Thursday, August 13, 2015

Who was Thomas Butts and More Blake Poetry

 How is the Butts research going D? or should I call you John?

(Watch episode 310 of Hannibal)

I think I'll suggest to Audible, and not for the first time that Richard Armitage should record a selection of William Blake's poems.

From the tiny bit of research I've done, Thomas Butts, mentioned by Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) as his research reason for wanting to see Blake's painting:

 was Blake's benefactor. He bought Blake's drawings and paintings for 30 years.  

Who was Thomas Butts:
 

"Thomas Butts (d. 1845), another friend whose relations
with Blake remained untroubled over a long period, had
first met Blake about 1793, through what connexions is
not known. He was so consistent a buyer of Blake's works
that he was referred to as "my employer", and the Butts
collection became so large that it was, throughout the
nineteenth century, the chief repository of Blake's artistic
output. To Butts Blake was always able to open his heart,
and it was Butts's regular payments, as will be seen from
the accounts and receipts printed here, that kept the wolf
from his door. Butts lived in Fitzroy Square, near enough
to Blake for him sometimes to take his payment in the
form of coals, and he even sought to increase Blake's
income by engaging him to instruct himself and his son,
young Tommy, in drawing and engraving. Both Blake
and posterity owe a debt to Thomas Butts which cannot
be computed, though the only letter from Butts to Blake
which has been preserved suggests that Butts was a dumb
admirer of genius, which he could see but did not quite
understand. Butts has often been referred to as "Muster-
master General", and indeed his family seems to have led
Gilchrist to believe that he enjoyed this title, but Mr.
G. E. Bentley jr. has found by reading the Muster-master
General's papers in the Public Record Office that he
was no more than chief clerk in the office and wrote
the letters concerned with the enlistment of soldiers,
sharing this work with his two sons. His salary for this
employment was very modest and it is difficult to see
how he could afford the generous patronage he gave to
Blake unless he had other sources of income. He did,
in fact, die a wealthy man and it seems probable that
he was a judicious investor in commodities and real
estate."
From  The Letters of William Blake by Geoffrey Keynes


Blake wrote a poem dedicated to Butts:



To Thomas Butts
By William Blake  (1757–1827)
 
TO my friend Butts I write           
My first vision of light,  
On the yellow sands sitting.       
The sun was emitting    
His glorious beams                 
From Heaven’s high streams.    
Over sea, over land,      
My eyes did expand      
Into regions of air,          
Away from all care;               
Into regions of fire,        
Remote from desire;     
The light of the morning              
Heaven’s mountains adorning: 
In particles bright,                  
The jewels of light          
Distinct shone and clear.              
Amaz’d and in fear         
I each particle gazèd,     
Astonish’d, amazèd;             
For each was a Man       
Human-form’d. Swift I ran,         
For they beckon’d to me,            
Remote by the sea,       
Saying: ‘Each grain of sand,                
Every stone on the land,              
Each rock and each hill, 
Each fountain and rill,    
Each herb and each tree,             
Mountain, hill, earth, and sea,         
Cloud, meteor, and star,              
Are men seen afar.’       
I stood in the streams   
Of Heaven’s bright beams,         
And saw Felpham sweet                    
Beneath my bright feet,              
In soft Female charms; 
And in her fair arms       
My Shadow I knew,       
And my wife’s Shadow too,              
And my sister, and friend.           
We like infants descend               
In our Shadows on earth,            
Like a weak mortal birth.             
My eyes, more and more,                  
Like a sea without shore,             
Continue expanding,     
The Heavens commanding;        
Till the jewels of light,   
Heavenly men beaming bright,        
Appear’d as One Man, 
Who complacent began               
My limbs to enfold         
In His beams of bright gold;        
Like dross purg’d away        
All my mire and my clay.              
Soft consum’d in delight,             
In His bosom sun-bright               
I remain’d. Soft He smil’d,           
And I heard His voice mild,                 
Saying: ‘This is My fold,
O thou ram horn’d with gold,    
Who awakest from sleep            
On the sides of the deep.           
On the mountains around                  
The roarings resound    
Of the lion and wolf,      
The loud sea, and deep gulf.      
These are guards of My fold,     
O thou ram horn’d with gold!’          
And the voice faded mild;           
I remain’d as a child;      
All I ever had known      
Before me bright shone:             
I saw you and your wife                      
By the fountains of life.
Such the vision to me    
Appear’d on the sea.

Bartleby.com 

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