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The Romantic Period and the poems of Blake

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Introduction

The Romantic Period The Romantic Period which lasted 1785 to 1830 was a significant period that made a paramount contribution to the growth of English language and literature. The writers of the Romantic period were influenced by historical events such as the French revolution. Thus the Romantic period was shaped by a multitude of political, social, and economic changes. Many writers of the period were aware of a pervasive intellectual and imaginative climate which some called as Zeitgeist: Spirit of the age. Some poets call themselves as "visionary bards" who had the capability to prognosticate the future. There are six major writers that represent in the concepts of the Romantic period by names: Wordsworth, Keats, Percy Shelly, Byron, Coleridge and Blake. The work of these writes can be categorized under different themes. William Blake was a poet who lashed out against repression in all its many forms. The plight of the oppressed, be it the wretched child condemned to the drudgery of chimney sweeping, the "hapless soldier", the "youthful harlot or the "robin redbreast in a cage" moved him to a furious advocacy of liberty and the repudiation of reason which was seen as having a tyrannical hold on man preventing him from breaking out of the bonds that held him. Blake's Chimney sweeper in the songs of experience, "crying 'weep, weep' in notes of woe" that his parents oblivious to the poor creature's suffering "are gone to praise God and his priest and king/ who make a heaven of our misery". ...read more.

Middle

How does one fight a foe firmly wedged in one's mind, restraining growth? Blake's songs of innocence are peopled with children, rural folk and harmless animals like lambs. They are characteristically joyful and innocent enjoying all they see and experience. Their state is one filled with unsophisticated spirituality and optimism. "The Lamb" is written in the form of a child's monologue with a sheep. The innocence of the child, its simple enjoyment of the beauty of nature and the close communion it has with nature is apparent in the guileless act of speaking to an animal. The child finds "delight" in the sheep's soft and bright fleece, and its "tender voice". The child in its innocence poses one of the most profound questions that have been troubling humanity for millennia: that of origin, "Little lamb who made thee? / Dost thou know who made thee?" However, the child answers its own question with a strong simple belief in the Christian teachings, "He is called by thy name / for he calls himself a lamb" Enjoying the simple beauty and safety of un-fallen nature the child finds it possible to connect Jesus and God the creator with the world around itself. The state of innocence inherent in the child coupled with his lack of experience in evil prevents him from questioning the existence of cruel powers as the adult persona of "The Tiger" does, "Did he who make the lamb make thee (tiger)?" ...read more.

Conclusion

It is a touching and moving picture of humanity and piety but although the little back boy discards racial barriers due to his inexperience, the negative effects of racial discrimination are nevertheless apparent through his words. The little black boy's attitude towards the "English boy" appears to be rather subservient throughout despite the fact that the former seems fuller of Christian virtues. It is a society where fairness is clearly associated with goodness and darkness with its opposite. This becomes apparent in the lines, "White as an angel is the English child, / But I am black, as if bereaved of light." These lines are innocently uttered by the boy with no bitterness but the connotations of racial discrimination are present in them. The black boy persisting in his belief that in the after life both black and white will be equal, phrases this view in a manner which once again brings out the effects of the color bar, "And be like him (the white boy) and he will love me". This gives rise to several questions such as, why cannot the white boy be like the black boy and not vice versa? Is the white boy only capable of loving the God? Even though Blake was added to the romantic period after poetry his poetry make a huge contribution to the Romantic ideas and views. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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