Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Romanticism

The Artist’s Way and Spirituality – Introduction – Quotes with Page Numbers – Julia Cameron

Thousands of years before Julia Cameron wrote the Artist’s Way,  writers and thinkers had equated one’s spirit or one’s essence with the imagination.

Six hundred years before Christ was born or about 2600 years ago, Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, which is The Book of the Way:

In Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching, the following is said:

“There are ways but the Way is uncharted “
“The secret waits for the insight”
“Those who are bound by desire See only the outward container.”
Again to the first line. “There are ways. but the Way…” can only be found from within, from the spirit.

 

The Artist’s Way is also about this ancient Way, and it is about much more than making art objects. It is about a lifestyle. It is about a way of living–a type of spirituality that is manifested through the imagination and a deep connection to one’s own inner self. It is a step beyond superficiality or the external and into what William Blake and other Romantic poets called the Imagination.

William Blake was an English Romantic poet who wrote during the early 1800s. In his early works, The Songs of Innocence and Experience, Blake equated the innocent lamb with the pure essence of the spiritual and childhood.

Here is William Blake’s verse about the Innocent Lamb of Childhood.

Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,”
Making all the vales rejoice?

William Blake’s Tyger was the embodiment of Experience or the External. The Experienced person is characterized as being insensitive and detached. William Blake associated the cynical adult with the Experience or the Tyger state.

The Tyger is described as being fierce and dreadful. Blake asks of the Tyger:

Did He who made the Lamb make Thee?

As Blake continued to write, his theories became more radical. He eventually conceived of a type of heaven and hell, and he created the character Los to be the Christ-like savior of his religion, and Los  was the embodiment of the Imagination. One of Blake’s later books was titled The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 

My reason for pointing all of this out is again to show that for many years, writers and thinkers have associated spirituality with the imagination.

William Blake was one of the earliest of the Romantic poets, who were a reaction against the Industrial Revolution. The Realists were in favor of Industrialism, Mechanization, Standardization, and Outwardness. The Romanticists advocated the Imagination as the savior from Industrialism and the key to Inwardness, as opposed to the outwardness iof Industrialism.In my opinion, this Romanitic Inwardness is the same a Lao Tsu’s The Way and as Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. 

On the very first page of the introduction to Cameron’s 1992 edition of  the Artist’s Way, she quoted the Romantic poet Coleridge in the right margin. He said:

“The primary imagination I hold to be the living power.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 1772-1834

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were best friends. They were both Romantic poets and wrote after William Blake did. Their writings echo those of William Blake in that they advocate feelings, sensitivity, and child-like innocence].

“Genius is the power of carrying the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge also wrote about a type of Way or inner or Spiritual direction:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I believe that it is important to lay this framework for Julia Cameron’s book the Artist’s Way and to acknowledge that she is not really writing anything new. Rather, she is repeating what has been said for thousands of years and by many people before her. In fact, some of the greatest features of Cameron’s book are her quotes of other people. In most cases, these quotes run along the side margins of Cameron’s own observations. Cameron collates, organizes and reiterates in digestible chunks the wisdom of many people who preceded her. Now, twenty-five years after the first publication of the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron herself is the person being quoted in other people’s books.

In the introduction to the Artist’ Way, Cameron makes it clear that her books are not merely for artists and writers. They are for:

...artists and nonartists, painters and filmmakers and homemakers and lawyers–anyone interested in living more creatively through practicing an art; even more broadly, anyone interested in practicing the art of creative living.” p. xi the 1992 edition.

In the introduction to the Artist’s Way, Cameron speaks about our need for a God or a Great Creator; yet, she says that even atheists can benefit from her program. When Cameron speaks of God or the Great Creator, I believe that she is talking about an elite lifestyle reserved only for those people who elect to participate in it, and  I  believe that for some people, Cameron’s Great Creator can include the Christian concept of God:

“Many are called but few are chosen.” – the Bible – Matthew 22:

Yet, it can also include the Jewish concept of God:

“Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’ ” – The Talmud

By the same token, I do not believe that everyone who considers themselves to be Christian or Jewish has the kind of spirituality of Great Creator to which Cameron refers. Julia Cameron’s concept of the Great Creator is not limited to any specific doctrine, sect, or religious denomination. It is also rooted in the teachings of the Ancient, non Judeo Christian:

“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”  – Lao Tsu – Tao Te Ching

As we begin to study Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way, we must  embrace the power of what Cameron is calling The Great Creator, and I believe that essential to embracing this Creator is understanding it and if necessary in distinguishing it from a purely religious God. Again, I believe that Julia Cameron is partially speaking about what I call the Intuition. Even though he was a great scientist, Albert Einstein endorsed the power of the intuition, as he said:

“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein

Many, many times before, I have said that when I am doing my best writing and my best painting, I am not actually doing either. My intuition is doing it for me.

If you will look closely at my painting of the pink tulips, you will see a flush of hot pink within and running through the leaves. I painted these tulips from a life observation of a pot of tulips and something literally directed my hand to the pink paint and nudged me into the act of flooding it through the green leaves. Somehow, I sensed the need of the color pink, and I  sensed exactly where to place the pink.  After I finished the painting, I didn’t name it: Pink Tulips. I named it In the Pink, and it was because of the way that the pink actively engaged with the green.

