The greatest poems by William Blake
William Blake (1757-1827) is one of the key figures of English Romanticism, and a handful of his poems are universally known thanks to their memorable phrases and opening lines. In this post we’ve chosen what we consider to be ten of the best William Blake poems, along with links to each of them.
‘Jerusalem’. The hymn called ‘Jerusalem’ is surrounded by misconceptions, legend, and half-truths. Blake wrote the words which the composer Hubert Parry later set to music, but Blake didn’t call his poem ‘Jerusalem’, and instead the famous words that form the lyrics of the hymn are merely one part of a longer poem, a poem which Blake called Milton. The poem has been read as a satire of the rampant jingoism and Christian feeling running through England during the Napoleonic Wars, and has even been described as anti-patriotic, despite the patriotic nature of the hymn it inspired. Read the rest of this entry
A reading of a Shakespeare sonnet
Sonnet 21 in Shakespeare’s Sonnets takes us further into the Bard’s world of personal feeling – specifically, his feelings for the Fair Youth. How should we interpret and analyse Shakespeare’s Sonnet 21 in terms of his clearly burgeoning affection for the Youth?
So is it not with me as with that Muse,
Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
Making a couplement of proud compare
With sun and moon, with earth and sea’s rich gems,
With April’s first-born flowers, and all things rare,
That heaven’s air in this huge rondure hems. Read the rest of this entry