William Blake and his contexts

William Blake and his context

LO: to learn how to relate contexts to texts.

Starter: what is context? Why is it important to study?

 Find the poem which goes with the “contextual” quote or comment.

 The Greek God Pan is associated with playing a pipe in the countryside, with conducting  parties, with playing with nymphs, with drinking and singing and poetry.

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine.

Psalms 23:1-6 – (A Psalm of David.) The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

John, 1.36

The next day, John seeth Iesus comming vnto him, and saith, Behold the Lambe of God, which taketh away the sinne of the world.

 Slavery was abolished in 1833. Blake wrote the Songs of Innocence and Experience between 1789-94.

The Romantic poets led a movement to celebrate nature and natural environments and felt that nature embodied the human imagination.

“At the age of four and five, boys were sold to clean chimneys, due to their small size. These children were oppressed and had a diminutive existence that was socially accepted at the time.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chimney_Sweeper

In London, even by 1760, almost a decade and a half after the level of infant and child mortality had begun to fall, 49% of all children were dead by the age of two, and 60% by the age of five. Blake himself, one of a family of four, was born two years after the death of his infant brother, John.

DR. WATTS’S CRADLE HYMN (1674-1748)

HUSH, my dear; lie still and slumber
Holy angels guard thy bed;
Heavenly blessings, without number,
Gently falling on thy head.

William Blake’s childhood home in Soho was next to a Workhouse where young orphans were brought up. They were taken to Wimbledon Common by “Nurses” who were hired by the workhouse to supervise them. They would play in the fresh air there. Later on, this practice was stopped, and the children were kept in the workhouse most of the time. (Bedard)

It is a heresy (against the law of the church) to say that all religions are the same, and that the human brain is where God lives.

During Blake’s time, England was emerging as a world empire, and was engaged in various wars and conflicts with other countries. Its chief enemy was France, which had had a revolution in 1792 and abolished its monarchy. Some people viewed the animal of the tiger as a symbol for the French revolution because it was an angry, devastating animal. Blake was very sympathetic towards the French revolution before it became very violent. He wrote a number of other poems which explored the horrors of the British empire.

Once a year, beginning in 1782, as many as 6,000 homeless children were mareched from their charity schools all over London to attend services held in St Pauls Cathedral. This spectacle in honour of the patrons and founders of the schools took place on a Thursday. (Johnson and Grant, p. 32)

King Lear Act IV, sc 1, l. 36-37 “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/They kill us for their sport.”

Many dissenting sects (factions of the Christian religion which were banned by official Christianity) held their meetings in ale houses and pubs during Blake’s life-time.

Many years after Blake died, Sigmund Freud developed a theory about “repression” in which he argued if people did not talk about their emotions, particularly anger and sexual attraction, they would become “neurotic” or mentally ill and do things that were harmful to themselves and other people without knowing why they had done them. This was because they had “repressed” their emotions. He also argued that many of their secret desires would emerge in their dreams.

The figure of the Bard, or the travelling poet, is a powerful one in early English mythology; it is believed he was a wise man who people listened to. Artists and poets were though in Blake’s lifetime viewed with considerable suspicion and sometimes arrested for their beliefs. Blake himself was put on trial for sedition, being accused of criticising the King, but was acquitted. The experience was very traumatic for Blake.

EXTENSION:

Isaiah wrote about “the wolf dwelling with the lamb while the leopard lies down with the kid… and the young lion” (Isaiah 11:6).

From Wikipedia:

Chapter 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, attributed to Paul the apostle covers the subject of love, principally the love that Christians should have. In the original Greek, the word αγαπη agape is used throughout. This is translated into English as charity in the King James version; but the word love is preferred by most other translations, both earlier and more recent.

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paradise Lost 1, 254-55, John Milton

“The Mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”

 

 

 

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:

Introduction to Songs of Innocence

The Greek God Pan is associated with playing a pipe in the countryside, with conducting  parties, with playing with nymphs, with drinking and singing and poetry.

 

The Shepherd

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine.

Psalms 23:1-6 – (A Psalm of David.) The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

 

The Lamb

John, 1.36

The next day, John seeth Iesus comming vnto him, and saith, Behold the Lambe of God, which taketh away the sinne of the world.

 

The Little Black Boy

Slavery was abolished in 1833. Blake wrote the Songs of Innocence and Experience between 1789-94.

 

The Blossom, Spring.

The Romantic poets led a movement to celebrate nature and natural environments and felt that nature embodied the human imagination.

The Chimney Sweeper

“At the age of four and five, boys were sold to clean chimneys, due to their small size. These children were oppressed and had a diminutive existence that was socially accepted at the time.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chimney_Sweeper

The Lost Children poems: little girl lost

In London, even by 1760, almost a decade and a half after the level of infant and child mortality had begun to fall, 49% of all children were dead by the age of two, and 60% by the age of five. Blake himself, one of a family of four, was born two years after the death of his infant brother, John.

 

A Cradle Song

DR. WATTS’S CRADLE HYMN. (1674-1748)

HUSH, my dear; lie still and slumber
Holy angels guard thy bed;
Heavenly blessings, without number,
Gently falling on thy head.

 

The Nurse’s Song

William Blake’s childhood home in Soho was next to a Workhouse where young orphans were brought up. They were taken to Wimbledon Common by “Nurses” who were hired by the workhouse to supervise them. They would play in the fresh air there. Later on, this practice was stopped, and the children were kept in the workhouse most of the time. (Bedard)

 

The Divine Image

It is a heresy (against the law of the church) to say that all religions are the same, and that the human brain is where God lives.

London

During Blake’s time, England was emerging as a world empire, and was engaged in various wars and conflicts with other countries. Its chief enemy was France, which had had a revolution in 1792 and abolished its monarchy. Some people viewed the animal of the tiger as a symbol for the French revolution because it was an angry, devastating animal. Blake was very sympathetic towards the French revolution before it became very violent. He wrote a number of other poems which explored the horrors of the British empire.

Holy Thursday

Once a year, beginning in 1782, as many as 6,000 homeless children were mareched from their charity schools all over London to attend services held in St Pauls Cathedral. This spectacle in honour of the patrons and founders of the schools took place on a Thursday. (Johnson and Grant, p. 32)

The Fly

King Lear Act IV, sc 1, l. 36-37 “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/They kill us for their sport.”

The Little Vagabond

Many dissenting sects (factions of the Christian religion which were banned by official Christianity) held their meetings in ale houses and pubs during Blake’s life-time.

A Poison Tree

Many years after Blake died, Sigmund Freud developed a theory about “repression” in which he argued if people did not talk about their emotions, particularly anger and sexual attraction, they would become “neurotic” or mentally ill and do things that were harmful to themselves and other people without knowing why they had done them. This was because they had “repressed” their emotions. He also argued that many of their secret desires would emerge in their dreams.

The Voice of the Ancient Bard

The figure of the Bard, or the travelling poet, is a powerful one in early English mythology; it is believed he was a wise man who people listened to. Artists and poets were though in Blake’s lifetime viewed with considerable suspicion and sometimes arrested for their beliefs. Blake himself was put on trial for sedition, being accused of criticising the King, but was acquitted. The experience was very traumatic for Blake.

Night

Isaiah wrote about “the wolf dwelling with the lamb while the leopard lies down with the kid… and the young lion” (Isaiah 11:6).

The Clod and the Pebble

From Wikipedia:

Chapter 13 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, attributed to Paul the apostle covers the subject of love, principally the love that Christians should have. In the original Greek, the word αγαπη agape is used throughout. This is translated into English as charity in the King James version; but the word love is preferred by most other translations, both earlier and more recent.

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Paradise Lost 1, 254-55, John Milton

“The Mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements