Today — Elena, Laura and I explored the William Blake historic sites. We met at Piccadilly Circus and walked over to Saint James’s Church, where Blake was baptized. The baptismal font is still there, with very intricate carvings of Adam and Eve. It’s amazing to think that Blake was once a baby who could fit in that font!
Then, we took a double-decker bus through the city all the way across the Thames to Battersea to visit Saint Mary’s Church were Blake and Catherine were married. We almost got lost since there were a number of similar churchs in the area, but we managed to find the right one. The ladies in the church were a bit confused at first by our presence. But when I told them that we are Blake enthusiasts, they immediately understood.
After that, we went to visit Blake’s grave at Bunhill Fields. It was a very old but charming cemetary, and it was fascinating watching them in the process of restoring some of the old crypts and tombstones. I left a simple offering at Blake’s gravestone — an apple — and also explored the green where Blake’s physical body is supposed to have been buried (I believe The Friends of William Blake are trying to raise money and/or petition for a special monument at Blake’s actual burial site).
Then, we went to visit Westminster Abbey. Here, I unfortunately got separated from Elena and Laura, and we couldn’t find each other again. But I’m glad I went, even though it was a bit overwhelming to take in. I especially enjoyed the Poets’ Corner where I saw commemorations to Lord Byron, Lewis Carroll and Blake among others.
The absolute highlight of my day — and possibly even my trip — was the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings. I didn’t get to see all that much of the museum proper, but inside this department I was allowed to handle and examine an original print of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. When I say “prints,” I mean a copy made by Blake himself on his own printing press!! I was able to see many of my favorite poems — “The Tyger,” “The Fly,” “The Sick Rose,” etc. The prints are indescribably complex and beautiful, and surprisingly tiny. It was amazing rereading these poems as they were originally meant to be read! After that, I enjoyed afternoon tea at the museum for a surprisingly reasonable price. And I ate every last sandwich, cake, and scone.
Tomorrow, back to San Francisco!
Above is the last entry of the journal I wrote during my Cannes/London trip.
Overall, this trip was an amazing experience and I’m glad I was able to do almost everything I planned to.
I met so many amazing people along the way and was inspired by everything I encountered.
I hope you all enjoyed reading these posts!
Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas