Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Appendix 2

 During his lifetime Blake won some recognition as an engraver and 

artist, while his poetry remained virtually unknown to the general public. 
He never sought a publisher but with his illuminated manuscripts 
practiced the communicative arts of the high middle ages. He used a 
rudimentary form of printing of his own invention. He laboriously made 
each print into an individual work of art. The technique was certainly not 
designed to achieve a large readership.

Nevertheless his poems did circulate among the small artistic 
community of England. Coleridge had met him and rated the 'Songs of 
Innocence', placing "The Little Black Boy" first. Crabb Robinson, a 
journalist interested in art and artists, attempted to bring Wordsworth 
and Blake together. He did not succeed, but Wordsworth did see some 
of Blake's work. He pronounced Blake mad, but found his madness 
more interesting than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.

Mona Wilson: "As a lyrical Poet [Blake] was acclaimed by Lamb and 
Landor, by Wordsworth and Coleridge. But the writer of the symbolic 
books was alone from first to last." Blake's contemporaries rather 
uniformly failed to comprehend his larger works. His patron, William 
Hayley, a leading arbiter of taste, made a serious attempt to discourage 
Blake as a poet and to channel his creativity entirely into the graphic 
arts. This won Hayley the name of 'spiritual enemy' in Blake's poetry. 
Blake never found a purchaser for 'Jerusalem' his last and greatest 
illuminated poem.

Blake's works might have been lost to us except for the small group of 
young artists who gathered around him in his last years. They included 
Self Portrait

John Linnell, George Richmond, Edward Calvert, and Samuel Palmer. 
These young men admired Blake as an artist and as a man, and at least 
some of them adopted his spiritual values. They referred to him as the 
Interpreter. Linnell treated him like a father, and it was into Linnell's hands 
that Blake entrusted his manuscript, 'The Four Zoas', shortly before his 

Thirty six years after Blake's death an enthusiastic admirer named 
Alexander Gilchrist rescued him from obscurity with an authoritative 
biography. Gilchrist died before finishing his book; his widow completed 
the project with the assistance of William Rossetti. The Gilchrist 
biography, originally published in 1863, reflects the materialistic 
insensitivity of the Victorian age, but within those limits it gives a detailed 
and sympathetic treatment of Blake's life. Gilchrist interviewed many of 
Blake's friends and acquaintances,and his biography will always serve 
as the primary source for Blake's life.

( 'With his usual quaint irony Blake told his friend Thomas Butts that 
Hayley " is as much averse to my poetry as he is to a Chapter in the Bible.")


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