Page:Life of William Blake, Gilchrist.djvu/299

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ÆT. 47.]

properly without having examined this copy. It is printed in a warm, reddish brown, the exact colour of a very fine photograph; and the broken blending of the deeper tones with the more tender shadows,—all sanded over with a sort of golden mist peculiar to Blake's mode of execution,—makes still more striking the resemblance to the then undiscovered 'handling' of Nature herself. The extreme breadth of the forms throughout, when seen through the medium of this colour, shows sometimes, united with its grandeur, a sauvity of line which is almost Venetian.

The subjects are vague and mystic as the poem itself. Female figures lie among waves full of reflected stars: a strange human image, with a swan's head and wings, floats on water in a kneeling attitude, and drinks: lovers embrace in an open water-lily: an eagle-headed creature sits and

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contemplates the sun: serpent-women are coiled with serpents: Assyrian-looking, human-visaged bulls are seen yoked to the plough or the chariot: rocks swallow or vomit forth human forms, or appear to amalgamate with them: angels cross each other over wheels of flame: and flames and hurrying figures wreathe and wind among the lines. Even

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such slight things as these rough intersecting circles, each containing some hint of an angel; even these are made the unmistakable exponents of genius. Here and there some more familiar theme meets us,—the creation of Eve, or the