Hi Everyone,

The Library has decided to retire this blog for the time being. Thanks for listening.


I wouldn't

from #28

That beautiful twist at the end:

I'm too alone. I see no end. If we could all
run, even that would be better. I am hungry.
The sun is not hot.
It's not a good position I am in.
If I had to do the whole thing over again
I wouldn't.


without pleasure

Henry has lost the ability to feel pleasure or happiness. Even when given all he's ever wanted, he cannot raise a smile, or even care.

that witchy ball
wanted, fought toward, dreamed of, all a green living
drops limply into one's hands
without pleasure or interest


Henry is bored / Anhedonia

From Drean Song 14

Life, friends, is boring.
I conclude now I have no
Inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag

Phosphorescent: A New Anhedonia
"All of the pleasures now avoiding me.
All the music now boring to me."


Dream Song #4

Dream Song #4 is one of the more famous songs. Henry is eating alone in a restaurant, lusting after someone else's wife. She is only one table away but "She might as well be on Mars." #4 is really sad and very funny at the same time.

After catching her eye a few times, and then pushing down his desires, in one turn of phrase we get funny and sad:

'You are the hottest one for years of night
Henry's dazed eyes
have enjoyed, Brilliance.' I advanced upon
(despairing) my spumoni.

"the hottest one" is a funny and immature way to describe someone.

"years of night" is a crushingly sad phrase.

Somehow, the nickname he gives the woman - "Brilliance" - seems very touching but comes off as sad.

And then - Despairingly advancing upon spumoni is very funny.


Hard on the land wears the strong sea

There really are 77 Dream Songs. Each one is 18 lines long and divided into 3 stanzas.

The songs trace the life of Henry as told by himself, from several different points of view, and by his unnamed friend who calls him Mr. Bones.

John Berryman has said that he is not Henry, although most people don't believe him. Berryman lost his father to suicide and Henry's life seems forever burdened by "a departure" that's mentioned in Dream Song #1.

One important thing to remember is that Henry often speaks in the first and third person, even within the same line:  "I don't see how Henry, pried / open for all the world to see, survived." Henry is observing himself.

In Dream Song #1 we are introduced to a sad but surviving Henry, himself surprised that he's still alive.



“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” 

- W. Blake (or maybe Jim Morrison, or maybe Aldous Huxley)

Blake believed that human beings were severely bound in their experience of the true universe by the limitations inherent in their human senses. Due to his own experiences with visions and prophesies he believed he possessed a kind of super-human perceptive capability that allowed him to see deep truths. His "doors of perception" were thrown wide while we were perceiving the world through "narrow chinks" in our own personal "caverns."

Blake's phrase "doors of perception" would, much later, be embraced by Aldous Huxley and other users of psychedelic drugs who claimed they were throwing wide their own doors.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.

- W. Blake (definitely)


Blake's Book of Job

One of Blake's greatest, and commercially successful, pieces of work was his 22-plate set of engravings for the biblical Book of Job. The Book of Job is seriously bonkers and Blake was a perfect fit. Wikipedia has a nice collection of the plates along with some watercolors he did on the same topic.


Intro to Blake

Leo Damrosch's book starts with a bold statement: "William Blake was a creative genius, one of the most original artists and poets who ever lived."

Blake was born in London on November 28, 1757. He was an engraver, painter, and poet. His big thing was he saw visions. He literally saw heavenly hosts, angels, and demons walking around in the waking world. Many thought he was mad and he was described as having enormous eyes.