Page:Facsimile of the original outlines before colouring of The songs of innocence and of experience executed by William Blake.djvu/24

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xviii

and then dissolved away with acid all the rest of the surface, so that the outlines stood up, and could be printed from like types. Those pages where a little shading of a mossy kind is to be seen are photographed from copies already coloured by Blake, and the result printed in monochrome. In these cases no uncoloured original was accessible for re-production. The shading is due to the fact that a little of the colour-effect always united itself to the outline.

A complete facsimile, hand-coloured, has been issued. The outlines being the same as those here printed. A very limited number have been executed. The symbolism of the illustrations is not very marked in most places. The flames on the title-page are obviously the clothing of

"——burning fires
   And unsatisfied desires."

The trees always refer to "Mystery," as that on page 3 with a serpent wound round it, hardly distinguishable from the bark, indicates. The figures on page 4 are so slight as to be almost incomprehensible; they seem to represent, if one reads them from top to bottom of the page, first on the left and then on the right:—

1. An old person teaching a child.

2. A nude girl leaping from a tree. (? Spring.)

3 and 4. Robed figures turning the leaves of very large books or rolls.

5. The lark mounting. (A subject symbolically used in the book called "Milton.")

6. A robed figure reading.

7. A woman sowing corn in a field, or feeding flying birds.

8. A shepherdess sitting holding a crook up in the right hand.

The appropriateness is clear enough, though they can hardly be said to illustrate the particular poem in every case.

The grapes on pages 6 and 7 are clearly symbolic and refer to the "vegetative happy" state of youth.

No. 9 shows the serpent round the tree again, as on the title-page. In the contrasted picture in "America" the serpent comes from the woman herself, as in the biblical figure in Revelations. No. 10 shows a scene representing youth taught beneath a tree, but here the serpent is changed into a lily, and grows upright from the root. In No. 11, the Blossoms, Sparrows and Robins all have human form, and their emotional meaning is as clear us that of the flame-like tree where they cluster. In 12, the subject is clear enough, and in 13, though the little boy lost is so like a little girl. In 14, the angel who leads him is more female than male. The figure, as already