 

When I painted Janis Joplin, I began thinking of the essence of Janis Joplin’s performances, and something told me to electrify her hair. When I am painting well, I don’t make decisions like these. Something within me directs me, and I call that something my Intuition, which is somehting greater than me.

I am reminded of the scripture from the Christian Bible:

4 “,,,greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  I John 4:4

If I were writing my parallel view of this scripture, I would say:

“Greater is He who is in me than I who am in my way.” – Jacki Kellum

This power that is within me is my Intuition.

If I were going to reduce the message of Julia Cameron’s book the Artist’s Way into a tiny jingle, I would say that the Artist’s Way is about our need to get out of our own ways and to let that greater power within us do its job. In my opinion, writer’s block, painter’s block, and every other kind of brain freeze happens because we get in our own ways. When we try to take control of what we create, and when we don’t allow our intuitions to work through us, we get in our own ways.

In my opinion, the first step toward the Artist’s Way is to Release.

My name is Jacki Kellum. I essentially have 3 masters degrees in the arts, and I have written and created visual art since I was a very young child. Over the years, I have read Julia Cameron’s books several times, and every time that I do, I discover something new. I am currently leading a writer’s group, and we are taking a few weeks to explore the Artist’s Way together. I plan to share some of my lectures on my blog and on YouTube. I hope that you will join us.

©Jacki Kellum March 30, 2017

The More We Give, the More We Receive – Why Blog? – Create to Discover New Ideas & New Creations

Yesterday, in my writing class, we talked about hoarding. I am not sure how the conversation began, but it quickly evolved into a discussion of the clutter that has amassed in all of our homes. Everyone agrees that the stuff that we hoard eventually strangles us and that we need to learn to let go. Many years ago, I read a short parable about the Dead Sea and about the damaging results of its refusal to give.

Two-Seas

The Parable of the Two Seas

“There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Along its shores the children play…..

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.

The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.

What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie not the country about.

This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are two seas in Palestine.” – Anonymous

The Bible talks about Giving:

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

Initially, when I read the above scripture, I assumed that it was simply telling us to give of our money and of our groceries to actually provide those groceries for those around us. But I believe that the hunger and  the feeding in the Bible were about more than something that goes into our mouths. I believe that the Bible also talks about the pervasive hunger of the human spirit and of the needs of the soul.

William Blake was an English poet during the Romantic age of literature. He was a Christian, but he wrote about an emotional hunger that was broader than that described by most traditional Christians. In Blake’s early poems, The Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience, he contrasted the child’s spirit with that of the adult, saying that the adult had become hardened and insensitive and that the adult was no longer spiritual. I find it interesting that the Bible also speaks about the child.

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘ Matthew 18:3

In Blake’s early poems, he was talking about more than childhood. Blake was talking about an emotional youth or spirituality.[I believe that the Bible is also talking about more than childhood]. Ultimately, William Blake described a Heaven and a Hell for people who either connect with their emotional spirituality or innocent imaginations or who choose not to connect with it. Blake said that the Imagination was the path to his Heaven, and he also wrote about a Christ-like figure Los, who was the embodiment of the Imagination. In Blake’s writing, the Imagination [Los] leads one to Heaven.

One may or may not accept that Blake’s teachings were Christian.

But Christianity is not the only religion that raises the issue of the needs of the hunger of the spirit or of the soul.

homesick.jpg

I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists . . . .

Many of us identify with the statement: I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists.  If we substituted the words
“hungry” and “food,” we would probably also acknowledge that we are starving, too.

I am hungry for a food I am not sure even exists.

The Tao draws ideas from Buddhism, and the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism is that mankind lives in a state of yearning. The Buddhists believe that by aligning oneself with the Four Noble Truths, that yearning will cease, or at least, it will be lessened.

“Tao or Dao (/taʊ/, /daʊ/; Chinese: 道; pinyin: About this sound Dào (help·info)) is a Chinese word signifying ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’, or sometimes more loosely, ‘doctrine’ or ‘principle’. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, the Tao is the intuitive knowing of “life” that cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but is known nonetheless through actual living experience of one’s everyday being.” Wikipedia Here

[The Tao Te Ching–or the Dao–can be found in its entirety by Googling the words: Tao Te Ching. It is a beautiful writing.]

The Hindu religion talks about the soul. “Atman means ‘eternal self’. The atman refers to the real self beyond ego or false self. It is often referred to as ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ and indicates our true self or essence which underlies our existence.” From BBC Religions Here

I realize that I am over-simplifying all of these religious beliefs and schools of thought, but my main objective is to say that the Christians are not the only people who have identified a hunger and a need to be filled. I grew up as a Christian, and because I am slightly more comfortable talking about the Christain perspective, I return to the need to give, as it is discussed in the Bible. In an odd sort of way, I believe that humanity’s hunger has to do with the difficulty he has with giving:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

Again, I admit that this may be an over-simplification, but I believe that as we create, we give. Think about it: When we post to our blogs, we “share.” Creating is a way that we empty ourselves, and as we empty of ourselves, we allow space for another creation to begin.

The act of creating works like a bellows.

 

bellows-define

What Is A Bellows?

