With this word I can describe Leo Damrosch's book: Eternity's Sunrise The imaginative World of William Blake by Yale Press.
Erudite book,it spaces from philosophy to psychology passing through history, art, poetry.
Blake didn't never become famous or appreciated while he was alive because of his controversial vision of art, illustrations ad poetry.
He choose of not staying aligned with art and works produced during his time by his contemporaries, finding his own voice, his own mystery, his own original message for the posterity. He worked in solitude and not understood.
This choice meant isolation, poverty in comparison to his colleagues and artists, but Blake didn't mind because he wanted to give a personal and unique contribution to poetry, illustrations.
Some people thought he was mad, other too eccentric.
He suffered for it.
In a poem he wrote:
"Why was I not born like the rest of my race?"
Revolutionary man with the perennial necessity of "throwing up" what his soul produced, while he was changing, mutating, but continuing to be at the perennial research of God, Life, Eternity, Death, Evil, contrasts, light, sun, darkness, these ones his main intellectual attractions.
Reading his words and looking at his paintings to me he spent his entire life exorcising death, imagining death, and searching for that touch of Eternity that each man possesses and that can "defeat" death although not physically, creatively.
In the illustration of Albion of 1780, Albion poses his left foot on an earthworm, between his open legs a bat. It is possible to seeing portrayed the virility and immortality of a man, a man killing death (the earthworm, dominating it) with his own creativity, and at the same time the bat remembers the obscurity of thinking.
This one is my own personal interpretation, considering that maybe Blake could have seen somewhere the holy imagine of Saint Mary portrayed while she poses her foot on the serpent, to represent symbolically the victory against the evil part of the world.
Blake at the same time has always thought that these two forces, God and Evil are indispensable. The one nurtures the other one and vice versa.
The imperfection of this world donated these two forces and these two forces run the world.
Blake was a rebel, a fighter, a thinker and a voice against the government but also against revolution seen as the bad answer taking in consideration the French Revolution of July 14th 1789 and the American Revolution.
The end of monarchy meant for France a long period called Terror.
William Blake was someone who didn't know the meaning of hypocrisy. He said what he wanted to saying without too many compliments to his colleagues, to politicians, to the church. His flame was real.
Yes, he was religious, but his religiosity didn't pass through the common channels that we know of and his admiration became Jesus later in his life.
His idea of the church without too many dogmatic ideas.
A religion seen without the filters created by men too blind metaphorically for helping other people.
An example the condition of little children, workers at a tender age as portrayed in The Chimney Sweeper.
William didn't have any kids but he was once a kid and it's simple to imagine that he portrayed in his mind how he would have grown up his children.
What Blake considered hypocrite from the church was also sexual repression.
Interesting the poem of The Sick Rose.
A worm, the most terrestrial part of Earth, one day enters in the rose, symbol of perfection. This one is an obscure, corrosive love, able to destroy the rose's life and beauty. We can't know if it is because of the mortality of the worm in grade of corrupting, modifying the precedent state of the rose.
This mixture of feelings brings the worm and the rose in a spiral of perdition, corrosion, lost and at last death.
Blake in his life has known a phase of political activity close to the radicals but when the group started to develop problems preferred to change his mind, abandoning political activism.
It meant also that his works, in the past a connection between religion, society, policy, but never disconnected by these thematics and plus by the life and the death and religion, social protest, will change radically embracing for a while new concepts developed by Isaac Newton: atoms and prisms.
When Blake developed his personal homage to Newton, depression started to put him down and so with his wife decided to move from London to a lovely cottage in Felpham searching for some resting and peace.
William Blake lived his entire life surrounded by hallucinations, voices and episodes he could clearly see and that he would have later reported in poems and illustrations.
He suffered of depression and bipolarity.
His altered state of consciousness gave him the possibility of creating poems while he fought against a lot of demons not excluded sexuality. No one talked a lot of sex as Blake did in his composition.
Who knows if it was a cathartic experience or just, as for the other fields of the life he examined, analyzed, also this existential part couldn't be hypocritically avoided, giving space and air to something relegated in a corner in opposite case by the rest of society?
The life of William Blake and his personal visions resonate with force also during our time keeping this poet and illustrator not only alive, but actual and one of the most appreciated ones.
Anna Maria Polidori