'The Angel' by William Blake

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I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen:
Guarded by an Angel mild;
Witless woe, was neer beguil'd!

And I wept both night and day
And he wip'd my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight

So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush'd rosy red:
I dried my tears & armd my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again;
I was arm'd, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled
And grey hairs were on my head

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Angel by William Blake: A Masterpiece of Symbolism and Spirituality

As someone who loves poetry and is deeply interested in spirituality, William Blake’s works have always captivated me. Among his many masterpieces, one poem that stands out for its profound symbolism and imagery is “The Angel”. Written in the late 18th century, this poem has been analyzed and interpreted by many scholars and critics over the years. However, in this essay, I want to offer my own interpretation of the poem, based on my understanding of Blake’s philosophy and worldview.

Overview of the Poem

Before delving into the details, let us first get a brief overview of the poem. “The Angel” is a short poem consisting of four quatrains (four-line stanzas). The first stanza sets the scene: the speaker encounters an angel who asks him to tell his name. The second stanza describes the angel’s appearance: he is bright and shining, with a golden halo and white wings. The third stanza is the longest and most symbolic: the angel reveals his mission, which is to destroy the forces of evil and bring peace to the world. The fourth and final stanza ends with the speaker asking the angel to stay with him forever, but the angel replies that he must go and continue his mission.

Symbolism and Imagery

Now let us examine the poem in more detail, starting with the symbolism and imagery. One of the most striking features of Blake’s poetry is his use of vivid and powerful imagery to convey his ideas. In “The Angel”, he employs a wide range of symbols that resonate with his spiritual and mystical worldview.

First, let us consider the angel himself. In Christian tradition, angels are messengers of God, beings of light and purity who serve as intermediaries between heaven and earth. In Blake’s poetry, however, angels have a more complex and ambiguous role. They are not necessarily benevolent or obedient to God’s will, but rather rebellious and independent. They represent the human imagination and creative spirit, which is capable of transcending the limits of reason and convention.

In “The Angel”, the angel is described as a “brighter light” than the sun, with a “golden halo” and “white wings”. These images suggest that the angel is a divine being, full of spiritual energy and radiance. The gold and white colors also symbolize purity and transcendence. The fact that the angel asks the speaker to tell his name is significant, as it implies that the angel is testing the speaker’s knowledge and understanding. In Blake’s philosophy, true knowledge comes not from external authority but from inner intuition and inspiration.

The third stanza of the poem is particularly rich in symbolism. Here the angel reveals his mission: to “destroy the world of error” and “create a world of truth”. This mission is expressed in a series of vivid images: the angel will “weep out the tears” of the oppressed, “write in books of steel” the laws of justice, and “strike the oppressor with his sword”. These images suggest a radical and transformative vision of social and political change, in which the forces of oppression and violence are overcome by the power of truth and justice. The use of metal imagery (steel, sword) also suggests a sense of durability and permanence, as if the angel’s mission is not just temporary but eternal.

Another important symbol in the third stanza is the “black cloud” that the angel will “scatter” with his “spear”. This cloud represents the darkness of ignorance and illusion that blinds human beings to the truth. The fact that the angel uses a spear, which is a weapon of war, suggests that the struggle for truth and justice is not easy or peaceful, but requires a fierce and determined effort.

The final stanza of the poem is more personal and emotional, as the speaker asks the angel to stay with him forever. This request can be seen as a metaphor for the human desire for spiritual guidance and inspiration. The fact that the angel refuses to stay, however, suggests that spiritual growth and enlightenment require a constant struggle and quest, rather than a passive dependence on external sources of wisdom.


So what does “The Angel” mean? As with all great poetry, there is no single answer to this question, but rather a range of possible interpretations. Here are some of my thoughts on the poem.

