Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/62

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8
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

of his pictures, prints, and poems. He appeared to be the human abstract of his mystical thoughts. He recounted his deeds, he exhausted the incidents of his history, and when he had accomplished this "he then imagined new." He made him a spiritual essence; representing the country of Britain under this one personification, he has made him the hero of nearly all his works. He has connected Albion with Jerusalem,[1] and Jerusalem with other mysterious images of his own fancy, in such a manner as will be difficult to unravel, but not entirely impossible, it is imagined, after reading the remainder of his writings, which will absorb time and pains, much indeed of both, for his pen was quite as active in his indefatigable hand as was his graver or his pencil; he used all with equal temerity and complete originality.

Between the age of twelve and twenty he wrote several poems, afterward published[2] by the advice and with the assistance of Flaxman, Mrs. Matthews, and others of his friends. They are succinct, original, fanciful, and fiery; but, as a general criticism, it may be said that they are more rude than refined, more clumsy than delicate. Two of them are equal to Ben Jonson.

  1. Cp. Jerusalem, The Emanation of the Giant Albion, 1804, passim.
  2. Poetical Sketches, by W. B., London: Printed in the year MDCCLXXXIII.