The Monday Poem – The Shepherd by William Blake

b. 1757 d. 1827


The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself. – William Blake

This week’s Monday Poem is William Blake’s The Shepherd. I hope you enjoy it. It’s not a strange or odd piece, but it’s lovely and I like Blake…

Copy B of William Blake's hand-painted print of "The Shepherd". This copy, printed and painted in 1789, is currently held by the Library of Congress.
Copy B of William Blake’s hand-painted print of “The Shepherd”. This copy, printed and painted in 1789, is currently held by the Library of Congress.



   How sweet is the Shepherd’s sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he stays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

   For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,
And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;
He is watching while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

William Blake
William Blake

After the Royal Academy, Blake’s taste for the unconventional inspired him to develop his own unique method of etching. Using an acid-proof varnish, Blake would write—backwards—text and graphics on a copper plate, then drop the plate in an acid bath. When he removed the plate from the bath, the inked areas would be left in relief. He then dabbed ink onto the elevated text and design, printed it onto high-quality paper, and, finally, hand-painted the pages in watercolor (which he and Catherine mixed themselves). Whereas traditional methods separated text and image, Blake’s innovations allowed him to blend the two seamlessly. The results were stunning and distinctive, and the technique gave him what Damrosch calls “complete control of the entire process from start to finish.” Weekly Standard

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