Windows of the Morning: A Critical Study of William Blake's Poetical Sketches, 1783

Windows of the Morning: A Critical Study of William Blake's Poetical Sketches, 1783

Windows of the Morning: A Critical Study of William Blake's Poetical Sketches, 1783

Windows of the Morning: A Critical Study of William Blake's Poetical Sketches, 1783

Excerpt

The scholarly studies of William Blake through the years since Gilchrist Life was published have been extensive. Yet there have been on the part of most scholars such a curious neglect of the Poetical Sketches, published in 1783, and such a failure to credit Blake with the full significance to which that performance entitled him that a fresh evaluation of the Poetical Sketches was needed.

The investigation incident to such an appraisal required, first of all, a re-examination of the sources of information about William Blake youth. This has made it possible to separate authentic biographical material from much that is apocryphal which has until now been unquestioned. Consequently, some environmental forces have been given a different emphasis, and new significance has been observed in relationships previously slighted.

This study of the Poetical Sketches sets forth a complete description of the book, corrections of errors in information about its production, new circumstantial evidence as to its printing and as to the personal relationships with which it allied Blake.

That the Poetical Sketches was imitative work has long been taken for granted. This book is an examination of the full extent of Blake's indebtedness to others, a critical analysis of how his creative imagination acted upon what he derived from his early reading, and an appraisal of the Poetical Sketches in the light of these circumstances.

Research has not justified the unsupported general assertions of critics either that the Elizabethan influence was more extensive than any other or that the influence of Blake's own century was negligible. This study specifically points out that the Bible and Milton were significant influences upon Blake in his youthful poetry; that the influence of Spenser was the most subtle and essentially poetic; that Shakespeare's influence, although great and less definable, was largely confined to King Edward the Third and to a deepening of Blake's per-

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