A bellows is a device that can be used to fan the flames and to build a larger fire. When the arms of a bellows are pulled apart, air is drawn into a bag. When the arms are squeezed shut, the air is rushed out, and the oxygen fans the flames. This increases the size of the fire.  Once the air has been emptied from the bag, the arms are pulled apart again, and fresh air is drawn back into the bag. When the arms are shut again, another blast of oxygen is expelled, and the flames leap higher. A bellows is sometimes called a blast bag.

Writing Is Like Using A Bellows

When we initially begin to write, our thoughts may be nothing more than a tiny flicker. Our thoughts need oxygen. We must fan our reflections to help them grow. We begin by pushing out the stale air which has been sitting inside our bags or our minds. When the whiff that was initially inside the bagblows out, the flame may flash for a second or two, but it needs more than a draft of stale, oxygenless air. Once the bag is empty, however, we can pull apart the bellows, and fresh ideas, renewed memories, and other invigorating thoughts will fill the bags of our minds. When we push that new bag of fresh air across the flickering light, the flames will begin to leap into the air. But in order to fill our bags with that vital and fresh oxygen, we must expel the insipid air that has been trapped inside.

Relate Using A Bellows and Creating to Emptying in the Teachings of Zen

The Full Teacup is a Zen story that illustrates the need for emptying. A man who was believed to be powerful and wise came to the Zen master to learn something new. Apparently, the student began by reciting to the master some of the things that he already knew. Apparently, he was trying to impress the master with the depth of his knowledge. After the Zen master listened for a moment, he said, “Let’ begin our session with a cup of tea.”

The master filled the student’s cup with tea, but he did not stop pouring. Tea flowed from the cup and ran across the floor. The student said, “Stop, the cup is full.”

The Zen master responded, “Exactly. Your mind is like the full cup of tea. I cannot teach you anything until you empty your mind and open yourself to something new.”

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 11

Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

When we sit down to write, we often feel that we have nothing new to say. That is because our minds are filled with stale, lifeless thoughts. Before we can begin to discover what we want to write, we must expel what is inside ourselves and we must create an empty space within our consciousnesses.

Please return to the idea of the Dead Sea, the body of water that does not empty of itself.

The Dead Sea – “Here is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter. Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.”

“What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie not the country about.

“This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

“The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

“The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named The Dead.

:There are two kinds of people in the world. There are two seas in Palestine.” – Anonymous

Allow me to add to this parable. There are also two kinds of thinkers. One type of thinker explores his thoughts and shares. In doing so, he is continuously emptying his thoughts through writing, through painting, or through producing music. Fresh ideas will continually flow inside the generous thinker’s mind, and the new ideas will replace what had previously been there. The other type of thinker will not empty of himself–he will not give. The thinker who hoards will not allow what is inside his head to flow outward. Therefore, his brain  becomes parched and dried. The grass is no longer green in this thinker’s mind, and the children no longer come to play. Nothing will change until the thinker allows what is inside himself to flow out.

We Must Create to be More Creative:

When we don’t give–when we don’t create–
We allow our inner selves to stagnate;
And stagnation leads to withering,
Which ultimately results in a type of death.
When we don’t create, we become like the Dead Sea. 

I often write about my reasons for blogging. For me, there is no money in blogging. I don’t blog to increase my wealth, but I do blog for other selfish reasons. I blog to empty my mind and to be re-invigorated through that emptying. I blog to control the chaos that results from the stagnation of too much information, and I blog to be blessed with something new to say. I would not say that I am a generous person. A generous person gives for no reason at all, and I do have a reason for giving through my creativity. I create to be more creative.

©Jacki Kellum September 23, 2016

Generous

Hitch Your Wagon to a Star – The Importance of Setting Goals & of Mapping Out Your Vision

When I was in the 7th grade, a teacher wrote the following words on the blackboard: “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

That was almost half a century ago, and I was living in a little rural town in the cotton-growing part of the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri. Before that day, I had never heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I had not thought much about life outside of my little community. In many ways, that one teacher changed the course of my life. Her name was Miss King, and she challenged me to be more than I might have been had I never met her. God Bless Great Teachers.

Miss King was an outstanding English teacher and because of her tutelage, I never had to worry about grammar after she taught me in 7th grade. That, in itself, was one of the greatest gifts that I ever received, but because I lived in a very small town, Miss King also taught me English literature in the 10th grade. That is when she opened my eyes to William Blake and to his Songs of Innocence and Experience.

As soon as I saw William Blake’s writing that he himself had illustrated, I knew that I myself wanted to write and to illustrate my own words. At least once a month, I talk about William Blake in my blogs, and I discuss how Blake challenged mankind to have feelings and to have an emotional depth. William Blake was the subject of my first master’s thesis, and his  work has fueled my own vision. I owe a great deal to William Blake, but I owe even more to Miss King, who introduced me to William Blake. It was because of Miss King that when I was 12 years old, I Hitched my own Wagon to a Star.

road-1072823_1920-RobertFrost

Miss King also introduced me to Robert Frost and through Miss King and Robert Frost, I began to realize that there was a path that led out of the cotton patches of my childhood. Thank goodness, that passage goes both ways. Although I have left my childhood home, I return to it daily through my writing. I have not turned my back on who I was, but because of who I once was and because of great teachers like Miss King, I learned to reach for other worlds. I learned to set goals, and I began walking toward those goals.

shoot-for-the-moon900

When I was in the 7th grade, I heard what Miss King was saying. I actually “got” what she was trying to tell my class. She was challenging us to aim for greatness in our lives. She was opening a door for us and challenging us to begin the journey that would become the courses of our lives.  I will be the first to admit that I have not yet reached the moon of my own goals. In fact, it has taken me quite some time to decide exactly which path that I wanted to follow. But because very early in life, I aimed for the moon, my life has indeed been lighted by the stars. And that has made all the difference to me.

