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Neil Bowen
Site Owner
Posts: 135

(Originally posted by Adam Gillett 18/1/11)

 

Even the 'visionary' Blake had to make some corrections from time to time. If you can work out the handwriting, this is fascinating. The British Library holds many such items, it's well worth having a look at the author pages on their site.

http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/englit/blake/large17449.html

 

June 28, 2011 at 3:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Dr Andrew Green's seminar on Blake will take place on this forum on Thursday.

Here is a message from Andrew:

Hoping to hear from lots of you on Thursday evening, when we'll be exploring the wonderful world of William Blake. Here are a few materials to get you thinking.

 

A) Blake was an engraver and an artist as well as a poet, and never wrote a poem without illustrations. Try out the following activity for one or more of Blake's poems:

 

 

1) Read one or more of the following poems in a ?text only? version:

 

 ?The Schoolboy?

 ?Holy Thursday? (Innocence)

 ?The Chimney-Sweeper? (Experience)

 ?The Sick Rose?

 ?The Fly?

 ?London?

 

 

a) What do you think the poem is about?

b) What is its atmosphere?

c) Who is the speaker?

 

 

2) Now look at the illustrated versions of the poems available at http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/copy.xq?copyid=so

ngsie.b&java=no

 

a) How does the illustration modify your opinion on each of the above issues?

b) How do the visual images relate to the verbal content of the poem?

c) To what extent do the visual images enforce an interpretation on the reader, and to what extent do they open interpretative possibilities?

 

 

B) Read through the poems of The Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Think carefully about how Blake uses the following:

 

1) colours - What qualities might we associate with these colours and what impact do they have on the reader? Does Blake employ these colourse in his illustrations for the poems? If so, to what effect?

2) animals and plants - Again, what qualities do you associate with the animals and plants Blake uses? Do these appear in the illuistrations? How do they impact upon your reading of the text?

 

C) George Richmond wrote of Blake: ?He said to me that all children saw ?visions? and the substance of what he added is that all men might see them but for worldliness or unbelief, which blinds the spiritual eye.? Peter Ackroyd has observed: ?In the visionary imagination of William Blake there is no birth and no death, no beginning and no end, only the perpetual pilgrimage within time towards eternity.? And Blake himself writes in 'Milton':

?For when Los joined with me he took me in his fiery whirlwind

My vegetated portion was hurried from Lambeth?s shades

He set me down in Felpham?s Vale and prepared a beautiful

Cottage for me that in three years I might write all these visions

To display Nature?s cruel holiness . . .?

(Milton, Book the Second, Plate 36, ll. 21-25)

 

How do these observations help you to think about Blake's visionary and prophetic poetry?

 

 

D) Go online and try to listen to some of the available musical settings of Blake's poetry. There are particularly good examples by:

a) Ralph Vaughan Williams ? Ten Blake Songs for Voice and Oboe; available on the EMI label: On Wenlock Edge/etc. Catalogue number 7243 565589 2 2;

b) Benjamin Britten ? Songs and Proverbs of William Blake; available on the Decca label: Billy Budd/The Holy Sonnets of John Donne/etc. Catalogue number 417428;

c) Benjamin Britten ? Serenade (the section entitled Elegy includes a fine setting of ?The Sick Rose?; available on the Decca label: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings Catalogue number 436395;

d) John Tavener ? this composer has made settings of both ?The Lamb? and ?The Tiger?; available on the Naxos label Song for Athene and other Choral Works Catalogue number 8.555256

e) John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951) ? settings of ?A Cradle Song? and ?The Fly?

f) Theodore Chanler (1902-61) ? a setting of ?The Lamb?

g) Otto Luening (1900-96) ? settings of Auguries of Innocence and the following poems from Songs of Innocence and Experience: ?The Divine Image?, ?Introduction? from Experience, ?Earth?s Answer? and ?Infant Joy?

h) Ned Rorem (b. 1923) ? ?The Sick Rose? and ?Spring? (available on the Naxos label Catalogue number 8.559084)

i) Randall Thompson (1899-1984) ? ?Spring?

j) Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) ? ?The Little Black Boy?, ?The Sunflower?, two settings of ?The Tiger?, ?The Divine Image? and the famous ?Jerusalem? from Milton.

k) Lucien Posman (b. 1952) ? Ten Songs of Experience: these songs appear among a range of other Blake settings on the Cyprès label Catalogue number CYP 4616.

l) Hubert Parry ? a very famous setting of ?Jerusalem? from Milton; available on the Philips label: The Last Night of the Proms Collection Catalogue number 454172.

m) Jah Wobble ? this jazz-punk musician is fascinated by the work of William Blake, and his settings of the songs provide a strong contrast to the more conventional settings outlined above. His album The Inspiration of William Blake is published by Hertz Records Catalogue number 30hzcd13. A search on the internet will also provide a number of interesting interviews with Wobble, explaining his fascination with Blake?s work.

 

How does the music affect the way you understand the poetry?

April 22, 2013 at 5:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Dr Green's seminar is about to kick off here...

April 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Green
Member
Posts: 90

Hopefully we are now functioning. Did anyone have a chance to do any of the introductory exercises?

April 25, 2013 at 3:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rachel
Member
Posts: 13

I've read the poems and I've seen the images

 

April 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Me too.

April 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Green
Member
Posts: 90

Hi James, Rachel Are you there?

April 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rachel
Member
Posts: 13

I am, this is where we're meant to reply?

 

April 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Green
Member
Posts: 90

At last. I've found you. How did you find the experience of reading the poems with the images different to the text only experience. Anything surprising?

April 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alistair Whittle
Member
Posts: 47

I've read through both the songs of innocence and experience for the first time, looking forward to diving into Blake's world!

April 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Rachel at April 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I am, this is where we're meant to reply?

 

Yes, you're in the right place now....so what did you make of the images? did they change the way you interpreted the poems?

April 25, 2013 at 3:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

James
Member
Posts: 2

I've read the poems and looked at a few of the images. The accompanying illustration to 'The Tyger' is interesting; the tiger drawn there is meek and mild, and certainly doesn't seem to be the 'dread' beast portrayed in the poem itself.

April 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

James at April 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I've read the poems and looked at a few of the images. The accompanying illustration to 'The Tyger' is interesting; the tiger drawn there is meek and mild, and certainly doesn't seem to be the 'dread' beast portrayed in the poem itself.

More like tigger...perhaps Blake wasn't much good at animals?

April 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

robynchanter
Member
Posts: 6

Ive also read the poems and looked at the images

April 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rachel
Member
Posts: 13

I did see them and i wouldn't say they changed, more complimented and allowed me to visualise the scene better

April 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Andrew Green
Member
Posts: 90

Blake was notoriously bad at painting animals. The tiger - you're right - looks like a pretty tame cat. How does this affect your sense of what the poem might be about?

April 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

robynchanter
Member
Posts: 6

Blake probably would have never seen a tiger, would he?

 

April 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alistair Whittle
Member
Posts: 47

Rachel at April 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I did see them and i wouldn't say they changed, more complimented and allowed me to visualise the scene better

I'd agree with that, the colours he uses certainly helps to evoke the mood of the poem.

 

April 25, 2013 at 3:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

robynchanter
Member
Posts: 6

It  emphasises the metaphoric side of the poem - you see the tiger figure as a metaphorical one rather than a realistic depiction of a tiger

April 25, 2013 at 3:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Amanda Trehearn
Member
Posts: 11

I thought Holy Thursday (innocence) was interesting. His choice of highly regimented writing and focus on the image of procession from the opening line. It makes you think this is a poem about social control.

April 25, 2013 at 3:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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