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Today, William Blake is a famous person who is said to have contributed a lot in the history of visual arts and poetry. He is said to have greatly contributed to English poetry in the romantic age. His literal works makes him the greatest artist in Britain. Blake was a famous artist who was bold enough to express his ideas and print his own books. During his time, the New Jerusalem church believed that the Newtonian science was just a superstition which had no basis. This made his career life to be difficult as no one ever believed him. He was mocked by many people just because of the fact that they did not understand him. He was born in Soho, a town in London.
Blake was a son to James Blake who was a hosier and deeply against the courts of London. He believed that the courts were not fair in making of judgments and they were not supposed to be there. Initially, Blake did not go to school but was educated by his mother Catherine Wright. She had married Blake’s father as a second husband after her husband died in the year 1751. According to his critics, Blake hated being ruled and did not want to follow laws and this was a major reason why his father did not want to send him to school. It is said that Blake started seeing supernatural people when he was still young. He saw Angel Gabriel, and some monks whom he would talk to and this made him very different from all other children of his age.
In the year 1767, Blake was admitted to Henry Pars’ drawing school. He would only return to his home only on Sundays since all the other days were spent at work with James Basire who was a famous engraver. Blake was later transferred to the royal academy school in London but after sometime, he was expelled due to lack of respect for the school’s principal Mr. Joshua Reynolds. This was his turning point as he started to make engravings which he sold to magazine companies. This became part of him and arts was his only source of income. In 1782, Blake married Ms. Catherine Boucher. Blake can be seen as a good teacher in the way he transformed Catherine to be a painter and an expert in the use of the printing press machine. This made Catherine acquire a higher status because apart from being his wife, she acquired a new role as Blake’s partner.
The most important people in the life of Blake were: Mr. Fuseli, Reverend A.S. Mathew, William Godwin, John Flaxman, and Elizabeth Montagu. These are the people who can be said to have shaped the life of Blake. All the fame he earned was linked to these people. They were the only people who believed in him, understood him, and stood by him at all times. Mr. Swedenborg was another person who really influenced Blake’s life through his written literature. He was a Swedish philosopher who lived in London until his death in 1772.
Blake interest in poetry sprung up when he was about 12 years but was negatively impacted by the fact that he was introduced to manual works instead of literature. In 1783, Blake released his first poetry book referred to as Poetical sketches, Songs of experience, and later Songs of experience in the year 1794. One of the most famous works of Blake is a poem named The Tyger. In this poem, Blake was not expressing his current opinions and this made him to feel as an outsider, as a man living in a society he did not belong. He was not against the French revolutions like many poets of the time were, but he disliked the moments of terror caused by the Frenchmen and Americans. Blake’s engraving, The marriage of heaven and hell, expresses his rebellion towards social norms which were in place in 1790. According to his wife, Blake lived in a dream world and he never looked onto life like other people. ‘He lived in paradise’. Many other people referred to Blake as a mad person who was harmless to the society. Blake in his life seemed only to acknowledge Henry Fuseli who at most times did not like his works. Fuseli always found Blake useful when he had an engraving to be done. Blake did not help Fuseli for too long as they parted ways by the year 1803.
Blake commenced his work on ` prophetic books’ which reflected on the author`s concern regarding the soul`s struggle to free its natural energies from reason and organized religion. Blake was then taken under the arm of William Hayley also a poet to Felpham where he rented a cottage. Blake`s support for Milton`s book titled: A Poem in two books, to justify the ways of god to men, landed him in trouble after a disagreement with Private John Scofield. He was charged with treason in 1803 and was later acquitted. Blake`s creativity continued flourishing and he went on to write more poems, engravings and aphorisms. He was working on his version of Canterbury Pilgrims when he produced The four zaos which were long epic poems revived in 1889 and published in 1893 under the writings of William Blake.
The Ancients are said to be Blakes` fans in his old age and shared most of his ideals. Blake can be said to have been imaginative and created his own unique style that went beyond people`s expectations during those times. He could not be termed as an amiable person and is accused of failing to get along even with his intimate circle of friends. Blake`s finances were not as successful as his works. He survived on meager commissions throughout his life. Besides his works he can also be credited for developing a new method called illuminated printing which was an improvement on the previous methods. He did not live in financial abundance but he was not indebted to anyone when he died in 1827.
Despite the fact that Blake is so famous today, most of his works belongs to the past; 18th century was only the time when engravings would only be done on copper plates. Engraving on copper plate involves too much work and it is also time consuming. Intaglio engraving is a type of printing where by words is engraved onto a surface. This kind of printing process cannot work well with ecommerce services since one can’t keep up with the demand for the same. This clearly points out why Blake doesn’t seem to have made substantial amount of money from his work. If Blake had adopted better ways of printing, he would have made a lot of money. This also points to why Blake died a poor man. Working on templates that took so much time to complete was really a waste on him.
In his life Blake did not associate himself with any political party. He used his poems to show his revolt towards the ruling class. He believed that those in power always abused their offices. The only things that Blake seemed interested were the effects of the revolution and the wars between kingdoms. This is clearly indicated in his poems where he seems to be against the revolutions that were led by the Frenchmen and the American. Blake was also against slavery and instead, he preached about ‘free love’ in his poems. Critically Blake can be seen as the first person to start rebellions against the rulers in the 18th century.
Blake is seen to have implanted the seed of ‘free love’ movement which advocated for removal of marriage restriction that had been placed by the church of the 18th century. According to this movement, marriage was a form of slavery and it urged the state to remove restrictions on homosexuality, adultery, and use of birth control methods. According to Wollstonecraft, marriage was some form of state accepted prostitution. Blake also believed that chastity was not a virtue which was clearly shown when his wife was unable to bear children and he insisted on marrying another wife. This shows the extent to which he was against some religious teachings of the 18th century. In spite of all the attacks he made in his poems against the religions of his days, he was not fully against the religion per se. He still believed in some supernatural powers. In his poem, The everlasting Gospel, he portrays a figure, Jesus, who is a bridge between divinity and humanity. His mythologies seem to mix the bible teachings and a Greek myth which tries to explain the everlasting gospel.
Today William Blake is appreciated for his great works which were not given their due worth during his times. He was a talented artist who did not have a chance to make much out of his life. May be if he had lived in the 21st century, his fortunes would have different. He was a man who stood by what he felt was right even though there were many people against him. Blake will always be remembered by the generations to come for his artistic works.
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