Romantic Characteristics Of William Blake Essay, Research Paper
The Romantic Characteristics of William Blake The romantics were very different from their predecessors of the enlightenment period. The enlightenment society was very proper and rule filled while the romantics were essentially ruleless people who wanted social and public reform. They were rebellious peoples who led the French revolution and thought people should have the freedom of thought, imagination, emotion and spirit, freedom in general. When it came to their poetry, they incorporated these ideas into their works. Unlike enlightenment period writers the romantics spoke commoners through their works and therefore were concerned with content rather than poetic form. In their works they were inspired mainly by God, their imagination, and untouched nature. They were visionaries and used these inspirations to write poems expressing their philosophies, and ideals. William Blake was one of these individuals. He exhibited romantic characteristics in both his lifestyle and his poetry. In this essay I will speak of his lifestyle and how he incorporates nature, Gods inspiration, social criticism, simplicity, his own philosophies and glorification of common place into his work making him a romantic writer. First, I would like to address William Blake’s lifestyle. Like many writers of the time Blake was of the working class working as an engraver. Blake followed a tyrannus lifestyle being a supporter of the French Revolution one of the greatest movements of all time. He was also against the enlightenment periods destruction of nature, and hardships endured by workers of the period. He rebelled against the ideas from the enlightenment period that writers should not write for commoners, follow precise rules of form, and only write about certain subjects. He believed all people were equal like others that supported the French revolution. Now I would like to speak of four of his works “The Tiger,” “The Lamb,” “On Another Sorrow,” and “A Poison Tree” which reveal more of his romantic characteristics. Simplicity is common among Blake’s works as he directs his poetry to the common person. His four works I am studying all contain simple language and simple poetic form. “On Another’s Sorrow,” “The Tiger” and “A Poison Tree” are ballads and “The Lamb” uses a simple rhyming couplet scheme. Also, all four works use a “nursery rhyme” rhythm. These poetic forms are very straightforward. He does this because he is concerned with the content of his works rather than his poetic form like other romantic writers. Like other romantic writers William Blake also incorporates nature into his writing In lines nine through sixteen of “A Poison Tree” his use of nature is evident. These lines say: And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright; And my enemy held it shines, and he knew that it was mine, And into my garden stole when the night had bielded the pole: In the morning glad I see My enemy outstretched beneath the tree. The scene is from the garden of An Eden under the tree of knowledge which is about as untouched as nature can get. This untouched scene of nature is what the romantics considered true nature. The use of untouched nature by Blake is therefore another one of his romantic characteristics. He also uses animals, which is a form of nature, in his poetry. He uses a lamb in “The Lamb,” a Tiger in “The Tiger,” and a bird in “On Another’s Sorrow.” One of his purposes of putting nature and animals in his works is to exercise the readers imagination that the romantics believed was important. They believed this because they believed that imagination was an instrument of the morally good. Blake like other romantic writers was also inspired by God which is shown through biblical allusions such as the one on the quotation from “A Poison Tree” about the story of the tree of knowledge. Another example is in On Another’s Sorrow where he alluded to the story of when God sent his son Jesus to earth. Another characteristic of Blake is that he uses glorification of common place in many of his works. In “The Lamb” he is just talking about a child by a stream asking a lamb where he came from and, in “The Tiger” he is just talking about a tiger in a forest. Both poems take place in very common places which is the setting in many romantic writers works. Lastly, I would like to talk of Blake’s Philosophy. He believed in reverence for life which is why he did not like people of the enlightenment period destroying nature. This is also why in “A Poison Tree”he feels the one man has been poison when he shows no compassion for his outstretched enemy. Another one of his philosophies is that people must grow and change and therefore cannot remain innocent forever. He believes while we are in the physical body that we are either innocent or experienced which is why he published two separate sets of works one being the”songs of innocence” and the other being “the songs of experience.” Blake’s expression of his philosophies is a romantic characteristic because many romantic writers had their own philosophies that they incorporated into their works the way Blake did. As you have read Blake incorporates nature, Gods inspiration, social criticism, simplicity, his own philosophy, and glorification of common place into his works. Also you have read that he even lived a characteristic romantic lifestyle. Because he exhibits romantic qualities into both his works and lifestyle, common to most romantic writers, is why I believe he is a classic romantic writer.