The Ghost of a Flea – in the Flesh

As I write this, my daughter Tanith is in London for a few days. I wasn’t expecting to hear from her, as I was confident she had far better things to do with her time, so I was surprised to get an email from her yesterday. The reason she’d got in touch was because she’d chosen to visit the Tate Gallery, where she’d seen William Blake’s original painting of The Ghost of A Flea ‘in the flesh’, as I gather this fragile creation was on rare display.

Over the years, I’ve spoken at length to Tanith about William Blake, enthusing about this incomparable visionary genius, so I was naturally delighted that she’s chosen to spend her free time looking up his works for herself, while I’m sure she’ll derive just as much pleasure and satisfaction as I’ve experienced over the years from contemplating the sublime imagery and poetry that the Master created during his time on Earth.

Blake told his friend John Varley that while he was painting this nightmare vision, the spirit spoke to him and told him that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of men who were by nature ‘bloodthirsty to excess’, so this image and statement has a horrible resonance in light of the scourge that’s currently unfolding upon us all, in Paris and elsewhere.

On a happier note, one of the first friends I made after setting up this site was the gifted writer and illustrator G.E. Gellas, who has created a graphic novel entitled The Poet and the Flea that’s a reimagining of an episode in the life of William Blake, so I would urge anyone who shares our fascination with this great man to visit her site and offer her their support and encouragement.

“Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night.”
William Blake.

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