William Blake was one of those 19th century figures who could have and should have been beatniks, along with Rimbaud, Verlaine, Manet, Cezanne and Whitman. He began his career as an engraver and artist, and was an apprentice to the highly original Romantic painter Henry Fuseli. In his own time he was valued as an artist, and created a set of watercolor illustrations for the Book of Job that were so wildly but subtly colored they would have looked perfectly at home in next month's issue of Wired.
He lived in a filthy London studio where he succumbed to constant visions of angels and prophets who instructed him in his work. He once painted while recieving a vision of Voltaire, and when asked later whether Voltaire spoke English, replied: "To my sensations it was English. It was like the touch of a musical key. He touched it probably French, but to my ear it became English."
Blake is now revered for his poetry as well as his artworks. Allen Ginsberg's life was changed by an overpowering vision of Blake (it's kind of sweetly pretentious in a way, isn't it?) in a Lower East Side apartment. Ginsberg now often includes a chant from a poem as part of his poetry readings; you can read it here.
William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London. He died on August 12, 1827.
Many poems included in William Blake's Songs of Experience (1794) express Blake's critical view of the Christian Church. Two poems in particular focus directly on the Christian Church. These poems are "THE GARDEN OF LOVE" and "The Little Vagabond". In these poems it is obvious that Blake disagrees with many facets of the Christian religion as an institutionalized system. Though he reportedly attended a religious ceremony only...
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...actly how he viewed the church. He saw the church as a spiritually hindering institution that has misconstrued the true message of the gospels. The fertility of flowers had been replaced with graves, and the promise of new life found through the teachings of Jesus had been replaced by repressive Priests that patrolled the aisles in their black gowns.
Altizer, Thomas J.J.. The New Apocalypse: The Radical Christian Vision of William Blake. The Michigan State University Press, MI: 1967.
Blake qtd in Raine, Kathleen. Blake and the New Age. George Allen and Unwin, London: 1979.
Blake, William. Song of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Dover Publications, Inc., New York: 1992.
Hirsche, E.D. Jr. Innocence and Experience. Yale University Press, New York: 1964.
Raine, Kathleen. Blake and the New Age. George Allen and Unwin, London: 1979.
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