The Lovers’ Almanac 28 November – Found – Wayward Dreams – art & verse by William Blake

Dear Zazie,  Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Do you have wayward dreams?  Have you met a wayward angel?  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

last night, a dream cast shadow
not an angel, but damn near
and two wayward solitudes
find a way

no longer troubled, forlorn
nor confused, and weary
over many whispered words,
bewilderment at what enfolds

do you hear their sighs
do you know at what cost
there is no stoppin’
they seek no more

a different kind of tear
bodies drawn together
no longer unto the night
will they appear alone

what was given up for gone
can be found

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Stay Frosty II by mac tag copyright 2016 all rights reserved

Stay Frosty II by mac tag copyright 2016 all rights reserved

Wayward Dreams

Last night a dream cast a shadow
Over my all too empty bed,
That an angel had lost her way
A wayward woman wanderin’

Troubled, bewildered, and forlorn,
Dark, confused, weary she appeared
Over many a mumbled word,
Soundin’ heart-broke, I heard her say:

‘Oh my wayward dreams! do they cry,
Do they hear their lover sighin’
Do they not see what we have lost,
Will they not stop and weep for me’

Her tears fell as I came closer
I took her hand and drew her near,
And said, Wail not into the night
For your plight and mine are the same

That which was once held can be found,
That which was once found can be ours
Follow me, we will find the way
Back to our wayward dreams and home

© Cowboy Coleridge

The Song of the Day is “Wayward Angel” by Kasey Chambers

William Blake
William Blake by Thomas Phillips.jpg

Blake in a portrait
by Thomas Phillips (1807)
 
 

Today is the birthday of William Blake (Soho, London 28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 Charing Cross, London); English poet, painter, and printmaker.  In my opinion, one of the seminal figures in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.  His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and as “Pre-Romantic”.  Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions.  The singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify.

Gallery

28 Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) in an illustration of 1912. Blake was born here and lived here until he was 25. The house was demolished in 1965. 

The archetype of the Creator is a familiar image in Blake’s work. Here, the demiurgic figure Urizen prays before the world he has forged. The Song of Los is the third in a series of illuminated books painted by Blake and his wife, Catherine Boucher, collectively known as the Continental Prophecies.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing (1786)

Blake met Catherine Boucher in 1782 when he was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal.  He recounted the story of his heartbreak for Catherine and her parents, after which he asked Catherine, “Do you pity me?”  When she responded affirmatively, he declared, “Then I love you.”  Blake married Catherine – who was five years his junior – on 18 August 1782 in St Mary’s Church, Battersea.  Illiterate, Catherine signed her wedding contract with an X.  Later, in addition to teaching Catherine to read and write, Blake trained her as an engraver.  Throughout his life she proved an invaluable aid, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes. 

The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy, 1795. Blake’s vision of Hecate, Greek goddess of black magic and the underworld 

Sketch of Blake from circa 1804 by John Flaxman 

Blake’s The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun (1805) is one of a series of illustrations of Revelation 12. 

William Blake’s image of the Minotaur to illustrate Inferno, Canto XII,12–28, The Minotaur XII

Blake’s The Lovers’ Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante’s Inferno 
Blake’s last years were spent at Fountain Court off the Strand (the property was demolished in the 1880s, when the Savoy Hotel was built).  On the day of his death (12 August 1827), Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series.  Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside.  Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, “Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me.”  Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses.  At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.  Catherine paid for Blake’s funeral with borrowed money.  He was buried five days after his death – on the eve of his 45th wedding anniversary – at the Dissenter’s burial ground in Bunhill Fields, in what is today in the Borough of Islington, London.  Following Blake’s death, Catherine believed she was regularly visited by Blake’s spirit.  She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but entertained no business transaction without first “consulting Mr. Blake”.  On the day of her death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him “as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming to him, and it would not be long now”.

Blake is sometimes considered (along with Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin) a forerunner of the 19th-century “free love” movement, a broad reform tradition starting in the 1820s that held that marriage is slavery, and advocated the removal of all state restrictions on sexual activity such as homosexuality, prostitution, and adultery, culminating in the birth control movement of the early 20th century.  Blake was critical of the marriage laws of his day, and generally railed against traditional Christian notions of chastity as a virtue.  At a time of tremendous strain in his marriage, in part due to Catherine’s apparent inability to bear children, he directly advocated bringing a second wife into the house.  His poetry suggests that external demands for marital fidelity reduce love to mere duty rather than authentic affection, and decries jealousy and egotism as a motive for marriage laws.  Poems such as “Why should I be bound to thee, O my lovely Myrtle-tree?” and “Earth’s Answer” seem to advocate multiple sexual partners.  In his poem “London” he speaks of “the Marriage-Hearse” plagued by “the youthful Harlot’s curse”, the result alternately of false Prudence and/or Harlotry.  Visions of the Daughters of Albion can be read as a tribute to free love since the relationship between Bromion and Oothoon is held together only by laws and not by love.  For Blake, law and love are opposed, and he castigates the “frozen marriage-bed”. In Visions, Blake writes:

Till she who burns with youth, and knows no fixed lot, is bound
In spells of law to one she loathes? and must she drag the chain
Of life in weary lust? (5.21-3, E49)

 Blake’s Ancient of Days. The “Ancient of Days” is described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel. This image depicts Copy D of the illustration currently held at the British Museum. 

