Interpreting William Blake’s “A Dream”

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William Blake is one of the most well known poets in literature.  Not only did he write superb poetry, but he also drew illustrations to go with his words.  When we go to interpet his poetry, many times we want to look at his illustrations to get a different insight to what he is trying to portray.  Sometimes his illustrations are easy to figure out while other ones are harder to interpret.  His poem “A Dream” from his book Songs of Innocence is one of the illustrations that are harder to interpret with the poetry.

In the bottom right corner there what appears to be a hooded figure that some what looked like Death, or it could be the person who helped the narrator find his way home.  This character could be the one described in line 16: “Calls the watchman of the night.”  NIght is generally the symbol for death, so the figure in the corner of the page could be this watchman of night or death.  Home at the end of the poem “little wanderer hie thee home,” could be an actual building or home as in heaven; life after death.

The letters of the title, blend in with the vines and other lettering, almost as if Blake is stating that everything in life can blend together and everying, and maybe everyone is connected somehow.   Blake also uses vines to seperate the stanzas, maybe this is his way of showing different stages in life, in thought, or possibly in death.  It could also be saying that there will be things that try to break the story of life apart, but what remains is death and trying to find our way home.

As the story starts out the narrator seems like someone who has lost someone else.  For example in line eight he says “All heart broken I heard her say” it gives you the impression that his lover is heart broken for some reason, he lost her or rather she lost him.  This is probably the turning point in the poem that leads the reader to feel like the one who is lost is in fact the narrator.  When  you compare the picture version to the text version, you will see that some words look differently such as “grass” in the picture verson looks like “grafs.”  The constant use of the “W” sound in the fourth stanza gives the impression of wind blowing about, maybe the winds of death or something like that.

“A Dream” is a little easier to interpret when you look at just the text because then you see a man who left home, then finds his way home.  Or maybe has left home and never returned only to find his way to a heavenly home.  It is possible that the rebellion at the time could have been what took him away from his family and left the wife to clam his children when father doesn’t return.  William Blakes poetry may seem like it is light and airy, but it has a lot of depth to it, and some serious discussion.  When you look at the text along with his illustrations you see things differently.


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