Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The intention of this paper is to give a personal assessment of what appears to be a dramatic change in form and style between the "Miner" and "Major" prophetic works of William Blake. Some critics have suggested1 that the movement to a more difficult mode of poetry reflects Blake's fear of being detected as a political subversive in sympathy with the revolutionists in France. The obscurity of the Major Prophecies, in this view, gave him a sort of poetic asylum against the local constables. I am suggesting, however, that his motives are more fundamental, that they are founded upon a real change in his awareness of the human condition. Before outlining the specific directions of my inquiry, the following chronology should be helpful in sketching the general development of this shift in sensibility.