Is William Blake both a poet and a social reformer?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Blake can be seen as both poet and social reformers for a couple of reasons.  The most elemental would be that his poetry as being a part of the Romanticism movement would qualify as making him both poet and social reformer.  Romantic thinkers felt that their position as artists included being able to identify areas of social change; the dominant need to transform what is into what should be.  For example, poems such as "The Little Vagabond" help to explore the nature of the individual and the social institution of religion.  Another reason why one could consider Blake a social reformer would be that he was strongly connected to thinkers of the time period who were social reformers.  Thinkers like Wollstonecraft, Goodwin, and Thomas Paine were individuals who were able to move freely from artistic construction into political and social actvism.  Their influence on Blake was profound and made its way into his thinking and writing.