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The Poetical Works Of William Blake by William Blake
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's review
Feb 20, 11

bookshelves: poetry-long
Read in February, 2011

"To be or not to be / Of great capacity, . . ." The general flaw of poets is to have nothing to say and hide that by telling those nothings aslant, or to have those "nothings monstered." Blake's flaw is having something to say but telling it straight, lacking the poetic sophistication of image and pace.

His prophetic works are too preachy for my palate but their engagement with different rhythms (and superseding, at last, rhyme) likes me just fine. Much more than those hallmarked songs of innocence/experience.

From Jerusalem:

"Poetry fetter'd fetters the Human Race."

"I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's;
I will not Reason or Compare; my business is to Create."

"Jesus said: 'Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee, or ever die for one who had not died for thee? . . ."

I also didn't mind "The Clod and the Pebble," "The Garden of Love," and "The Chimney-Sweeper" (from Experience).
And of the Gnomic Verses, just "Eternity," I of "Several Questions Answered":

He who bends to himself a Joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.

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