William Blake started his career as an engraver but he was also a poet. To him, poetry was as much a way of expressing his philosophy of the world, as engraving or painting. Moreover, the expression of an idea did not emerge only in the form of words but it was accompanied and reinforced by a visual demonstration of the idea that he wanted to express. The painter in him could not be separated from the poet.
One idea to support this statement lies in the fact that Blake had etched many of his poems in plaques with corresponding pictures. Kathleen Raine, in the introduction to “William Blake-Poems”(The Millennium Library) states, “It is necessary to remember that the text of Blake’s poems gives only the words of great visual composition whose uniqueness lies in the harmonizing of text and visual designs, which do not so much illustrate, as expand the meaning of the text”(p. xvi).
However, within the poem itself, Blake has continued to paint pictures, by u sing language, imagery and symbols. All the issues discussed in his poems, some of them of a socio political value, are brought to an intense vividness through his creation of mental pictures.
Blake as a Londoner experienced the effects of the French revolution and industrialization and the resulting social and political transition and chaos of the era had deep impact on his poetic creations. Blake’s poetic vision penetrated the surface level of material gain of the industrialized London society and recognized its underlying evils such as poverty, political corruption, child labor, prostitution. He equally condemns marriage and religion that had become extremely institutionalized, and the effects of war. David Daiches who explains the ideology of Blake, in “A Critical History of English Literature-Volume II” says, “There runs through his work a strain of protest against tyranny and repression of all kinds and of plea for freedom social, political, ecclesiastical, and intellectual.” (p. 875). Today, all these...