I also stood in Satan's bosom & beheld its desolations:
A ruin'd Man: a ruin’d building of God, not made with hands:
Its plains of burning sand, its mountains of marble terrible:
Its pits & declivities flowing with molten ore & fountains
Of pitch & nitre: its ruin’d palaces & cities & mighty works:
Its furnaces of affliction, in which his Angels & Emanations
Labour with blacken'd visages among its stupendous ruins,
Arches & Pyramids & porches, colonades & domes,
In which dwells Mystery, Babylon, here is her secret place,
From hence she comes forth in the Churches in delight,
Here is her cup fill’d with its poisons, in these horrid vales,
And here her scarlet Veil woven in pestilence & war;
Here is Jerusalem bound in chains in the Dens of Babylon.
William Blake, I arrived at Luton
airport along Milton’s track, which
breaks into the atmosphere where
Urizen intersects Luvah. I landed
In Adam’s ellipse of alu
minium. I arrived in a cloud
of helium and stars in four-
Fold London. And the air traffic
Control tower rises true enough like
Satan’s sceptre. I arrived at the
Hearthplace of transcendence and the
enormous emanations of
Krypton light that is reflected in the
glass facades as protuberances
William Blake, your poetry has its
own demonic power, its own figure
sevens its own red admiral butter
Flies which try to break through the
Light memberance of the mind and death.
It is a tribute to the secret
Kabbala and life’s blue suture
Which surround the wound that literature
And poetry have left behind in my soul,
the wound through which what was loveliest
Left me. Your poetry sings my heart aflame
once more from something that
Should already have been dead by now,
or it drowns out the silence in my mind.
William Blake, on my First Day I stand down
by the Thames considering
which element I am to celebrate.
The oil drifts like enormous sun-spots
Down the river. Death does not only come
from the water. It can just as
well come from fire, earth
Air and from metal for ex
Ample. Or death can come from
the human mind. But what are we
To grant the water in return for its beau
ty? – The heart’s darkness, a fleeting
Look or the fifth element
which is and remains poetry?
William Black, on the Second Day I reach
the docks east of the Tower behind which
the sun stands like an engraved copper coin
Green with mint. And I understand that
I am not on my way towards any job,
but like all poets on my way towards
nothingness in order to create something
Out of nothing and thereby fill up
Yet another part of the emptiness that
exists between what is alive and what is dead
Between paper and paper. And that is
surely our obligation, to name.
And the more we thus give utter
ance, the more to stay silent ourselves.
William Blake, your poetry is pure ener
gy and therefore divine, even though
its great copper beech stands on the border
Of Hell here in Kensington Gardens.
In its shrubberies the writing is gathered
into words (like mosquitoes on a water-
lily leaf) and the light’s radiuses point
Due north along the paths of syntax.
And I feel that only this piece of
paper now separates us (even though you
Always wish to read the letters
in mirror script) while that which connects
Us is the woodlice that would
scurry out, were I to lift the page.
William Blake, this time there is nothing
left. Nothing else except the holes of
metaphysics and the rain. There are no
Ruins, no comma butterly, no axioms.
Fountain Court, where you died, has re
mained in the imaginary rainbow
world. But is reality really
Always a question of the bricks of
The tangible? – Let us call off
the hunting of facts (for they prove
Nothing at all, not even their own
existence). We do not need to angle
For these makeshift signs as if for
perch. We bear all time within us.
On the Fourth Day I go eastwards: the direction
of fire and silver. I go out to
poverty and chemicals, out to
The great dynamos that still power
The Empire. I leave Whitehall to itself
and only interest myself in the wear and
tear and rust in Unicorn Passage.
It is out here that the stars are sooted
With the chimneys’ sulphurous vapours, or
their fittings are damaged by
The large transformer substations.
It is out here that the expenditure
is paid. Out here, where things
never decayed into beauty.
In this dominion of bitumen
and scrap that stretches along
Tooley Street and Jamaica Road (and
It is outside the jurisdiction of the
Common street map) England has
its roots. It is precisely out here
where the welding flames flare surgic
Ally, that the work is done and sweat
Mixes with the gall-coloured water
of the docks. Here the rose of
Reality is created out of shards and steel. That
which has been here is not real, yet
Still exists. That which is to come is not
real, yet it already exists.
East End, I pay homage to your petrol
tanks and your triangles of corrugated iron.
