Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Poetry for Young People: William Blake

Poetry for Young People: William Blake

William Blake, Edited by John Maynard
Illustrator:  Allesandra Cimatoribus 
For ages 10 and up
Sterling, 2007   ISBN: 978-0806936475

William Blake was one of the world’s great artistic personalities. He was an artist and a poet who liked to combine his illustrations with his poems to give readers a special experience as they explored his work. A strong, wise, and simple man, he scrutinized the world around him, trying to better understand and appreciate what he saw.

For this book, the editor has selected poems from Blake’s collections, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. He has also taken excerpts from some of Blake’s more complex writings to share with readers. For each of the poems, the editor gives readers background information in a short introduction, and for each there is a glossary to explain some of the words that might be unfamiliar.

In the Songs of Innocence section, there is a poem about a shepherd who follows “his sheep all the day” and “is watchful while they are in peace.” There is the poem that captures the voices of a nursemaid and her charges. She tells them that it is time to come home because “the sun is gone down,” and they respond by asking her to let them play a little longer “for it is yet day.”

Further on in the book, readers will find the Songs of Experience poems. Here is they will come across the well known poem about the tiger who walks through the “forests of the night.”

This is an extraordinary collection of poems that will not only introduce readers to William Blake’s poetry, but it will also help readers to better understand the poet, his art, and his world.