early two centuries after his death, the final resting place of William Blake (1757 – 1827) is about to be marked with a gravestone. The remains of the poet-painter lie in a common grave under an anonymous patch of grass in Bunhill Fields cemetery, just outside the City of London.On 12 August, myself and fellow trustees of the Blake Society will unveil a new ledger stone on the site, exquisitely carved by leading stonecutter Lida Cardozo. The ceremony will be open to all.
I’m hoping Bunhill Fields will be filled with people on that day, because I believe that, though Blake is long dead, he is still the finest poet of liberty and the human potential, and we need his work to awaken the dissenting imagination more than ever.
This is not how Blake is usually seen today. Most people tend to think of him as bucolic, and otherworldly, painting mystic visions of angels in Heaven while opposing the Industrial Revolution on Earth. A sort of patron saint of hippies, peaceniks and eco-warriors.
For me, nothing could be further from the truth. I think today is an apposite time to honour Blake because our present illiberal, censorious and conformist era shares many parallels with the period in which he lived [ . . . ]