BLAKE, William and Patti Smith. Songs of Innocence and of Experience A. [London]: [Morel Books, printed by Michael Phillips], [2015].

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BLAKE, William and Patti Smith.
Songs of Innocence and of Experience / Showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.
[London]: [Morel Books, printed by Michael Phillips], [2015].

4to (280 × 190 mm), 30 leaves printed on rectos only, each initialed by Michael Phillips in pencil on the verso; light toning to paper. Loose in the publisher’s plain wrappers as issued. Original photograph (253 × 203 mm / 10 × 8 in) by Patti Smith, signed in pencil on verso. Together housed in the publisher’s pale blue paper-covered board box. Fine.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience is an illustrated collection of William Blake’s poems originally produced between 1789 and 1794. Using examples of the original book held in institutional and private collections, Blake scholar Michael Phillips has recreated the relief-etched copper plate technique used by Blake. Impressions from these plates have been made on to antique paper using historic pigments to match those used by Blake.

Patti Smith received a copy of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience from her mother when she was eight years old. She has continuously drawn influence from Blake and has included his poems in her own performances on a number of occasions. In a 2004 interview with David Fricke for Rolling Stone Smith discusses Blake and the influence he had on her from an early age:

‘[Blake] was a man who had visions as a child, who was ridiculed and even beaten for having these visions. But he maintained those visions his whole life. Wherever they came from, whether he animated them from within or they were from God, William Blake held on to his vision. He never got a break in his life. His work never sold. He lived in poverty. When he spoke out, he nearly lost his life. He could have been hanged for insurrection.

What I learned from William Blake is, don’t give up. And don’t expect anything. Like when you were asking me, did I deserve a record deal? Don’t expect it. I have a great life. I’ve seen dark times too and have had, in certain times of my life, nothing. No material things, not much prospects -- except my own imagination. But if you perceive that you have a gift, you already have life. Everything else is, as they say, gravy.’

This edition of 30 copies includes a selection of poems from Songs of Innocence and of Experience, together with the title-pages and frontispieces. It is issued together with one of two photographs by Patti Smith of Blake’s life mask. We have two copies available, one with each photograph.


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