“He [William Blake] looked forward to the return of the Golden Age, when ‘all that was not inspiration should be cast off from poetry.’ Then, whenever the metaphors and the rhythms of the poet were heard, while the voice of the sects had fallen dumb, should be the new Sinai, from which God should speak in ‘Thunder of Thought and flames of fierce desire.’” - Edwin J. Ellis and William B. Yeats
FIRST EDITION EDITED BY YEATS, with beautiful lithographed reproductions of Blake's Prophetic Books. One of only 500 copies of the regular paper issue (out of a total of 650).
Yeats “marked down William Blake as a master early on, and with Edwin Ellis produced a large-scale commentary on Blake's prophetic writings in 1893. While often erratic and idiosyncratic, it helped establish the importance of Blake's esoteric verse” (Dictionary of National Biography).
“From 1889 to 1893 Yeats was involved with Edwin Ellis, a minor painter and poet, in a three-volume edition of Blake’s works, with a memoir and interpretation of the symbolism. He was pleased to find that Blake’s ideas harmonized with those of the Theosophists and the Hermetic Students of the Golden Dawn, for he now had the authority of a great poet for using occult material... Blake, in short, bore an astonishing resemblance to Yeats... Here was a lofty justifying precedent” (Richard Ellman, Yeats: The Man and the Masks).
This set contains the likely the first reproduced illustrations of Blake’s Prophetic Books and is the first collection to publish Blake’s “Vala, or the Four Zoas”.
London: Bernard Quaritch, 1893. Quarto, original vibrant green cloth, spines and upper covers elaborately decorated in pictorial gilt with a figure inspired by the frontispiece of Blake’s Songs of Experience. Complete with three portrait frontispieces and many illustrations and lithographed facsimiles, chiefly in volume III. Usual occasional scattered foxing to text (plates generally clean); Contents gathering detached from volume III (only noticeable if you pull it out); light wear to cloth at spines and joints; cover gilt exceptionally bright. A very nice copy of a difficult set to find in collectible condition.
Price: $3,800 .