Abstract: William Blake's Songs of Innocence contains a group of poetic works that the artist conceptualized as entering into a dialogue with each other and with the works in his companion work, Songs of Experience. He also saw each of the poems in Innocence as operating as part of an artistic whole creation that was encompassed by the poems and images on the plates he used to print these works. While Blake exercised a fanatical degree of control over his publications during his lifetime, after his death his poems became popular and were encountered without the contextual material that he intended to accompany them.
William Blake was probably more concerned than any other major Romantic author with the process of publication and its implications for the interpretation of his artistic creations. He paid a price for this degree of control over the process of printing, however: Blake lived in poverty and artistic obscurity throughout his entire life. Later, when his poems began to be distributed among a wider audience, they were frequently shorn of their original contexts. For William Blake, there has been a trade-off between the size of the audience he has reached and the degree of control he exerted over the publication process.
Blake was not satisfied merely to write poems and send them off to a publisher; instead, he designed illustrations to accompany his poems, engraved the poem-illustration works onto copper plates, printed the plates onto paper, and (when color was desired) colored the pages by hand, then bound the printed pages into volumes for sale. Blake was assisted in much of this work by his wife, Catherine, who had been illiterate when he ma...
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Hilton, Nelson. "William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience" in The Blackwell Companion to Romanticism. Ed. Duncan Wu. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. Online. Internet. 25 February 2000. Available http://virtual.park.uga.edu/~wblake/SONGS/begin/songs.html
Hirsch, E. D., Jr. Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake. Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 1964.
Keynes, Sir Geoffrey. Introduction to William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967.
Mason, Michael. Notes to William Blake: A Critical Edition of the Major Works. Ed. Michael Mason. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Stauffer, Andrew M. "The first known publication of Blake's poetry in America" in Notes and Queries v43, n1 (March, 1996): 41-43.
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