Two articles on Blake in the latest issue of European Romantic Review

The latest issue of the European Romantic Review includes articles on Blake's Milton a Poem and The Little Black Boy.

Published online today, Volume 34, Issue 6 of the European Romantic Review includes two articles on Blake. The first is "Vibrant Meter: Periods, Pulsations, and Prosody in Blake's Milton" by Richard Ness, while the second is "God Lives in the Sun: The Critique of Evangelical Abolitionism in William Blake's 'The Little Black Boy'" by Jonathan Perris:

Milton is known for its unorthodox treatment of time; however, scholarship tends to overlook one temporality of central importance: meter. This article argues that Milton's metrical experiments are essential for understanding the poem's strange temporal frameworks. Meter marks the intersection at which Milton's primary concerns—poetry, physiology, and time—converge, a nodal point articulating poetry's connection to living bodies, evolution, and history. Meter is patterned words, sound, and time, and Milton deploys it to map out a world that organizes itself according to interacting rhythmic patterns, casting meter as an ecological force that bridges interior and exterior life, as both meter and ecological processes are made legible through the interplay between expectation and deviation, repetition and variation, regularity and contingency. This article puts Blake in dialogue with anthropologist Gregory Bateson, an avid Blake reader whose Steps to an Ecology of Mind posits mind as a system of interdependent pathways that are irreducible to a bounded individual. Blake and Bateson's affinity lies partly in their reputations as system thinkers but more so in their kinship as ecological thinkers who privilege pattern over substance as a framework for understanding our relationship with the external world.

Late eighteenth-century narratives of enslavement were, for London readers such as William Blake, an "authentic" source of information about the British Empire's slave trade—the horrors of the Middle Passage, the humanity of the peoples who found themselves in chains, the wonder of the distant lands from which they were ripped. From the 1770s, such texts had begun to give accounts of spiritual redemption through conversion to Christianity, thus legitimizing the voice of the author within European discourse. This essay focuses on one particularly prominent example, Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative (1789), and examines the possibility that Blake's "The Little Black Boy" (1789) is a direct and critical response. The essay argues that Blake's poem speaks not with conventional abolitionist rhetoric, nor with oft-suggested ambiguity, inconsistency, or racism, but rather with intense criticism of the Eurocentric evangelical discourse that came to inform abolitionist campaigns and of the resultant African-European voice constructed in texts such as The Interesting Narrative. In particular, the distorted heaven depicted in the poem is seen as sardonically imitating the liminal space occupied by the African in London—between freedom and slavery, between pastoral religiosity and institutional Protestantism.

Richard Ness is a member of the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jonathan Perris studied philosophy as an undergraduate before working for a number of years as an Editor at Oxford University Press. He then undertook an interdisciplinary Masters in English Literature and History at Kellogg College before beginning his DPhil at Lady Margaret Hall and then moving to Oriel. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis on cultural contamination and the Gothic sublime in the Romantic period.

European Romantic Review is available at and Jonathan Perris's article is open access.