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But maybe I can come up with a compromise—I'll let things be what they are, sort of. In the autumn I'll put up jellies and preserves, against the winter cold and futility, and that will be a human thing, and intelligent as well. I won't be embarrassed by my friends' dumb remarks, or even my own, though admittedly that's the hardest part, as when you are in a crowded theater and something you say riles the spectator in front of you, who doesn't even like the idea of two people near him talking together.

Well he's got to be flushed out so the hunters can have a crack at him— this thing works both ways, you know. You can't always be worrying about others and keeping track of yourself at the same time. That would be abusive, and about as much fun as attending the wedding of two people you don't know. Still, there's a lot of fun to be had in the gaps between ideas. That's what they're made for!

For America’s most beloved poet, paying attention to nature is a springboard to the sacred.

Now I want you to go out there and enjoy yourself, and yes, enjoy your philosophy of life, too. They don't come along every day. Look out! There's a big one For John Clare Kind of empty in the way it sees everything, the earth gets to its feet and salutes the sky. More of a success at it this time than most others it is.

The feeling that the sky might be in the back of someone's mind. Then there is no telling how many there are. They grace everything--bush and tree--to take the roisterer's mind off his caroling--so it's like a smooth switch back. To what was aired in their previous conniption fit. There is so much to be seen everywhere that it's like not getting used to it, only there is so much it never feels new, never any different.

You are standing looking at that building and you cannot take it all in, certain details are already hazy and the mind boggles. What will it all be like in five years' time when you try to remember?

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

Will there have been boards in between the grass part and the edge of the street? As long as that couple is stopping to look in that window over there we cannot go. We feel like they have to tell us we can, but they never look our way and they are already gone, gone far into the future--the night of time. If we could look at a photograph of it and say there they are, they never really stopped but there they are.

There is so much to be said, and on the surface of it very little gets said. There ought to be room for more things, for a spreading out, like. Being immersed in the details of rock and field and slope --letting them come to you for once, and then meeting them halfway would be so much easier--if they took an ingenuous pride in being in one's blood. Alas, we perceive them if at all as those things that were meant to be put aside-- costumes of the supporting actors or voice trilling at the end of a narrow enclosed street.

You can do nothing with them. Not even offer to pay.

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It is possible that finally, like coming to the end of a long, barely perceptible rise, there is mutual cohesion and interaction. The whole scene is fixed in your mind, the music all present, as though you could see each note as well as hear it. I say this because there is an uneasiness in things just now. Waiting for something to be over before you are forced to notice it. The pollarded trees scarcely bucking the wind--and yet it's keen, it makes you fall over.

Clabbered sky. Seasons that pass with a rush. After all it's their time too--nothing says they aren't to make something of it. As for Jenny Wren, she cares, hopping about on her little twig like she was tryin' to tell us somethin', but that's just it, she couldn't even if she wanted to--dumb bird. But the others--and they in some way must know too--it would never occur to them to want to, even if they could take the first step of the terrible journey toward feeling somebody should act, that ends in utter confusion and hopelessness, east of the sun and west of the moon.

So their comment is: "No comment. John Ashbery The brown and green Nile rolls slowly Like the Niagara's welling descent. Tractors stood on the green banks of the Loire Near where it joined the Cher. The St. Lawrence prods among black stones And mud. But the Arno is all stones. Wind ruffles the Hudson's Surface. The Irawaddy is overflowing. But the yellowish, gray Tiber Is contained within steep banks. The Isar Flows too fast to swim in, the Jordan's water Courses over the flat land.

The Allegheny and its boats Were dark blue. The Moskowa is Gray boats. The Amstel flows slowly. Leaves fall into the Connecticut as it passes Underneath. The plain banks of the Neva are Gray. And the Volga is long and wide As it flows across the brownish land. The Ebro Is blue, and slow.

The Shannon flows Swiftly between its banks.


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The Mississippi Is one of the world's longest rivers, like the Amazon. It has the Missouri for a tributary. The Harlem flows amid factories And buildings. The Nelson is in Canada, Flowing. Through hard banks the Dubawnt Forces its way. People walk near the Trent. The landscape around the Mohawk stretches away; The Rubicon is merely a brook. In winter the Main Surges; the Rhine sings its eternal song. The Loir bursts its frozen shackles But the Moldau's wet mud ensnares it. The East catches the light. Near the Escaut the noise of factories echoes And the sinuous Humboldt gurgles wildly.

