William Blake The Lamb Analysis
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'The Lamb' by William Blake
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Schofield claimed that Blake had exclaimed "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves. According to a report in the Sussex county paper, "[T]he invented character of [the evidence] was Blake returned to London in and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem —20 , his most ambitious work. Having conceived the idea of portraying the characters in Chaucer 's Canterbury Tales , Blake approached the dealer Robert Cromek , with a view to marketing an engraving. Knowing Blake was too eccentric to produce a popular work, Cromek promptly commissioned Blake's friend Thomas Stothard to execute the concept.
When Blake learned he had been cheated, he broke off contact with Stothard. He set up an independent exhibition in his brother's haberdashery shop at 27 Broad Street in Soho. The exhibition was designed to market his own version of the Canterbury illustration titled The Canterbury Pilgrims , along with other works. As a result, he wrote his Descriptive Catalogue , which contains what Anthony Blunt called a "brilliant analysis" of Chaucer and is regularly anthologised as a classic of Chaucer criticism. The exhibition was very poorly attended, selling none of the temperas or watercolours. Its only review, in The Examiner , was hostile.
Also around this time circa , Blake gave vigorous expression of his views on art in an extensive series of polemical annotations to the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds , denouncing the Royal Academy as a fraud and proclaiming, "To Generalize is to be an Idiot". In , he was introduced by George Cumberland's son to a young artist named John Linnell. The group shared Blake's rejection of modern trends and his belief in a spiritual and artistic New Age.
Aged 65, Blake began work on illustrations for the Book of Job , later admired by Ruskin , who compared Blake favourably to Rembrandt , and by Vaughan Williams , who based his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing on a selection of the illustrations. In later life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts , a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life. The commission for Dante 's Divine Comedy came to Blake in through Linnell, with the aim of producing a series of engravings.
Blake's death in cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form. Even so, they have earned praise:. The mastery of watercolour has reached an even higher level than before, and is used to extraordinary effect in differentiating the atmosphere of the three states of being in the poem.
Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text. Because the project was never completed, Blake's intent may be obscured. At the same time, Blake shared Dante's distrust of materialism and the corruptive nature of power, and clearly relished the opportunity to represent the atmosphere and imagery of Dante's work pictorially. Even as he seemed to be near death, Blake's central preoccupation was his feverish work on the illustrations to Dante's Inferno ; he is said to have spent one of the last shillings he possessed on a pencil to continue sketching.
Blake's last years were spent at Fountain Court off the Strand the property was demolished in the s, when the Savoy Hotel was built. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are — I will draw your portrait — for you have ever been an angel to me.
Gilchrist reports that a female lodger in the house, present at his expiration, said, "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel. George Richmond gives the following account of Blake's death in a letter to Samuel Palmer :. He died His eyes Brighten'd and he burst out Singing of the things he saw in Heaven. Catherine paid for Blake's funeral with money lent to her by Linnell.
Blake's body was buried in a plot shared with others, five days after his death — on the eve of his 45th wedding anniversary — at the Dissenter 's burial ground in Bunhill Fields , in what is today the London Borough of Islington. Following Blake's death, Catherine moved into Tatham's house as a housekeeper. She believed she was regularly visited by Blake's spirit. She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but entertained no business transaction without first "consulting Mr. On her death, longtime acquaintance Frederick Tatham took possession of Blake's works and continued selling them. Tatham later joined the fundamentalist Irvingite church and under the influence of conservative members of that church burned manuscripts that he deemed heretical.
Blake's grave is commemorated by two stones. The first was a stone that reads "Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake — and his wife Catherine Sophia —". The memorial stone is situated approximately 20 metres 66 ft away from the actual grave, which was not marked until 12 August The area had been damaged in the Second World War ; gravestones were removed and a garden was created. The memorial stone, indicating that the burial sites are "nearby", was listed as a Grade II listed structure in In a memorial to Blake and his wife was erected in Westminster Abbey. At the time of Blake's death, he had sold fewer than 30 copies of Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
Blake was not active in any well-established political party. Blake was concerned about senseless wars and the blighting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Much of his poetry recounts in symbolic allegory the effects of the French and American revolutions. Erdman claims Blake was disillusioned with the political outcomes of the conflicts, believing they had simply replaced monarchy with irresponsible mercantilism. Erdman also notes Blake was deeply opposed to slavery and believes some of his poems, read primarily as championing " free love ", had their anti-slavery implications short-changed. Thompson 's last finished work, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law , claims to show how far he was inspired by dissident religious ideas rooted in the thinking of the most radical opponents of the monarchy during the English Civil War.
