For The New Blakeans


For The New Blakeans,
On My Fortieth Birthday.

It is clear enough, the stuff that shields you, 
that your specimens are quite free to jump out at me; 
your flaming, guilded demonologies; 
human bodies straining against their very own species of sin; 
words that writhe with immortal mind, 
burn with the beauty of the unbeholden I - 

I hear their net worth, these few old books, 
some analogy with one of Leonardo's tableaux, 
or perhaps it was a Michaelangelo. 
I wonder what you would think of that now? 
& what I should think of my own pricelessness: 
This tortured self worth?

I know better than to seek comfort in such questions. 
Though I do find a peculiar sort: 
That it matters not. 

Yet how far this be from any -isms of negation! 
How close to the very essence of meaning itself! 
It was *you* who changed the world, my dear William, 
and not through any reader you ever half-woke, 
but because it was for our Angels that you wrote. 
That you wrote your own becoming, deep & true.

God knows, your words remain you now, 
but those moments of change live again & again, 
whenever we infinite differences do the same.


A comment, upon reflection:

It might be easy to make a misreading here, so let me risk a warning against it.

Speaking personally: I love you, and need you, dear reader. And I also think that Blake *has* changed the world through his readers, too, just as he has in some sense changed me - but such changes must be into oneself, after all.

So this is a poem about value, and art - and there never was a value in which all were equal, unless you understand 'equal' in the very deepest or highest sense, which you should understand is an impossible one, and perhaps that much truer for it.

My own adventures as a reader, a consumer, of poetry and art, assures me that what is really going on is indeed a form of participation - none of this should be in doubt - and so the worst misreading of the poem would be to see me as asserting the value of the artist as individual, when what I am asserting is the value of life itself, that which might bear witness to our acts even when we are (never!) alone.

It is as a poem about the Earth as person, as our Angel (Zzz), and what this might mean for us as art and poetry, that I hope it to be read. When we understand at least *the kind* of value that rests behind or beyond this attempt at communication, then we know the sense in which a quest for such a value lies at the heart of both science and religion, and perhaps every truly human endeavour.

Forgive me this soaring mortal thought tone on my birthday, I plead!

I also hope I made it clear (enough) that even though the *real value* according to all this, wiz in the work itself, still the work still *had* to be done. (You can't just rest on your laurels and "be what you are", it's more complex than just "going with the flow" (Resistance is sacred dontcha know!))

Thus the poetry still needed to be written, even if this might just as well have been a world in which it only ever ended up being read by Angels.

The thought is of all the voices we will never hear, that still are here.


This article was updated on April 11, 2021

Sam Knot

I am a poet and illustrator, originally from the south of England, now living in an old stone house in the middle of the countryside in Normandy, France, with my lovely wife and an assortment of other creatures. Thank you kindly for checking out my work, please don't hesitate to get in touch: iam (at) "this website".