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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


William Blake's friend Henry Fusili tried to take some of the sting out of Robert Cromek's double dealing with Blake in the publication of a new illustrated edition of the popular poem The Grave by Robert Blair. Twelve of Blake's designs were a part of the book but Blake was deprived of the status and earnings of engraving his own designs per the original agreement. Fuseli was enlisted to provide some introductory remarks and to comment on Blake's illustrations at the end of the poem.

Cromek said: "To the elegant and classical taste of Mr. Fuseli he is indebted for excellent remarks on the moral worth and picturesque dignity of the Designs that accompany this Poem."

In his introduction Henri Fuseli begins by stating:

"The moral series here submitted to the Public, from its object and method of execution, has a double claim on general attention.
In an age of equal refinement and corruption of manners, when systems of education and seduction go hand in hand; when religion itself compounds with fashion; when in the pursuit of present enjoyment, all consideration of futurity vanishes, and the real object of life is lost—in such an age, every exertion confers a benefit on society which tends to impress man with his destiny, to hold the mirror up to life, less indeed to discriminate its characters, than those situations which show what all are born for, what all ought to act for, and what all must inevitably come to."

You may enjoy reading explanations of Blake's illustrations written by a man who was well liked by Blake, who was his peer in seeing beyond the natural world, and who frequently shared the outsider status of Blake. However, since this section is unsigned there is not agreement that these descriptions are Fuseli's work. Wikimedia commons supplied the images for the links. The original watercolor designs rather than the engravings from the book are shown.

By the arrangement here made, the regular progression
of Man, from his first descent into the Vale of
Death, to his last admission into Life eternal, is
exhibited. These Designs, detached from the
Work they embellish, form of themselves a most
interesting Poem.


"Eternal King, whose potent arm sustains
The keys of Death and Hell!" 


The pious daughter weeping and conducting her sire onward; age, creeping carefully on hands and knees; an elder, without friend or kindred; a miser; a bachelor, blindly proceeding, no one knows where, ready to drop into the dark abyss; frantic youth rashly devoted to vice and passion, rushing past the diseased and old, who totters on crutches; the wan declining virgin; the miserable and distracted widow; the hale country youth; and the mother and her numerous progeny, already arrived in this valley, are among the groups which speak irresistibly to the feelings.
Wikimedia Commons
Title Page, The Grave

Ezekiel 37
[1] The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones.
[2] And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry.
[3] And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest."
[4] Again he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
[5] Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
[6] And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD."


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