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1 - Introduction

to paradise the hard way

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2006

Morris Eaves
Affiliation:
University of Rochester, New York
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Summary

I recently heard one poet praise another for achieving “balance between restraint and revelation.” Few would think to offer that praise to Blake. James Joyce's characterization would be more applicable: “Armed with this two-edged sword, the art of Michelangelo and the revelations of Swedenborg, Blake killed the dragon of experience and natural wisdom, and, by minimizing space and time and denying the existence of memory and the senses, he tried to paint his works on the void of the divine bosom.” Though wrong in some details, Joyce's characterization conveys well the extravagance, even the impossibility, of Blake's ambitions, which has played a major part in the attraction-repulsion response that has always dogged him. His poetry risks every kind of excess to achieve revelation. It brushes aside elements that might restrain it, including formal poetic conventions that help to shape and contain the drive to revelation. Enveloping the stressful, straining poems are the handsome, odd, bizarre, grotesque, weird, lovely images, which supply no balancing force.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Morris Eaves, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to William Blake
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521781477.001
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Morris Eaves, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to William Blake
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521781477.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Morris Eaves, University of Rochester, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to William Blake
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521781477.001
Available formats
×