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Romanticism in Blake's Poetry

The style and ideas of William Blake, in "Sick Rose," "The Tiger" and "The Lamb," demonstrate the basic principles of Romanticism. Blake emphasizes the importance of nature and the imagination as expressions of a deeper reality. His style and ideas are transcendental in that they go beyond the ordinary way of perceiving and describing reality, suggesting that there is a deeper and richer realm which is hinted at by nature and the imagination. In this case, "nature" includes human beings and especially their spiritual aspect.

The Romantic style places great weight on language and imagery grounded in nature (the tiger, the lamb, the rose) and in the wildness and strangeness of the natural world. At the same time, Blake's poems are meant to show a connection between nature and human states of mind and spirit, including both the pure and the corrupt sides of those states.

Blake's style in these poems is also deceptively simple, so that a child might read them and take them for their surface meaning. The symbols are powerful though simple, because they are so striking and call to mind so many associations, for both adult and child, for both simple-minded and sophisticated. At the same time, Blake's use of natural symbolism, in the Romantic vein, gives these three poems a greater depth and complexity than it might first appear. While the poems are open to many interpretations, this study will take the view that they have as their true subject God and His Creation.

The tiger and lamb poems are related as parts of Songs of Innocence and Experience. In these poems, the tiger and the lamb are themselves seen as extremes of the natural world of both beasts and the wild and gentle sides of humanity. The tiger is the symbol of untamed and fierce power and danger, while the lamb is the symbol of nature in its most tame and domesticated form.

Blake is not simply trying to compare these two extremes, however, but rather to praise them b...

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