Fundamental role of poetry
One fundamental role of poetry, and perhaps literature in general, is to respond to the question “how should humans live?” Critique of society has been a constant in poetry since the beginning.
William Blake (1757–1827) was an English poet of the Romantic period. Romanticism stressed individualism above society, emotion above the controlled and rational, the beauty of nature and oneness of the individual with nature, and spontaneity. Consequently, social criticism is a major theme in Blake’s work.
Additionally, although they have often been analyzed separately, just as people combine digital image files and videos today, one of Blake’s innovations was the combination of engraved and painted illustrations with the poetic text.
Please read the poems themselves and pay close attention to the visual images in the attached examples from Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Note the difference between image and imagery.
The definitions according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, 2017, are as follows:
image: “a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art,” an example being “her work juxtaposed images from serious and popular art.” (picture)
Imagery: “visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work,” an example being “Tennyson uses imagery to create a lyrical emotion.”
The intent of the assignment is for people to study the visual images Blake engraved that are integral to the poetry and to use those in conjunction with the text analysis to explain how the images contribute to the interpretation. A significant amount of analysis provided by the Tate accompanies each text, but the Tate does not explain how the image and the text work together.
Be sure to use appropriate slashes and formatting in the quotation of poetry and to enclose the titles of poems in quotation marks.
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