I. William Blake
1.一般识记： His life
English poet， artist， & philosopher， born in London England， Nov 28， 1757， and died in London， Aug 12，1827. Blake made distinguished contributions to both Literature & art. He ranks with great poets in the English language & may be considered the earliest of the major English Romantic poets. His poems range from lyrics of childlike simplicity to mystical or prophetic works of great complexity. As an artist he is best known for his engravings， which are among the masterpieces of graphic art.
2. 识记 His political， religious & literary views
Blake never tried to fit into the world； he was a rebel innocently & completely all his life. He was politically of the permanent left & mixed a good deal with the radicals like Thomas Paine& William Godwin. Like Shelley， Blake strongly criticized the capitalists'' cruel exploitation， saying that the "dark satanic mills left men unemployed， killed children & forced prostitution." Meanwhile he cherished great expectations & enthusiasm for the French Revolution， & regarded it as a necessary stage leading to the millennium predicted by the biblical prophets. Literarily Blake was the first important Romantic poet， showing contempt for the rule of reason， opposing the classical tradition of the 18th century & treasuring the individual''s imagination.
3. 领会 His poems
（1） Early works
The Songs of Innocence （1809） is a lovely volume of poems， presenting a happy & innocent world， though not without its evils & sufferings. For instance， " Holy Thursday" with its vision of charity children lit " with a radiance all their own" reminds us terribly of a world of loss & institutional cruelty. The wretched child described in " The Chimney Sweeper，" orphaned， exploited， yet touched by visionary rapture， evokes unbearable poignancy when he finally puts his trust in the order of the universe as he knows it. His Songs of Experience （1794） paints a different world， a world of misery， poverty， disease， war & repression with a melancholy tone. The benighted England becomes the world of the dark wood & of the weeping prophet. The orphans of " Holy Thursday" are now "fed with cold & usurious hand." The little chimneysweeper sings "notes of woe" while his parents go to church & praise "God & his Priest & King"——the very instruments of their repression. In "London"， the city is no longer a paradise， but becomes the seat of poverty & despair， of man alienated from his true self. Blake''s Marriageof Heaven & Hell （1790） marks his entry into maturity. The poem was composed during the climax of the French Revolution & it plays the double role both as a satire & a revolutionary prophecy. In this poem， Blake explores the relationship of the contraries. Attraction & repulsion， reason & energy， love & hate， are necessary to human existence. Life is a continual conflict of give & take， a pairing of opposites， of good & evil， of innocence & experience， of body & soul. "Without contraries，" Blake states， "there is no progression." The "marriage，" to Blake， means the reconciliation of the contraries， not the subordination of the one to the other.
（2） Later works
In his later period， Blake wrote quite a few prophetic books， which reveal him as the prophet of universal political & spiritual freedom and show the poet himself as the spokesman of revolt. The major ones are： The Book of Urizen（1794），The Book of Los（1795）。The Four Zoas （1796-1807） & Milton （1804-1920）。
4.领会 Characteristics of Blake''s poems
Blake who lived in the blaze of revelation， felt bound to declare that " I know that This world is a world of IMAGINATION & Vision，" & that "The Nature of my work is visionary or imaginative."
From childhood， Blake had a strongly visual mind； whatever he imagined， he also saw. As an imaginative poet， he presents his view in visual images instead of abstract terms.
Blake writes his poems in plain & direct language. His poems often carry the lyric beauty with immense compression of meaning. He distrusts the abstractness & tends to embody his views with visual images. Symbolism in wide range is also a distinctive feature of his poetry.
5. 应用 Select Readings：
1） The Chimney Sweeper （from Songs of Innocence）
Songs of Innocence is a lovely volume of poems， presenting a happy & innocent world， though not without its evils & sufferings. In this volume， Blake， with his eager quest for new poetics forms & techniques， broke completely with the traditions of the 18th century. He experimented in meter & rhymes & introduced bold metrical innovations which could not be found in the poetry of his contemporaries.