Organized Religion Versus Sprituality in William Blake’s Poetry Essay

William Blake was a poet and artist who was born in London, England in 1757. He lived 69 years, and although his work went largely unnoticed during his lifetime, he is now considered a prominent English Romantic poet. Blake’s religious views, and his philosophy that “man is god”, ran against the religious thoughts at the time, and some might equate Blake’s views to those of the hippie movement of the 20th century.In “The Garden of Love”, the conflict between organized religion and individual thought is the constant idea throughout the poem. Blake’s colorful use of imagery and heavy symbolism express his resentment toward the church. He makes it obvious how he feels, that it is restrictive in nature and hinders him from expressing his loves, joys, and desires. The poem begins with the narrator lying beside a river, where “love lay sleeping”. Blake laying with love on the riverbank leads us to believe that he knows love in an intimate way. Blake’s familiarity to this intimacy is a clear reference to his experience of sex, and his discovery that love can be expressed sexually (Devin). Blake’s use of repetition when he describes the weeping sounds he hears from the “rushes dank” enforces the concern felt by the narrator.In the second stanza, the narrator goes to the “heath and the wild” and the “thorns and thistles” where they tell him that they were “beguiled” and “driven out.” This is the first indication that the reader receives that indicates love is under attack. These plants represent weeds, an undesirable nuisance to those who cultivate gardens. Blake uses personification when they say that they were “driven out” or exiled from the garden of love. They then go onto say that they were “compelled to the chaste”, meaning thei…

… I enjoyed the poem. Blake keeps the reader fascinated with not only the structure and literary analysis aspect, but also with the taboo message of the laws of morality organized religion puts on our society. I admire Blake because he was truly ahead of his time in his thinking about free love and spirituality. Considering how controversial the discussion of the laws of morality is today, is isn’t a wonder that his work went largely unnoticed in his time. This poem has opened my eyes, and made me question the legitimacy of all the briars that bind to my joys and desires.Works Cited

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Frye, Northrop. Blake. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1966.Blake. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1966.Griffiths, Nick. “Poets and Poetry.” Helium, Inc., n.d. Web. 13 Mar 2010. .


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