Mr. Blake and me.

William Blake

One who is very much delighted with being in good company.
Born 28 Nov'r 1757 in London & has died several times since.
January 16 1826

I have been a fan (I don't have a better word -- devotee? pupil? disciple? regular reader? great admirer? surely I've delighted with being in his good company!) of Blake for 35 years (and I'm only 50). I spend whole joyful days at any exhibit of his stuff I can find and get to. I bring Blake with me on most trips and in the past have read him for hours alone, and with other like-minded folk in courses and bars at Trinity College, Dublin, Cornell, and Carnegie-Mellon University. I have most of Plates 3 - 10 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by heart; I study the art and wisdom of the Laoco÷n (c. 1820) intently, delightedly, and frequently; I have read most of the prophetic poems, all of the lyrics, and many of his "annotations" at least once; and I read Northrup Frye's book (Fearful Symmetry, Princeton U.P.: 1947, 1969) again every few years (my copy is falling apart). My Oxford Standard Authors edition of the writings (Geoffrey Keynes, editor, Nonesuch Press: 1925, 1957, Oxford U.P.: 1966, 1972) is much tattered, marked, re-marked, and dog-eared, as is my copy of The Illuminated Blake, annotated by David V. Erdman (Anchor Press, 1974) (Erdman's full text of Blake's writings are now available on the Internet!).

These editions and guides date me, I guess. In fact, I am hoping for opinions and suggestions about newer appreciations and editions from this group. What's going on out there?!

I enjoy Blake so much because, apart from the sheer poetry, I see him as the ultimate in (what I call) spiritual humanism. What's the topic? The identity of morals in Church and State? "Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion." Are people, at bottom, or in their actions, selfish and greedy, but their imaginations divine? "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires." Blake believed the Human Imagination in the Human Form WAS God, but railed incessantly, powerfully, brilliantly, against industrialism, religion, and political society as the "dark Satanic Mills" of God.

I live, happy and busy, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, working in federal criminal law as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, and, with my wife, also a Blake fan (as an artist, she is more involved with the etchings), raising two boys to be Blakeans. I have been long (too long) absent from academia, working in the salt mines, and having discovered the world of cyberspace, would enjoy communicating with other Blake fans.


Go to Blake links, Home thoughts, a little bit about me, or my WorldNet Home Page.