On Paradise Street I am on the point of
Weeping at the smell of naphtha and
Burnt rubber, for I know what the
cost is in terms of ruined lungs and
extinct brains. I pass Oro’s
Great furnaces, oil mills, refineries
And Esso posters, where the tiger
fights with his own lightning.
Everyone has his own revolution,
everyone has his own time. And it
Depends solely on the speed with which
was are drawn towards what we love.
On the Fifth Day I take the blue
line of the underground system and
end up at Arsenal’s stadium, its
Coat of arms gleaming with cannons and stars.
But apart from this dreariness spreads out
northwards from here in the direction of earth
and iron. Blackstock Road, Plimsoll Road
Gillespie Road (still outside the
Red meridians of the maps (as if
the universe ended at Kings Cross)).
Never-ending rows of termite dwell
ings and unrelenting asphalt mark
Off the empire of the wage earners.
The cement, concrete and eternity.
In Finsbury Park the negroes live in
their own lunar landscape under
stars of sodium. And at night
You cannot see their faces
Behind the marienglas. Let the
British Museum sail towards its own
history. I come out here to the
Areas of shame and bitterness,
The miles’ circumference of cables and
wires that still link Albion
To the cliff. I come out to see
Islington’s beehives and Camden’s
Burning ant-hills, which gleam deep
down within the crypts of autumn.
Do the sidings here north of
St Pancras’ station turn into the poem
like an extension of the writing?
Or are the huge gasometers’
Temples, the goods and freight halls
decorated with the five-pointed star’s
imaginary glitter pictures that rise up
Like blue posters at the back of the mind and
In the poetry of Great Britain? – At any
rate I walk along the aniline-col
Oured Battle Bridge Road between
storehouses, containers and endless
Ness. I roam in a kind of poor abund
ance the week before it’s to be sold.
In the autumn I am a tree. And in
Camley Street no trees grow.
I therefore only wither behind
These sooty walls, which smell
Of benzol and bicarbonate. No
leaves fall in the pollution
between spools and rubbish, while
The heart’s roots search for soil and water.
In spite of this the greatest pollution
is to be found in the human brain
Far from these momentary
factories and present cranes
That tower up charred in
the vast fire-sites of the sunset glow.
In Enitharmon’s magnifying glass Southwark
on this city map I’m sitting with is visible:
the rectangles signify housing blocks
And poverty, and the pink ones: housing
Speculation and profit. There are circles,
areas like new dreams, but they
remain that and no more, if you have
Traversed the lawns. Otherwise the
Orange-coloured, mental streets complete
the picture of a sterile
Abstraction that ignores
humiliations and sufferings. On a
Printed model the United Kingdom lies
on the paper like a coloured fantasy.
Thrush, my friend, you never come any
more to these parched slopes
at Bermondsey Wall from the
red ballroom of your roses, never more
Imprint your small hieroglyph in
this mud and in our sooted
hearts that function as ware
Houses and coalyards. Where the haw
Thorn blossomed much pain now
reigns, which the dew cools. For
Here no one can bring water out of
the rock any more and the barrenness grows
Behind its barbed wire fence. Why then have
you left behind one of your flight feathers for us?
London. Burning pacemaker. Bleeding
heart-throb in the capital. Hardly
a beauty any more. And no victims.
Ignites hope. Faith. Love. Only iron
Candelabra. Between these and memory.
But remembers the future. And gratitude.
I. One of my stones. One of my
Shoes full of clouds on Trafalgar
Square. This doesn’t go from England. My.
That and the half-heart’s Spanish cedar
For final ahses. Roots here of
definitive freedom. One of my corner
Stone’s blue imprimatures. This Albion is
forgotten, isn’t it. That. Through rusty centuries.
London. Seen. Or through glass.
Oxford Street. Where. Buy or die.
Sell or hell. Money fells my hand.
I count through notes and years. Pre
Date death and exchange my life. Coin
by coin. And there to. Big business.
Money fells spirit. I Snowberries gleam
Because. Leaf by leaf. Hyde Park. Visions.
There and feel my heart. Onwards.
Brighter like when claret in sunlight. I.
Goodbye economy. I look for find
the sun’s. Also my my runs blood.
Runs my a. Through this glass.
Blackens with the red over green. And.
Welcome to London. Greatest
tourist centre. World. Hope.
