Life and Works- William Blake

William Blake was a mystic poet and artist. He was born in London on November 28, 1757. He was the second son of James Blake, a hosier, and his wife Catherine. Blake had little formal education. He studied at home under the guidance of his mother. In 1767, at the age of ten, he was enrolled in Henry Pars’s drawing school near the Strand in the West End of London. It was one of the best and most fashionable preparatory schools for young artists. In 1772, Blake was apprenticed to the engraver James Basire, from whom he learned a craft that provided him with steady employment. This apprenticeship ended in 1779 and Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in London. From 1779, he was employed as an engraver by the publisher J. Johnson. In 1780, he met Fuseli and Flaxman. Flaxman was a follower of Swedenborg whose mysticism deeply influenced Blake.

In 1782, he married Catherine Boucher who helped him in his work. Their marriage, although childless, was a happy one. Except for a brief period from 1800 to 1803, Blake remained a Londoner. Blake’s first volume, Poetical Sketches, was published in 1783. His poetic originality found expression in Songs of Innocence in 1789. As one of the first generation of Romantic poets, Blake’s poetry is characterised by imagination and passion. His poetry is appealing to the emotions rather than to the intellect. To uphold and to promote the principles of democracy and eaquality, Blake would walk the streets of London wearing wearing the red cap.

His works mark the beginning of in English literature. The Book of Thel along with song of innocence manifests the early phase of Blake’s highly distinctice mystic version. His other significant work are The marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), Visions of Daughters of Albion (1793). America, a Prophecy (1793), The Book of Urizen (1794), Europe a Prophecy (1794), Songs of Experience (1794), The Book of Los (1795) ete in 1818. Blake entered upon the last phase of his life. His Illustrations of The Book of Job and the Divine Comedy established him as an artist. On August 12, 1827, Blake died in London where he had spent his life in relative obscurity. At Blake’s death, general opinion held that he, though gifted, had been insane. But his madness, as Wordsworth opined, was more interesting than the sanity of others.

In the twentieth century, there had been an enormous increase of interest in Blake. Studies reveal him not only as an apocalyptic visionary but also as a writer of witty epigrams and an independent thinker who found his own way of resisting the orthodoxies of his age. He has had tremendous influence on the modern poets, especially on the Beat generation and the poets of the Underground movement.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content of this page