William Blake

I’ve not dared read poetry since I began again – afraid that I would write in the style of the superior rather than my own. but a while ago I decided to try Blake. His style and the form of English then distance him enough that I felt and feel safe. I read some in the collection and then skimmed – I can only find a passing and academic interest in so many poems about children or religious celebrations or sentimental views of nature.

Then, of course, my skimming skidded
to a stop on Tyger, Tygers undistilled genius. I saw there too that phrase beloved by Northrop Frye: Fearful Symmetry.

This has set me to wondering about scholars spending their lives thinking and writing about someone else’s creativity. I know that the better historians can integrate poetic genius into their analyses – but History at its best is literature, not science. I would hope if I ever tried Frye’s great study of Blake, Fearful Symmetry, that I would find a work not only of intense scholarship, but of creativity and beauty.


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