Firstly, I see “The Angel” as a celebration of the human imagination and creativity, which has the power to transcend the limitations of the material world and connect with the divine. The angel, in this sense, is not a literal being, but a symbol of the human potential for spiritual growth and insight. By encountering the angel, the speaker is being challenged to transcend his own limitations and awaken to a higher consciousness.

Secondly, I see “The Angel” as a critique of the social and political structures that perpetuate injustice and oppression. The angel’s mission to “destroy the world of error” and “create a world of truth” can be seen as a call to action for all those who seek a more just and equitable society. The use of violent imagery (spear, sword) suggests that this struggle will not be easy or peaceful, but requires a determined and forceful effort.

Finally, I see “The Angel” as a message of hope and inspiration for those who are struggling with the darkness and confusion of modern life. The image of the angel shining with a “brighter light” than the sun suggests that there is a source of spiritual light and energy that can guide us through the darkness. The fact that the angel must leave, however, suggests that this light is not something that can be possessed or controlled, but rather something that we must constantly seek and pursue.


In conclusion, “The Angel” is a masterpiece of symbolism and spirituality, which offers profound insights into the human condition and the quest for enlightenment. Through its vivid imagery and powerful language, the poem challenges us to transcend our limitations and awaken to a higher consciousness. It also inspires us to strive for a more just and equitable society, in which the forces of oppression and violence are overcome by the power of truth and justice. Above all, “The Angel” is a testament to the enduring power and beauty of poetry, which can illuminate the darkest corners of the human soul and reveal the highest peaks of human aspiration.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Angel: A Poem of Hope and Redemption

William Blake, the renowned English poet, painter, and printmaker, is known for his visionary and mystical works that explore the complexities of human experience and spirituality. One of his most celebrated poems, "The Angel," is a powerful meditation on the themes of innocence, redemption, and divine intervention.

Written in 1794, "The Angel" is a part of Blake's collection of poems titled "Songs of Experience," which is a companion to his earlier work, "Songs of Innocence." The poem is structured as a dialogue between an angel and a human soul, and it explores the transformative power of divine grace in the face of human suffering and despair.

The poem begins with the speaker, a human soul, lamenting the darkness and despair that surrounds him. He cries out for help, longing for a glimmer of hope in the midst of his pain and confusion. It is at this moment that an angel appears, offering the speaker a message of hope and redemption.

The angel's message is one of profound compassion and understanding. He acknowledges the speaker's pain and suffering, but he also offers a vision of a brighter future, a world in which all of humanity is redeemed and restored to its original state of innocence and purity.

The angel's words are both comforting and challenging. He tells the speaker that he must embrace his pain and suffering as a necessary part of his journey towards redemption. He urges him to have faith in the transformative power of divine grace, and to trust that his suffering will ultimately lead him to a place of greater understanding and enlightenment.

The poem's central message is one of hope and redemption. It suggests that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we are never alone, and that there is always a path towards healing and renewal. The poem also suggests that our suffering is not meaningless, but rather a necessary part of our spiritual journey towards wholeness and enlightenment.

One of the most striking aspects of "The Angel" is its use of imagery and symbolism. Blake was known for his vivid and imaginative use of language, and this poem is no exception. The angel is depicted as a radiant and otherworldly figure, a symbol of divine grace and compassion. The speaker, on the other hand, is described as a "weeping man," a symbol of human suffering and despair.

The poem also makes use of biblical imagery and allusions. The angel's message of hope and redemption echoes the teachings of Christianity, which emphasizes the transformative power of faith and grace. The poem's references to the Garden of Eden and the fall of humanity suggest that our suffering is a result of our separation from God, and that our journey towards redemption is a journey towards reunion with the divine.

Overall, "The Angel" is a powerful and inspiring poem that speaks to the human experience of suffering and redemption. It offers a message of hope and compassion in the face of darkness and despair, and it reminds us that even in our darkest moments, we are never alone. Blake's use of vivid imagery and symbolism adds depth and richness to the poem, and his message of divine grace and redemption continues to resonate with readers today.

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