Devout Londoner, poet & artist William Blake died on the 12th August 1827, missing his 70th birthday by 3 months. He was a mystical, artistic poet and an experienced engraver. He exercised his craftsmanship with great delicacy in his books Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, illustrating his works in the supernatural sense. His wife Catherine assisted in hand painting and binding the books.
Blake’s poetry was creative, energetic and evocative, perhaps infused and inspired by his vision of God, when aged four, and his communications with other religious figures throughout his life. A metaphysical nature is not always an easy one to grasp on first reading; there is the strong use of metaphors and conceits, elaborate images or far-fetched comparisons.
On dying he was extremely happy, singing loudly and ecstatically “Hallelujahs & songs of Joy & Triumph.”
It is said that in Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of The Sunflowers, each flower represents a different stage of life…
In Blake’s poem Ah! Sunflower, we also feel the passage of time and age…
‘Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who contest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done…’
From Songs of Experience