1783
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Morning.

Poetical Sketches. By W. B.

William Blake


A blank-verse ode — possibly a detached imitation of one of Spenser's sunrises, or an imitation of one of the earlier imitations by Phineas Fletcher or John Milton. The georgic "Times of Day" theme is treated in scores of eighteenth-century periodical poems derived from Milton's companion poems and Collins's Odes.

Robert Southey: "Probably thou hast never seen, and art never likely to see either the Descriptive Catalogue or the Poetical Sketches of this insane and erratic genius. I will therefore end the chapter with the 'Mad Song' from the latter" The Doctor (1849) 476.

Oliver Elton: "Partly owing to his method of publication, Blake had no influence on English literature before 1860, but he was not unregarded by men of letters. Southey paid him tribute. Wordsworth, whom Blake thought, after all reservations, a 'great man' and 'the only poet of the age,' observed to Crabb Robinson, 'There is no doubt this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.' Landor shrewdly wished that Wordsworth and Blake could have 'divided' Blake's madness between them; 'for some accession of it in the one case, and some diminution of it in the other, would greatly have improved both.' Thus can the poets speak of one another. Coleridge, in one of his letters, makes a carefully capricious class-list of the Songs of Innocence and Experience, placing some of the best of them in the fourth rank. Lamb praised the 'spirited criticism on Chaucer,' which was 'so mystical and so full of vision,' and also 'The Tiger,' and called Blake 'one of the most extraordinary persons of the age.' Crabb Robinson's reports of him in his later years are the best of all, in the veracity of their 'sharp and wiry line.' Despite such attentions, Blake was long chiefly remembered as an artist of curious power, who had written verses to accompany his pictures. Three short memoirs were produced between his death and 1863, when Gilchrist, an art critic who died prematurely, revealed him as a mighty and ignored designer, and published his lyrical writings, the text being edited, after the manner of corrupt classics, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; nor was a true text to be rescued from the neglect or falsification of successive editors until the twentieth century. In 1868 came Swinburne's masterpiece of appraisal, at once impassioned and precise. A scattered trail of editions and explanations followed, but the second retrieval of Blake's fame dates from within the last twenty years. We are now in sight of having all he wrote, just as he wrote it" Survey of English Literature 1780-1830 (1912) 1:170-71.



O holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heav'n's golden gates, and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light
Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring
The honied dew that cometh on waking day.
O radiant morning, salute the sun,
Rouz'd like a huntsman to the chace; and, with
Thy buskin'd feet, appear upon our hills.

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