The Po too flows, and the many-colored Thames. Into the Atlantic Ocean Pours the Garonne. Few ships navigate On the Housatonic, but quite a few can be seen On the Elbe. For centuries The Afton has flowed. The tan Euphrates would Sidle silently across the world. The Yukon Was choked with ice, but the Susquehanna still pushed Bravely along.

The Dee caught the day's last flares Like the Pilcomayo's carrion rose. The Peace offered eternal fragrance Perhaps, but the Mackenzie churned livid mud Like tan chalk-marks. Near where The Brahmaputra slapped swollen dikes And the Pechora? The Liard's Reflexes are slow, and the Arkansas erodes Anthracite hummocks. The Ottawa is light emerald green Among grays. Better that the Indus fade In steaming sands! Let the Brazos Freeze solid!

And the Wabash turn to a leaden Cinder of ice!

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The Ural Is freezing slowly in the blasts. The black Yonne Congeals nicely. And the Petit-Morin Curls up on the solid earth. The Inn Does not remember better times, and the Merrimack's Galvanized. The Ganges is liquid snow by now; The Vyatka's ice-gray. The once-molten Tennessee's Curdled. Gelid The Columbia's gray loam banks. The Don's merely A giant icicle. The Niger freezes, slowly. The interminable Lena plods on But the Purus' mercurial waters are icy, grim With cold. The Loing is choked with fragments of ice.

The Weser is frozen, like liquid air. And so is the Kama. And the beige, thickly flowing Tocantins. The rivers bask in the cold. It is the oppressive nature of church and state that has created the repulsive prisons and brothels. Sexual energy is not an inherent evil, but the repression of that energy is. The preachers of morality fail to understand that God is in all things, including the sexual nature of men and women.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell contains many of the basic religious ideas developed in the major prophecies. The Blakes lived in the house for 10 years, and the surrounding neighborhood often becomes mythologized in his poetry. At his home Blake kept busy not only with his illuminated poetry but also with the daily chore of making money. During the s Blake earned fame as an engraver and was glad to receive numerous commissions.

In these poems Blake examines the fall of man. The causes of that repression are examined in The First Book of Urizen. In the frontispiece to the poem he is pictured as an aged man hunched over a massive book writing with both hands in other books. The poem traces the birth of Urizen as a separate part of the human mind.

He insists on laws for all to follow:. Appalled by the chaos he himself created, Urizen fashions a world apart. The process of separation continues as the character of Los is divided from Urizen. Los forges the creative aspects of the mind into works of art. Like Urizen he is a limiter, but the limitations he creates are productive and necessary. His female form is called Enitharmon, and her creation is viewed with horror:.

Enitharmon gives birth to the fiery Orc, whose violent birth gives some hope for radical change in a fallen world, but Orc is bound in chains by Los, now a victim of jealousy. In his fallen state man has limited senses and fails to perceive the infinite. Divided from God and caught by the narrow traps of religion, he sees God only as a crude lawgiver who must be obeyed.

Many ages of groans, till there grew Branchy forms organizing the Human Into finite inflexible organs. The human senses are pale imitations of the true senses that allow one to perceive eternity. In The Song of Los , Los sings of the decayed state of man, where the arbitrary laws of Urizen have become institutionalized:. Blake condemns this materialistic view of the world espoused in the writings of Newton and Locke. Although man is in a fallen state, the end of the poem points to the regeneration that is to come:.

Orc, raging in European darkness, Arose like a pillar of fire above the Alps, Like a serpent of fiery flame! In The Book of Ahania Urizen is further divided into male and female forms. Urizen is repulsed by his feminine shadow that is called Ahania:. Urizen, the lawgiver, can not accept the liberating aspects of sexual pleasure. At the end of the poem, Ahania laments the lost pleasures of eternity:.

Where is my golden palace? Where my ivory bed? Where the joy of my morning hour? Where the sons of eternity singing. The physical pleasures of sexual union are celebrated as an entrance to a spiritual state. The physical union of man and woman is sign of the spiritual union that is to come. The poem traces the changes in Albion:.

William Blake

The poem progresses from disunity toward unity as each Zoa moves toward final unification. His reputation as an artist was mixed. Response to his art ranged from praise to derision, but he did gain some fame as an engraver. His commissions did not produce much in the way of income, but Blake never seems to have been discouraged. Because of his monetary woes, Blake often had to depend on the benevolence of patrons of the arts.

