Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/210

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152
SELECTIONS FROM BLAKE'S WRITINGS.

these fellows, who owe to me all that they have; it shall be so no longer:

I found them blind, I taught them how to see;
And now they know neither themselves nor me.


NUMBER IV.

The Bard, from Gray.

On a rock, whose haughty brow
Frown'd o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Robed in the sable garb of woe.
With haggard eyes the Poet stood:
Loose his beard and hoary hair
Stream'd like a meteor to the troubled air.

Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
The winding-sheet of Edward's race.

Weaving the winding-sheet of Edward's race by means of sounds of spiritual music, and its accompanying expressions of articulate speech, is a bold, and daring, and most masterly conception, that the public have embraced and approved with avidity. Poetry consists in these conceptions; and shall Painting be confined to the sordid drudgery of fac-simile representations of merely mortal and perishing substances, and not be, as poetry and music are, elevated into its own proper sphere of invention and visionary conception? No, it shall not be so! Painting, as well as poetry and music, exists and exults in immortal thoughts. If Mr. B.'s Canterbury Pilgrims had been done by any other power than that of the poetic visionary, it would have been as dull as his adversary's.

The Spirits of the murdered bards assist in weaving the deadly woof:

With me in dreadful harmony they join,
And weave, with bloody hands, the tissue of thy line.

The connoisseurs and artists who have made objections to Mr. B.'s mode of representing spirits with real bodies would do well to consider that the Venus, the Minerva, the Jupiter, the Apollo, which they admire in Greek statues, are all of them representations of spiritual existences, of Gods immortal, to the mortal perishing organ of sight; and yet they are embodied and organised in solid marble. Mr. B. requires the same latitude, and all is well. The Prophets