Anyone may learn to know and love William Blake. Small steps include reading, asking questions, making comments about posts made here (or anywhere else for that matter). We are ordinary people interested in Blake and anxious to meet and converse with any others. Tip: The primary text for Blake is on line. The url is Contents.

Friday, February 19, 2010


If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is an animated picture worth? Available on youTube is a video from a play by Jack Shepherd called In Lambeth. The play shows an encounter between William Blake and Thomas Paine two revolutionaries through writing. The encounter was reported in an early biography of Blake although it has been fictionalized in the video. Perhaps watching the portrayal will expand your understanding of Blake as a human being.

Video of Blake and Paine (The are 5 segments to this video)

Among the things I noticed about the portrayal of Blake was the rapid movement of his psychic state during the span of the action. He went from what seemed like ordinary social consciousness, to an accelerated state, to his visionary experience, to anxiety resulting from the visionary experience, to a rational discussion of politics and potential solutions to philosophical and social problems, and through other states as well. He went from introversion, to extroversion; from rational to emotional; from self centeredness to other centeredness. I think this rapid movement of states derived from what the author of the play had surmised about his personality from the style of his writing. The hyperactivity in his behavior and the constant movement in the poetry reflect a mind that didn't stay still. I like the way author and actor presented a personality for Blake that is consistent with how he wrote.

There was an interesting contrast between Blake and Paine in personality and philosophy. Blake the younger, more emotional and animated was more conservative in his attitude toward starting revolution. Paine was steady and rational but willing to set off the spark without knowing what outcome might ensue. The line about each rarely having someone with whom to talk about the things that interested him, spoke volumes. A big difference between the two men was that Paine spoke to ears which were ready to hear his message, and Blake's message is still waiting for receptive ears.

'to clothe him with Imagination'

The video may have gotten more viewership if the the first part of the play had been included. The first scene is said to have been of Bill and Kate naked in the branches of a tree, reminiscent of figures in in the illuminations and of the occasion when they were said to have been surprised in their garden 'playing Adam and Eve'.

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