William Blake.


Well-known member
That Alan Moore thing I posted the other day was tied in with this apparently. The political cartoonists are getting it on it too.



Well-known member
Capaneus the Blasphemer (1824-27)

Inferno XIV, 46-72. Dante and Virgil are now in the third ring of the seventh circle, where those who have done violence against God, nature or art are punished. Capaneus, who had committed violence against God, was one of the seven kings who besieged Thebes. He defied Jupiter and was killed by a thunderbolt. Dante describes him as lying proud and disdainful, apparently unaffected by the flames.

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Void Dweller
ashamed to say i know hardly anything about blake...
same although I know fuck all about poetry in general. the alan moore piece really caught my attention.

that and the fact that stockhausen claimed to have been "in contact" with him :)


bandz ahoy
I'm not particularly well-versed in English poetry - however, has there been another poet writing anthing remotely as mysterious, imaginative, shocking and suggestive as this?

The Mental Traveller

I TRAVELL’D thro’ a land of men,
A land of men and women too;
And heard and saw such dreadful things
As cold earth-wanderers never knew.

For there the Babe is born in joy 5
That was begotten in dire woe;
Just as we reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow.

And if the Babe is born a boy
He’s given to a Woman Old, 10
Who nails him down upon a rock,
Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.

She binds iron thorns around his head,
She pierces both his hands and feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side, 15
To make it feel both cold and heat.

Her fingers number every nerve,
Just as a miser counts his gold;
She lives upon his shrieks and cries,
And she grows young as he grows old. 20

Till he becomes a bleeding Youth,
And she becomes a Virgin bright;
Then he rends up his manacles,
And binds her down for his delight.

He plants himself in all her nerves, 25
Just as a husbandman his mould;
And she becomes his dwelling-place
And garden fruitful seventyfold.

And agèd Shadow, soon he fades,
Wandering round an earthly cot, 30
Full fillèd all with gems and gold
Which he by industry had got.

And these 1 are the gems of the human soul,
The rubies and pearls of a love-sick eye,
The countless gold of the aching heart, 35
The martyr’s groan and the lover’s sigh.

They are his meat, they are his drink;
He feeds the beggar and the poor
And the wayfaring traveller:
For ever open is his door. 40

His grief is their eternal joy;
They make the roofs and walls to ring;
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring.

And she is all of solid fire 45
And gems and gold, that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her baby form,
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band.

But she comes to the man she loves,
If young or old, or rich or poor; 50
They soon drive out the Agèd Host,
A beggar at another’s door.

He wanders weeping far away,
Until some other take him in;
Oft blind and age-bent, sore distrest, 55
Until he can a Maiden win.

And to allay his freezing age,
The poor man takes her in his arms;
The cottage fades before his sight,
The garden and its lovely charms. 60

The guests are scatter’d thro’ the land,
For the eye altering alters all;
The senses roll themselves in fear,
And the flat earth becomes a ball;

The stars, sun, moon, all shrink away, 65
A desert vast without a bound,
And nothing left to eat or drink,
And a dark desert all around.

The honey of her infant lips,
The bread and wine of her sweet smile, 70
The wild game of her roving eye,
Does him to infancy beguile;

For as he eats and drinks he grows
Younger and younger every day;
And on the desert wild they both 75
Wander in terror and dismay.

Like the wild stag she flees away,
Her fear plants many a thicket wild;
While he pursues her night and day,
By various arts of love beguil’d; 80

By various arts of love and hate,
Till the wide desert planted o’er
With labyrinths of wayward love,
Where roam the lion, wolf, and boar.

Till he becomes a wayward Babe, 85
And she a weeping Woman Old.
Then many a lover wanders here;
The sun and stars are nearer roll’d;

The trees bring forth sweet ecstasy
To all who in the desert roam; 90
Till many a city there is built,
And many a pleasant shepherd’s home.

But when they find the Frowning Babe,
Terror strikes thro’ the region wide:
They cry ‘The Babe! the Babe is born!’ 95
And flee away on every side.

For who dare touch the Frowning Form,
His arm is wither’d to its root;
Lions, boars, wolves, all howling flee,
And every tree does shed its fruit. 100

And none can touch that Frowning Form,
Except it be a Woman Old;
She nails him down upon the rock,
And all is done as I have told.


bandz ahoy
Maybe I'm just more "primed" to spot it but I seem to be seeing that Tate poster everywhere. Suggests an artist with mass appeal. I suppose a lot of my friends would have heard of Blake, if only for The Tyger and Jerusalem.


bandz ahoy
Yeats on Blake


There have been men who loved the future like a mistress, and the future mixed her breath into their breath and shook her hair about them, and hid them from the understanding of their times. William Blake was one of these men, and if he spoke confusedly and obscurely it was because he spoke of things for whose speaking he could find no models in the world about him. He announced the religion of art, of which no man dreamed in the world about him; and he understood it more perfectly than the thousands of subtle spirits who have received its baptism in the world about us, because, in the beginning of important things—in the beginning of love, in the beginning of the day, in the beginning of any work, there is a moment when we understand more perfectly than we understand again until all is finished.


