin Wikipedia as “The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic categories.”
3. Unlike a lot of famous men (then and now), he was married to one woman throughout his life, for 45 years, until he died. He taught her to read and write and she, in turn, helped him with colouring and printing his works.
4. Blake was also an engraver, especially something called ‘illuminated printing’, which “involved writing the text of the poems on copper plates with pens and brushes, using an acid-resistant medium. Illustrations could appear alongside words”
He has also painted for ‘Dante’s divine Comedy’; it remained incomeplete due to his death.
5. Through his poetry, he comments on religion, society, love, marriage, nature, and aesthetics of everyday living.
Aware of Blake’s visions, William Wordsworth commented, “There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.”
And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.