Because Blake's later poetry contains a private mythology with complex symbolism, his late work has been less published than his earlier more accessible work. The Vintage anthology of Blake edited by Patti Smith focuses heavily on the earlier work, as do many critical studies such as William Blake by D. The earlier work is primarily rebellious in character and can be seen as a protest against dogmatic religion especially notable in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell , in which the figure represented by the "Devil" is virtually a hero rebelling against an imposter authoritarian deity.
In later works, such as Milton and Jerusalem , Blake carves a distinctive vision of a humanity redeemed by self-sacrifice and forgiveness, while retaining his earlier negative attitude towards what he felt was the rigid and morbid authoritarianism of traditional religion. Not all readers of Blake agree upon how much continuity exists between Blake's earlier and later works. Psychoanalyst June Singer has written that Blake's late work displayed a development of the ideas first introduced in his earlier works, namely, the humanitarian goal of achieving personal wholeness of body and spirit.
Regarding Blake's final poem, Jerusalem , she writes: "The promise of the divine in man, made in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell , is at last fulfilled. John Middleton Murry notes discontinuity between Marriage and the late works, in that while the early Blake focused on a "sheer negative opposition between Energy and Reason", the later Blake emphasised the notions of self-sacrifice and forgiveness as the road to interior wholeness.
This renunciation of the sharper dualism of Marriage of Heaven and Hell is evidenced in particular by the humanisation of the character of Urizen in the later works. Murry characterises the later Blake as having found "mutual understanding" and "mutual forgiveness". Although Blake's attacks on conventional religion were shocking in his own day, his rejection of religiosity was not a rejection of religion per se. His view of orthodoxy is evident in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Therein, Blake lists several Proverbs of Hell , among which are the following:. In The Everlasting Gospel , Blake does not present Jesus as a philosopher or traditional messianic figure, but as a supremely creative being, above dogma, logic and even morality:.
God wants not Man to Humble himself 55—61, E— For Blake, Jesus symbolises the vital relationship and unity between divinity and humanity: "All had originally one language, and one religion: this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus. Blake designed his own mythology , which appears largely in his prophetic books. Within these he describes a number of characters, including "Urizen", "Enitharmon", "Bromion" and "Luvah".
His mythology seems to have a basis in the Bible as well as Greek and Norse mythology,   and it accompanies his ideas about the everlasting Gospel. One of Blake's strongest objections to orthodox Christianity is that he felt it encouraged the suppression of natural desires and discouraged earthly joy. Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed and governd their Passions or have No Passions but because they have Cultivated their Understandings.
All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies. But the following Contraries to these are True 1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy. Energy is Eternal Delight. Plate 4, E Blake does not subscribe to the notion of a body distinct from the soul that must submit to the rule of the soul, but sees the body as an extension of the soul, derived from the "discernment" of the senses.
Thus, the emphasis orthodoxy places upon the denial of bodily urges is a dualistic error born of misapprehension of the relationship between body and soul. Elsewhere, he describes Satan as the "state of error", and as beyond salvation. Blake opposed the sophistry of theological thought that excuses pain, admits evil and apologises for injustice. He abhorred self-denial,  which he associated with religious repression and particularly sexual repression : .
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity. He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence. He saw the concept of "sin" as a trap to bind men's desires the briars of Garden of Love , and believed that restraint in obedience to a moral code imposed from the outside was against the spirit of life:. He did not hold with the doctrine of God as Lord, an entity separate from and superior to mankind;  this is shown clearly in his words about Jesus Christ: "He is the only God Blake had a complex relationship with Enlightenment philosophy.
His championing of the imagination as the most important element of human existence ran contrary to Enlightenment ideals of rationalism and empiricism. This mindset is reflected in an excerpt from Blake's Jerusalem :. Blake believed the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds , which depict the naturalistic fall of light upon objects, were products entirely of the "vegetative eye", and he saw Locke and Newton as "the true progenitors of Sir Joshua Reynolds' aesthetic".
