New paper explores Blake’s work from an ecocritical perspective

While Blake is often considered an occult artist, this newly published article explores him as a herald of Green Romantic spirituality.

The latest issue of Criterion includes an essay by Angela J. Heagy, "Blake’s Green Symbols of Humanity, Society, and Spirituality":

William Blake is an exemplar of Romantic poetry characterized by depictions of the occult, the divine, and human nature. Despite Blake’s reputation as a Romantic poet, many critics claim that there is not sufficient evidence to consider him a nature writer. As a result, Blake’s name is frequently omitted from ecological discussions; some scholars go so far as to claim that Blake’s poetry demonstrates a disregard for nature altogether. This article argues that an eco-critical analysis of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience reveals nature to be Blake’s continual source of inspiration. Within this collection, nature represents the struggles of marginalized people as well as individual growth. In his poetry, Blake also correlates the power of nature with the power of a divine Creator, enticing readers to see the supernatural within the natural world. Ultimately, an eco-critical analysis of Songs of Innocence and of Experience reveals that Blake’s depictions of nature are no less notable than those of his peers, as Blake uses green imagery to symbolize human development, gendered and social inequalities, and divinity throughout his masterwork.

Angela Heagy is a member of faculty at Southern New Hampshire University.

"Blake’s Green Symbols of Humanity, Society, and Spirituality" is available via Criterion, a Journal of Literary Criticism. (Open Access).