Blake and the City

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Bucknell University Press, 2006 - Literary Collections - 235 pages
Though usually classified as a Romantic, Blake subverts and dissolves the binaries on which Romanticism turns: self and other, art and nature, country and city. Rather than reject the city outright like many of his contemporaries, Blake embraces it as the intricate workshop of human imagination. Each chapter of this book focuses on a specific text of Blake's that illustrates a particular conception of metaphorical embodiment of the city. These shifting metaphors emphasize the construction of all human environments and the need for imaginative labor to build and interpret them. This study seeks to bridge a gap between transcendent and historicist readings of Blake while at the same time challenging assumptions that still color our view of the city in the twenty-first century. Jennifer Davis Michael is Associate Professor of English at the University of the South.

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Contents

Word and Image in the Urban Pastoral Songs of Innocence and of Experience
38
Prophetic Labor and Creation of Space Lambeth and The Four Zoas
75
The City as Body Milton
113
The City as Text Jerusalem
158
Notes
200
Bibliography
216
Index
228
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Page 92 - Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand He took the golden compasses, prepared In God's eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things. One foot he centred, and the other turn'd Round through the vast profundity obscure, And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, This be thy just circumference, O world.
Page 170 - All things acted on Earth are seen in the bright Sculptures of Los's Halls, & every Age renews its powers from these Works With every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or Wayward Love ; & every sorrow & distress is carved here, 65 Every Affinity of Parents, Marriages & Friendships are here In all their various combinations wrought with wondrous Art, All that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years.
Page 90 - No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But choked with sedges works its weedy way; Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lap-wing flies, And tires their echoes with unvaried cries; Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all. And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall ; And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away, thy children leave the land.
Page 53 - Then naked and white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind ; And the angel told Tom if he'd be a good boy, He'd have God for his father and never want joy.
Page 46 - HOLY THURSDAY. Is this a holy thing to see In a rich and fruitful land, — Babes reduced to misery, Fed with cold and usurous hand? Is that trembling cry a song? Can it be a song of joy? And so many children poor? It is a land of poverty! And their sun does never shine, And their fields are bleak and bare, And their ways are filled with thorns, It is eternal winter there.
Page 195 - According to the subject of discourse & every Word & Every Character Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen And seeing: according to fitness & order.
Page 59 - PITY would be no more If we did not make somebody Poor; And Mercy no more could be If all were as happy as we.
Page 15 - COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE EARTH has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river...

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