Several months ago, I wrote a simple little poem. Ostensibly, the poem was a recording of the way that I felt when I initially awoke one morning. Within a few hours of having written the verse, however, I realized that through a few, simple words, I had actually captured something about the way that I have journeyed through my entire life.

silver-sheets

On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum

Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.

I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.

I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along

My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.

©Jacki Kellum December 16, 2016

For at least the past 50 years, I have Sailed on Silver sheets, and because I have allowed myself to do that, I have filled my pockets with stardust, and I have had a plethora of glorious experiences, as well as some terrible ones. But while I was bouncing from star to star, I didn’t really accomplish much that is tangible. Although it has taken a while for me to reach this point, I am finally at the place that I am ready to begin reaching for some concrete goals.

For almost a year, I have been blogging voraciously.  Even at the time that I had begun to blog, I knew that I was in the first phase of a process that is called Blogging to Book. As it turns out, I have several WordPress blogs, however, and I have been blogging to several books. Yesterday, I launched a new site that is a combination WordPress blog and website, and I have entered phase 2 of my goal to Blog to Books . I encourage everyone to read a post about my Blog to Book Experience Here.

The purpose of my blog site Blog to Memoir is to provide a home where I’ll record my experiences as I begin to hone my blogs and to turn them into books. Unlike a place where I’ll continue to “Sail on Silver Sheets,” the Blog to Memoir site is the place that you will watch me, as I begin to turn pixie dust into reality.

In the first post on Blog to Memoir, I outline the steps that I now realize should be everyone’s course, as they begin blogging to book. I wish that a year ago, I knew the things that I share in that post. I have made some business mistakes and I have wasted some time. The steps that I outline in this post will help prevent you from making some of those same mistakes. Here.

brand-800px-text

Among other things on Blog to Memoir, I tell you that in order to Blog to Book, you need to turn yourself AND each of your book ideas into Brands and you need to establish a Writer’s Platform:

What Is A Writer’s Platform?

  1. One of the first and most important things that a writer can do is to turn himself into a brand. Blogging helps with this, and if the writer tags his blogging posts and images correctly, it will help faster and more efficiently.  Each writer needs a web home where he can be found, and his web home needs to reflect the image that he wishes to portray of himself or herself.jacki_kellum_website_headerMy personal web home is http://www.jackikellum.com. Here
  2. Second, the writer needs to turn each of his books into brands. On the same Blog to Memoir post, I suggested that before you begin to blog your book, you need to title it and to buy a domain that will be associated with each book that you are blogging to book. As soon as you begin to blog your book, you need to mention the book’s domain name and your own name each time that you post. At times, the only way to do that is to mention these things in the tags, but this will also help. Following are some of the books that I officially began blogging this week: paint_past_header
     www.paintyourpast.com Herecomputer_clever_header
    http://www.computerclever.com Here

    draw_nature_headerhttp://www.drawnature.com Here
  3. If you are considering self-publishing, you may want to create your own publishing house and begin to Brand that, too. Nothing seems more amateur to me than to say that you [as an individual] published your own book. I have launched my own publishing company, too.

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http://www.juxtapositionspress.com Here

mine-memories

To help publicize your upcoming books or to increase interest in yourself and your book, you might host a free blogging event.  Here is the Free Event that I am hosting, and I hope that all of you will find the time to participate in that event Mine Your Memories: Find Your VoiceHere

As you can see, I have finally managed to step out of my starry-eyed self long enough to establish some authentic goals, and I have created several combination WordPress and Blog sites to help me move toward those goals.  If you look closely at those blog sites, however, you will see that most of them are business-related or they are places where I am teaching and offering tutorials. Contrary to places where I am “Sailing on Silver Sheets,” my new blog sites will become the virtual bricks and mortar of my quest to Blog to Book. This does not mean, however, that I have quit creating my more artistic stuff. What you will see on my site Blog to Memoir is the very unartistic process that I realize is necessary for me to get the artistic part of myself published and “out there.”

©Jacki Kellum August 13, 2016

Thomas Cole & Hudson River Painters – Art to Match the Romantic Views of the James Fenimore Cooper Leatherstocking Tales

Although Thomas Cole was born in Lancashire, he moved to the USA in 1818 and had settled in New York State by 1825. He is considered to be the founder of the Hudson River Painters, a group of artists who painted the same kind of romanticized, idealized nature that James Fenimore Cooper describes in his books. James Fenimore Cooper, the author of the Leatherstocking Tales–which include The Last of the Mohicans–was born in 1789, and he lived in upstate New York, in the Cooperstown area. James Fenimore Cooper died in  1851, and Thomas Cole died in 1848.

When I am reading James Fenimore Cooper’s books, I love to envision the paintings of Thomas Cole and the other Hudson River Painters.

