I had always assumed that everyone loved the Pre-Raphaelites. In my mind, the strength of my teenage obsession (hopping on the tube to Tate Britain used to be one of the better reasons I skipped school) surely meant that everyone had a similar fixation. How could you not like their bright colours, literary allusions, and somewhat overwrought medievalism? But the truth is – with their preoccupation with moribund women, Shakespearean narratives, and the more cloying aspects of Tennyson’s Victoriana – many people find the Brotherhood too clever by half and too cliched by a whole.
This week’s poem was published in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience in 1794 and is among his most lauded and quoted works.