William Blake was the first writer of modern times to preach the indissoluble marriage of all great art with symbol. There had been allegorists and teachers of allegory in plenty, but the symbolic imagination, or, as Blake preferred to call it, ‘vision,’ is not allegory, being ‘a representation of what actually exists really and unchangeably.’

T.S. Eliot on Blake


Blake’s poetry has the unpleasantness of great poetry. Nothing that can be called morbid or abnormal or perverse, none of the things which exemplify the sickness of an epoch or a fashion, have this quality; only those things which, by some extraordinary labour of simplification, exhibit the essential sickness or strength of the human soul. And this honesty never exists without great technical accomplishment.


bandz ahoy
This image/symbol is important to me, especially freighted with meaning after tripping balls on acid



Well-known member
It's the twin of the God and compass picture Tate is using to promote the exhibition.

"Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,
When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;
And gave him a place in the north,
Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary.
Eternals I hear your call gladly,
Dictate swift winged words, & fear not
To unfold your dark visions of torment"



bandz ahoy
That's interesting cos I thought you were quoting Milton at first. I haven't encountered Blake like that. Blank verse.

"Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary" very Miltonic

Also just occurred to me that it begins "Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,
When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;"

Which codes it as Miltonic cos of "Of man's first disobedience and the fruit..."
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Well-known member
"And Urizen craving with hunger
Stung with the odours of Nature
Explor'd his dens around

He form'd a line & a plummet
To divide the Abyss beneath.
He form'd a dividing rule:

He formed scales to weigh;
He formed massy weights;
He formed a brazen quadrant;

He formed golden compasses
And began to explore the Abyss
And he planted a garden of fruits"

Newton as avatar of Urizen. Every time I open this thread my eye vomits on seeing that horrible ugly cartoon version posted. It's visual vandalism.


bandz ahoy

Blake often said that he was joined by invisible sitters as he drew them, including, he claimed, a number of angels, Voltaire, Moses and the Flea, who told him that "fleas were inhabited by the souls of such men as were by nature blood thirsty to excess."[12] In his obituary, it was stated that, "The flea communicated to Mr. Blake what passed, as related to himself, at the Creation. 'It was first intended,' said he (the flea) 'to make me as big as a bullock; but then when it was considered from my construction, so armed—and so powerful withal, that in proportion to my bulk, (mischievous as I now am) that I should have been a too mighty destroyer; it was determined to make me—no bigger than I am.


thread death
That's interesting cos I thought you were quoting Milton at first. I haven't encountered Blake like that. Blank verse.

"Obscure, shadowy, void, solitary" very Miltonic

Also just occurred to me that it begins "Of the primeval Priests assum'd power,
When Eternals spurn'd back his religion;"

Which codes it as Miltonic cos of "Of man's first disobedience and the fruit..."

One of my most prized books is one I won many years ago - a huge Folio edition of Paradise Lost with Blake's coloured plates. There is no Blake without Milton.

And Luka - i agree, that travesty of the Ghost of a Flea!


bandz ahoy
If anyone has Amazon Prime, this documentary (while extremely low budget) is worth a watch

Oh I've found it on YouTube too



bandz ahoy
Re: the exhibition - I almost certainly will go, but I actually don't find that Blake's paintings improve all that much in the flesh, seeing as they tend to be very small and easily reproduced in print. But i guess there'll be a lot of stuff other than the paintings there.

Saying that I saw some of his engravings at the Tate recently and they're fantastically detailed, well worth seeing at a larger scale than you'd find in a book:


This is an illustration for The Divine Comedy

Agnolo Brunelleschi was a thief whose punishment was to be attacked for all eternity by a serpent. Their two bodies merge into one another, so that Brunelleschi’s appearance befits his sin.

Blake shows the moment at which the serpent begins to inhabit Brunelleschi’s body, as its jaws engulf his head and it sinks its claws into his skin.
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bandz ahoy

Iain Sinclair visits William Blake's grave and discusses the spiritual visions that made up such a significant part of his life and work. Filmed at Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, London.

Sinclair says here that Blake was in a zone which other people have to take peyote to get to. I've heard that somewhere before.
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