Never Seek to Tell Thy Love Audio Poem - by William Blake
William Blake (28 November 1757 -- 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and
printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal
figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic
poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of
poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic
to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002,
Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. Although he
lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a
diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God",
or "Human existence itself".
Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by
later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical
undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the
Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent
of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England -- indeed, to all forms of organised religion --
Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as
well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences,
the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William
Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary," and "a man not forestalled by predecessors,
nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".
William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London.
He was the third of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was
a hosier. He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age
of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Wright Armitage Blake. The
Blakes were dissenters, and believed to have belonged to the Moravian Church. Blake was baptised at
St James's Church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, Piccadilly, London. The Bible was an early
and profound influence on Blake, and remained a source of inspiration throughout his life.
Blake started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father,
a practice that was preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings Blake found his first exposure
to classical forms through the work of Raphael, Michelangelo, Marten Heemskerk and Albrecht Dürer.
His parents knew enough of his headstrong temperament that he was not sent to school but instead
enrolled in drawing classes. He read avidly on subjects of his own choosing. During this period,
Blake made explorations into poetry; his early work displays knowledge of Ben Jonson and Edmund Spenser.
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