Blake's influence on the arts and on popular culture forms an important part of his twentieth-century legacy. In 1916 Charles Hubert Parry set to music the ‘Jerusalem’ lyric from Milton
; it soon became one of the most sung hymns in the Church of England. The dramatic postures in Blake's Job designs led Keynes to conceive of the ballet Job
, which débuted in 1931 with music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, stage and costume designs by Gwendolen Raverat, and choreography by Ninette de Valois. Except for his profound effect on Yeats, Blake was not a major influence on twentieth-century British poetry. In America, however, the important poets Theodore Roethke and Allen Ginsberg, and the author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, considered themselves inspired by Blake. His impact on the visual arts was similarly limited, but intensely felt in the 1920s by a group of young printmakers, including Graham Sutherland.
By mid-century Blake had become one of the cultural icons of the English-speaking world. The British Museum, the British Library, and the Tate Gallery housed important collections of his works, as did the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, and several major institutions in the United States, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Yale University Center for British Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Single drawings and letters fetched at auction more than Blake made in his lifetime; copies of his illuminated books sold for over £1 million. ‘The Tyger’ from Songs of Experience
became the most anthologized text in the language, The Ancient of Days
one of the most widely recognized images. The installation of Jacob Epstein's bust of Blake in Westminster Abbey in 1957 signalled Blake's acceptance by the establishment; in the next decade he became a hero to a youthful counter-culture. ‘The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom’ (Blake, 35) and other energetic outbursts in Blake's writings became rallying cries for those advocating political, sensual, and intellectual liberation.
Blake's reputation reached international proportions by the end of the century. Translations of his poetry were complemented by exhibitions of his art in Germany, Italy, Japan, Israel, and Spain. In his homeland, a single sculptural response epitomized Blake's stature. Eduardo Paolozzi's monumental bronze of Isaac Newton, installed in the forecourt of the new British Library in 1995, copies Blake's Newton
colour print of 1795. Britain entered a new millennium with the image of its greatest scientist, placed at the entry to its greatest repository of knowledge, shaped by the vision of William Blake.Essick, Robert N.. “Blake, William (1757–1827).” Robert N. Essick. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Oct. 2005. 26 Feb. 2016 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/2585>.