William Blake and the music of his Songs

Camila Querino, Faculdade de Letras UFRJ Av. Horácio Macedo, Brazil, ID LLCE2018-371;     Abstract: Over the past 60 years, William Blake (1857-1827) has become the most popular English-language poet among musicians and composers. The paper aims to investigate the intense relationship between his work and the popular musical production from the second half of the twentieth century to the present. Firstly, we intend to examine elements that ensure the musicality of Blake's poetry using the concept of melopoeia coined by the poet and critic Ezra Pound, which deals with the musical content of poetry through “emotional correlations brought about by the sound and rhythm of speech.” From the analysis of Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794), we aim to understand the presence of music both in form and theme of his poetry. Finally, we intend to relate Blake’s popularity to the reverberation of his political and philosophical views among young revolutionary and counterculture artists who see especially in music, an efficient means to have their ideas heard, finding in Blake’s Songs the discourse and images that translate the spirit of the contemporary times with the force and freshness that only the great works of art possess.

Key words: William Blake; popular music; English literature; counterculture.