Illusion - outstretched


This is nothing more than a very simple drawing of a man standing in front of a fence. It appears that a city skyline across the river is forming the tops of the “lady’s” stocking and his outstretched arms are forming her…well, you get the idea. The birdie belly button was a nice little touch as well.

It was the sober feeling of isolation that affected Sean the most, after he had been diagnosed with this illness he had no-one to turn to expect Him, the only form of portrayal; a wooden cross above his bed stead. He had never married and was never too close to anyone after the war, afraid of what they may think of him if they found out what he had done during the conflict. His commonly drunken mindset would most likely allow him to divulge descriptions of his regimental life that he would instantly regret in the morning with a swollen head and dry mouth.

This is not an invocation, but a direct command to the reader to sit up and pay attention. Instead of playing at the request of his audience, the poet now demands that his reader listen to him. The speaker now has authority because of what he has heard. The voice of the poet is that of the ancient Bard and that also of the biblical prophet who has heard the "Holy Word," the word of God. Assuming the role of the prophet and the Bard gives the modern poet a sense of biblical authority to speak on matters sacred and profane.

With his authority, the Bard is more willing to instruct his audience than is the piper. The Bard repeats the call of the Holy Word to fallen man. The message repeated by the Bard is that man still "might control" the world of nature and bring back the "fallen light" of vision.

Blake presents two sides of his view of the poet in these introductory poems. Neither one should be dismissed in favor of the other. The poet is both a pleasant piper playing at the request of his audience and a stern Bard lecturing an entire nation. In part this is Blake's interpretation of the ancient dictum that poetry should both delight and instruct. More important, for Blake the poet is a man who speaks both from the personal experience of his own vision and from the "inherited" tradition of ancient Bards and prophets who carried the Holy Word to the nations.

In reading any of the poems, one has to be aware of the mental "state" of the speaker of the poems. In some cases the speakers address the same issue, but from entirely different perspectives. The child of "The Chimney Sweeper" in Songs of Innocence lives in deplorable conditions and is clearly exploited by those around him: "So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep." Yet in his childish state he explains away his misery with a dream of a promised afterlife where God will be his father and he will "never want joy." The same issue of child exploitation is addressed in "The Chimney Sweeper" of Songs of Experience . The speaker is also a child, but one who understands the social forces that have reduced him to misery:


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