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Sunday, 9 May 2010

William Blake: The Crystal Cabinet


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File:John Sell Cotman 001.jpg

The Aqueduct at Chirk: John Sell Cotman, c. 1804 (Victoria & Albert Museum, London)






The Maiden caught me in the Wild
Where I was dancing merrily
She put me into her Cabinet
And Lockd me up with a golden Key

This Cabinet is formd of Gold
And Pearl & Crystal shining bright
And within it opens into a World
And a little lovely Moony Night

Another England there I saw
Another London with its Tower
Another Thames & other Hills
And another pleasant Surrey Bower

Another Maiden like herself
Translucent lovely shining clear
Threefold each in the other closd
O what a pleasant trembling fear

O what a smile a threefold Smile
Filld me that like a flame I burnd
I bent to Kiss the lovely Maid
And found a Threefold Kiss returnd

I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

A weeping Babe upon the wild
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind







William Blake: The Crystal Cabinet, 1804

11 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Thanks Tom, what a poem to pair w/ WW . . . .

TC said...

Thanks Steve.

The two pieces come from my 1800-1805 cabinet.

The marvelous Cotmans, from the same cabinet, different tier, though no less great, in my humble estimation.

leigh tuplin said...

Really like the Cotmans, Tom, especially 'Durham'.
Thanks for this.

leigh tuplin said...

oh and, even though the quality is/was undeniable, there's a slightly disappointing blue tinge to the sky over here right now.

TC said...

Thanks Leigh, Cotman for me has no equal as a water colourist.

About the quality (undeniable) and the tinge (blue) there can be no disagreement. Still, that said, it was difficult to endure. Felt a right fool for my daft secret hope the Latics would do better. I suppose it was the late performance against Arsenal that had deluded me. But in that one they had something to play for, and it was in their own ground.

Drogba I thought put on a sorry showing, all that sulking over not getting to take the early free kick, as though his own goal total on the season were the most important matter at stake. When Martin Atkinson showed him a (completely meaningless) yellow late on, I was almost tempted to think it was punishment not for fouling but for generally conducting himself like a shameless twat much of the afternooon.

leigh tuplin said...

I'm not entirely sure, but I think before todays games, Drogba and Rooney were on the same tally for the season, hence 'the golden boot' still up for grabs. His silly mini tantrum (even complaining to the bench during the game) proves his mememe attitude. Such a shame for such a talented player. After the match he called it, "just a moment in the game, but everyone's happy now". It really does make you ask what's more important to him: the Chelsea cabinet adorned, or his??

But anyway Tom, the 11th of June - the beautiful game under an African sky. I've been waiting for this it seems too long. I truely can't wait, and yes, I'm english, so it will end, inevitably, in edge of the seat heartache for me, but still, counting down the days :)

Curtis Roberts said...

The Blake poem and the two Cotmans (three if you count the one paired with the Wordsworth poem) have been with me and affecting me all day. Thank you for bringing them together. I was previously unaware of Cotman and, in fact, the Norwich School. He’s tremendous and I agree with Leigh about the Durham. Researching the history of The Crystal Cabinet this morning was interesting and amusing. I was working very quickly and kept finding myself on rock band-related websites, e.g., a King Crimson site, a Doors site and one other I can’t remember. I hadn’t gone in so many unexpected directions since I googled the term “Stygian Set” a couple of weeks ago in connection with another BTP poem and found myself on a couple of rather unusual web retail avenues.

TC said...

Curtis, about Cotman, I saw a lot of his work a long time ago, at the Fitzwilliam, the Tate, and then sought out more in York and Norwich, his longtime base. In later working with gouaches, it was always Cotman I have thought back to, with abject humility. It is evident that he made many, many washes, always going in a direction, toward something. The subdued palette, the differentiated blocks of colour, the use of light and dark, the deep understanding of the relation between water and paper: sheer genius, all that. A lot of the ecclesiastic architectural work in his study books is not up to his highest level perhaps. But he did that work for his own reasons.

"Durham" is rarely seen, to my knowledge. "Trees" (on the Wordsworth post above), even more rarely.



Leigh, about the Cup looming, my private "goal" is to live that long. But I remember saying that, in 2002, about 2006, to a Brazilian friend. Who scoffed, of course.

Our house is falling down, I can't sleep at night, the days are crazy, and we don't have any sort of cable whatsoever, so I am sure it's all going to be a bit of an adventure, trying to see any of it (if I live that long).

Whatever happens with England, it can't be worse than what's happened the last... how many times around, is it?

