Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rare Blake manuscript

Recently unearthed drafts of William Blake's Songs of Experience have revealed a puzzling version of his poem "London" (originally published in 1794). In the annotations he explains that the original poem, cryptically titled "2009",came to him as a waking dream of an absurd futuristic place which was very flat and "overrun by a lot of carriages without horses".

"2009"

I wander through each crumbling street,
Near where the dried up Thames did flow,
On the surface beneath my feet,
Sinkholes causing traffic to slow.

In each cry of every councilor,
In each activist’s cry of fear,
In each by-law or closed chamber,
The same socialist schemes I hear:

How the city workers cry,
Every day of leave appals;
The hapless taxpayer's sighs
Running down J L C walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How unruly students curse;
Gun shots and coke mixed with beer,
The world of the Free Press gets worse.

1791 - London

Feeling the original vision was too ridiculous to publish, Blake famously wrote of his contemporary London instead.

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