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William Blake’s “Wall of words” on circular reasoning

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The ending line from 'The First Book of Urizen' and a quality of Blake's work.
  3. 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' and the direct tradition of the emblem-books.
  4. The purpose of Blake's paintings.
  5. Disproving Billigheimer's positive interpretation.
  6. The Tyger.
    1. The tiger - not standing up straight.
    2. An excellent example of Blake subverting his own apparent dichotomy.
  7. Songs of Innocence and Experience.
    1. The speaker of the poem.
    2. A deliberate word choice.
    3. Emphatic yet simple verbs in the poem.
    4. The second stanza - more fruitful and more penetrable.
  8. The First Book of Urizen.
    1. The usage of the word ?roll? and its variants.
    2. Blake's application of the circular imagery to the character of Urizen.
    3. Urizen's filght from the seven deadly sins.
    4. Urizen's severance from eternity.
    5. The first circle imagery in the wording of the poem.
  9. Conclusion.

?And the salt ocean rolled englob'd.? (Blake Pl. 28.23) The previous line comes from one of Blake's prophetic works, ?The First Book of Urizen,? and is very typical of a Blake ending. More than a century before Stanley Kunitz was born, Blake had mastered the technique typified by Kunitz's oft-repeated maxim: ?end on an image and don't explain it.? This technique does two very important things for the poem and the reader. First, by giving the image the space and importance of an ending, it allows the intended impact of the image to flow straight off the page and into the reader's imagination, whereas a follow-up explanation, however cursory and concise, would capture the energy of the image and spread it thinly, weakly along expository avenues. Second, the undercutting of the conventional resolution that automatically results from such an ending causes the reader to stop and spend more time and thought on the overall idea of the poem than he would otherwise have done?to come up with his own conclusion, his own reading.

[...] The second stanza introduces a kind of pleasant nostalgia in which John with white hair/ does laugh away care.? (11-12) And soon all the old people are joining John's laughter and talking about when they ?were seen/ on the Echoing Green.? (19-20) In the last stanza of the poem, the tone changes as the day comes to an end. The finality of the language in this last stanza is important as it makes us realize that Blake is no longer talking about the span of a day. [...]


[...] This reforming of Urizen's body on a planet of his own making cements his break with eternity. (P7-10) During Los' reconstruction of Urizen's body, special attention is paid to the forming of his senses. Not surprising, almost every one of them has a circular image to go along with it. For the first sense, that of touch, the nerves, or ?branches? (P11 spurt (P11 the more solid, real bones. Next, his eyes are describes as little orbs fixed in two little caves.? (P11 13-14) The formation of his ears describes the inner part's spiraling out into the bigger and bigger circles of the outside. [...]


[...] In First Book of Urizen? and ?Visions of the Daughters of Albion,? Blake explores and expands upon the destructively circular nature of reason left all to itself. Throughout First Book of Urizen? the word and its variants are used fifteen times. The word and its variants are used nineteen times. Both simple words, both demanding the literal attention that Blake's ?wall of words? requires, their repeated appearance helps to establish the image of the circle and its connotations as primary concepts of this work. [...]

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