Tag: William Blake

Review; Romantic Circle’s “Poets on Poets”

“Poets on Poets” is a complementary page to the highly praised scholarly website Romantic Circles. The blog is monitored by editors Tilar Mazzeo and Doug Guerra, who are affiliated with their parent website, published by the University of Maryland. The blog is also available as an iTunes podcast consisting of 144 poems. The project aims to connect contemporary poetry with that of the Romantic period, accomplishing the task in a unique way. The audio archive contains downloadable mp3 files consisting of modern poets reading some of their favorite poems from the age of the Romantics. The posts not only answer the question about what contemporary writers are reading from this period but how, “The Poets on Poets project is an audio archive that testifies to the continued importance of Romanticism in the contemporary poetry world.  The premise of the collection is simple: we have asked practicing poets from around the world to read a Romantic-period poem that they particularly admire and that has influenced the way in which they think about their craft.”

Along with the recording is text which might mirror that of the original author’s version or might not. The depth of analysis available thus becomes not only questioning why these modern writers chose what poems they read, but also questioning why they might have chose the particular stanza or stanzas to focus on. As a result, readers not only see what writers are still being inspired by, but the intricacies that go along when someone converts a poem into spoken verse, making it into more of a presentation than simply lines on a page. The resource is for anyone, including scholars or just casual fans of poetry. The site is fully functional but seems to have slowed down considerably in the past few years. What I have found to be really cool and interesting is the ability to assemble many of my favorite poems into a playlist on iTunes in which I can listen to whenever  I like.  All of the poems are accessible to the public without any type of subscription fee, making it a great resource for English teachers who want their students to not only see the lasting effects that Romanticism has had on the present day, but to actually hear it as well. Without this resource it would be somewhat difficult to ask contemporary poets who they currently read from this particular canon, something that I personally have thought much about. Many of the poems we have read for class are available in the archive making it readily apparent that the authors we currently enjoy are also alive and well to countless others in the 21st century.

Some of my favorite posts are John Casteen reading “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth,  and V. Penelope Pelizzon reading from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.  The preface to the site by Jerome McGann is all about recitation as fine art, and uses quotes from authors we have studied in class, including one from Shelley that I particularly find to be insightful; that poetry “redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man,” and “Poets on Poets” surely aids in this resurrection as well.


(One addition in light of our current reading)

After reading “When I Have Fears” again and remembering how much I love it…


(^this one is amazing)



A Green Echo

Blake’s plate for Echoing Green

William Blake’s The Ecchoing Green is a poem towards the beginning of Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Besides being absolutely beautiful, the poem makes a statement about the song we call Life. The poem begins with the rising of the sun, which “make happy the skies.” The natural world’s awakening mirrors that of the people inhabiting it. “The sky-lark and thrush, The birds of the bush,” are metaphoric images for humanity which allow for the speaker of the poem to echo in the hearts of man very similarly to how poetry of Walt Whitman affects me. By weaving words together in a circular fashion, the cycles of every day life become a larger narrative as to the connection of reader and poet; or more simply man to man; alluded to in the lines, “They [old folk] laugh at our play, And soon they all say, Such such were the joys, When we all girls & boys, In our youth time were seen, On the Ecchoing Green.” The land becomes an eternal theatre, evergreen in the rise and fall of human action. The poem completes with the setting of the sun “our sports have an end,” and “like birds in their nest,” darken into seclusion as the green itself is deprived of sunlight. The play completes, and the curtain falls, only to rise again as the sun in the morning and man finds himself on his circular path around the heavens and the lowly oaks.

What kind of mindset does this poem put you at the beginning of Songs? Why might Blake wish to put you in that mindset? Do you (Whitman fans!) see a stylistic and philosophical similarity with this poem? Does the art for this poem help or hurt my interpretation of the poem? And finally, do you (Cummings fans!) see importance in how the color green seems to seep through the lines of this poem? Joan Baez sings All In Green Went My Love Riding

ALSO, I noticed that Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall has the same structure as Sir Walter Scott’s Lord Randal, it is well known that Dylan loved the Romantic Poets, (Keats is know to be a huge influence on him) so it makes sense that he would mimic Scott, and I wanted to write about why he might have, but I thought it might be important to know if you guys like Dylan, just so I feel that analyzing his lyrics will actually contribute to the larger efforts of our linked blogs. So do you think Dylan intentionally chose this poem because it’s message matches that of the song’s, or is it simply a stylistic tool?


All Deities Reside in the Human Breast


“Isaiah answered. I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discovered the infinite in every thing, and I was then persuaded, and remain confirmed; that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences but wrote.”

Luckily for the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, they got to sit down to a nice dinner with William Blake where he discovered that all parties involved were actually quite similar to each other. When I say similar, I mean that prophethood, to Blake, really means a life of divine poetry. That God is not an actual figure who appears on the mountain to speak to a chosen few, but an energy that fills the poet with all the proof he needs to know that they themselves are a part of this God and poetry in effect, thus becomes a form of religion (the best one I would say).

“Then I asked: does a firm persuasion that a thing is so, make it so? He replied. All poets believe that it does… we of Israel taught that the Poetic Genius (as you now call it) was the first principle and all the others merely derivative.”

The Poetic Genius is a way of thinking that transcends reason. Similarly to how faith operates in the religious world, the Poetic Genius is a catalyst for the expression of holy art. The Poetic Genius holds within himself a truth that does not operate in the way scientific truth does. Although Blake says that he has seen angels, I think these experiences probably occurred in a time when Blake was manic with the love of God which in reality is the happiness one feels when they successfully see themselves in the great timeline of life and when they begin to understand that although we may be small parts of a big machine, the big machine is sublime, and the organical perception is what tells us so. The persuasion for poets is a genuine understanding that what we create is what we are, and thus everything that becomes verse is simply a metaphor for not only God but also a metaphor for how we ourselves are an extension of God and not apart from.

It really does get tricky when writing about God, because God is different for everyone. When I say that Blake is a sort of modern day prophet-poet I mean that he wrote with the firm persuasion that what he was writing was moving him closer and closer to a divine image that would reflect within himself and then move out to the page where it could reflect within it’s readers. God resides in the human breast and the eye sees more than the heart knows because while the heart may know that we are a part of the infinite the eye sees the infinite unfiltered. And while the heart must still act based on reason since the body knows not of the soul, the eye captures the infinite and filters the divine spectrum.

I’m sure I haven’t been completely clear so it would be awesome to hear what you guys think. Do you really buy into the idea that the bible is basically a huge collection of poetry inspired by what Blake seems to name simply as energy? And if so, what does Jesus become? Why do we need a Messiah figure? How does metaphor and personification fit into Blake’s critique of religion? And finally, was Blake insane or tapping into a truth that shatters all semblance of reason?



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