To me the worst was the semi-final v Brazil in Asia. Down a goal, playing eleven-against-ten for much of the second half, yet they NEVER GOT A SHOT.

At the point where it became imperative to bring firepower off the bench, they turned to... oh heavens... Kieron Dyer and... TEDDY SHERINGHAM. Lovely Teddy. (Well, at least he could say he had lived until the Cup.)

From another perspective though, consider the quaking in the breasts of the American players, facing England in their first match. The other evening as I hobbled past the Fertile Grounds Cafe, which international athletes sometimes frequent, I noted a gathering in which I recognized several players from the American national squad. One of them was so imposing in size and demeanour it took a moment to recognize him as Jozy Altidore. Even at the international level, the occasional Drogba aside, seldom does one see an attacking footballer that physically formidable (I think of Defoe, Walcott, Wright-Phillips and other midget forwards and wingers from recent England squads). Pleasant quiet young fellow with a serious purpose, as developed from a few moments of conversation. That brief meeting almost instilled in me a flicker of belief in the idea that the Americans may be showing up to play. Who knows, perhaps it will be interesting.

I asked JA (who of course rather notoriously featured for Hull City in the Premiere League this past second half of the season) who he liked in the competition. One word, very quiet, no expression. Brazil.

Others around the table nodded.

Someone said Argentina. Little reaction.

Then someone said Spain. General nodding of silent heads.

TC said...

Oh and by the by, Leigh -- re. this -- "I'm not entirely sure, but I think before today's games, Drogba and Rooney were on the same tally for the season, hence 'the golden boot' still up for grabs" -- I am entirely sure that was the entire reason for Drogba's petulant conduct.

When Lampard stepped forward to take the early penalty kick, Drogba reacted like a diva scorned. After FL had converted it (when, of course, he should have been at least feigning satisfaction -- after all, they were attempting to win a championship), DD approached Frank. Cupped-hands privacies. Lampard could be seen mouthing the word "promise". As in, "won't dare do that again".

leigh tuplin said...

'That' England/Brazil semi is still one of, if not the most disappointing to date. It's so much better to come away having been hit on the break three or so times by a much better side, lost 3-0, all because you were pushing so damn hard the inevitable defensive gaps opened up. But no. A one deal game, and we played it like a tentative 1st leg. That said, people always underestimate the Brazilian defence: assuming they're all flair. But it was a game where some gung ho bravery might just have paid off. Alas, history and spilt milk.

Regarding the American team, Tom. I believe completely, that they most definitely will 'show up'. The majority of their players know the english game/players inside out, that knowledge is invaluable, plus there's the ridiculous english complacency gene to contend with. So many times I've watched them waltz onto the pitch, about to face a team 'they' think is merely a stepping stone on their path, and come severely unstuck. The American players know this too. I think it's possibly their best opportunity for points in the group, and will be at the very least, interesting :)

The 3 teams mentioned are likely semi-final candidates for me, with a Brazil/Spain final. I'm just hoping for that 4th spot and a bit of gung ho. One thing is certain though - WE will be entertained.

TC said...

Leigh,

Indeed. If we live that long. Touch wood!

(Speaking of living long, I do actually remember, if dimly, the events of 1966, when I was in Cambridge; which, I think, actually happened; but I could be wrong about that.)

The 2002 Brazil/England game was pure agony for this watcher (closet England supporter). Some extremely gracious, pleasant and highly educated (Ph D's all round the room) Brazilian friends had welcomed me to watch the Cup games (they had cable, I did not).

A great experience, not least because the experience of being among people who truly love and honour their native country in an open and sincere way -- actually standing together to sing the anthem at the outset! -- was extremely moving. And of course every move and kick had ramifications for them that went beyond my humble understanding.

They watched that England game virtually in silence. Toward the end of the first half, when Kleberson clipped the crossbar from distance, one dark browed Sao Paulo intellectual (specialist in Russian literature) suggested quietly it might be a portent of dire fates.

At halftime everyone in the room talked on mobiles with their friends and families all over the world. Every Brazilian on earth, of course, concerned at that moment with exactly the same thing. Talk about cultural bonding!

But then, the second half. The unbelievable Ronaldinho goal. And then Rivaldo and Ronaldo combined to leave Sir Golden Balls in the dust (sore foot, of course -- the standard anglo Cup malady).

And then the Ronaldinho ejection.

Unfair, everyone thought. But there was little complaint.

And we know what happened.

That whole middle-of-the-night Cup and in fact all the Cups outside this hemisphere are strange dream/nightmares for me. I believe the permanent disruption of my sleep patterns over recent decades can be laid in large part to the Copa Mundial.