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Selected Poems : Penguin Classics - William Blake

Selected Poems

Penguin Classics


Published: 30th March 2006
For Ages: 18+ years old
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Published: 30th March 2006
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Writer and religious rebel, William Blake (1757 1827) sowed the seeds for Romanticism in his innovative poems concerning faith and the visions that inspired him throughout his life. Whether describing his own spirituality, the innocence of youth or the corruption caused by mankind, his writings depict a world in which spirits dominate and the mind is the gateway to Heaven. This collection of his greatest works spans his entire poetic life from the early, exquisite lyrics of Poetic Sketches to his Songs of Innocence and Experience, and is a compelling exploration of good and evil. Together, they illuminate a self-made realm that has fascinated artists and poets as diverse as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Yeats, and Ginsberg.

About The Author

William Blake was born in Broad Street in 1757, the son of a London hosier. Having attended Henry Parr’s drawing school in the Strand, he was in 1772 apprenticed to Henry Basire, engraver to the Society of Antiquaries, and later was admitted as a student to the Royal Academy, where he exhibited in 1780. He married Catherine Boucher in 1782 and in 1783 published Poetical Sketches. The first of his ‘illuminated books’ was Songs of Innocence (1789), which, like The Book of Thel (published in the same year), has as its main themes the celebration of innocence and its inviolability.

Blake sets out his ideas more fully in his chief prose work, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1791), which proclaims his lifelong belief in the moral primacy of the imagination. But in Songs of Experience (1794) he recognizes the power of repression, and in a series of short narrative poems he looks for mankind’s redemption from oppression through a resurgence of imaginative life. By 1797 he was ready for epic; Vala was never finished, but in Milton and Jerusalem he presents his renewed vision of reconciliation among the warring fragments of humanity. Other striking poems of his middle years are the lyrics of the Pickering Manuscript, and The Everlasting Gospel, but in the last years of his life he expressed himself in drawing rather than poetry.

Little of Blake’s work was published in conventional form. He combined his vocations as poet and graphic artist to produce books that are visually stunning. He also designed illustrations of works by other poets and devised his own technique for producing large watercolour illustrations and colour-printed drawings. Blake died in 1827, ‘an Old Man feeble & tottering but not in Spirit & Life not in the Real Man The Imagination which Liveth for Ever’.

The Clod and the Pebble

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."
Poetical sketchesp. 3
'An island in the moon'p. 9
Songs by shepherdsp. 10
Tirielp. 12
Songs of innocencep. 24
The book of Thelp. 42
The marriage of heaven and hellp. 47
'A fairy leapt'p. 60
Visions of the daughters of Albionp. 61
America a prophecyp. 69
Notebookp. 78
Songs of experiencep. 116
Europe a prophecyp. 129
The first book of Urizenp. 138
The song of Losp. 154
A asked a thiefp. 158
Vala or the four Zoa'sp. 159
Lettersp. 233
Miltonp. 240
Jerusalemp. 255
To the queenp. 289
The ballads or Pickering manuscriptp. 290
The ghost of Abelp. 299
For the sexes : the gates of paradisep. 302
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780140424461
ISBN-10: 0140424466
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 30th March 2006
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.3
Edition Number: 1