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Distant View of Niagara Falls – Thomas Cole [Notice the Native Americans overlooking the water–

This could easily be an illustration for a James Fenimore Cooper Book]

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Home in the Woods – Thomas Cole

Working Title/Artist: View on the Catskill—Early Autumn Department: Am. Paintings / Sculpture Culture/Period/Location:  HB/TOA Date Code:  Working Date:  photography by mma, DT2639.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 8_6_09

Working Title/Artist: View on the Catskill—Early Autumn – Thomas Cole

I love autumn in the Northeastern part of the USA. Every autumn, I dig out my copies of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. Those books were written in an area of New York that is near where James Fenimore Cooper lived. I also begin posting all of my favorite Hudson River Paintings, and this year, I am adding Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales to the mix. It all seems to fit.

In my early college years, I studied the English Romanticists–especially William Blake and William Wordsworth. The American Romantic movement shares some of the same themes–especially the idealization of nature.

©Jacki Kellum September 14, 2016

 

 

Romanticism – William Blake – Songs of Innocence: the Concept of the Child & Anaïs Nin On An Extraordinary Life

William Blake was a champion of Romanticism, and his work was dedicated to elevating the lifestyles of the people that he believed had been ruined by the Industrial Revolution. He was especially moved to help the children. His poem The Chimney Sweeper, published in 1789, was a reaction against the practice of forcing young children to be chimney sweepers, a practice that caused the children to become deformed and to die young.

Image result for blake chimney sweeper

The Chimney Sweeper:
BY WILLIAM BLAKE

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”

And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

William Blake is considered to be one of the earliest voices of the Romantic period, and his Songs of Innocence and Experience are characteristic of the Romantic thought that the child was of value and that he deserved to be protected from the greedy of designs of mankind.

Many years ago, I carefully examined the writings and the images created by William Blake, who wrote in the late 1700’s. In a manner of speaking, Blake was one of the earliest people to become preoccupied with aging, but his concern was not that of outward appearances. He was interested in the aging of the spirit. Generally speaking, I would say that the interests of people in the 21st Century are exactly the opposite of those of William Blake. William Blake was a Romanticist. Most people today are Realists. Today, most people are concerned about their outward signs of aging, and they allow their spirits to wither and die.

During the late 1700’s,  the Realists were the people who liked the changes that had been brought about by the Industrial Revolution. The Realists liked mechanization, standardization, and outwardness. The Romanticists were a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, clutching to the Imagination as the key to Inwardness. and the key to inner peace and happiness.

The Romantic viewpoint echoes Taoism, which urges a return to the Way. In his 1955 translation of the Tao Te Ching, Raymond Blakney provided the following definition of the Tao:

“Tao – A road, a path, the way by which people travel, the way of nature, and finally, the Way of reality.”

The Romantics would view the Realists as superficial. The Romantics believe that the Realists limit their life-views to the external or the obvious, like that of reading the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper, People magazine, etc., rather than that of seeking inner wisdom or growth. Linear in viewpoint, the Realists establish a goal early in life, and they spend the remainder of their lives marching or plodding toward that goal. The Realist essentially wears blinders to anything but the outer, and the Realist wants no distractions or changes along the way. He merely wants to move from point A to point B.

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim

On the other hand, the Romantic is focused inwardly; and he embarks upon a path toward the inward. The Tao said that this was a seeking of the Way.

In Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching, the following is said:

“There are ways but the Way is uncharted “[in other words, there is no direct line point A to point B–there is not even a map].
“The secret waits for the insight” [What is essential is within]
“Those who are bound by desire See only the outward container.” [If you are moving only from point A to some pre-established point B, you are only looking at the surface–at what can readily be viewed and charted–like statistics].
Again to the first line. “There are ways. . .”

In his later work, William Blake described a type of Heaven and a Hell that he perceived as the lifestyles of the Romanticist versus the Realist. He said that the people who are led by their spirits or their imaginations are in Heaven and that the people who only see the obvious are in Hell. TS Eliot wrote The Waste Land, and it is a similar description of the results of limiting one’s life- view as outwardly and thus, limiting the nourishment of the spirit. William Blake created the Christ-like figure Los, who was the embodiment of the Imagination. The Imagination [Los] leads one to Heaven and away from the Waste  Land experiences of Hell.

So what does this all have to do with the aging crisis?

William Blake’s earlier writings were the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience. In the Songs of Innocence, Blake described an idyllic place where people who are always young reside. They are the people who have not been hardened by life. In the Songs of Experience, he described the hellish place where people who have been hardened by life are trapped. These are the people who, regardless of their physical age, are old. The people who have not been hardened by life’s experiences are  the forever young. [Peter Pan?]

I am definitely a Romanticist, and I know many people who have not reached the age of thirty yet, who are old. Even though they have no wrinkles and even though their hair has not turned gray, they have begun to wither from inside. They no longer feel. They no longer imagine. They no longer see any magic life. In my opinion, that is the true aging crisis. The true crisis is that too many people have allowed themselves to become emotionally old.

