William Blake 's Illuminated Manuscripts

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William Blake’s illuminated manuscripts were published in multiple editions; all of the editions were etched differently than its predecessor. In these illustrations, one finds meaning and value; an inextricable link between these artistic expressions and the text that Blake wrote exists. These works should not be viewed separately, but rather viewed together, as one single entity. While the text, at times, proves itself to be unstable and potentially confusing for readers, the etchings serve as a way to view the intention of Blake’s words, as well as expressing the underlying feeling attached to the text in a visual way. Understanding both pieces of art is crucial to the apprehension of the implied meaning of the works. Without having to read the words, the viewer already grasps the tone and perhaps even the content or context of the piece. The etchings force reader interaction with the poems, relying on the non-passivity of the audience. Blake intended for the illustrations and the texts to be viewed in correlation with one another, as it allows for a deeper understanding of the intended meaning. In William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Innocence, Blake depicts a child who was sold into the work force by his widower father. The child is so young, in fact, he cannot correctly pronounce ‘sweep’, instead crying “weep weep weep…” (3). The child, the perceived speaker of the piece, describes to the audience a fellow chimney sweeper named Tom Dacre. Tom has a
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