Blake saw an analogy between this and Newton's particle theory of light. It has been supposed that, despite his opposition to Enlightenment principles, Blake arrived at a linear aesthetic that was in many ways more similar to the Neoclassical engravings of John Flaxman than to the works of the Romantics, with whom he is often classified. Since his death, William Blake has been claimed by those of various movements who apply his complex and often elusive use of symbolism and allegory to the issues that concern them. The 19th-century "free love" movement was not particularly focused on the idea of multiple partners, but did agree with Wollstonecraft that state-sanctioned marriage was "legal prostitution" and monopolistic in character.
It has somewhat more in common with early feminist movements  particularly with regard to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, whom Blake admired. Blake was critical of the marriage laws of his day, and generally railed against traditional Christian notions of chastity as a virtue. Poems such as "Why should I be bound to thee, O my lovely Myrtle-tree? Visions of the Daughters of Albion is widely though not universally read as a tribute to free love since the relationship between Bromion and Oothoon is held together only by laws and not by love.
For Blake, law and love are opposed, and he castigates the "frozen marriage-bed". In Visions , Blake writes:. Till she who burns with youth, and knows no fixed lot, is bound In spells of law to one she loathes? In the 19th century, poet and free love advocate Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote a book on Blake drawing attention to the above motifs in which Blake praises "sacred natural love" that is not bound by another's possessive jealousy, the latter characterised by Blake as a "creeping skeleton". In the early 20th century, Pierre Berger described how Blake's views echo Mary Wollstonecraft's celebration of joyful authentic love rather than love born of duty,  the former being the true measure of purity.
As a theological writer, Blake has a sense of human " fallenness ". Foster Damon noted that for Blake the major impediments to a free love society were corrupt human nature, not merely the intolerance of society and the jealousy of men, but the inauthentic hypocritical nature of human communication. Pierre Berger also analyses Blake's early mythological poems such as Ahania as declaring marriage laws to be a consequence of the fallenness of humanity, as these are born from pride and jealousy. Some scholars have noted that Blake's views on "free love" are both qualified and may have undergone shifts and modifications in his late years. Some poems from this period warn of dangers of predatory sexuality such as The Sick Rose.
Blake's later writings show a renewed interest in Christianity , and although he radically reinterprets Christian morality in a way that embraces sensual pleasure, there is little of the emphasis on sexual libertarianism found in several of his early poems, and there is advocacy of "self-denial", though such abnegation must be inspired by love rather than through authoritarian compulsion.
Berger believes the young Blake placed too much emphasis on following impulses,  and that the older Blake had a better formed ideal of a true love that sacrifices self. Some celebration of mystical sensuality remains in the late poems most notably in Blake's denial of the virginity of Jesus's mother. However, the late poems also place a greater emphasis on forgiveness, redemption, and emotional authenticity as a foundation for relationships. Northrop Frye , commenting on Blake's consistency in strongly held views, notes Blake "himself says that his notes on [Joshua] Reynolds, written at fifty, are 'exactly Similar' to those on Locke and Bacon, written when he was 'very Young'.
Even phrases and lines of verse will reappear as much as forty years later. Consistency in maintaining what he believed to be true was itself one of his leading principles Consistency, then, foolish or otherwise, is one of Blake's chief preoccupations, just as 'self-contradiction' is always one of his most contemptuous comments". Blake abhorred slavery  and believed in racial and sexual equality. Several of his poems and paintings express a notion of universal humanity: "As all men are alike tho' infinitely various ".
In one poem, narrated by a black child, white and black bodies alike are described as shaded groves or clouds, which exist only until one learns "to bear the beams of love":. When I from black and he from white cloud free, And round the tent of God like lambs we joy: Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear, To lean in joy upon our fathers knee. And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, And be like him and he will then love me. Blake retained an active interest in social and political events throughout his life, and social and political statements are often present in his mystical symbolism.
His views on what he saw as oppression and restriction of rightful freedom extended to the Church. His spiritual beliefs are evident in Songs of Experience , in which he distinguishes between the Old Testament God, whose restrictions he rejected, and the New Testament God whom he saw as a positive influence. From a young age, William Blake claimed to have seen visions. The first may have occurred as early as the age of four when, according to one anecdote, the young artist "saw God" when God "put his head to the window", causing Blake to break into screaming. Though all evidence suggests that his parents were largely supportive, his mother seems to have been especially so, and several of Blake's early drawings and poems decorated the walls of her chamber.
