Literary Anniversaries: 28 November

Blake was not only a talented poet, but an accomplished illustrator, too.

Blake was not only a talented poet, but an accomplished illustrator, too.

Today we celebrate a birth and commemorate two deaths.

Let’s start with the deaths – of two beloved children’s writers:

  • Ian Serraillier died in 1994.  You can find out more about his life and works by clicking here, where we wished him happy birthday;
  • Enid Blyton also died today in 1968.  We celebrated her birthday back in August, so click here to see what we had to say about her then

But I’d like to focus on William Blake, one of our most highly influential Romantic poets, who was born in 1757.

Blake was an interesting character, who as a child reported having religious visions.  His work is undoubtedly religious, but that shouldn’t put off people.  His influence has been wide-ranging, with 20th Century artists like The Doors, U2 and Billy Bragg using his work for inspiration – think of U2’s almost infamous 2014 album, Songs of Innocence.  Yes, the one that Apple made EVERYONE download.

And it is Blake’s (self-illustrated) Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789 and 1794 respectively), that are most readily associated with him – although lots of people will also know that he wrote the lyrics to Jerusalem.  These companion sets of poems include one which we probably all know:  The Tyger, which I reproduce below.  If you’re interested in finding out more about the collection, you can listen to a BBC Audio Documentary (for free) by clicking here.

Interesting Pub Quiz Fact about Blake?  We don’t know exactly where he is buried!  His gravestone was temporarily moved and never replaced on the same spot …
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?






English Teacher; Shakespeare Geek; Science Fiction Nerd; Adult Fan Of Lego (AFOL); Scrabble Warrior; Television Refusenik. Above all, READER ...

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