Burning Bright: Meteoric imagery in the works of William Blake, by A. McBeath

The alignment of meteoric imagery and political and spiritual events in Blake’s work

 

 

Introduction: Blake’s meteoric imagination

According to old Chinese belief, William Blake (1757– 1827) was cursed, since there is no question he lived in ‘interesting times’. Blake was a visionary English poet and artist. He was fascinated by apocalyptic biblical beliefs and prophecies, and worked elements of these even into artworks commissioned of him to illustrate the texts of other poets.

Raphael, ‘Astronomy’, from the Stanza della Segnatura (1509)

He studied widely in the literature and art of the past. His lifelong artistic heroes were Milton, Raphael and Michelangelo. As a result, his works are suffused with flowing forms and astronomical imagery, including meteors and comets.

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A Visual Commentary on Blake’s America: a Prophecy, by Jacob Rabinowitz

The Fall of Eternity into Materialism

America: An Essay in Art History, by Jacob Rabinowitz: please click on the video above

The following is a written transcript of the visual commentary above on Blake’s great poem America a Prophecy. The text is offered merely for the convenience of those who are interested in the video, or who would like to cite quotations directly from Rabinowitz’s illuminating take on this remarkable work, which as the video notes is one of “the most visually appealing of all his illuminated books”.

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Are You Experienced? Timothy Morton on William Blake

Cynicism versus Revolution

Timothy Morton’s great series of podcasts (taken from his live lectures at Rice University) explore and unpack the deeper meanings of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. As he says, “the trouble for Blake is not what you think, but how you think it. You could be thinking the most hifalutin, noble, moral, thoughts – but the way you think those thoughts could be politically regressive. So the real target of a Blake poem, is you.”

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