William Blake and The Garden of Love
At first glance, the poetry of William Blake may appear simplistic; he
writes most often in regular metrical rhythm, apparently sticking to the
rules, blunt observations on such mundane subjects as tigers, lambs and
roses. But if one were to finish with Blake and move on, left with only
these initial impressions, it would be a great pity; true enjoyment of this
poet can only come about through some understanding of his life, background,
and skill in the manipulation of the tool of simple lyrical poetry, to
convey deeper meaning.
Amongst his admirers, Blake is considered something of a renaissance man, a
frustrated and hugely gifted artist and writer, a social renegade, and
something of a true western mystic. For our purposes here, it is
sufficient to know that throughout his adult years he struggled with ideas
of correct government, church corruption, unfair taxation, and Christian
thought, to the point of near-lunacy. Blake was born in London in 1857, and
while still in his early teens (under 14) began privately writing poetry
that is considered of high caliber.
Blake¹s family had the wherewithal to send him to a ³drawing school² when he
was ten, and he there began formal training in art. He was greatly
influenced by the art of the Renaissance world, and later wrote about his
early total comprehension and appreciation of it. He continued his formal education in art, and was apprenticed and
working successfully in that world by his twenties.
But at heart Blake was a lover of words, and inclined to express his
impressions of life through the pen as easily and readily as the paintbrush
or pencil. Although his education was lacking in classic instruction in
language arts and in the humanities in general, he possessed the drive and
intelligence to become extremely well-read, and made up privately for what
was lacking in his public instruction.
When such an inquisitive mind was married with social conscience and
inclination toward a deep spirituality, and dropped into the chaos of late
eighteenth century London with its corruption, oppression and suffering,
Blake's genius was molded and he was destined to become one of the most
moving and admired poets of his language.
Lyrical poetry will here be defined as poetry that is set with a definite
meter and structure, and is rhythmic in nature. It is this classical form
that Blake so thoroughly understood and used to build a foundation for his
lyrical poems. Those educated or otherwise skilled in creative arts of all
sorts, from painting to sculpting to design and interior decorating, to
writing, will usually agree that one must build on a solid simple
foundation, and then add elements of surprise, to create a memorable work.
Herein lies the...