“This recording is part of the Blake Voice project of the Blake Society.
The aim of this project is to produce new recordings of Blake’s works that they can be enjoyed freely by anyone.”
“I recorded The Everlasting Gospel at my workplace on the top floor of a building in Fleet St (a street Blake knew well) after going to a local pub solo in Clerkenwell to see stand-up comedy with scientific themes. Such activity hardly prepares you for reading fiery & prophetic poetry. When I returned to work at midnight I expected to have the place to myself, but there was a lone court reporter who had to get a transcript in by the next morning and who wasn’t going home any time soon. I tentatively told him things were about to get Biblical, then went to my desk to less tentatively read the poem. As Yeats wrote: “When I was young / I did not give a penny for a song / Did not the poet sing it with such airs / That one believed he had a sword upstairs” – the voice should always be in sympathy with the words it declaims, of course, and the poets I prefer are those who sound like they might wield a sword. Of the works in this Librivox project that hadn’t already been allocated I chose The Everlasting Gospel in part because it was the sole rhyming option, and I’ve always found Blake to have dynamic economy as a lyric poet. As things turned out, I got to read some of the shorter lyrics from the Rossetti Manuscript also, though not, alas, The Tyger, London or A Poison Tree — poems I’ve been acquainted with since boyhood. One of our greatest Englishman, reading him again reminded me how mysterious, perceptive, combative and profound he was — indeed, to read him attentively is to be re-minded in many ways — and I am happy to commemorate him on his birthday, the day after my daughter’s. Many happy returns for the voice of the Ancient Bard!” [via]