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November 28

Poet William Blake was born in 1757.

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Poet William Blake was born in 1757.

Grades 5 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text

 

EVENT DESCRIPTION

 

 

William Blake was born on November 28, 1757, in London, England. While best known for his poetry, including The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience, Blake was also an accomplished artist and engraver who illustrated many of his own poetic works. As a believer in the power of human imagination, Blake influenced those poets and writers who would later be called the Romantics. He died on August 12, 1827, with no money and little recognition.

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

 

 

In his artwork, Blake invented names, faces, and actions that personified abstract concepts. His character, Urizen, for example, represented law and order, and Blake often drew him as a bearded old man.

As a class, brainstorm a list of grade-appropriate abstract concepts, such as "freedom," "anger," "peer pressure," "frustration," etc. Then, have students choose one and write down all the words that they associate with that concept. Finally, students should personify that concept either through a drawing or through a story told about the character who personifies that concept. See "Poetstanding" the Poem for examples of Blake's personification.

Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience also work well to develop students' skills at comparing and contrasting. Have students read and complete a Venn Diagram for The Tyger and The Lamb. Elementary students can identify words and phrases that are similar and different in the poems, while older students should be able to identify differences in tone and theme.

WEBSITES

 

 
  • The William Blake Archive

    This hypermedia project is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the NEH; it contains everything that you might want to know about Blake, including biographies, written work, visual art, and criticism.

  • The Web Museum, Paris

    This site has 10 full-color images of Blake's paintings and engravings. Show them to students to introduce a discussion on tone; they are extremely powerful pieces.

  • Chambers of the Imagination

    This resource for high school students reviews the various characters in William Blake's personal mythology using images and text.

  • William Blake: Illustrated Books

    The New York Public Library Digital Gallery offers images of the original versions of three books by Blake, for which he created the text and illustrations and printed the books.

RELATED RESOURCES

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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Dancing Minds and Shouting Smiles: Teaching Personification Through Poetry

Students learn about personification by reading and discussing poems and then brainstorm nouns and verbs to create personification in their own poems.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Figurative Language Awards Ceremony

Students will be as happy as clams when they have the chance to nominate their favorite examples of similes, metaphors, and personification for a figurative language award.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Using Classic Poetry to Challenge and Enrich Students' Writing

This lesson sets poetry in motion when students experiment with poetic styles to improve their writing skills and enhance their understanding of poetry.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Ekphrasis: Using Art to Inspire Poetry

In this lesson, students explore ekphrasis—writing inspired by art. Students find pieces of art that inspire them and compose a booklet of poems about the pieces they have chosen.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Creative Communication Frames: Discovering Similarities between Writing and Art

Graphic organizers assist the development of comparative vocabulary and generate discussions of analogy and metaphor in art as students go on a real or virtual tour of an art gallery.