Anaïs Nin also wrote about the people who live in Blake’s Experienced World or T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land:

“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

“I disregard the proportions, the measures, the tempo of the ordinary world. I refuse to live in the ordinary world as ordinary women. To enter ordinary relationships. I want ecstasy. I am a neurotic — in the sense that I live in my world. I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

“Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous. I want to be a writer who reminds others that these moments exist; I want to prove that there is infinite space, infinite meaning, infinite dimension. But I am not always in what I call a state of grace. I have days of illuminations and fevers. I have days when the music in my head stops. Then I mend socks, prune trees, can fruits, polish furniture. But while I am doing this I feel I am not living.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

Allow Yourself the Time to Walk and to Look and to Simply Jot Some Notes Along the Way

This week, I have begun to realize that I am not allowing myself, my mind,  and my spirit enough time to stop and smell the rose petals that are scattered around my life. William Wordsworth said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions, and I am sure that this was true for him. But it is important to understand that William Wordsworth was an avid walker. and that he made sure that he filled his life with the types of moments that evoke an ever-renewing spontaneous overflow of emotion. I realize that I have not been doing enough of that.

In her Grasmere Journal, William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy wrote that Wordsworth often sat in a crude shepherd’s hut or a writer’s hut to write. Wordsworth’s writing huts  were little more than a roof and a desk that were beneath a covered shelter, and they had no walls that separated him from nature. The huts were situated in places where he had a natural view and a first-hand experience of his natural environment. Wordsworth clearly wanted to write from  a place where he could directly respond to his natural setting, and his intimacy with nature allowed himself to have the fodder needed to evoke his overflow of emotions and to refill his spirit.

Anaïs Nin also talked about the overflow that Wordsworth had mentioned:

 “You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

For the past year, I have written almost every day, but I have  done so from  a comfortable spot in my bed, with my laptop on my lap. Almost every day, I have responded to the WordPress Daily Prompts, and until recently, I have been able to draw upon memories for my writing. I have discovered, however, that I am beginning to repeat myself. Clearly, my emotional well is beginning to run dry, and I recognize that I need to do something more to provide myself with fresh writing material. Very simply, I need to recharge.

Yesterday, I began to read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal, and in it, I saw that Dorothy’s journals are nothing more than simple records of what she saw and experienced directly in her life.

“In the morning when I arose the mists were hanging over the opposite hills and the tops of the highest hills were covered with snow. There was a most lovely combination at the head of the vale–of the yellow autumnal hills wrapped in sunshine and overhung with partial mists, the green and yellow trees and the distant snow-topped mountains. It was a most heavenly morning.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Friday 10 October 1800.

There is something alive and fresh about the way that Dorothy Wordsworth captured what she actually saw on October 10, 1800. What she has written is not fancy or elegant or sophisticated, and this is very important: Dorothy Wordsworth’s entry is not long and convoluted. It is simply a record of what Dorothy saw that day.

When I blog, I clearly blog with the reader in mind. I try to write in complete sentences, and I strive to write so that other people can make sense of what I have written. I also strive to write an article that I believe is respectably long. In other words, when I blog, I feel some obligation to write full and detailed blog posts. After reading Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, however, I realize that I also need to be writing some simpler and more immediate notes about what is actually occurring around me and what I actually see day-to-day.

Dorothy Wordsworth was also a walker. On an almost daily basis, Dorothy would walk in some natural setting and she would write simple records of what she saw. Although she was not a poet per se, she closely observed the weather and the flora and fauna around the places where she walked. Afterward, in just a few words, she strove to capture her immediate impressions about what she had seen. Dorothy Wordsworth did not realize that her journals would be made public, and when she took notes on her daily life, she did not bother with grammatical correctness or with trying to write full sentences. She simply blurted a word or a phrase that signified an actual moment in her day. The following is an example of one of Dorothy Wordsworth’s longer entries in her journal:

“After tea we rowed down to Loughrigg Fell, visited the white foxglove, gathered wild strawberries, and walked up to view Rydale. We lay a long time looking at the lake, the shores all embrowned with the scorching sun. The ferns were turning yellow…here and there one was quite turned. We walked round by Benson’s wood home. The lake was now most still and reflected the beautiful yellow and blue and purple and grey colours of the sky. We heard a strange sound in the Bainriggs wood as we were floating on the water it seemed in the wood, but it must have been above it, for presently we saw a raven very high above us–it called out and the dome of the sky seemed to echo the sound–it called again and again as it flew onwards, and the mountains gave back the sound, seeming as if from their centre a musical bell-like answering to the bird’s hoarse voice. We heard both the call of the bird and the echo after we could see him no longer.” Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Sunday 27 June 1800.

As I said, the above is one of Dorothy’s longer and more refined entries, and even the above journal entry in not long, as compared to what I have deemed to be a respectably long blog post. I teach a writing class, and the excuse that i most often hear for the student’s not writing is that the student did not feel that he had enough time to write. What they are actually saying is that they did not have enough time to sit down and complete an article that is 400 -1200 words long. Everyone has time to journal the way that Dorothy Wordsworth journaled. On most days, she simply jotted a few words like in the following:

“A very fine day with showers–dried the linen & starched. Drank tea at Mr. Simpsons. Brought down Batchelors Buttons (Rock Ranunculus) & other plants–went part of the way back. A showery, mild evening–all the peas up.” May 22, 1800

Many of Dorothy’s entries are nothing more than an observation of the humdrum activities of her day, and her writing is usually noted in sentence fragments. Occasionally, Dorothy would follow a basic record of the hum-drum proceedings of her day with a simple comment about nature that was almost haiku in quality.

