From Blake to Beardsley: "on Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry" (William Blake and Aubrey Beardsley) (Critical Essay)
Victorian Poetry, 2010, Spring, 48, 1
- 79,00 Kč
- 79,00 Kč
"'I sing,' says the modern Bard, 'speaking to the eye alone, by the help of type-founders, papermakers, compositors, ink balls, folding, and stitching.'" Published in a review of Eliza Cook's poetry in the Anglo-American in 1847, the statement testifies to the nineteenth century's growing recognition of the expressiveness of the poetic book, whether in elite folio, high-end quarto, everyday octavo, or, as in this case, common reader's duodecimo. (1) Observing that the days of the oral tradition, when "the song and the singer were one," had been supplanted by print culture, the reviewer went on to note the compensations offered by the visual and material: "For the charm thus lost, we must make up, as we can, in other ways. The painter's and graver's art does something; the reader's mind must do the rest" (p. 343). When William Blake, in his "Introduction" to Songs of Innocence, had his piper substitute pipe for pen and stain "the water clear" in order to write "a book that all may read," (2) he too commented on poetry's metamorphosis in print culture. He enacted this insight materially, in the bibliographic, linguistic, iconic, and graphic features he conceived and fashioned himself. Except that all may not read the book he made: few of us have been fortunate enough to view, let alone handle, one of the physical copies of the Songs of Innocence from 1789, 1795, 1802, 1804, or 1811. (3) As we know, none of these copies is identical in coloring, sequence, or contents. Each necessarily stages its own argument about poetry, pictures, print, and the possibilities of pastoral innocence.