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William Blake Essay

1579 words - 7 pages

Jeremy Knight
Mrs. Holmes
English 12C
12 April 2011
“The Tyger”
William Blake had a unique way of writing poems, especially in one of his most famous works, “The Tyger.” His life as a writer, themes, literary techniques, and writing style are all what make “The Tyger” so successful.
Born in London on November 28, 1757, William Blake was an English writer, poet, and illustrator during the Romantic period. Blake was the second of five children born to James Blake, a hosier, and Catherine. As a child it was said that Blake would have unusual visions of spirits. Blake began seeing these visions at the age of eight (“Overview”).
Blake had no formal education, being home schooled until ...view middle of the document...

In 1787 Blake’s beloved brother, Robert, died. “Blake believed he saw Robert’s spirit ascending through the ceiling, ‘clapping its hands for joy”’ (“Overview”). Blake later had a vision that “Robert visited him and showed him the technique of ‘illuminated writing,’ or relief-etching” (“Overview”).The process included the producing of text and an illustration on a copper plate with an acid-resistant liquid. The plate was afterwards submerged in acid, which caused the untreated surfaces to deteriorate leaving the text and drawing in relief. The design was then reprinted on paper and colored with watercolors. He began using this method on all his books, beginning with There is No Natural Religion, in 1788 (“Overview”).
During the 1790’s Blake was receiving large amounts of commissions for doing engravings for books and magazines, making him wealthy (“Overview”). In 1791, he took on to engrave the drawings for a youth book by Mary Wollstonecraft, Original Stories from Real Life. In 1793 he illustrated and engraved his book, For Children: The Gates of Paradise, which derived from on a sketchbook that had been retained by his dead brother, Robert. In spite of the title, the book was not solely intended for children but was meant for adult readers, as well (“Overview”).
In 1794, Blake expanded Songs of Innocence by adding more poems to it. The resulting book was called, Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The title page of the book states that its reason is to reveal “’the two Contrary States of the Human Soul"’ (“Overview”). “The ‘Songs of Innocence’ deal with the state of soul that is possessed by children; they are optimistic and happy and affirm God's love. The ‘Songs of Experience’ are gloomy and deal with evil” (“Overview”).
In 1800 Blake agreed to move to the coast of Felpham, in Sussex, where the poet, William Hayley lived. While there, Hayley helped Blake find engraving jobs. Following 1800 Blake stopped writing children books and decided to enlighten himself with the languages of Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian, so that he could study classical works in their original language. In addition, Blake composed his epic poem Milton, about the seventeenth-century poet John Milton.Although Blake and his wife were quite happy in Felpham at first, Blake became displeased with the restrictions Hayley placed on his innovative work. In 1803 the Blakes returned to London, where Blake engraved and printed Milton, as well as Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion (“Overview”).
After returning to London, Blake struggled to find work and he and his wife lived with little. Blake then tried to improve his work by showing off some of his watercolors but the critics were not very impressed with his work. Some critics even thought that the paintings indicated that Blake was mentally ill. It wasn’t until 1818 Blake started receiving commission again, after meeting John Linnell, a young artist who helped him find new interest in his work (“Overview”)....

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