Pleasant stay with us. There are
Many things. Do. Such as.
Visits to. Visits to Buckingham
Palace. Where you. Changing of
guard. The Tower. You. From
St. Paul’s Cathedral. Host of other.
Yes. London is wonderful. City.
Hope. Stay. Adda International
Has already six hotels in. Hotel.
Your hall porter. And. Directions.
To. Between. And. Have fun and
joy. Come back. Us. Again. Soon.
Souvenirs of a to London can. In
profusion but. Discriminating.
Favourite hobby. Wherever may be.
Antique markets. Of course there
Are antique shops. Tastes that
way. You can explore different
parts. London. Day. An antique
Centre. In. Is a great. Which.
Dealers. At favours. That my. That
tube station. This is a colour
Ful mixture of antiques. To
buy seriously. And need. Be
Fore 08.00. Goes on. Later after
noon. You. Opening of the silver.
London. Postcard on twice. Techni
colour. And infra-red at night. Bond
Street. Do not remember street even
Though banks. Fur shops. You. Yours. Soul
Wrapped in furs. Body in emptiness.
Elsewhere. And. And. Not Lloyd’s
not even insure your love.
This exists also. Money’s. None.
So make virtue out of necessity. Your
belief. Do not remember. If staying
Even if here. Street. Street. In
fingerprints’ panes of nothingness.
A. A, A. A door opens. A.
And the sunset in Lambeth flying.
London. Gearbox connected to our
history. For business and export.
Red lions of flag. Cannons turn
This world. Hardly used-up words or
Spirit as when burnt. So as to. I there.
And an open brain to the sky.
The rain. Almost at home in this. I
Buy shaving cream. As. And spirit for
My mind. What else is needed. Or.
I here. And almost home. Between
Monday and Tuesday. Abyss of rain.
Green behind the mirrors. I and rain.
Empire. See in the water that not. The
archetypes that look like me. Serpentine.
Whitehall is the triumphal avenue of power
gleaming with plumes and bronze.
And here its diagonals intersect in
A satanic quaternity. Even so
I pluck up courage and enter on my
crêpe rubber soles the chess fields
of the economy. I take up the
Challenge and pit my words against
Gold and money, my poems
against business and utility.
I acknowledge the special regulations
of imports and exports, but do
Not recognise them. And I place
my fantasy’s images on the scales.
Between the Admiralty and the War Office
the god of war himself stands on his column
gleamingly handsome against the mulberry
Coloured sea of the evening sky. And I think
Of the silhouettograph I have of him which
hangs like a guardian angel above
my bed, ponder at length over
This mental weakness of mine. What am I
To fight against this armed power
with, when my own heart falls for it
From time to time? – I only have
the spirit and the liners of my
Ravaged dreams to set up against the
tooled cannons of reality.
I’m standing near Buckingham Palace, which
lies like an emerald in the autumn.
The moral and ethical and respectable
Might continues to shine with
A particular sheen and still binds
many a mind that could be opened
towards other and more essential
Empires. But all I have is my
Fragile metaphors and my flimsy
ideas that are full of cal
Cium and ashes to try and offset
this ermine sky and these
Parades and weddings of queens.
I have my inscrutable doubt.
The Houses of Parliament with their ivory
chambers’ rhetoric, the cornerstone of
democracy, from where special laws
For the protection of the wealthy
Proceed and political power is
exercised without hesitation for the
benefit of the strong, rich and well-
Endowed. Despite this I am on the point of
Believing that the interests of the people are
what are taken care of here. But
In the sober lighting of the winter
sun I quickly turn to other
Thoughts. I wager my last word
on the transparency of anarchy.
This black Tuesday there can be no
doubt. I steer directly south down to
Urizen’s realm of fallen angels.
The wind governs these regions, but
Does not weigh down the heart, it only
airs through its private chambers
of crackling lacquer. The ochre of
Official junctions also sweeps it
Clean of cardboard and silver paper. It
sings between the four columns of
Reality that rise up from Battersea
Power Station. And who knows, perhaps
The wind will also turn reality’s
blue pages here in the Vauxhall district.
It is The Sixth Day and everything should
have been of gold. But the intellect has
gone amok in Brixton, where it is
Completely eclipsed by exhaust fumes.
