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

Sunday, August 17, 2014


In 1861 Francis Turner Palgrave compiled an anthology of poetry which proved to have wide appeal. In THE GOLDEN TREASURY Of the best Songs and Lyrical Pieces In the English Language, he included four of Blake's minor poems: one from Poetical Sketches and two from Songs of Innocence and one from Blake's notebook. In a later edition of his book, Palgrave made this statement about To the Muses:
  "This beautiful lyric, printed in 1783, seems to anticipate in its imaginative music that return to our great early age of song, which in Blake's own lifetime was to prove,--how gloriously! that the English Muses had resumed their 'ancient melody':--Keats, Shelley, Byron,--he  overlived them all." 
In 1899 Gwenllian F. Palgrave published Francis Turner Palgrave: His Journals and Memories of His Life in which we read:

"The strange but beautiful designs of the then little-known William Blake had early begun to fascinate him. Years afterwards he and the late Lord Houghton together attended Mr. Butts' sale of Blake's works, and each encouraged the other to become the possessor of many of his original drawings and engravings. It has often been said to us: 'Your father was one of the first who "preached" Blake.' Even somewhat higher still did he rank him as poet, perceiving the same qualities in his verse as in his art: the 'simple yet often majestic imagination, spiritual insight, profound feeling for grace and colour. ... His verse is narrow in its range, and at times eccentric to the neighbourhood of madness. But whatever he writes, his eye is always straight upon his subject.' My father would compare his soul with that of Fra Angelico, each living in the all-pervading presence of the spiritual life. 'To men of this class,' he has said, 'the Invisible world is the Visible, the Supernatural was the Real.'' The following letter was written in February 1845:

To Lady Palgrave


My dearest Mother,—. . . Yesterday evening Mr. Jowett asked me to have tea with him, after he had looked at some Greek of mine ; he was very kind and pleasant, and I hope that I shall see him oftener, now that Mr. Lake is away. He showed me a book which I dare say papa knows— W. Blake's ' Illustrations of the Book of Job.1 They are a number of little etchings, drawn and etched by Blake; and certainly they show immense power and originality. Though often quite out of drawing and grotesque, they are most interesting—far more than Flaxman, for instance. Schiavonetti's etchings in the 'Grave,' though far more correct, give but a faint idea of the force and vigour of these. If you can possibly borrow them, I am sure you will be exceedingly interested by them—I have seen nothing so extraordinary for a long time. Some, as of Job in misery, and of the Morning Stars singing for joy, are beautiful; some, as of a man tormented by dreams and the Vision of the Night, are most awful; and what adds much to the pleasure of seeing them, is that every stroke seems to do its utmost in expression, and to show that one mind both planned and executed them. Brothers, I am sure, would be much pleased with them ; at least, if they agree with their affectionate brother and your v. a. and v. d. son,
F. T. Palgrave."

Francis Palgrave was a collector as well and acquired some items created by William Blake. In the British Museum is Copy D of The Book of Urizen which was sold to the museum by Palgrave in 1859. An item now in the collection of the Tate Gallery was a gift from Palgrave to the National Gallery in 1884. Palgrave purchased The Body of Christ Borne to the Tomb from Thomas Butts, Jr. in 1852 and gave it to the National Gallery thirty-two years later. 
Wikipedia Commons
Body of Christ Borne to the Tomb
Blake poems included in THE GOLDEN TREASURY:  
Poetical Sketches, (E 417)
          "TO THE MUSES.
Whether on Ida's shady brow,
  Or in the chambers of the East,
The chambers of the sun, that now
  From antient melody have ceas'd;

Whether in Heav'n ye wander fair,                    
  Or the green corners of the earth,
Or the blue regions of the air,
  Where the melodious winds have birth;

Whether on chrystal rocks ye rove,
  Beneath the bosom of the sea                     
Wand'ring in many a coral grove,
  Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry!

How have you left the antient love
  That bards of old enjoy'd in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move!                 
  The sound is forc'd, the notes are few!" 

Songs and Ballads, [from Blake's Notebook], (E 467)
"Never pain to tell thy Love  
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Silently invisibly

I told my love I told my love              
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart

Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by                            
Silently invisibly
O was no deny" 
Songs of Innocence, SONG 25 (E 16)
"Infant Joy
I have no name
I am but two days old.--
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name,--  
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee;
Thou dost smile. 
I sing the while
Sweet joy befall thee."
 Songs of Innocence, SONG 16, (E 11) 
Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams.

Sweet sleep with soft down,  
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet sleep Angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child.

Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles
All the livelong night beguiles.

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes.
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,  
All the dovelike moans beguiles.

Sleep sleep happy child.
All creation slept and smil'd.
Sleep sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee thy mother weep.  

Sweet babe in thy face,
Holy image I can trace.
Sweet babe once like thee,
Thy maker lay and wept for me" 

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