'O' Rose Thou Art Sick': Floral Symbolism in William Blake's Poetry

Authors

  • Noelia Malla Complutense University of Madrid

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18533/journal.v3i3.384

Keywords:

William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, “The Sick Rose”, floral imagery

Abstract

The primary aim of this paper is to analyse the symbolic implications of floral imagery in William Blake’s poetry. More specifically, this study explores the process of floral (re)signification of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) as case studies. Since “Without contraries [there] is no progression” (Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plate 3), it can be argued that the Songs represent contrary aspects of the human condition that far from contradicting each other, establish a static contrast of shifting tensions and revaluation of the flower-image not only as a perfect symbol of the “vegetable” life rooted to the Earth but also as a figure longing to be free. In some sense at some level, the poetic-prophetic voice asserts in the Songs of Experience the state of corruption where man has fallen into. Ultimately, this study will explore how the failure to overcome the contrast that is suggested in the Songs will be deepened by the tragedy of Thel, which is symbolized by all unborn forces of life, all sterile seeds as an ultimate means of metaphorical regeneration throughout Poetry which constitutes in itself the Poet Prophet’s own means of transcending through art.

Author Biography

Noelia Malla, Complutense University of Madrid

English Department II

References

Beer, John (1968). Blake's Humanism. Manchester: University Press.

Bentley, Eric (1948). The Cult of the Superman. London: Robert Hale Ltd.

Blake, William (1826). The William Blake Archive (http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/). Ed. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick and Joseph Visconi.

Blake, William (2008). Blake’s Poetry and Designs. New York, London: Norton.

Foster Damon, S. (1973). A Blake Dictionary. London: Thames and Hudson.

Frye, Northrop (1970). “The Road of Excess”, in Romanticism and Consciousness. Ed. Harold Bloom. London: Norton.

——(1985). “The Keys to the Gates”, in William Blake. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House: Yale. (pp. 43-64).

——(1990). Fearful Simmetry. Princeton: University Press.

George, Diana Hume (1985). “The Feminine in Blake”, in William Blake. Ed. Harold Bloom. Chelsea House: Yale (pp. 181-194).

Kazin, Alfred (1976). “Introduction”. The Portable Blake. Penguin: London (pp. 1 – 55).

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Published

2014-04-02

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