a novelty choking hazard

Nor shall my sword sleep at my side (just a day late)

William Blake's life mask, plaster cast

It didn’t occur to me until today, the morning after William Blake’s 250th anniversary, to post, by way of celebration, Mark Stewart’s version of Jerusalem* with the Maffia, now 25-years-old itself, and sounding, if anything, more contemporary than it did at the time. I’ve just fallen into a very strange imaginary space, trying to imagine what Blake himself would have thought of it.

As is usual, wood s lot has a fine bunch of Blake linkage for the occasion, including a Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake at the brutally primitive (HTML-wise) Blake Digital Text Project.
Spurred by mark’s example, my Blakery, such as it is, launches out of a Google image search for

“William Blake” mask

and the first few results were plenty interesting enough for the purpose at hand.

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, After the life mask of William Blake, 1955
Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, After the life mask of William Blake, 1955

It struck me, first of all, that the Bacon study above, at that particular angle, could almost equally serve as a portrait of Iain Sinclair, no? The mask itself bears no such resemblance — and as with the folk wisdom that dock leaves are usually to be found near a nettle patch, wherever springs forth Iain Sinclair (however subliminally!), we are unsurprised to find an eruption of Peter Ackroyd somewhere close by (and vice versa). And so it is that Ackroyd’s piece for the Times in March, The London that became Jerusalem comes from Wit of the Staircase – yup, it happens that Theresa’s post, using of the famous 1807 portrait by Thomas Philips, in combination presumably with another art category post using the word ‘mask’, came up on the first page of image results. (So,Ms Duncan, we meet again. I can almost feel the traffic spiking from here). On reflection, it may have been the Ackroyd link that subliminally prompted my imagining Sinclair in Francis Bacon’s painting. Either way, the Sinclair-Ackroyd binary system is firmly entrenched in my head — and so can you!

Also present, links via Clattery Machinery to the British library’s Turn the Pages version of Blake’s notebook, which is beautiful and fascinating, but seriously, that interface is getting on my nerves a little more each time I visit. It looked pretty cute when it was new, but it just seems draggy now. Happily there is an accessible (and linkable) alternative version.

* If you want to own this as a physical object, it’s on the Kiss The Future compilation that Soul Jazz put out last year, currently available for £9.99, CD or double vinyl. I’d be very tempted, if I didn’t already have just about everything on it, in one format or another.

Posted in music, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Nor shall my sword sleep at my side (just a day late)

  1. do u kno who clattery is?
    i keep trying to send him/her my bk? u want it?
    greatest injvention of the 20th century? non-violence
    where is bacon study at this moment?
    blake in the strand old top
    ez pound influence overrated
    might as well b prose
    best, dave in baltimore

  2. pilgrim says:

    Heh. Right, well. Clattery Machinery didn’t used to be a person, but it could be, now. Thanks for the prompt.

  3. what are “tags”?

    my first- comment- i was serious- but u wrote back teasing…is clattery u then, pilgrim? ooo golly a regular ms marple thriller

    the bacon is especially wonderful to me in that it isn’t the usual bacon disfigurement job- blake is one of the few we do not wish to bend, do we

    a trip to london

    i did not make it to pekham rye
    i saw some angels anyway
    they dallied in an “easy woman” way
    then melted down the wall like dali watches
    you see, they bled down, sigh like-fey

    here is a serious poem of mine: an orange squeeks when you peel it/ what rain means to a tiger

    i do not like the “language” school- ashbery and such

    clattery- don’t u want to see more?!?!?!?

    a yank was wondering

    does one pronounce it fell fam, fellem? or felp ham?

    one thing i can pronounce- ma favrit football side MILLWALL

  4. did my 2nd comment make it in? i didn’t see the intrigui9ng code- u dodgy scouser u.

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