Wednesday, November 28, 2007

William Blake

An on-line friend at MySpace reminded me that today is William Blake's birthday (born Nov. 28, 1757; died Aug. 12, 1827). As I thanked my friend for the reminder, I commented that Blake was "my muse in eternity".

The better part of Blake's life was spent refining a mythos which would reflect his vision and world view. This mythos plays out primarily in a series of illumnated epic poems, beginning with The Marriage of Heaven & Hell and ending (roughly) with Jerusalem.

Beginning in 1981, I tried to form a mythos, titled "The Saturn Sequence", primarily in free verse. As I note in my introduction, the role of Saturn shifts from benign to malevolent to apocalyptic. As a mythic symbol, it is inconsistent.

The same accusation could be made of Blake: a character may serve a positive function (the narrative voice is approving) in one poem, and less so in a later poem. However, his overall mythic system remains consistent.

I consider Blake a muse - or a mentor, if you prefer - because I admire his dedication to his vision. His determination to create his own system rather than be a slave to another's. I admire his prosody - a poem like "The Tyger" (for example) continues to be anthologized because of its sound and rhetoric, as much as its theodicic theme.

The infrequent posts on "Love During Wartime" reflect a dry period. I find myself mostly bored with the (figurative) sound of my own voice. Blake also went through dry periods, one lasting multiple years, yet he returned with full power.

His example, and my own experience, gives me hope that my dry spell will end in good time. Blake continued to be creative in the plastic arts, as painter and etcher, during that dry spell. Just as I continue to create as photographer.

It seems to me that I may be true to Blake's example by following what he called "genius". He used this term in its archaic sense, as a sort of guiding spirit (as I used "muse" above).

Thus, one's genuis may lead through the plastic arts of paint, the liberal arts of words, or the etheral arts of floating notes. What can one do but follow?

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