The Romantic Period and the poems of Blake

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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”. According to the boy’s words it is possible to deduce that it is their false reasoning that blinds them to the chimney sweeper’s plight; “And because I am happy, dance and sing / they think they have done me no injury”. Thus while openly criticizing and rejecting the traditionally accepted figures of authority the poet subtly shows that the tyrannical system is maintained by reason.

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Blake’s “Garden of Love” clearly exhibits how the church has become a harmful to the people while creating disillusionment in the poets mind. The church is openly criticized by Blake for not being truly religious but being a pernicious institution “The Garden “indicates the romantic symbols of joy and innocence. But in the middle of the garden “A chapel” has been built. “The graves” indicate the death of that joy and innocence.

Among Blake’s work the poem which manifests this theme best is “London”. The poet is looking at the “marks of weakness, marks of woe” plainly etched ...

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