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Symbolism in Blake's poetry

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Symbolism in Blake's poetry

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Symbolism

The use of symbols is one of the most striking features of Blake’s poetry. There is hardly any poem written by Blake, which does not possess a symbolic meaning, besides its apparent or surface meaning. Though most of his poems are written in simple language, the fact does not deprive them of a deep meaning. However in order to understand Blake’s poetry at a deeper level, we have to know something about the symbols, which he makes use of. A.C.BAUGH has remarked , “The mystic movement of his mind required metaphor; he saw not likeness but the glory and terror of God as manifested in His creation, but ended as a symbolist with Yeats and Eliot. Critics have classified the principal symbols which are used by William Blake as innocence symbols, energy symbols, sexual symbols, corruption symbols, oppression symbols and so on. Blake uses a group of related symbols to form a dominant symbolic pattern in which the child, the father and Christ represent the states of innocence, experience and a higher innocence. Blake is a highly symbolic poet and his poetry is rich in symbols and allusions. Almost each and every other word in his poems is symbolic. A symbol is an object which stands for something else as dove symbolizes peace. Similarly, Blake’s tiger symbolizes creative energy; Shelley’s wind symbolizes inspiration; Ted Hughes’s Hawk symbolizes terrible destructiveness at the heart of nature. Blake’s symbols usually have a wide range of meaning and more obvious. Few critics would now wish to call Blake a symbolist poet, since his handling of symbols is markedly different from that of the French symbolistes’, but the world inhabited by his mythical figures is defined through quasi-allegorical images of complex significance, and such images are no less important in his lyrical poetry. The language of these poems is like that of the Bible—at once simple and profound as the following lines read: “O Rose, thou art sick!”

When Blake talks of the sick rose, he is...