From the introduction by Stanley Kunitz:
Blake speaks more directly to us, anticipating the issues, conflicts, and anxieties of the modern world, than any of his contemporaries. It could be argued that he dared, in fact, to be the first modern poet. . . .
Above all, Blake teaches us that the imagination is a portion of the divine principle, that "Energy is Eternal Delight," and that "everything that lives is Holy." Human liberty and imagination have never been better served.
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About the Author
William Blake (1757-1827) was a nonconformist who associated with some of the leading radical thinkers of his day, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. A skilled engraver and illustrator, his illustrated poetry collections resembled the illuminated books of the Middle Ages.
Read an Excerpt
Songs of InnocenceIntroduction
Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:
"Pipe a song about a Lamb!"
So I piped with merry chear.
"Piper, pipe that song again;"
So I piped- he wept to hear.
"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy chear:"
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
"Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read."
So he vanish'd from my sight,
And I pluck'd a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water dear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
What People are Saying About This
"Blake's imperishable songs have such purity and eloquence that the effort of close textual analysis seems almost superfluous. He speaks more directly to us, anticipating the issues, conflicts, and anxieties of the modern world, than any of his contemporaries." --Stanley Kunitz
"There is no doubt this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott." -- William Wordsworth