William Blake's Jerusalem

William Blake's Jerusalem

William Blake's Jerusalem

William Blake's Jerusalem

Excerpt

The facsimile of William Blake Jerusalem in colour was completed for the Trustees of the William Blake Trust in May, 1951, and was issued to subscribers in June. This contained only brief introductory pages prefixed to the facsimile, in which it was explained that the Commentary by Joseph Wicksteed, promised to subscribers in the original prospectus, was not issued with the facsimile because the work had grown so much in size and importance. It could no longer be regarded merely as an appendage to the facsimile, but had become a book in its own right demanding separate publication, and it was felt that it would be wrong to delay the issue of the facsimile by waiting for the simultaneous appearance of the Commentary. In the event, more than a year has elapsed since the appearance of the facsimile, the interval being fully justified by the gain to the reader in the amplification of the work that this has made possible. It has since been decided to prepare also a companion volume (to be sold separately) containing a facsimile of the black-and-white version of Jerusalem, done from the copy formerly belonging to John Linnell and now the property of Mrs. Frank Rinder and her daughter, Mrs. Ramsay Harvey, together with a typographical reprint of the text.

Wicksteed's Introduction and Commentary here presented, although much more extensive than was originally intended, do not make any claim to finality. They are, indeed, the climax of the Author's lifelong study of Blake's mind and art, but he realizes that neither he nor anyone else will ever have said the "last word" about Blake, who himself spent fifty years elaborating his ideas and the imagery in which he expressed them. Abstractions rendered partly discernable to the bodily ear and eye by poetry and painting cannot be elucidated so that every line and image is made immediately apparent to the observer. Blake himself can never have expected that they should be, for he demanded an exercise of what he called "mental science" by his readers -- an exercise of which some of us are incapable. Many people are content to look at Blake's pages purely for the sake of their pictorial beauty without attempting to find their deeper significance. Others will wish to be given more understanding of Blake's visions, and so will be grateful to Wicksteed for putting in their hands the "end of the golden string" of interpretation which will guide them for some way into the forest. Probably no one will ever get right through to the other side, but the imagery will gain beauty with appreciation, even . . .

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