“No fire in the morning. Worked till between seven and  eight, and then watered the garden, and was about to go up to Mr. Simpson’s, when Miss S. and her visitors passed the door. I went home with them, a beautiful evening the crescent moon hanging above Helm Crag.” Dorothy’s Journal May 28, 1800

“A letter from Jack Hutchinson, and one from Montagu enclosing a three-pound note. No William! i slackened my pace as I came near home fearing to hear that he was not come. I listened till after one o’clock….Foxgloves just coming into blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 6, 1800

On June 16, Dorothy wrote that a child stopped by her house on his way home from Hawkhead. He was hungry, and she fed him. In a way that is typical of Dorothy’s writing the final line transforms the entry entirely:

“When I asked him if he got enough to eat he looked surprised and said, ‘Nay’.  He was seven years old but seemed not more than five….Lent three pounds nine shillings to the potter at Kendal. Met John on our return home at about ten o’clock. Saw a primrose in blossom.”  Dorothy’s Journal June 16, 1800

I call attention to the fact that in most of that day’s entry, Dorothy is talking  feeding the poor, but in the final sentence, she attaches a note about a flower that she had seen that day.

I have only read a few pages, but the following is my favorite of these entries that have a natural twist in the last sentence:

“Very cold. Baking in the morning, gathered pea seeds and took up–lighted a fire upstairs. Walked as far as Rydale with John intending to have gone on to Ambleside but we found the papers at Rydale–Wm walking in the wood all the time. John and he went out after our return–I mended stockings. Wind very high shaking the corn.”  Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal August 22, 1800

I can see that Dorothy’s quick sketches of nature have an honesty and a lyricism that is often lost when a more sophisticated record is made. And more importantly, because Dorothy’s daily notes were very short, she did not allow herself the excuse of lack of time to prevent her from journaling. After having read Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journal, I have created a new writing agenda to add to my other, more finished writing:

  • I need to get back into nature and to allow myself to simply jot down a few words here and there about what I have seen and heard.
  • I need to allow nature to recharge my writer’s well.
  • I need to embrace the fact that not every writing is obligated to be a chapter in the next break-out novel. I need to allow some of my writing to be very short and unfinished–just a word here and there.
  • I need to grant myself the time and the experiences to nourish my soul.

©Jacki Kellum September 11, 2016

Recharge

William Wordsworth – His Opinions about Poetry and Nature – The Tables Turned away from Classicism to Romanticism

William Wordsworth grew up in the Lake District of England, and the beauty of that region was of vital importance to both Wordsworth and to his sister Dorothy, who was also a writer.

“Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere in the Lake District of England. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, where they spent over eight years of “plain living, but high thinking”. During this period, William wrote much of the poetry for which he is remembered today, including his “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, “Ode to Duty”, “My Heart Leaps Up” and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, together with parts of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude.[1]

“William Wordsworth married his wife Mary in 1802, and she and her sister joined the Wordsworths at Dove Cottage. The family quickly expanded, with the arrival of three children in four years, and the Wordsworths left Dove Cottage in 1808 to seek larger lodgings.” Wikipedia Here

In his Preface to his book Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth established that Nature was a vital element in his writing.

The following comments are extracts from Wordsworth’s Preface to the Book Lyrical Ballads. Note that some of the comments are direct quotes and others are summations. You can see the entire Preface Here.

From the Preface that Wordsworth Wrote for Lyrical Ballads

  •  Write naturally but imaginatively about everyday life and write about nature
  • Write about Humble and rustic…because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language
  • Everyday life has a simplicity and is rooted in that which is elementary and fundamental to oneself.
  • Everyday life is steeped in the beauty and permanence of nature.
  • Use everyday language because the use of exalted language is a type of vanity.
  • Men who write as a way to flaunt their lofty usages of language are typically fickle.
  • “…all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”
  • Wordsworth’s poems are about concrete life and not about the abstract
  • He writes after looking steadily at his subject
  • There is little falsehood in his description
  • He avoids clichés: ” I have also thought it expedient to restrict myself still further, having abstained from the use of many expressions, in themselves proper and beautiful, but which have been foolishly repeated by bad Poets…”
  • At times, Wordsworth’s poetry sounds more like prose than that of the more classical writers.

Poets prior to Wordsworth and to the other Romanticists were more classical and formal in their writing. In Wordsworth’s opinion, they were pompous and their writings were shallow or what he described as fickle. To avoid being false in his writing, Wordsworth continuously studied nature. He deliberately elected to live in the beautiful Lake District of England, and he continuously walked through the area. His poetry is his “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” about Nature that he saw around himself. Wordsworth wrote his poem The Tables Turned  about Nature and about what he considered to be the best approach to writing, as opposed to the previous classical approach.

The Tables Turned 
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Later in the Preface to his Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth, Asks and Answers the Following Question:

What is a Poet?

He is a man speaking to men:

A man [who is] endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness,

[A man] who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind;

A man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him…

[A man who] has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present;

[A man who has] an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events….               anything which, from the motions of their own minds merely….

From practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement. …

It will be the wish of the Poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs….