The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve, c. 1825. Watercolour on wood.

Blake’s Newton (1795) demonstrates his opposition to the “single-vision” of scientific materialism: Newton fixes his eye on a compass (recalling Proverbs 8:27, an important passage for Milton) to write upon a scroll that seems to project from his own head. 

Blake’s “A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows”, an illustration to J. G. Stedman’s Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796). 

The Ghost of a Flea, 1819–1820. Having informed painter-astrologer John Varley of his visions of apparitions, Blake was subsequently persuaded to paint one of them. Varley’s anecdote of Blake and his vision of the flea’s ghost became well-known.

 William Blake’s portrait in profile, by John Linnell. This larger version was painted to be engraved as the frontispiece of Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of Blake (1863).

Verse

  • How sweet I roamed from field to field,
    And tasted all the summer’s pride,
    Till I the prince of love beheld,
    Who in the sunny beams did glide!

    • Song (How Sweet I Roamed), st. 1
  • He loves to sit and hear me sing,
    Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
    Then stretches out my golden wing,
    And mocks my loss of liberty.

    • Song (How Sweet I Roamed), st. 4
  • My silks and fine array,
    My smiles and languished air,
    By love are driv’n away;
    And mournful lean Despair
    Brings me yew to deck my grave:
    Such end true lovers have.

    • Song (My Silks and Fine Arrays), st. 1
  • Like a fiend in a cloud,
    With howling woe,
    After night I do crowd,
    And with night will go;
    I turn my back to the east,
    From whence comforts have increased;
    For light doth seize my brain
    With frantic pain.

    • Mad Song, st. 3
  • How have you left the ancient love
    That bards of old enjoyed in you!
    The languid strings do scarcely move!
    The sound is forced, the notes are few!

    • To the Muses, st. 4

Poems from Blake’s Notebook (c. 1791-1792)

  • Never seek 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 traveler came by
    Silently, invisibly—
    Oh, was no deny.

    • Never Seek to Tell
  • I asked a thief to steal me a peach:
    He turned up his eyes.
    I asked a lithe lady to lie her down:
    Holy and meek, she cries.As soon as I went
    An angel came.
    He winked at the thief
    And smiled at the dame—And without one word said
    Had a peach from the tree,
    And still as a maid
    Enjoyed the lady.

    • I Asked a Thief
  • Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
    Dreaming o’er the joys of night.
    Sleep, sleep: in thy sleep
    Little sorrows sit and weep.

    • A Cradle Song, st. 1
  • Why art thou silent and invisible,
    Father of Jealousy?

    • To Nobodaddy, st. 1
  • Love to faults is always blind,
    Always is to joys inclined,
    Lawless, winged, and unconfined,
    And breaks all chains from every mind.

    • Love to Faults
  • The sword sung on the barren heath,
    The sickle in the fruitful field;
    The sword he sung a song of death,
    But could not make the sickle yield.

    • The Sword Sung
  • Abstinence sows sand all over
    The ruddy limbs and flaming hair,
    But desire gratified
    Plants fruits of life and beauty there.

    • Abstinence Sows Sand
  • If you trap the moment before it’s ripe,
    The tears of repentance you’ll certainly wipe;
    But if once you let the ripe moment go
    You can never wipe off the tears of woe.

    • If You Trap the Moment
  • Then old Nobodaddy aloft
    Farted and belched and coughed,
    And said, “I love hanging and drawing and quartering
    Every bit as well as war and slaughtering.”

    • Let the Brothels of Paris, st. 2

Several Questions Answered

  • He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the wingèd life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

    • No. 1, He Who Binds
  • The look of love alarms
    Because ’tis filled with fire;
    But the look of soft deceit
    Shall win the lover’s hire.

    • No. 2, The Look of Love
  • What is it men in women do require?
    The lineaments of gratified desire.
    What is it women do in men require?
    The lineaments of gratified desire.

    • No. 4, What Is It
  • You’ll quite remove the ancient curse.
    • No. 5, An Ancient Proverb

Poems from Blake’s Notebook (c. 1804)

  • My specter around me night and day
    Like a wild beast guards my way,
    My emanation far within
    Weeps incessantly for my sin.

    • My Specter, st. 1
  • And throughout all eternity
    I forgive you, you forgive me.

    • My Specter, st. 14

 

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