Top-Rated Free Essay

Blake & Shelley

Good Essays
Romantics: Blake & Shelley

Although Both Blake and Shelley sought to enlighten the middle classes as to their social situation and even stir within them a sense of insurrection towards a Church both men saw as dictatorial, they each employed different literary techniques and devices to do so. Blake juxtaposes a garden with an imposing religious structure, a chapel, to highlight his theme of papal dominance of natural urges. The Sixteenth verse of Shelley's "Ode to Liberty" also deals with ecclesiastical oppression of the individual but does so with a more powerful sense of vitriol than Blake's somewhat disconsolate tone and also implies a grander scale.

Shelley opens the Sixteenth verse of Ode to Liberty with the words: "Oh that the wise from their bright minds would kindle, such lamps within the dome of this dim world". The simple and powerful use of light as a metaphor for knowledge allows him to employ different adjectives, such as Dim and Pale, to imply the ignorance of the Church and their use of "Words which make the thoughts obscure". Quite controversially, Shelley declares that the Church should be sent "into the pale hell from which it was first hurled", implying that although a manifestation of belief, the Church is in fact in opposition to what the author saw as the benefits of faith. Shelley goes on to present the idea that it is freedom of human thought which the Church represses and it is information, or possibly science, as represented in the first line by "The wise", That Shelley believes will enlighten the world. it is "its own aweless soul" Shelley writes, that should be the judge of a persons thoughts, rather than the arbitrary standards of the Church. By calling for human ideas to be self-censored, he promotes a more instinctual moral compass than the written word of the gospels. He goes on to describe the teachings of the Church as "Clouds of glimmering dew" and as having "Frowns and smiles and splendours not their own" pretty but ultimately lacking in substance and permanence and also obscuring natural reality, as represented by "Heaven's blue portraiture". He finishes the verse longing for the words of the Church to be exposed "in the nakedness of false and true". All this clearly demonstrates his view of religious dogma as misinformative and invoking false hopes and unwarranted fears in those who subscribe to it.

The Sixteenth verse of Shelley's Ode to Liberty has many traits traditionally considered to be Romantic, particularly the emphasis on autonomous thinking and factual information to cast out the dogmatic belief structures that Shelley objects to so strongly. Shelley's view of The Church as repressing the natural world is interestingly subverted by referring to the sky as "Heaven's blue portraiture". implying that it may not be faith itself that Shelley finds so offensive, but it's manifestation as "The pale name of PRIEST". This is reinforced by the final line in which he declares that the teachings of the Church should stand judgement "Before their Lord, each to receive its due". By using "Their Lord", Shelley states that while he is indeed referring to the same God that the Church promotes, although such a God may not necessarily agree with the Oligarchical nature of its representation. While there is only one such instance in the sixteenth verse, Ode to Liberty is littered with descriptions of the natural world, often used as similes for human behaviour, strengthening the association of human thought and action and the natural state of being which Shelley advocated.

In Blake's poem The Garden of Love, the author uses short 4 line stanzas and a very even metre to give the poem many of the qualities of a traditional nursery rhyme, helping to highlight the contrasting of innocence and oppression presented within it. In a different tone to Shelley's more passionate argument, Blake uses the "Garden of Love" to symbolise the innocence and harmony of the natural world, but from the very first stanza creates a discordance between the garden and the chapel by featuring the protagonist of the poem discover the building which previously had not been there. Blake suggests the dominance of organized religion over the natural world through the symbol of the man-made structure suddenly occupying the natural green, and restricting those in the garden from using the land. He begins the second stanza by making a comment on the elitist nature of The Church by the gates of the chapel being left closed to people in the garden, a symbol of the organization's often secretive nature. By using the words 'Thou Shalt not', on the door of the chapel, Blake employs the opening phrase to most of the ten commandments featured in the Old Testament, but by leaving the ending ambiguous, insinuates that The Church is simply seeking to disallow freedom for its own sake. In the final Stanza, Blake goes on to mention the "graves and tombstones where flowers should be" contrasting the permanence of the graves with the shorter, more harmonious existence of the flower which, like the human body signified by the gravestone, is a temporary state within a greater natural cycle. Blake describes the priests as "binding with briars my joys and desires", depicting the Church as using natural elements, to repress human urges and desires. Briars, an umbrella term used to mean thorny plants that grabbed at clothing and were hard disentangle from is clearly referenced by Blake to represent the Church's grip on the individual. The term briar was often used in reference to rose bushes and Blake may have deliberately used this as a symbol of the church using potential natural beauty against people, making it ugly and unwanted.

Blake's poem adheres to many traits in Romanticism, most notably that of using nature as both a setting and a symbol of innocence, a recurring theme in both Blake's work, and the work of Romantic poets in general. Although the poem invokes a sense of loss through the sudden appearance of the chapel and the graves invading the green where the protagonist once played, presumably as a child, Blake does not at any point describe the beauty of the garden, merely states categorically that it is a garden that once "so many sweet flowers bore". Blake's lack of descriptive prose allows the reader to envisage a garden without any preconceptions from the writer as to its contents, save for the chapel and graveyard. This reliance on the imagination of the reader, and acceptance of the limitation of the written word is a popular theme of Romantic poetry.

