The reason why I’ve chosen to conduct an in-depth study project for William Blake over all the other giants of the poetic tradition is primarily that every work of his that I’ve ever read triggers a massive “WOW” moment in me, every single time. Of course, there are other poets who do the same, but Blake is different. Really different. I’ve come to realize from more extensive reading into his works and his life that this man was the quintessential archetype of a visionary.
Some in art circles tend to rate the great poets of ages past in comparison to their peers–Eliot and Shakespeare, for example, are often interchangeably referred to as the greatest of English language poets, as is Baudelaire in the French poetic tradition, Whitman and Poe in the American, and Dante, naturally, in the Italian.
It is my opinion that a very, very select few wordsmiths are so naturally gifted with poetic vision that, unlike most of their contemporaries, they do not need to go to school to hone their literary capabilities, and furthermore, they transcend all comparison to any specific field of poets. In this sense, it is not nearly enough to say that Blake is the greatest of English language poets. There is no field of comparison for his work. It’s the same process for all the great storytellers of ages past: arguably our most familiar manifestation of this phenomenon is the immortalization of the great legends of 20th century Rock n’ Roll–Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, most notably.
Though the academics always have something to say and some means of classification, in the end, William Blake will always be just…William effing Blake. This is the true essence of a poetic visionary: what it means to be a shamanic poet, what it means to be a truly…illuminated member of the Bardic tradition. And in this sense, William Blake is the perfect continuation from my Winter Quarter study of shamanism and consciousness.