4M: William Blake 1757-1827

Next Monday we’re starting to read one of the greatest poets and artists: WILLIAM BLAKE. To introduce the author and spend our “precious time in class” reading his poems I’m asking you to do the first part of this post, step by step.


NEWTON http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/blake-newton-n05058

No other poet could better embody the pure essence of Creativity, the fight against the injustices of his time and the constant wish to balance & blend the OPPOSITE FORCES of life in a PERENNIAL QUEST  FOR HARMONY which will be one of main themes running through our syllabus.  I’ve found a TV documentary you may find interesting. In order to help you while listening, I’ve created some True/False questions with EDPUZZLE. SIGN IN ( = register as a Student; you can choose also as Google/Gmail if you like)  so that I can track your work in the class I’ve already created. 

Since Blake’s message according to the documentary was: EMBRACE A WORLD OF CREATIVITY I’ve chosen this second video animation, highly visual.

You can see his paintings at this BBC Website. They’re stunning and highly impressive. Some of them refer to Dante’s Divina Commedia and you’ll find them familiar 😉

The last video is an animation. Sheila Graber was Commissioned by the Tate Gallery to create a movie for their 1977 Blake Exhibition. She was even invited down into the Sculpture Hall where she actually made the movie in public view – thus demonstrating how animation on cel ( a transparent sheet of celluloid or similar film material that can be drawn on, used in the production of cartoonsis actually done. It follows “The Poets” journey from Heaven to Hell and back… showing that, as Blake said, “Energy is Eternal delight and whether we create of destroy-it’s the same energy.”

Now I hope you’ll be ready and eager to know more about this great artist and read together in class some of his poems.


SESSION 2:  Here’s the poem The Lamb from Songs of Innocence we read in class

Here’s Tyger Tyger from The Songs of Experience

In the next video by the British Library Michael Phillips demonstrates William Blake’s printing process, explaining how it relates to his work as a poet and artist. Filmed at Morley College, London.

TRIVIA & EXPANSION: I guess you don’t know who Patty Smith is, you’re definitely too young but she’s an icon of rock culture like Bob Dylan. I went to her concert in Bologna when I was your age and she was in Italy performing a few months ago. Here she reads ‘The Tyger’ during a benefit concert for the museum Wadsworth Atheneum on October 20, 2011.

If you’re a fan of the crime series The Mentalist Blake was even quoted in one of its episodes 🙂

TASK: COMMENT How did you like that animation for such a complex poet as William Blake? Does it suit his work? Which of the two poems The Lamb & The Tyger did you like best and why?

8 thoughts on “4M: William Blake 1757-1827

  1. Before we did him in class, I didn’ t know anything about William Blake. I don’t like a lot all of his illuminated printings, but I find his poems really interesting and well made. I liked both the lamb and the tyger (maybe a little bit the tyger), above all because of the sound of the words choosen by Blake. Anyway, if I have to choose a poem for its content and meaning, I choose London. I think in this poem Blake describe perfectly the atmosphere of the London of his period and give the reader a complete view of theliving conditions of the people. I also appriciated a lot that he decided to give a voice to marginalised, such as chimney sweepers in the poem that we read this morning in class.

  2. I think the animation perfectly suit Blake’s poems and it’s really powerful. Above all I enjoyed discovering and reading him, because I found his works still current and meaningful. I liked his consideration about the importance of having both good and bad sides, because only with the union we can find balance and calm. Sometimes we take for granted the duality of our nature, and I think this is what Blake wanted to show with the songs of innocence and of experience: we should learn to live with our dark side, too. I honestly preferred “the tyger” as it communicate more energy and I appreciated a lot Patti Smith’s interpretation, because she highlighted the musicality of the poems.

  3. I really enjoyed watching Sheila Graber’s animation. I think that Blake himself would have made something similar if he had had the means so I’d say it does a good job at representing what his works are like.
    Of the poems we read I preferred “The Tyger” for its tone and the symbols. I also appreciated the fact that it has its complementary correspondent. I love that through this expedient Blake gives us a “double perspective” on the topic he deals with.

  4. Before we did William Blake in class, I only knew that he was a poet. I immediatly appreciated his personality. Blake was very strange, but he was deep, full of imagination and creativity. I also liked the poems we read in class. I liked most “The tyger”, because it’s full of energy, but ” The Lamb” was interesting, too. I think this two poems are a good way to understand that good and bad coexisted in our lives and we can’t live without one or the other. I think that the paintings are full of meanings and they are necessary to understand better the way of thinking of William Blake.

  5. The animations gave the impression of movement and dynamism, of energy and life, which might as well be one of the great aspects of William Blake’s personality – that desire to live and express life (which is one of the things I felt about his poetry). So, the animations, I feel, are suitable for some aspects of the man William Blake.

    Of course, there’s more to Blake than that. I was positively impressed by the tendency to criticism that he had, which is a thing I value a lot.

    I think I liked The Tyger a bit better than the The Lamb. I loved the references to myths, I enjoyed the “fearful symmetry” – which I found to be in some way a very pleasant oxymoron -, I also liked the link Blake made with the little lamb of The Songs of Innocence.

  6. last week was the first time that I heard the name William Blake. Only from the session 1 of this post i liked him. I liked very much his theory of complementary opposites because is a theory with which we can appreciate the two sides of the medal. we can see, with this theory, that we have to consider the good and the bad side of us and also of the world where we live because is in this way that we can understand something more about them. I liked best the poem “The Tyger” because it is full of energy and also has a great sound, according to my opinion and taste. I liked more the version of Patty Smith because she has give to the poem a different tone, and with it I had the possibility to understand others feelings that the autor lived when he was composing it.

  7. I didn’t know anything about William Blake before we did it in class and I discovered that I like a lot his poems. They are a bit complicated because of the symbols, but when you know the meanings you can understand how deep was his soul and I think it is explained perfectly in his works. Even if we have read only three poems, he really struck me. I think that “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” are both gorgeous and, as in the thought of William Blake in the “complementary opposites”, we can’t read only one of the two poems because we couldn’t understand what Blake would explained. I don’t like a lot his “illuminated paintings” although they explained his thoughts too.

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