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An Unpublished Poem by S. Foster Damon

On a particularly gloomy winter day in 1984 I attempted to cheer myself up by a visit to my friend John Guillot’s bookstore in Charlottesville, Virginia. John, now the proprietor of Magnum Opus in Charlottesville, usually had some tempting volume in the antiquarian section of Heartwood Books, which he managed then. That day he came up with a first edition of S. Foster Damon’s William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols, in which, he said, there was an amusing poem inscribed by the author. Sure enough, the flyleaf traced a mysterious exchange involving this book, which fell eventually into its author’s hands. The book bears several bookplates, including one of “Richard and Caroline Hogue,” and Damon predicated the poem:

From Caroline Hogue
to S. Foster Damon
and back again
April 29, 1941
The poem itself reveals S. Foster Damon’s sense of humor, which is quite refreshing! He imagined that
Hamlet once met William Blake
They chatted, for politeness’ sake.
Said Hamlet: “Do you see that cloud?”
Said William: “Yes! It is a crowd
Of Seraphim shouting ‘Glory! Hail!’ ”
Said Hamlet: “No. It’s like a whale.”
And so they parted, each one glad
that the other, and not he, was mad.
The readers of Blake will understand why I immediately purchased the book. I am happy to share it with the readers of the Quarterly, and I would like to thank Morton Paley for suggesting that I submit the poem to Blake, and Catherine Brown, S. Foster Damon’s literary executor, for giving permission to print it.

Print Edition

  • Publisher
  • Department of English, University of New Mexico
  • Albuquerque, NM, USA
    • Editors
    • Morris Eaves
    • Morton D. Paley
    • Managing Editor
    • Robin Tawney
    • Bibliographer
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    • Review Editor
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    • Associate Editor for Great Britain
    • Frances A. Carey
    • Contributors
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    • David Bindman
    • V.A. De Luca
    • Karl Kroeber
    • Jenijoy La Belle
    • Raymond Lister
    • Josephine McQuail
    • Karen Mulhallen
    • Joseph Viscomi
    • Margaret LaFrance

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    • Copyright © 2019 Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly, all rights reserved. Items in this digital edition may be shared in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Redistribution or republication on other terms, in any medium, requires express written consent from the editors and advance notification of the publisher. Permission to reproduce the graphic images in this digital edition rests with the owning institutions.