Blake: The Complete Poems

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Pearson/Longman, 2007 - 929 pages

William Blake (1757-1827) is one of the great figures in literature, by turns poet, artist and visionary. Profoundly libertarian in outlook, Blake's engagement with the issues of his day is well known and this - along with his own idiosyncratic concerns - flows through his poetry and his art. Like Milton before him, the prodigality of his allusions and references is little short of astonishing. Consequently, his longer visionary poems can challenge the modern reader, who will find in this avowedly open edition all they might need to interpret the poetry.

W. H. Stevenson's Blake is a masterpiece of scrupulous scholarship. It is, as the editor makes clear in his introduction, 'designed to be widely, and fluently, read' and this Third Edition incorporates many changes to further that aim. Many of the headnotes have been rewritten and the footnotes updated. The full texts of the early prose tracts, All Religions are One and There is No Natural Religion, are included for the first time. In many instances, Blake's capitalisation has been restored, better to convey the expressive individuality of his writing. In addition, a full colour plate section contains a representation of Blake's most significant paintings and designs. As the 250th anniversary of his birth approaches, Blake has perhaps more readers than ever before; Blake: The Complete Poems will stand those readers, new and old, in good stead for many years to come.

W. H. Stevenson worked on the first edition while Professor of English at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he also conducted the only known performance in Nigeria of Donizetti's opera, 'l'elisir d'amore'. Later he was Full Professor at Boston University, USA, and head of the Department of English at Calabar, Nigeria. He has also taught at Leeds and Edinburgh Universities.


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À propos de l'auteur (2007)

William Blake's poems, prophecies, and engravings represent his strong vision and voice for rebellion against orthodoxy and all forms of repression. Born in London in November 1757; his father, a hosier of limited means, could do little for the boy's education. However, when the young Blake's talent for design became apparent, his wise father sent him to drawing school at the age of 10. In 1771 Blake was apprenticed to an engraver. Blake went on to develop his own technique, a method he claimed that came to him in a vision of his deceased younger brother. In this, as in so many other areas of his life, Blake was an iconoclast; his blend of printing and engraving gave his works a unique and striking illumination. Blake joined with other young men in support of the Revolutions in France and America. He also lived his own revolt against established rules of conduct, even in his own home. One of his first acts after marrying his lifetime companion, Catherine Boucher, was to teach her to read and write, rare for a woman at that time. Blake's writings were increasingly styled after the Hebrew prophets. His engravings and poetry give form and substance to the conflicts and passions of the elemental human heart, made real as actual characters in his later work. Although he was ignored by the British literary community through most of his life, interest and study of his work has never waned. Blake's creativity and original thinking mark him as one of the earliest Romantic poets, best known for his Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) and The Tiger. Blake died in London in 1827. W. H. Stevenson is retired Professor of English at Calabar University, Nigeria.

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