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Blake: A Sensible Choice Essay

1425 words - 6 pages

Blake: A Sensible Choice

The Romantic era developed in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and was one of the most influential time periods of literature and visual art going forward. Social tensions were hot in England, and were mainly induced by the feelings produced regarding the situations of the French and American Revolutions (Manning and Wolfson, 7). The dominant literary figures of that time broke traditional boundaries of the use of form and meter in literature, but also content. The Romantics were largely concerned with “the imagination”, which was defined as a “turn, even an escape, from the tumultuous and confusing here-and-now” (Manning and Wolfson, 9). Yet, the ...view middle of the document...

As this piper pipes a “song about a Lamb” (Blake, “Introduction” 5), the child “wept to hear [it]” ( “Introduction” 8). And it goes on to detail the piper singing the song and the child weeping again. The image of the child is very important in Blake’s work, largely personifying newness and the introduction of differing or dissenting commentary on the traditional values held in the English aristocracy at the time (primogeniture et al). But there is far more depth to “Introduction” than the first read suggests. When the child in the piper’s vision asks him to pipe a “song about a Lamb”, Blake is drawing on a popular Biblical image of Christ, but also alludes to the use of the white lambskin as badges of innocence in ancient cultures. But there is even further meaning! The fact that, in stanza five, the character in the poem makes a “rural pen” (Blake, “Introduction” 17) plays into the Romantic idea that human beings are strictly connected with Nature, which, as we look deeper, confronts the aristocratic norm of how the individual is the sum of all his man-made (and perhaps ill-gotten) possessions. This hodge-podge of completely relevant information of the time is accompanied by a sing-songy meter know as common meter.
Common meter in Blake’s time, and also today, is used in songs as a mnemonic device in aiding of memorization. This specific meter being seven feet in length (cut 4 and 3), being iambic in nature, and also used in many hymns of praise, suggests that it was quite easy for children to pick up namely because as children were taught hymns in school (myself included), it was a smooth transition to reading Blake, or anything in common meter. But I personally stand behind the idea that Blake’s use of common meter was to agitate the upper class of England- because these songs / poems were so easy to read and remember, the content of them would be transmitted more widely and more quickly (even though Blake was not widely read during his lifetime).
Thoughts of revolution abounded in English culture at this time. Aided by the sentiments produced by the French and American Revolutions, the English people revolted in challenging the common social constructs surrounding art, music, and predominantly the traditional rights of primogeniture and the British hierarchical cycle. In Blake’s “The Ecchoing Green”, a vivid and extended metaphor is presented about the cycle of life. However, there are subtle undertones of dissent as well. The use of color is important in this poem as the young ‘green’ children are playing in the field. We can take this text to mean a couple of things. First, it is, indeed, a poem about the cycles of life and the cycles of Nature and the Spring equaling growth. It also described and implies the growth in Nature of the individual and all of the Romantic characterization of ‘the feeling’ of the work, and also being in love with the picturesque of Nature. Secondly, however, if we couple the images used in this poem with...

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