William Blake was a brilliant painter and writer. His love of the arts leads to a mixture of painting and writing that inspired several books such as Songs of Innocence and others. Specifically, On Another's Sorrow from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence collection is a prime example of the intricate nature of mixing poetry and art. This particular poem has a deep seeded relationship between sorrow and the grief that surely follows. Blake mentions various types of people including parents who feel the sorrow of their loved ones and thus feel the grief and sadness that they feel. The vines that grow upward on the sides of the poem is a representation of God which in turn proves that even god feels the grief of man's sorrow and does there is nothing he can do to stem it. For like the vines or branches that you try to cut they just come back like a never ending sorrow. William Blake nature filled painting may lead to a deeper understanding of the way Blake connected the vines in his painting and the sorrow that may reach the heavens.
The beginning of Blake’s poem has a speaker that is in the first person thus Blake himself is putting himself in the same place as the reader. He feels the sorrow of mankind and the agony that follows. His first step is to ask a rhetorical question about, “Can I see another's woe and not be in sorrow too?” The answer is obviously no since Blake proceeds to list various types of people who feel the sorrow of their loved ones. For instance, a mother who hears an infant crying, "Can a mother sit and hear, an infant groan, an infant fear?”, can only help to feel some sadness for to feel no sadness would be inhuman. Blake continues the poem in this manner using imagery such as, “Hear the small bird’s grief and care” to demonstrate how widespread real grief and sorrow is that even birds and other creatures can feel. As the poem continues there is a shift in perspective where the speaker changes to the third person. This could be an example of how a reader is now a different person or maybe even a heavenly figure that feels the sorrow of mankind. The last line of the poem symbolizes this the best, “He doth sit by us and moan.” Even this unknown figure feels the need to comfort mankind since there is nothing he can do but sit and feel until it passes. Blake chooses to emphasize his point about the unforgiving nature of human sorrow with imagery of the birds and people crying over the nests since there is nothing to stop the pain and suffering besides to comfort someone or something.
As well as being and literary master Blake was also a proficient painter and artist. Many of his illuminated books were accompanied by paintings that are indeed connected to the poem or work as a whole. There are usually overlying themes to each poem and they can be easily emphasized to symbols within the artwork. For example, in On Another’s Sorrow there is a painting that beautifully comes around the poem in an intertwining vine pattern. Inside the vines, there are people climbing upwards through the vines which could be a symbol of man's need to escape sorrow since these people are trying to climb up out of the blue sky. Another symbol within the painting is the various pictures and sizes of birds. Birds are a very large part of the imagery of the painting and according to old myths birds or specifically, wrens are bright and cheery animals but even the cheeriest of animals are sometimes sorrowful and full of grief. The whole background is doused with a blue sky which could be used to indicate a number of emotions such sadness and calming. In this particular poem the blue background would mostly be used to symbolize the all-encompassing nature of sorrow being that it is a universal feeling of empathy and grief, thus it is the surrounding color (“‘On Another's Sorrow’). Lastly, William Blake painted a significant part of the painting surrounding the poem various shades of green to symbolize the vibes and treetops where the birds and people are climbing. Since This color is so frequently used there must be a symbolic meaning in that the greenery is meant to represent a worldly life since the world is known for being green and blue.
For this particular poem, On Another's Sorrow, the painting and the poem are clearly connected in a deeper way than what is on the surface.Even from the smallest detail there is an association between the way William Blake paints and the way he writes about the sorrow of humankind. For example, there are birds scattered about Blake's artwork, some flying and some resting on the branches that are also depicted in the painting. Blake makes specific reference to wrens in his poem saying they have, “ grief and care.” He continues to mention that wrens who in literature are naturally very happy, lighthearted and free-spirited animals but, in this poem, they are sad and are weeping over their nests (Venefica). This is a clear reference to how the sorrow that is written about in the poem is a universal feeling since all things including parents and birds can feel a suffocating sadness that they all feel together. Furthermore, there are people within the painting. They are dispersed among the vines and as you gradually look up towards the top of the poem. The people are climbing towards something in the sky, towards something greater. In addition, Blake mentions towards the end of the poem a person who is represented as “he” as someone who is giving a sense of comfort, compassion and empathy since he can’t actually take the sorrow away from the person who is feeling depressed or sorrowful. Furthermore, there is another detail that William Blake included was the vines that Blake had drawn on the sides. The vines interact with the people within the painting. If you look closely at the painting the people and the vines are intertwined and the vines actually feed into people and vice versa. That could mean that the people are trying to climb out of the sorrow and try to find the happiness that will eventually come if you power through the sorrow. Blake demonstrates this is his poem while in the last stanza Blake mention, “ He doth give His joy to all.” Clearly, Blake is associated the sky, heavenly figure or god with a sense of relief from the sadness and sorrow. Thus , the people trying to escape via climbing up the vines is a clear example of the connection between the painting and the writing.
William Blake was a very insightful painter and writer and all his illuminated books were structured in a very interesting way. In his collection called songs of innocence, there are over fifty works of art combining, “poetic verses with illustration” (Victoria). there are various examples of Blake emphasizing his point across with the use of beautifully illustrated paintings. In particular, On Another's sorrow is one of his poems where there is an easy to see the connection that could be used to decipher Blakestrue meaning. His intention was for people to see that human sorrow could not be magically removed and that it takes time and effort as well the comfort of another to aid in the healing process. William Blake also proved that sorrow is not just a human emotion and that it can be felt among on the creatures in the world. Lastly, Blake attempted to get across that through the help of a heavenly figure, in this case, God, you could also find absolution from your sorrow through climbing to the top of the vines or trees since they are people who are trying to escape sorrow. But, in the case of William Blake, there is no way to truly h