Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Writer #10: William Blake

Only one thing I know about William Blake: that´s the name of the school where I sat my Proficiency exam.

William Blake (1757-1827) was a British poet, painter, visionary mystic, and engraver, who illustrated and printed his own books.

Blake proclaimed the supremacy of the imagination over the rationalism and materialism of the 18th- century.

Blake has recorded that from his early years, he experienced visions of angels and ghostly monks and that he saw and conversed with the angel Gabriel, the Virgin Mary, and various historical figures. At the age of 14 Blake was apprenticed for seven years to the engraver James Basire.

In 1783 he married Catherine Boucher, the daughter of a market gardener. Blake taught her to draw and paint and she assisted him devoutly.

Blake's first book of poems, Poetical Sketches, appeared in 1783 and was followed by Songs of Innocence (1789), and Songs of ExperienceE (1794). His most famous poem "The Tyger", was part of his Songs of Experience. In these works the world is seen from a child's point of view, but they also function as parables of adult experience.

Blake engraved and published most of his major works himself. Famous among his "Prophetic Books" are The Book of Thel(1789) The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,(1790) The Book of Urizen,(1794) America(1793), Milton(1804-8)and Jerusalem.(1804-20).

Blake left no debts at his death on August 12, 1827. He was buried in an unmarked grave at the public cemetery of Bunhill Fields. Though generally dismissed as an eccentric during his lifetime, posterity rediscovered Blake and today he is highly rated both as a poet and artist.

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