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William Blake

William Blake, who lived in the latter half of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth, was a profoundly stirring poet who was, in large part, responsible for bringing about the Romantic movement in poetry; was able to achieve "remarkable results with the simplest means"; and was one of several poets of the time who restored "rich musicality to the language" (Appelbaum v). His research and introspection into the human mind and soul has resulted in his being called the "Columbus of the psyche," and because no language existed at the time to describe what he discovered on his voyages, he created his own mythology to describe what he found there (Damon ix). He was an accomplished poet, painter, and engraver. Blake scholars disagree on whether or not Blake was a mystic. In the Norton Anthology, he is described as "an acknowledged mystic, [who] saw visions from the age of four" (Mack 783). Frye, however, who seems to be one of the most influential Blake scholars, disagrees, saying that Blake was a visionary rather than a mystic. "'Mysticism' . . . means a certain kind of religious techniques difficult to reconcile with anyone's poetry," says Frye (Frye 8). He next says that "visionary" is "a word that Blake uses, and uses constantly" and cites the example of Plotinus, the mystic, who experienced a "direct apprehension of God" four times in his life, and then only with "great effort and relentless discipline." He finally cites Blake's poem "I rose up at the dawn of day," in which Blake states, I am in God's presence night & day,And he never turns his face away (Frye 9).Besides all of these achievements, Blake was a social critic of his own time and considered himself a prophet of times to come. Frye says that "all his poetry was written as though it were about to have the immediate social impact of a new play" (Frye 4). His social criticism is not only representative of his own country and era, but strikes profound chord...

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