This sometimes led to heated exchanges between the independent artist and the wealthy patron. John Trusler was one such patron whom Blake failed to please. Trusler was a clergyman, a student of medicine, a bookseller, and the author of such works as Hogarth Moralized , The Way to be Rich and Respectable ? At any rate, my Excuse must be: I could not do otherwise; it was out of my power! Blake left Felpham in and returned to London. Milton , which Blake started to engrave in probably finishing in , is a poem that constantly draws attention to itself as a work of literature.

Its ostensible subject is the poet John Milton , but the author, William Blake, also creates a character for himself in his own poem. Blake examines the entire range of mental activity involved in the art of poetry from the initial inspiration of the poet to the reception of his vision by the reader of the poem. Milton examines as part of its subject the very nature of poetry: what it means to be a poet, what a poem is, and what it means to be a reader of poetry. In the preface to the poem, Blake issues a battle cry to his readers to reject what is merely fashionable in art:.

For as he makes clear, Blake demands the exercise of the creative imagination from his own readers. Blake is at pains to show us that his mythology is not something far removed from us but is part of our day to day life. As Milton is presented as a man in the process of becoming a poet, Blake presents himself as a character in the poem undergoing the transformation necessary to become a poet. The Bard, Milton, Los, and Blake begin to merge into a powerful bardic union.

In the second book of Milton Blake initiates the reader into the order of poets and prophets. Blake continues the process begun in book one of taking the reader through different stages in the growth of a poet. A searching inquiry into the self is a necessary stage in the development of the poet. It is bartering in human emotions and is not love at all. As Blake attacks accepted notions of love, he also forces the reader to question the value society places on reason. Destroying the Selfhood allows Milton to unite with others. The apocalypse is still to come. The author falls before the vision of the Throne of God and the awful sound of the coming apocalypse.

Its sudden flight here demonstrates that the vision of the poem continues. It is up to the reader to follow the flight of the lark to the Gate of Los and continue the vision of Milton. Before Blake could leave Felpham and return to London, an incident occurred that was very disturbing to him and possibly even dangerous. Blake seeing the soldier and thinking he had no business being there promptly tossed him out.

Blake denied the charge, but he was forced to post bail and appear in court. His trial was set for the following January at Chichester. In any event Blake forever damned the soldier by attacking him in the epic poem Jerusalem. It is an epic poem consisting of illuminated plates. Blake dated the title page , but he seems to have worked on the poem for a considerable length of time after that date. As the narrative begins, man is apart from God and split into separate identities.

Much of Jerusalem is devoted to the idea of awakening the human senses, so that the reader can perceive the spiritual world that is everywhere present. Separation from God leads to further separation into countless male and female forms creating endless division and dispute. Blake describes the fallen state of man by describing the present day. Interwoven into the mythology are references to present-day London. As the human body is a limited form of its divine origin, the cities of England are limited representations of the Universal Brotherhood of Man.

Caught by the errors of sin and vengeance, Albion gives up hope and dies. In such a framework physical death marks the end of existence. The Tate Gallery in London has one of the best collections of Blake's art. Another major collection of illuminated works, including the manuscript for An Island in the Moon, is located in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. Prose Home Harriet Blog. Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library.

Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. William Blake. He insists on laws for all to follow: One command, one joy, one desire One curse, one weight, one measure, One King, one God, one Law. Although man is in a fallen state, the end of the poem points to the regeneration that is to come: Orc, raging in European darkness, Arose like a pillar of fire above the Alps, Like a serpent of fiery flame!

At the end of the poem, Ahania laments the lost pleasures of eternity: Where is my golden palace? In the preface to the poem, Blake issues a battle cry to his readers to reject what is merely fashionable in art: Rouze up, O Young Men of the New Age! Poems by William Blake.

Related Content. More About this Poet. Region: England. Poems by This Poet Related Bibliography. Auguries of Innocence. The Book of Thel. The Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing among the snow. The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young. The Clod and the Pebble. A Divine Image. The Divine Image. Earth's Answer. The Ecchoing Green. The Garden of Love. Holy Thursday: Is this a holy thing to see.

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Holy Thursday: 'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean. I Heard an Angel. I Saw a Chapel. Infant Joy. Infant Sorrow. Introduction to the Songs of Experience. Introduction to the Songs of Innocence. Jerusalem ["And did those feet in ancient time"].

The Lamb. The Little Black Boy. The Little Boy Lost. The Little Vagabond. Mad Song. Never Seek to Tell thy Love. A Poison Tree. The Sick Rose. Silent, Silent Night. The Smile.