A Glance At 'The Pickering Manuscript' by William Blake
William Blake is one of the greatest artists in recent times for all of the English speaking world. Or, that's my opinion anyway. And, one of my favorite works of this man is found in 'The Pickering Manuscript'. William Blake is perhaps best known as a painter and a poet; therefore, this manuscript of sorts is filled with poems (all of which can be found online). For the benefit of the reader, I am including links below - both to the original writings with transcriptions, and to a transcription work.
'The Smile' is the title of the first poem in 'The Pickering Manuscript'. It creates a sense of humanism, with a side of Gibran's (a very similar artist) "tear and smile". There are only 16 lines here, but when read by one who understands the intended sentiment - the feelings can hit very deep. They are sentiments from a far off dream that I have dreamed. That dream is not a real dream, like the waking dream. Still, it is a recognized dream among so many forgotten dreams.
A transcription of 'The Pickering Manuscript':
'The Golden Net'
The following poem is much longer than the first. 'The Golden Net' rhymes by every two lines.Inside this writing, we discover an allusion to tears multiple times. We can note from William Blake's works how he uses capital letters to signify variation in word meaning. This is relatively common, especially among the poetically minded.
'The Mental Traveller'
The poem titled 'The Mental Traveller' is a very elongated in comparison to those prior discussed thus far. Some of the imagery displayed herein is very intense. For someone with the depth of William Blake, it is difficult to say where the symbolism ends. To convey that which is beyond language with mere words is the work of the poet; the architect of bridges to understanding.
'The Pickering Manuscript'
- The Pickering Manuscript | The Pickering Manuscript | The Morgan Library & Museum
William Blake (1757-1827), The Pickering Manuscript, ca. 1807, page 1 MA 2879
'The Land of Dreams'
This one is a bit shorter with only 20 lines in total. 'The Land of Dreams' is like one of the other poems discussed; it rhymes in paired verses. It is a gorgeous, if short, poem. There is also a hint of humanism to this piece as well. Humanism is not unheard of for the poet.
'Mary' is a wonderful poem. Here, William Blake applies a prostitute analogy. It's not an item which is only used by Blake, but Blake does something - he does it so well. I believe that the Mary of this poem is an allusion to the Mary Magdalene of the Bible. Blake's work can have a kind of spiritual bend.
The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head
And became a Tyrant in his stead— from 'The Grey Monk', by William Blake
'The Crystal Cabinet'
'The Crystal Cabinet' has surrounding it a Narniaic atmosphere. William makes mention of England and London. He again includes women herein. It is not uncommon for a male poet to write about women. Sufi poets, who sometimes live without the sexual touch of the female, write in depth about the kisses of their beloved (a representation in, some contexts, of their connection with the divine). If William had been born into the Islamic world in similar circumstances, then I would suspect that he would have been considered a member or devotee of Sufism. William Blake is a fascinating man. There is good reason that he is one of my favorite poets.
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.— from 'Auguries of Innocence', by William Blake
'The Grey Monk'
What stands out to me, at least initially, about 'The Grey Monk' is that the first and last four verses all rhyme. And, all eight of these verses have ending rhymes (that is, all eight words at the ending of each verse rhyme). I particularly like the last two lines of this poem.
Do you enjoy the works of William Blake?
'Auguries of Innocence'
'Auguries of Innocence' is one of my all-time favorite poems! It is fantastic, especially in the beginning lines (of which I have memorized since long ago). He makes note, in this poem, that we were "made for joy and woe". This touches me as a latter-day saint, because in our scriptures we find a verse that declares that our purpose is to "have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). 'Auguries of Innocence' is very beautiful, and it is very long. There is a lot of material to meditate on.
Seek Love in the Pity of others Woe
In the gentle relief of anothers care— from 'William Bond', by William Blake
'Long John Brown & Little Mary Bell'
'Long John Brown & Little Mary Bell' is much much shorter than 'Auguries of Innocence' by comparison. The religious imagery returns here, but it is far darker.
'William Bond' is the final poem in 'The Pickering Manuscript'. It is a fairly long writing for the manuscript. Like Gibran, Blake anthropomorphizes love. He ends these poems with a gorgeous note on love and where to find it.
© 2019 Alexander James Guckenberger