Wordy Wednesdays – William Blake, Crazy Poet (Part 1?)
This is Part 1 because I’m taking a class that is entirely about Blake, and I’m certain that I’ll encounter more things that I want to talk about.
But holy shit this guy is the best.
So, dude’s a poet. But where most poets just stop there, Blake doesn’t. He also works as an engraver, putting his poems with pictures that he draws. He also created an innovation in relief etchings.
Most of the relief etchings of the time worked like this – you’d cover a plate of copper with an acid-resistant coating, then scrape off lines to make a picture. Then you’d drop the copper into an acid bath, and the parts you scraped off would be eaten away by the acid. Cover the raised parts in ink, press it again paper, and you’ve got a print!
Blake painted directly on the plate with an acid-resistant medium, so that the parts he painted were the only parts not eaten away by the acid. Etching this way allowed for more precise drawings in greater detail. Blake made prints of his poems with pictures in this way.
Here’s a video that can give you an idea of what Blake did (the music is terrible).
After printing in black and white, Blake or his wife would paint the prints in watercolors. Here’s an image of one of my favorite poems from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.
As an intersection (or perhaps union) of poetry and painting, I think this is amazing.
You can find a bunch of Blake prints at the Blake Archive. No two prints are exactly alike, which allows for multiple and often conflicting interpretations of Blake’s works.