Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Michael Bedard in his biography of Blake for young people, sees the cycle of Blake's life following a path begun in the security of a happy childhood, and sustained by his confidence in divine guidance. Blake himself in The School Boy, one of the Songs of Experience, argues that the pleasures of a unrestricted childhood provide the foundation for weathering the storms of later life. The ability to hold on to the truth which is the heritage of the stage Blake called innocence provided the fortitude for him to continue his work through the darkest times.  
From page 144 of William Blake The Gates of Paradise by Michael Bedard:

"As in art, so in life. Blake's heart went out to the poor and the oppressed, those for whom life was an endless struggle. His own life had its share of bitter disappointment and heartbreak. He came to believe that struggle was the very essence of life, and his work is full of it. What separates Blake's story from many others is that he was sustained throughout his struggle by vision, a vision of unity and harmony and joy that he had tasted in his own life and saw in the the lives of children and the is lowly of the earth. If his life may be said to describe a pattern, it is the very pattern he saw operating in and through all things: a state of initial bliss, followed by a fall into darkness and strife, and then finally, a restoration to unity and peace.

It is the refrain of all his poetry and the sustaining vision of his life. In Songs of Innocence, he celebrated the vision of joy. In Songs of Experience and many of the books that followed, he sang of division, constraint, and darkness. Yet even in times of trouble, he kept the divine vision. He had known bliss, known darkness and strife. In the final years of his life, he would experience a return to the world of light, to the joys of friendship and creative fellowship, and the visionary company of children."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 53, (E 31)
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Plate 53
The School Boy 

"I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company. 

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.

Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour.
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learnings bower,
Worn thro' with the dreary shower. 
How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing.
How can a child when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring.

O! father & mother, if buds are nip'd,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip'd
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and cares dismay, 

How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear,
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear." 

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