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An Unpublished Poem by S. Foster Damon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
    • Thomas L. Minnick
    • Review Editor
    • Nelson Hilton
    • Associate Editor for Great Britain
    • Frances A. Carey
    • Contributors
    • G.E. Bentley, Jr.
    • David Bindman
    • V.A. De Luca
    • Karl Kroeber
    • Jenijoy La Belle
    • Raymond Lister
    • Josephine McQuail
    • Karen Mulhallen
    • Joseph Viscomi
    • Margaret LaFrance

    Digital Edition

    • Editors:
    • Morris Eaves, University of Rochester
    • Robert Essick, University of California, Riverside
    • Joseph Viscomi, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Project Manager
    • Joe Fletcher
    • Technical Editor
    • Michael Fox
    • Previous Project Manager and Technical Editor
    • William Shaw
    • Project Director
    • Adam McCune
    • Project Coordinator, UNC:
    • Natasha Smith, Carolina Digital Library and Archives
    • Project Coordinator, University of Rochester:
    • Sarah Jones
    • Scanning:
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    • XML Encoding:
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    • Additional Transcription:
    • Adam McCune
    • Jennifer Park
    • Emendations:
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    • Mary Learner
    • Adam McCune
    • Ashley Reed
    • Jennifer Park
    • Scott Robinson
    • XSLT Development:
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    • Joseph Ryan
    • William Shaw
    • PHP and Solr Development:
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    • Project Assistants:
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    • Rachael Isom,
    • Mary Learner,
    • Jennifer Park,
    • Ashley Reed,
    • Adair Rispoli,
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    • Use Restrictions
    • Copyright © 2015 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.