Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm off to Farmington today to read Beloit Poetry Journal submissions. Although I'm not necessarily opposed to getting out of the house, I'm a bit regretful about leaving my Blake essay. Yesterday I wrote 3 first-draft pages in a delirious rush, and of course they ended up dealing with an aspect of Blake that had never before occurred to me. That is almost the best thing about writing: the surprises that happen when you let yourself go.

Here's a snatch of Blake for you, something I read at random yesterday:

from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)

As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius, which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the sayings used in a nation mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.

Blake is so crazy. I just cannot ever seem to get over him. I ask you: (1) what is the antecedent of "their" in the phrase "I collected some of their Proverbs"; and (2) does his capitalization have a rationale? For me, any attempt to answer either question adds all kinds of strange and unsettling complexity to this passage.

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