Saturday, January 30, 2010

An introduction to the poetry of William Blake

The one thing everyone knows about William Blake is that he was a visual artist as well as a poet. It might be thought that since he took such trouble to illustrate his poetry, or to use his word, illuminate it, and because his designs are so brilliant and sometimes so powerful, the words can't be appreciated properly without the pictures.
I don't agree. If that were true, it would mean that there was little point in a publication like this. Some of his designs are majestic in their power and authority, exquisite in their detail, tender, awe-inspiring, profoundly original: all that is true.
Nevertheless, words and pictures are different things. We can memorise the words of The Tyger and reproduce them without loss every time we recite it, because words live in our mouths and our ears; we can't do the same with the picture that goes with it, because pictures live differently. The power of Blake's greatest poetry is independent of the designs that surround it. If the designs had been magnificent and the poetry banal, we would never remember a word of it.
Continue at the source
Buy the poetry and prose of William Blake at Amazon The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake

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