While both poems are can certainly be considered Romantic, they employ very different tone as well as different interpretations of nature and the natural world, and reasons for their arguments against organized religion. While Blake sees the Church as robbing people of their innocence, Shelley sees them more as restricting knowledge and information through ignorance. While both men use the natural world to represent beauty, Shelley uses more descriptive prose, when he briefly compares the teachings of the Church to dew rising off a lake, than Blake who uses almost no adjectives, with the exception of referring to the flowers as sweet. Blake sets the poem in what is simply presented to the reader as "The Garden of Love" where Shelley employs grander scope, not giving a fixed location beyond "the dome of this dim world". Despite these differences however, both poems place an emphasis on a more natural and unrestricted state of being as superior to the restrictive nature of traditional religion and both make an impassioned argument for change, and can both therefore be considered Romantic poems.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Will in Shelley

    • 1186 Words
    • 5 Pages

    According to one mode of regarding those two classes of mental action, which are called reason and imagination, the former may be considered as mind contemplating the relations borne by one thought to another, however produced, and the latter, as mind acting upon those thoughts so as to color them with its own light, and composing from them, as from elements, other thoughts, each containing within itself the principle of its own integrity. The one is the το ποιειν, or the principle of synthesis,…

    • 1186 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Blake

    • 559 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Blake Stone Professor Barto ENG. 099 June, 21, 2012 Trash is everywhere you look up, down, left and right. Who job is to clean it up? The garbage man his assignment it to get trash, sounds easy right. But being a garbage man is one of the nastiest and dangerous jobs out there. It is a job I would never take, because of the disease you can encounter with all the trash, and all the lifting can cause injury or serious strains to the body. One would think being a garbage would be simple…

    • 559 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    creators, and, in another, the creations, of their age. From this subjection the loftiest do not escape. John Murphy (1) for example describes him as a "Sad genius who tried to live a happy life" . Richard Holmes (2) in his definitive biography of Shelley puts it conciseley (he..) "moved everywhere with a sense of ulterior motive, a sense of greater design, an acute feeling for the historical moment and an overwhelming consciousness of his duty as an artist in the immense and fiery process of social…

    • 573 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Blake

    • 377 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Angela Dorothea Merkel (German: [aŋˈɡeːla doʁoˈteːa ˈmɛʁkl̩] ( listen);[1] née Kasner; born 17 July 1954) is a German politician and former research scientist who has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005, and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 2000. She is the first woman to hold either office.[2] Having initially trained as a physical chemist, Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, briefly serving as the deputy spokesperson for the East German…

    • 377 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Percy Shelley

    • 2211 Words
    • 9 Pages

    University of the Cordilleras Graduate School In Partial Fulfilment of the course LITERARY CRITICISM A written report on: PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY “A DEFENCE OF POETRY” Submitted to: AP AZLISON BAWANG Submitted by: Di Anne Mendoza MA English February 21, 2013 I. Introduction II. Brief Background III. Literary Pieces IV. Views on Literature through his essay V. Other concepts about literature VI. References I. Introduction Romanticism Period originated…

    • 2211 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Blake

    • 3621 Words
    • 15 Pages

    Mitt Romney on Energy & Oil Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent | | North American energy independence in 8 years With regards to our relationship with Mexico: Our economies can thrive together. The oil resources that Mexico has, that's one of the reasons that Romney knows that we can be able to achieve North American energy independence in eight years. We're going to work together with Mexico, if they're willing, to help share technology, and ultimately, investment…

    • 3621 Words
    • 15 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Beauty Shelley

    • 12680 Words
    • 51 Pages

    Goodness is the supreme Form or Idea governing For Keats Beauty and Truth are identical. For Shelley “Beauty is Goodness, Goodness Beauty.” Rather than an aesthete, Shelley is primarily a moralist preoccupied with Goodness: his works are often directly linkable to his social, political, and religious status quo and his poetic theory tends towards the pragmatism of doing good. What Shelley calls “intellectual Shelley beauty” is but “inner beauty” or “virtuous goodness” that finds its embodiment in an ideal…

    • 12680 Words
    • 51 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Blake Edwards

    • 2499 Words
    • 10 Pages

    describe an “author of script and film-maker as one and the same” versus the view of scripts being appointed from authors or scriptwriters (1996, p12). Over the [course of 50 or so odd] years,. Known for his distinctive brand of comedy, the work of Blake Edwards, demonstrates the authorial stamp that is often referred to in theories of the auteur, resulting in a style or approach to cinema that could be described as ‘Edward-ness’. [He makes prominent use of his self-conscious manipulation of particular…

    • 2499 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Mary Shelley

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Mary Shelley was born on August 30, 1797, becoming a distinguished, though often neglected, literary figure during the Romanticism Era. Mary was the only child of Mary Wollstonecraft, a famous feminist, but after her birth, Wollstonecraft passed away (Harris). Similar to Mary’s book Frankenstein, both her and Victor’s mothers die when they are at a very young age. Mary’s father was William Godwin, an English philosopher who also wrote novels that would inspire Mary in the late years of her life (Holmes)…

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    shelley keats

    • 425 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind” (1) How do the natural elements (like the wind, the cloud, the sea, fire, etc) serve the poet's artistic ambitions? How can they help him in achieving his purpose? The poet is directing his speech to the wind which blows across the earth and through the seasons. The wind is able to preserve and to destroy all on its way. The wind takes control over clouds, seas, weather, and more. Recognizing its power, the speaker realizes that he could use the wind’s power…

    • 425 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays