THE LEAST BLAKE
Poetry of William Blake. Winterport, Maine: Borrower’s Press, 1978. 34 pp., no plates.
This little work seems to have been overlooked in the bibliographies of Blake in Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, the MLA annual bibliography, The Romantic Movement bibliography, and elsewhere. The reason for such oversight is plain enough, for it is only the size of a thumb-nail: 5/8″ × 3/4″ (1.5 × 2.0 cm.), and it is “limited to 300 numbered, signed copies,” according to the colophon.
The contents are moderately straightforward; an anonymous “Introduction” (pp. 5-6) and “many” (nine) poems from the Songs. The “Introduction” says, on the whole truly enough, that the text “retains his archaic spelling and unconventional capitalization where possible.” The second most striking feature of the tiny text, however, is the way it has been abbreviated. The title and the word “I” in l. 18 have dropped out of the “Introduction” to Innocence, and half of “Infant Joy,” the second stanza, has disappeared.
The price of the work, at least the price paid for it to an antiquarian bookseller (£29 = about $70), may make it the most expensive uncolored literary work by Blake per square centimeter ever sold—68¢/cm2. It is far beyond the Blake Trust facsimiles and even surpasses uncolored Blake originals; Songs of Innocence and of Experience copy h, which sold for $15,000 in 1981, comes to only 47¢ per square centimeter.