The railway bridges cross the infinity
of the motorways’ figures of eight -
And here lives Great Britain’s
Staff of servants, Asians and West
Indians among the mechanical work
shops of pain, an utter jumble
Of abstract scaffoldings and ammon
iac holders that float like strange
planets in the sky. I mark this precinct
of the city with a black drawing pin.
The Seventh Day there is only the west
left: the reguladetri of matter.
The sun hangs like a Ferris wheel
Over the ruler-straight streets of Holland Park
And the plane trees here, are they guarding
the realm of the dead, standing right on
the boundary like some guarantee of
Life. And if you walk in under them,
Do you then feel a swish from Hell.
Did God one day leave a letter of rain
In their mighty crowns. Or
do these naked winter branches
Measure your longing. Do you yourself
bear a plane tree in your heart?
For this we know: that the west represents
snakes, brass and the waters of death.
Therefore I often go down to the
Serpentine in order to reflect myself in
The lake, but only see the usual
dead man’s skull among shadows and
maple leaves. I am staying in Bayswater’s
Fourth quadrant, where there is a constant
Scent of fir trees and the facades are
of marble and neither Chinese nor
Africans are seen before nightfall.
I launch this poem onto the waters
Of life. May the writing bear it across
to you before the evening’s smokefall.
Finally there is White City (and the
underground really does drive out into
white light) the last stone that falls
Into place in this metaphysical rectangle.
And tomorrow is my fortieth birthday.
The age at which everything weighs
the same on the spirit’s scales. The age
At which only what we love is shared
And the rest is cut off by loneliness.
I have found that grain of sand
In Lambeth that Satan never finds.
But here it is bitterly cold
And the clouds hang like gauze in
the upper air above the BBC buildings.
William Blake, it is the Third Night.
The Thames lies at my feet,
white as rye in the moonlight. And
The night is still and transparent
From the air’s embrace. But today
no one believes any more in the
transparent. Or they hardly
Place any value in it. So it is
Conceivable that what is most real is
silently consigned to oblivion between
the hours around midnight, even though it
Does not lose its reality for that reason.
At Westminster Bridge your spirit touches me.
And I become beautiful as if I were going to die.
William Blake, therefore I can calmly
look inwards into the darkness between the
illuminated panes of your etchings
(Green and blue like the space behind eyelids
After the ingestion of large quantities
of salicylic acid). I look calmly into
the black mirrors, where the five-pointed star
Strikes your left foot. Am I then while
Awake to exclude what others accept
even in sleep: the final path
Of reality? – Not necessarily,
rather insert it in its right
Reality here in the Hyde Park of November
mists, here in the dark circle of the blackbird.
William Blake, on the Eighth Night you
dreamt of a large seven-inch nail there
down under Lambeth’s dome of
Moonlight. A week later you found a ham
Mer and a plank of pinewood in broad
daylight. That is how the real is put
together, not only by the work of
Hands. When things are born in joy
It is because our tenderness embraces
them with more than the hand, which
Squeezes the blue physics of the implements.
Because we enclose more than the
Small poppy hearts of their volume.
more than their tangibility.
William Blake, it is in November that
things appear most distinctly. The light
mercilessly extracts the statue from
Its almost numinous brass
(The metal from which the doors
of the human heart are cast)
and the body from its musculature.
The transparency is total over
The Thames like a tempered blade in the
centre of matter. It is in
November that the things fall home
to God, because we betray them.
We did not see their invisible blue cross,
but exchanged them recklessly.
William Blake, on the Ninth Night I
fold a bird out of a green crêpe serviette
so as to celebrate the silence and the
Invisible. For to want to prove
Existence or the life of a swallow is
a risky business even so. I found
only few traces of you, no gravestone
Or memorial plaque in either Poland
Street or at the Hercules Buildings, and
that reassured me. Therefore your
Words and symbols, this origami of the spirit,
are probably stars behind closed eyes.
But they prove nothing. At best, they lead
down to a large, subterranean tree.
William Blake, if we constantly draw our
index finger along the wound-edge of
reality (and it has the colour of
Algae that grow along the tide-marks
Of the Thames’ quays) we risk
losing our lives because of too
many facts. Let us give the
Excavated silver coins and the potsherds
Of death a little peace, even thought they
are the last defence against unreality.
Let us not conclude from them, but with
them. But he who has been in Heaven
And Hell and now doubts the Earth,
for him there is only Eternity left.