Neo-Classicism vs. Romanticism

Last Saturday (July 10), one of the writing exercises my College of Poetry teacher has given us is to take a proverb from “The Marriage of Heaven or Hell” by William Blake and make it the epigraph – the starting line – of a poem. There are many intriguing proverbs from this poem that I like, such as “The cut worm forgives the plow.” This refers to the Neo-Classical movement “forgiving” the Romanticism era for replacing it. Whereas Neo-Classical is all about the orderly, elegance and rationality, Romanticism is about the wild, emotions and colloquial language. Other proverbs I like from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” are “The cistern contains; the fountain overflows,” “A dead body revenges not injuries,” and “Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.” Blake is saying the same thing with these proverbs: Allow emotions and individualism (Romanticism) to take over rationality and the chain of being.

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