Page:Life of William Blake, Gilchrist.djvu/281

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ÆT. 47.]

In Felpham I saw and heard the visions of Albion;
I write in South Molton Street what I both see and hear.
In regions of humanity, in London's opening streets
I see the awful Parent Land in light.
Behold I see!
Verulam! Canterbury! venerable parent of men!
Generous immortal guardian! Golden clad; for cities
Are men, fathers of multitudes; and rivers and mountains
Are also men: everything is human! mighty! sublime!

The poem, since poem we are to call it, is mostly written in prose; occasionally in metrical prose; more rarely still it breaks forth into verse. Here is the author's own account of the matter:—

When this verse was first dictated to me, I considered a monotonous cadence, like that used by Milton, Shakspeare and all writers of English blank verse, derived from the modern bondage of rhyming, to be a necessary and indispensable part of the verse. But I soon found that, in the mouth of a true orator, such monotony was not only awkward, but as much a bondage as rhyme itself. I, therefore, have produced a variety in every line, both in cadence and number of syllables. Every word and every letter is studied, and put into its place. The terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific parts, the mild and gentle for the mild and gentle parts, and the prosaic for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other.

There is little resemblance to the 'prophetic books' of earlier date. We hear no longer of the wars, the labours, the sufferings, the laments of Orc, Rintrah, Urizen, or Enitharmon. Religious enthusiasm, always a strong element in Blake's mental constitution, always deeply tinging his imaginative creations, seems, during the time of the lonely sea-shore life, to have been kindled into over-mastering intensity. 'I have written this poem from immediate dicta-
'tion, twelve, or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time;
'without premeditation, and even against my will; thus an
'immense poem exists which seems to be the labour of a long
'life, all produced without labour or study,' he wrote in a letter already cited to Mr. Butts. Such a belief in plenary inspiration, such a deliberate abjuring of the guidance and