Blake claimed to experience visions throughout his life. They were often associated with beautiful religious themes and imagery, and may have inspired him further with spiritual works and pursuits. Certainly, religious concepts and imagery figure centrally in Blake's works. God and Christianity constituted the intellectual centre of his writings, from which he drew inspiration. Blake believed he was personally instructed and encouraged by Archangels to create his artistic works, which he claimed were actively read and enjoyed by the same Archangels. In a letter of condolence to William Hayley , dated 6 May , four days after the death of Hayley's son,  Blake wrote:. I know that our deceased friends are more really with us than when they were apparent to our mortal part.
Thirteen years ago I lost a brother, and with his spirit I converse daily and hourly in the spirit, and see him in my remembrance, in the region of my imagination. I hear his advice, and even now write from his dictate. I am more famed in Heaven for my works than I could well conceive. Aware of Blake's visions, William Wordsworth commented, "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.
Blake's work was neglected for a generation after his death and almost forgotten by the time Alexander Gilchrist began work on his biography in the s. The publication of the Life of William Blake rapidly transformed Blake's reputation, in particular as he was taken up by Pre-Raphaelites and associated figures, in particular Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne.
In the 20th century, however, Blake's work was fully appreciated and his influence increased. Important early and midth-century scholars involved in enhancing Blake's standing in literary and artistic circles included S. Erdman and G. Bentley Jr. While Blake had a significant role in the art and poetry of figures such as Rossetti, it was during the Modernist period that this work began to influence a wider set of writers and artists. William Butler Yeats , who edited an edition of Blake's collected works in , drew on him for poetic and philosophical ideas,  while British surrealist art in particular drew on Blake's conceptions of non-mimetic, visionary practice in the painting of artists such as Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland.
Many such as June Singer have argued that Blake's thoughts on human nature greatly anticipate and parallel the thinking of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In Jung's own words: "Blake [is] a tantalizing study, since he compiled a lot of half or undigested knowledge in his fantasies. According to my ideas they are an artistic production rather than an authentic representation of unconscious processes. Blake had an enormous influence on the beat poets of the s and the counterculture of the s , frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg , songwriters Bob Dylan , Jim Morrison ,  Van Morrison ,   and English writer Aldous Huxley.
Canadian music composer Kathleen Yearwood is one of many contemporary musicians that have set Blake's poems to music. After World War II, Blake's role in popular culture came to the fore in a variety of areas such as popular music, film, and the graphic novel , leading Edward Larrissy to assert that "Blake is the Romantic writer who has exerted the most powerful influence on the twentieth century. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 6 October Again the poet wonders how powerful would the grasp of the Creator which could hold the deadly brain of this animal.
In this stanza, the poet tends to compare this deadly animal to the lamb which is meek, innocent and quite opposite to the former. In addition, there is also a reference to a Biblical incidence as mentioned in Paradise Lost by John Milton. In the third line, the poet wonders would God have smiled after creating Tiger as it was beyond words for Satanic forces. He again thinks is He the same who created the lamb because the latter is quite innocent and meek while the former is deadly enough to frighten Satan. The final stanza is a repetition of the first one.
In the first stanza, the poet seems to be less amazed by the powers of tiger and God but after going through all the features of the tiger he wonders it is only God who can dare to create such an animal. Skip to content. Table of Contents. Previous Lesson The Sick Rose. Type your search. The poem describes a walk through London, which is presented as a pained, oppressive, and impoverished city in which all the speaker can find is misery.
It places particular emphasis on the sounds of London, with cries coming from men, women, and children throughout the poem. The poem is in part a response to the Industrial Revolution, but more than anything is a fierce critique of humankind's failure to build a society based on love, joy, freedom, and communion with God. I wander thro' each charter'd street, Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every Man, In every Infants cry of fear, In every voice: in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.
How the Chimney-sweepers cry Every blackning Church appalls,. And the hapless Soldiers sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls. But most thro' midnight streets I hear How the youthful Harlots curse Blasts the new-born Infants tear And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse. Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
Illustration and Other Poems — A resource from the Tate organization, which holds a large collection of Blake originals. Here the poem can be seen in its original illustrated form. Blake's Radicalism — An excerpt from a documentary in which writer Iain Sinclair discusses Blake's radicalism.