William Blake’s Epic Poems: Milton and Jerusalem

The Still Point

Enitharmon (spiritual beauty) plate 92, Jerusalem Enitharmon
(spiritual beauty)
plate 92, Jerusalem

Most people’s acquaintance with the poet William Blake is limited to a few poems like “Tyger, Tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night…” (Songs of Experience) and “Little lamb who made thee?” (Songs of Innocence). If you have lived in England you would also be familiar with the hymn “Jerusalem” (see below), but these are only tidbits of his poetry. His major epic poems, Milton and Jerusalem, are known only by a few but they are magnificent and repay diligent study. Admittedly they are very difficult to understand and we need help.   I found I could appreciate the basics of his poetry with some expert guidance.  Indispensable guides to reading Blake are: Blake’s Apocalypse by Harold Bloom, A Blake Dictionary by S. Foster Damon, Blake: Prophet Against Empire by David Erdman, and Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye (in that order of…

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