Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/261

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249
OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

the fancy of the spiritual eye may discern must also be as clearly penetrable to the bodily eye. So Young is literally translated, and his thought turned into a picture. Thus for example the artist represents in a drawing Death treading crowns under foot, the sun reaching down his hand, and the like. Yet these drawings are frequently exquisite. We hear that the publisher has not yet issued a quarter of the drawings delivered to him by the artist [only 43 out of a total of 537 were in fact issued], and has refused to sell the drawings, although a handsome sum was offered him for them.[1]

We have now to introduce our artist as poet, so as to be able to give some examples of his work in this branch of art, since he himself has published nothing in the proper sense of the word. The poems breathe the same spirit and are distinguished by the same peculiarities as his drawings and prose criticisms. As early as 1783 a little volume was printed with the title of Poetical Sketches, by W. B.[2] No printer's name is given on the title-page, and in the preface it states that the poems were composed between his thirteenth and twentieth years. They are of very unequal merit. The metre is usually so loose and careless as to betray a total ignorance of the art, whereby the larger part of the poems are rendered singularly rough and unattractive. On the other hand, there is a

  1. This fact is not mentioned by Gilchrist or apparently by later authorities.
  2. This is also noted by Crabb Robinson on one of the loose sheets on which he has copied sixteen of Blake's poems. These include examples from the 'Poetical Sketches,' from the 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' and the 'Dedication of Blair's Grave.'