Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


From Jerusalem, Plate 64
Used on cover of The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake

The resources on the internet have made studying Blake easier. When Larry began reading Blake in the 1980's he was dependant on books for his sources. His 'bible' was Geoffrey Keynes' Blake: Complete Writings first published by the Oxford University Press in 1966 (a revision of his 1925 work). The authoritative text for the works of Blake is now David V Erdman's The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake published in 1965 and revised in 1988. We are not completely dependant on printed copy now because of access to electronic text. Erdman's text is available to download from the internet as a text file named eE. If you download the file to your computer you will have a searchable copy of all that Blake wrote.

Blake's text is also available through the Blake Digital Text Project of the University of Georgia. Access to individual books and writings is facilitated by the use of an index. Page and line numbers are provided in this format. Search of the complete text is available through the concordance.

In his acknowledgement of the generosity of David Erdman making available his edition of Blake's works, Nelson Hilton, the editor of the digital project, quotes the second paragraph from Blake's 1796 letter to George Cumberland.

Letters, (E 700)

"Lambeth 23 Decembr 1796 a Merry Christmas
Dear Cumberland
I have lately had some pricks of conscience on account of
not acknowledging your friendship to me [before]
immediately on the reciet of your. beautiful book. I have
likewise had by me all the summer 6 Plates which you desired me
to get made for you. they have laid on my shelf. without speaking
to tell me whose they were or that they were [there] at
all & it was some time (when I found them) before I could divine
whence they came or whither they were bound or whether they were
to lie there to eternity. I have now sent them to you to be
transmuted, thou real Alchymist!
Go on Go on. such works as yours Nature & Providence the
Eternal Parents demand from their children how few produce them
in such perfection how Nature smiles on them. how Providence
rewards them. How all your Brethren say, The sound of his harp
& his flute heard from his secret forest chears us to the labours
of life. & we plow & reap forgetting our labour
Let us see you sometimes as well as sometimes hear from you
& let us often See your Works
Compliments to Mr Cumberland & Family
Yours in head & heart

It is not Blake's writings or pictures that so many labor to present; it is the truth incorporated in his words and images which point to the perennial realities of eternity expressed in time.

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