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Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, 1789-1794 (Oxford Paperbacks) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   226
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1977
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0192810898  
EAN  9780192810892  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Reproduces the texts and the fifty-four hand-colored etchings of Blake's famous and now much sought-after double volume of lyrics

Publishers Description
Here is a beautifully illustrated edition of Blake's classic poems. The text of each poem is given in letterpress on the page facing the color plate, and a brief commentary by Sir Geoffrey Keynes on each poem follows. It is printed on paper especially manufactured to match the tint of that used by Blake.

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More About William Blake

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Painter, printer, and poet, William Blake (1757-1827) was a master at expressing great literature through his art. Perhaps the finest engraver in English history, Blake's illuminated books -- filled with sketches and watercolors that boggle the mind with their beauty and detail -- are as sought after today as they were over a hundred years ago.

William Blake lived in London. William Blake was born in 1757 and died in 1827.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Iluminated books, beautifully reprinted  Feb 6, 2009
William Blake: The Complete Illuminated BooksBlake's Songs of Innocence and ExperienceBlake]]The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: A Facsimile in Full Color Beautiful, affordable copies of William Blake's originals.
gem  Feb 13, 2008
Gorgeous poetry and illustrations by Blake. A must have for your library and a treasure to share with your children.
The Other Blake  Jan 26, 2005
Sorry, all, I'm not much of a poetry fan. I like "Tyger," "Garden of Love," and a few others, but I can't add to the scholarship on his verse.

I am, however, fascinated by his use of relief etching in creating these pages. It's a rare process even now, and was revealed to Blake in a vision (plus a lot of painstaking experimentation). It's the process by which he shaped each letter, reversed, in the printing plate, plus much of the 'illumination' on each page.

The preface is vague and the reproduced images are hard to read, but Blake printed the lettering and line work on each page, then hand-decorated with watercolors. The preface says that Blake went on to create color printing processes, but what they were or whether they're used here is not explicit. I tend to think not, unless a few pages were printed with one or two more plates to emphasize the dark areas. If these illustrations really are true size, then inking on the plate would have been tedious, imprecise, and would not have given the results seen here.

There's much to say about his illustration. That includes an odd conflict, between figures fully drawn even under clothing and the androgyny or sexlessness of so many, an ambiguity that appears in the poems as well. I'll leave that commentary to others, though. The thing that impresses me about these editions is their artistic intensity. Each individual copy of the book was printed and decorated on demand, for a specific buyer. Blake had full control of every part of the creation, the words, images, and reproduction.

It is a rare mind that can master visual and verbal arts, both, then the craft of creating the book that carries them. Perhaps I miss parts of the presentation, but I very much admire the parts that I understand. Four stars because better reproduction would have served his visual art and craft much better.

poems of perspective from childhood and adulthood  Mar 19, 2004
William Blake is known for some very mystical hard-to-understand poetry, but his "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" is very different from that other work. Here in beautiful, almost child-like simplicity, he describes happy things like childhood and purity, as well as the darker realities of corruption and disillusionment. These poems are always spiritual and lyrical, full of heart and soul. The style is simple, yes, but the words and metaphors are profound and so is the wisdom, like in "The Human Abstract":

Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor;
And mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.

David Rehak
author of "Poems From My Bleeding Heart"

The Oxford Paperbacks edition is superb  Nov 4, 2003
There are larger, more luxurious graphical editions of Blake's two most popular works but the Oxford SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND OF EXPERIENCE is perhaps the most affordable and convenient.

After a short introductory piece which makes the reader expect a pastoral mood, SONGS OF INNOCENCE opens with "The Shepherd", and the reader is immediately acquainted with Blake's style: deceptively simple, but filled with metaphor and allusion. Many of the poems speak of the solace of Christianity, but Blake shows a more universal and tolerant tranquility found through appreciation of simple human virtues. In "The Divine Image", he writes: "And all must love the human form, / in heathen, turk, or jew. / Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, / there God is dwelling too."

Even within SONGS OF EXPERIENCE, the most pessimistic and cynical half, Blake maintains a his childlike style in order to bring the truth of human experience to anyone at all, young and old. In "A Poison Tree" he writes: "I was angry with my friend: / I told my wrath, my wrath did end. / I was angry with my foe: / I told it not, my wrath did grow", concisely summarising the effects of pride and ill-will on one's soul.

Blake was by profession an engraver, and his engravings for SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE are so closely bound to the text of the poems that a photocopy edition is really the only way to enjoy the poems as they were meant. In this paperback edition, the original engraving can be seen along side a typeset text, presented in a size large enough that the words can be relatively easily made out and, perhaps more importantly, the reader can see Blake's mythological characters. These personages, such as Urizen and Lothos, are key to understanding Blake's larger metaphysical work, for which the Songs present a good introduction.

This edition is especially valuable as it contains a photocopy of the engraving of "A Divine Image", a poem intended for SONGS OF EXPERIENCE which Blake subsequently left out because of its savage pessimism. The poem survives on an uncolored plate which is not found within many collections of the poet's work.

If you are intrigued by poets who transcend mere beautiful words to present a complete worldview, Blake is certainly worth reading. The Oxford Paperbacks edition is, in my opinion, the best place to get started with this deep and tricky, but fulfilling and fascinating poet.


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