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Vol. 55 no. 4: Spring 2022

Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden, ed. Adam Komisaruk and Allison Dushane

  • Alexander S. Gourlay
21 April 2022
27 Apr. 2022


Blake evidently read parts of The Botanic Garden by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles, and certainly helped to illustrate it. The most striking verbal and pictorial responses in Blake are found in the Songs, The Book of Thel, and other early works, but if we count faint echoes of Darwin’s peculiar hybrid of natural science and poetry, his influence can be detected even in late projects, like Jerusalem. In Blake’s distinctive appropriative procedure, images were often derived from verbal sources and vice versa, as in the title page of Thel, in which he draws on Darwin’s Ovid-based account of the apparent sexual destruction of Anemone, the windflower, by Zephyr, the west wind.