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2. Blake’s Terrible Ease!

Through an accident of photographic ordering, a second infra-red print of Notebook page 5 has come from the B.M. (in connection with preparations for a new facsimile edition, still some years off); and on this page the bottom lines are surprisingly darker and more legible than had seemed possible from earlier infra and other photographs. One can, in fact, see everything, i.e. complete lines of squiggle for words; the writing is Blake at his unsteadiest (he was probably writing on one knee); and it is now possible to be well nigh definitive in the reading of these deathless lines. (Doubleday pp. 491-2; 781)

I can see now that the apparently random pair of scratches at the bottom of the page are intended to cancel lines 31-32, to be replaced by lines 33-34—with what can be now read as the same rhyme words. Page 492 in a new printing will thus be emended to conclude:

From pity then he redend round
And the Spell removed unwound
If Blake could do this when he rose up from shite
What might he not do if he sat down to write
The textual notes on p. 781 will read:

29 From pity then] Then after 1st rdg del “Then” was mended to “From”, “after” was canceled,[e] “pity then” was written above the line; in a faint photograph of this very rubbed pencil page, at one time the outside page of the Notebook, the “pi” looks like a “B”, and “then” combining with the ascending stroke of “he” looks like “thing” or “shing” (thus “Blushing” in my earlier reading). In a better photograph this and the following lines are distinctly legible.

30 removed] inserted above the line

31 rose up from] sat down to 1st rdg del

31-32 written in margin to replace the following two lines, cancelled with two slanting strokes:

If thus Blake could Shite
What Klopstock did write

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