Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In Search of William Blake

It started at the British Library in London. In the library’s shop, likely my favorite shop of any institution in the city, I saw a pile of small (4 x 4 ¾ inches) books, each for a pound. And right on top was one about poet William Blake, William Blake’s Notebook, a little volume with drawings and notes from the notebook the poet and artist kept from 1787 to his death in 1826.

I read the little volume on the plane home. It would be equally accurate to say I looked at it and read the captions; it includes an explanatory text by Jamie Andrews, who works for the library and was the co-curator of the 2007 exhibition “William Blake: Under the Influence.”

Shortly after I returned home last fall, Harvard professor Leo Damrosch published Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake. Coincidence, I thought. And then I discovered that one of my favorite popular history and biography writers Peter Ackroyd had published Blake: A Biography in 1995.

I asked myself, how much did I really know about Blake?

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Illustration: Newton by William Blake.

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