England (1757 - 1827) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic
Poems by William Blake
Books - Links
Blake was born in London to a family of at least modest comfort. He showed early artistic ability, apprenticing as an engraver. In his 20s, he continued his artistic studies at the Royal Academy.
He married in his mid 20s and supported himself by doing engravings and illustrations while experimenting with new forms of etching artwork. It was also during this period that he published his first poetry.
Blake was a progressive social thinker, advocating racial and sexual equality, opposing all forms oppression, and inclined to clash with authority -- ideas that set him at odds with notions of British empire and rigid social norms of the day. He was a regular member London's dissident groups, as well as important literary and intellectual circles.
He was also a deep mystic, famously writing, "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." Some of his work takes on a prophetic quality, filled with archetypal embodiments of the nation, humanity, and the great forces at work in the world. Throughout his life Blake had visions imbued with religious themes and enlightening insights, and he felt that archangels guided him in his work. Although his spirituality was deeply inspired by the Bible and Christianity, he was a vocal critic of narrow-minded religiosity.
His most famous published works include Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, and Jerusalem, which marries poetry, prophecy, and stunning etchings within a single work of art. His work has been an important influence among subsequent Romantic poets, artists, social critics, and visionary seekers.
William Blake died in 1827, on his deathbed telling his wife that he would always be with her. Blake's widow, Catherine, was convinced that her dead husband visited her regularly, always insisting that she first consult his spirit before selling his any of his works of art.
Poems by William Blake
- Auguries of Innocence
- The Divine Image
- To see a world in a grain of sand (from Auguries of Innocence)
- Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows (from Jerusalem)
- Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through (from Jerusalem)
- Reader! of books! of heaven (from Jerusalem)
- Trembling I sit day and night (from Jerusalem)
- Hear the voice of the Bard!
- The Errors of Sacred Codes (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)
William Blake - Biography and Works
A brief biography and several short poems.
William Blake Archive
An excellent resource for scholars and fans of William Blake: in-depth biography, articles -- and Blake's complete poetry, including his illuminated works on-line.
The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake
A simple site, but a good source for all of Blake's written works.