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 readi...
... middle of paper ...
...who would be helpful figures normally - are blindly making their
rounds dressed in black. Black is the color of death, deception, the
villainous, of loss of hope, of the opposite of innocence.
It would be a mistake to read the poem as a comment on an individuals
experience with the vision of a dream. Blake always has many layers in
mind: one should remember that
Blake's own mind was enormous, and capable of juggling various meanings
simultaneously. Especially where Church, Innocence, Death, and such images
as demonic priests are involved, one can count on the hint of commentary on
society at large.
"The Garden of Love" stands as an excellent example of Blake¹s ability to
use simple meter and language as a foundation, and then twist the foundation
ever so subtly to induce a particular idea.
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