Friday, August 08, 2014


Benjamin Heath Malkin memorialized the short life of his promising young son by publishing A Father's Memories of His Child in 1806. William Blake was engaged to design the frontispiece for the book which was engraved by Cromek. Malkin included in the introduction a biography of Blake in which he incorporated several of Blake's  poems: five from Songs of Innocence & Experience and one from Poetical Sketches. 

Blake never failed to be touched by the loss of a young person especially one who showed promise of growing into a person of imagination. Recall his reaction to the death of his younger brother Robert, and to William Hayley's loss of his son Thomas Alphonso. Malkin was drawn to give encouragement to Blake because of Blake's  understanding of Maklin's profound experience of loss over the death of his precocious seven year old son.
In this poem it is the Mother who has crossed over to the other side and the child and Father who are left behind. In the land of dreams the family is reunited but the experience is temporary and can't be replicated. Blake's expresses a longing to cross the stream and leave behind the doubt and fear of this world in The Land of Dreams.

Pickering Manuscript, (E 486)
 "The Land of Dreams

Awake awake my little Boy
Thou wast thy Mothers only joy
Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep
Awake thy Father does thee keep

O what Land is the Land of Dreams     
What are its Mountains & what are its Streams
O Father I saw my Mother there
Among the Lillies by waters fair

Among the Lambs clothed in white
She walkd with her Thomas in sweet delight   
I wept for joy like a dove I mourn
O when shall I again return

Dear Child I also by pleasant Streams
Have wanderd all Night in the Land of Dreams
But tho calm & warm the Waters wide  
I could not get to the other side

Father O Father what do we here
In this Land of unbelief & fear
The Land of Dreams is better far
Above the light of the Morning Star"    

No comments: