Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blake: A Biography by Peter Ackroyd

I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body & mind to exercise the Divine Arts of the Imagination. 

The human body is vapour materialized by sunshine mixed with the life of the stars.  Paracelsus

Man must be at war with himself if he wishes to be a heavenly citizen... fighting must be the watchword, not with tongue and sword, but with mind and spirit, and not to give over.  Boehme

[Blake] might not have wanted to come too close to himself, in case he did not care for what he found there.  He may have recognized that the sources of his greatness lay in sufferings long forgotten or in childhood fears long buried.  Blake: A Biography, Peter Ackroyd

The stern Bard ceas'd, asham'd of his own song; enrag'd he swung
His harp aloft sounding, then dash'd its shining frame against
A ruin'd pillar in glittring fragments; silent he turn'd away,
And wander'd down among the vales of Kent in sick & drear lamentings

Blake, America (draft)



As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of knavery Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.

Nature has no Outline, but Imagination has. Nature has no Tune, but Imagination has! Nature has no Supernatural & dissolves: Imagination is Eternity!


... the joys of God advance
For he is Righteous: he is not a Being of Pity & Compassion     
He cannot feel Distress: he feeds on Sacrifice & Offering:    
Delighting in cries & tears & clothed in Holiness & solitude    
But my griefs advance also, for ever & ever without end    
O that I could cease to be! Despair! I am Despair
   
Created to be the great example of horror & agony: also my    
Prayer is vain I called for compassion: compassion mockd    
Mercy & pity threw the grave stone over me & with lead    
And iron, bound it over me for ever: Life lives on my    
Consuming: & the Almighty hath made me his Contrary    
To be all evil, all reversed & for ever dead: knowing    
And seeing life, yet living not; how can I then behold    
And not tremble; how can I be beheld & not abhorrd     


from "Jerusalem":

". . . He soon became accustomed to the smell of nut oil, varnish and lamp black from Germany as well as to the ink smeared across his hands and his face. For the next seven years--indeed for the rest of his life--he was surrounded by iron pots for the boiling of the oil, pans forwarming the copper plates, tallow candles, racks of needles and gravers, fine linen cloths to strain in the plates, old rags for wiping the ink off the plates, pumice stones to polish the plates, feathers for smoothing the ground of varnish on the plates. Stacked around him were the sheets of fine paper, as well as the plates themselves, which were the thickness of a half-crown; there was the small leather cushion filled with sand, upon which he rested the plate while engraving, and the square wooden press with its tables, rollers and woolen cloths. It was a dirty and malodorous workplace but it was one against which he never felt the slightest revulsion."

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