1868 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Blake

George Macdonald, in England's Antiphon (1868; 1890) 301.



William Blake, the painter of many strange and fantastic but often powerful — sometimes very beautiful pictures — wrote poems of an equally remarkable kind. Some of them are as lovely as they are careless, while many present a curious contrast in the apparent incoherence of the simplest language. He was born in 1757, towards the close of the reign of George II. Possibly if he had been sent to an age more capable of understanding him, his genius would not have been tempted to utter itself with such a wildness as appears to indicate hopeless indifference to being understood. We cannot tell sometimes whether to attribute the bewilderment the poems cause in us to a mysticism run wild, or to regard it as the reflex of madness in the writer.