[The Poet will select what he describes in words]: He will depend upon this for removing what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion

He will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or to elevate nature…

[The Poet has] faith that no words, which his fancy or imagination can suggest, will be to be compared with those which are the emanations of reality and truth. 17

[The Poet should consider himself as]  a translator….

[Others may think that of Poetry as idle amusement and may liken it to rope-dancing of Sherry]

Poetry is the image of man and nature. … Except this one restriction, there is no object standing between the Poet and the image of things….

it is a homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man, to the grand elementary principle of pleasure, by which he knows, and feels, and lives, and moves.
The Poet …. considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature.

Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science….

The Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time.

The objects of the Poet’s thoughts are everywhere….

Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man….

The Poet is chiefly distinguished from other men by a greater promptness to think and feel without immediate external excitement, and a greater power in expressing such thoughts and feelings as are produced in him in that manner. …

The Poet thinks and feels in the spirit of human passions….

But Poets do not write for Poets alone, but for men. …he must express himself as other men express themselves….

The end of Poetry is to produce excitement in co-existence with an overbalance of pleasure hope…
I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.

whatever passions he communicates to his Reader, those passions, if his Reader’s mind be sound and vigorous, should always be accompanied with an overbalance of pleasure. …

it is possible for poetry to give other enjoyments, of a purer, more lasting, and more exquisite nature.

…the interest excited by some other kinds of poetry is less vivid, and less worthy of the nobler powers of the mind, as to offer reasons for presuming, that if my purpose were fulfilled, a species of poetry would be produced, which is genuine poetry; in its nature well adapted to interest mankind permanently, and likewise important in the multiplicity and quality of its moral relations. 33

©Jacki Kellum September 5, 2016

Let Them Eat Cake – Romanticism and Its Link to the French Revolution

The French Revolution was a time of political unrest directed toward the royalty of France and its insensitivity to the poor. Contrary to popular opinion, the revolt was not led by the impoverished, but it was led by the more affluent and the writers and the artists who revolted for the poor.

Image result for William Wordsworth
In 1792-1792, the English poet William Wordsworth was living in France, and he was influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution. When he returned to England, his book Lyrical Ballads was published. In the Preface to the book, Wordsworth laid out his plan for a new kind of writing that would be about the common man and would be written for the common, everyday man.  This was a break with the Classical tradition. I explain the differences between Romanticism and Classicism  Here. 

800px-Adolf_Ulrik_Wertmüller_-_Queen_Marie_Antoinette_of_France_and_two_of_her_Children_Walking_in_The_Park_of_Trianon_-_Google_Art_Project

Marie Antoinette was the last of the French Queens and she is the embodiment of the French aristocracy’s insensitivity, which led to the French Revolution. She is quoted as having said, “Let Them Eat Cake,” but there is no proof that she actually said that.

Image result for a tale of two cities

After the French Revolution had ended, the Charles Dickens book The Tale of Two Cities was published. The book was about the French Revolution, which had taken place much earlier. The Tale of Two Cities popularized the quote: “Let Them Eat Cake.” Charles Dickens was not one of the Romanticists, but he was influenced by them.

In a round-about way, the attitude associated with the people who might have said: “Let Them Eat Cake” led to the Romantic period, which was more than a literary tradition. Romanticism was a celebration of the everyday, common man and of Nature itself, which surrounds the everyday man. It was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, which had abused and enslaved children to work in the mines and factories, to be chimney sweeps, and to survive deplorable conditions so that the wealthy could flourish and could numbly mumble about those that they oppressed such things as, “Let Them Eat Cake,” or:

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?”
“Plenty of prisons…”
“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
– Charles Dickens – The Christmas Carol

Book Cover Free ebook of The Christmas Carol Here

Again, Charles Dickens was not actually a Romanticist, but his writing was highly influenced by Romanticism. William Blake, on the other hand, was a champion of Romanticism, and his work was dedicated to elevating the lifestyles of the people that he believed had been ruined by the Industrial Revolution. He was especially moved to help the children. His poem The Chimney Sweeper was a reaction against the practice of forcing young children to be chimney sweepers, a practice that caused the children to become deformed and to die young.

Image result for blake chimney sweeper

Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience are manifestations of his concern for children. An Overview of William Blake and his role in Romanticism is Here.

Image result for blake songs of innocence and experience

Although it was half a century ago, I remember the day that my high school English teacher introduced me to William Blake. I immediately connected to Blake’s writing and his illustrations for his writing. In college, I majored both in English and in art, and I wrote my first master’s thesis on William Blake. Without a doubt, everything about me says that I am a Romantic, and everything within me is glad that I am.

©September 5, 2016 Jacki Kellum

Cake

The History Channel on The French Revolution Here

An Overview of Romanticism – A Celebration of Nature and the Child – William Blake

William Blake is considered to be one of the earliest voices of the Romantic period, and his Songs of Innocence and Experience are characteristic of Romantic thought

But Blake was also a visionary.

Some believe that Blake was a thinker and a writer who was at least 100 years before his time.

Although Blake was rejected by most of his contemporariries and while he died virtually unknown, the words of his poem Jerusalem have eventually the Anthem of England.

Jerusalem
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

William Blake’s Jerusalem Sung

© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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