William Blake In Our Times

Artists, Blogs or Posts

With the emergence of modern popular music in the 1950s and 60s Blake became a hero of the counter culture. Dylan’s songs were compared to Blake.[14]. Dylan also collaborated with Allen Ginsberg to record two Blake songs.[15] Ginsberg himself performed and recorded many Blake songs, claiming that the spirit of Blake had communicated musical settings of several Blake poems to him.[16] He believed that in 1948 in an apartment in Harlem, he had had an auditory hallucination of Blake reading his poems “Ah, Sunflower,” “The Sick Rose,” and “Little Girl Lost” (later referred to as his “Blake vision”).


William Blake is one of my heroes and I would like to make him part of this blog. But it worries me that perhaps none of my readers (all five of you including the two who are paid) will be interested in these posts. Worse yet you may be turned off. So here is a post that demonstrates Blake’s relevance to our own situation.

There are all sorts of opinions about Blake but I like the poet Wordsworth’s the best.

“There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.”

Well, there you have it. So just skip over the Blake posts if he is not your cup of tea. I’m not trying to change anything around here. I just like to add things from time to time like I did with Jordin and Taylor. This is the way I get to enjoy blogging. We are just a corner store here and it’s doubtful there is a corporation in our future.

If someone can suggest to me how to obtain a few examples of Blake’s visual artisty and put them up here without getting into copyright trouble I would appreciate it also. He did such amazing watercolors. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts displayed many of them long ago. I was in heaven the day we went to see them. The English have every right to be enormously proud of their treasure. He was voted 38th in a poll of the 100 Greatest Britons organized by the BBC in 2002.

Blake was not a compromiser. If he was here today and living up the street I would probably not be dropping in on him. That may sound odd but during his life he was not well off. Today he would not be living down the street. He would be living downtown in a poorer section. He might be part of a demonstration like those often seen thirty years ago.

In June 1780, Blake was walking towards Basire’s shop in Great Queen Street when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that stormed Newgate Prison in London. Many among the mob were wearing blue cockades on their caps, to symbolise solidarity with the insurrection in the American colonies. They attacked the prison gates with shovels and pickaxes, set the building ablaze, and released the prisoners inside. Blake was reportedly in the front rank of the mob during this attack; most biographers believe he accompanied the crowd impulsively.


You will note that this mob action took place in 1780 when Blake was 23 years old. It was during a time of increasing unrest that later saw a revolution in France. There was a flurry of legislative reform in Britain, however, and the establishment of an unsteady democracy in the American colonies. Blake’s main response was not political in nature however. He was an artist and he could go much further in his advocacy for racial and sexual equality in his art although he disguised his ideas in allegory.

All of this has little to do with this blog. And like I said you can easily turn the page. But if there is one person who is interested then it is worth the time and effort to do it. Oh, wait. There is somebody. Me! I meant somebody else. Another somebody. And you are somebody! Never doubt it.


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