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Blake, Songs Of Innocence And Experience: From Reading Of The 'songs', To What Extent Do You Find Blake A Man Of His Time?

1054 words - 4 pages

William Blake was born in 1757, the third son of a London tradesman who sold knitwear (hosier). Blake lived in London which dominated much of his work. He was a British poet, painter, and engraver, who illustrated and printed his own books. He spent most of his life in relative poverty. He was very influenced by his brother's death which he claimed he saw "ascend heavenward clapping its hands for joy" who died of consumption at the age of 20. He uses the illustrations and engravings in his work to express his visual, spiritual and psychic views about the society he lived in.Blake was tuned to the huge social and political forces of the late 18th century. This can be seen in Blake's poem 'The Tyger' as he uses two symbols of revolution; French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution which both happened in the 18th century! The title 'The Tyger' is a symbol which was used in 18th century newspapers, similar to Blake's symbolic description of the French Reign of Terror. The 'Times' newspaper talked about the Reign of Terror as a Tyger: "a tiger stalking the streets of Paris". This 'Tyger' was used to symbolize the power, machinery, evil, violence and energy of the revolutions going on at this time. The description 'Tyger Tyger burning bright' is a pun because 'burning' could be seen to represent destructiveness whilst 'bright' is a deep, powerful word for revolution. In the third line 'What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?' which has a questioning tone, means that Blake is awestruck on what kind of God would want or allow the French Revolution. In the second verse which talks about Satan's energy, it starts with a questioning tone about heaven or hell 'deeps or skies'. The question 'Burnt the fire of thine eyes' is addressed towards Lucifer (the Devil). Verse two and three shows the imagery of the industrial revolution 'In what furnace was thy brain'. Blake says God is a blacksmith who wrestles with power and energy which is beneficial and at the same time destructive.In the fifth verse:'When the stars threw down their spearsAnd water'd heaven with their tears:Did he smile his work to see?Did he who made the Lamb make thee?'This is saying that if there were only good and no evil, there would be no good because there would be no comparison to what is good and what's not. He basically says man needs a bit of 'lamb' (goodness, kindness, peace) and a bit of 'Tyger' (power, strength).Blake's poems don't just speak about his current times but can apply to nowadays. 'The Tyger' is a time symbol of revolution because it can relate to modern society: huge powerful machines such as the nuclear power station. It can relate to the revolution in his time; such as the French Revolution (1789) and the Industrial Revolution but can also relate to more modern revolution; such as the Russian Revolution (1917).Blake did not just dislike the church and revolution but also criticizes and explores the effects of a culture governed by commerce....

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