Review: Blake by the Book; Stratford Poetry Festival the Shakespeare Centre, Stratford upon Avon

The Birmingham Post (England), August 11, 2004 | Go to article overview

Review: Blake by the Book; Stratford Poetry Festival the Shakespeare Centre, Stratford upon Avon


Byline: Richard Edmonds

William Blake has frequently proved a stumbling block for lovers of English poetry.

Blake was always the high priest of spiritual revolt and his mythical but highly critical visions created a quirkily original cosmogony where the superhero, demons and angels (the dividing line between the two for Blake was often hazy) recall Michelangelo's imaginative figures in his drawings.

But what might have been a complex maze of intermingled forms and philosophical notions twisting and turning in a kingdom of darkness peopled by super-human entities, turned out, in fact, to be an evening of total pleasure.

The reason is simple; the first part of the evening (devised in a rather technically maladroit fashion by Valerie Doulton) presented love and happiness as Blake saw them in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, where the universe is seen through the tender eyes of a child, where the chimney sweep or a little one already imbued with a kind of innocent mysticism (which, in one childs case led to burning at the instruction of a priest - and priests were never Blake's favourite people). …

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