What's up, Dame Wiggens?

Dame Wiggens is currently planning for new recordings that will start in April 2008, and continue during the summer.


Concerts

2008-02-09: Release party for the album "divine images", Malmö/Sweden


William Blake

William Blake (November 28, 1757 - August 12, 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts. He was voted 38th in a poll of the 100 Greatest Britons organised by the BBC in 2002.

According to Northrop Frye, who undertook a study of Blake's entire poetic corpus, his prophetic poems form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language." Others have praised Blake's visual artistry, at least one modern critic proclaiming Blake "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced." Once considered mad for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is highly regarded today for his expressiveness and creativity, and the philosophical vision that underlies his work. He himself once indicated, "The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself."

While his visual art and written poetry are usually considered separately, Blake often employed them in concert to create a product that at once defied and superseded convention. Though he believed himself able to converse aloud with Old Testament prophets, and despite his work in illustrating the Book of Job, Blake's affection for the Bible was accompanied by hostility for the established Church, his beliefs modified by a fascination with Mysticism and the unfolding of the Romantic movement around him. Ultimately, the difficulty of placing William Blake in any one chronological stage of art history is perhaps the distinction that best defines him.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul are two books of poetry by the English poet and painter, William Blake. Although Songs of Innocence was first published by itself in 1789, it is believed that Songs of Experience has always been published in conjunction with Innocence since its completion in 1794.

Frontispiece to Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence mainly consists of poems describing the innocence and joy of the natural world, advocating free love and a closer relationship with God, and most famously including Blake's poem The Lamb. Its poems have a generally light, upbeat and pastoral feel and are typically written from the perspective of children or written about them.

Directly contrasting this, Songs of Experience instead deals with the loss of innocence after exposure to the material world and all of its mortal sin during adult life, including works such as The Tyger. Poems here are darker, concentrating on more political and serious themes. Throughout both books, many poems fall into pairs, so that a similar situation or theme can be seen in both Innocence and Experience.

Many of the poems appearing in Songs of Innocence have a counterpart in Songs of Experience with opposing perspectives of the world. The disastrous end of the French Revolution caused Blake to lose faith in the goodness of mankind, explaining much of the volume's sense of despair. Blake also believed that children lost their innocence through exploitation and from a religious community which put dogma before mercy. He did not, however, believe that children should be kept from becoming experienced entirely. In truth, he believed that children should indeed become experienced but through their own discoveries, which is reflected in a number of these poems. Blake believed that innocence and experience were "the two contrary states of the human soul", and that true innocence was impossible without experience.

Lyrics on Dame Wiggens divine images

The Garden of Love

1. The GARDEN of LOVE

I went to the Garden of Love.
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not, writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

London

2. LONDON

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice; in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

The Divine Image

3. The Divine Image.

To Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
All pray in their distress:
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
Is God our father dear:
And Mercy Pity Peace and Love,
Is Man his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine
Love Mercy Pity Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

Nurse's Song

4. Nurse's Song

When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still.

Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Come come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies

No no let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all coverd with sheep

Well well go & play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed
The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh'd
And all the hills ecchoed

Detail from The Angel

5. The Angel / The SICK ROSE

I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe, was neer beguil'd!

And I wept both night and day
And he wip'd my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight

So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush'd rosy red:
I dried my tears & armd my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears.

Detail from The Sick Rose

Soon my Angel came again:
I was arm'd, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled
And grey hairs were on my head

- - -

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

6. Introduction. / EARTH'S Answer.

Introduction to Songs of Experience

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees
Whose ears have heard,
The Holy Word,
That walk'd among the ancient trees.

Calling the lapsed Soul
And weeping in the evening dew:
That might controll
The starry pole:
And fallen fallen light renew!

O Earth  O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

Turn away no more:
Why wilt thou turn away
The starry floor
The watry shore
Is giv'n thee till the break of day.

- - -

Earth rais'd up her head,
Earth's Answer From the darkness dread & drear,
Her light fled:
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair.

Prison'd on watry shore
Starry Jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar
Weeping o'er
I hear the Father of the ancient men

Selfish father of men
Cruel jealous selfish fear
Can delight
Chain'd in night
The virgins of youth and morning bear.

Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower?
Sow by night?
Or the plowman in darkness plow?

Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!
That free Love with bondage bound.

The Clod & The Pebble

7. The CLOD & the PEBBLE

Love seeketh not Itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care;
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hells despair.

    So sung a little Clod of Clay,
    Trodden with the cattles feet;
    But a Pebble of the brook,
    Warbled out these metres meet.

Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to Its delight:
Joys in anothers loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heavens despite.

8. The Little Black Boy.

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white,
White as an angel is the English child:
But I am black as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree
And sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east began to say.

 

 

The Little Black Boy

Look on the rising sun: there God does live
And gives his light, and gives his heat away.
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning joy in the noon day.

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.
And these black bodies and this sun-burnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear
The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice,
Saying: come out from the grove my love & care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.

Thus did my mother say and kissed me.
And thus I say to little English boy.
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy:

Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear,
To lean in joy upon our fathers knee.
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him and he will then love me.

Detail from Nurses Song

9. NURSES Song

When the voices of children, are heard on the green
And whisprings are in the dale:
The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind,
My face turns green and pale.

Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Your spring & your day, are wasted in play
And your winter and night in disguise.

To Tirzah

10. To Tirzah

Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free:
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blowd in the morn; in evening died
But Mercy changd Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part,
With cruelty didst mould my Heart.
And with false self-decieving tears,
Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears.

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free.
Then what have I to do with thee!


It is Raised
a Spiritual Body.

Detail from A Divine Image

11. A DIVINE IMAGE / THE LILLY

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face
Terror, the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy, the Human Dress.

The Human Dress, is forged Iron
The Human Form, a fiery Forge.
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.

- - -

Detail from The Lilly

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn:
The humble Sheep, a threatning horn:
While the Lilly white, shall in Love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright