Morton D. Paley


Morton PaleyIt all started when my high-school girlfriend gave me a copy of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Although it was in black and white, I was fascinated—I had never seen a combination of word and image like that before. I read the poems so many times that, without trying to, I memorized them. I walked the streets of New York reciting them to myself. Entry to the longer poems was more difficult. I picked up a Blake edition—text only—in a used bookstore and was baffled by the Urizen books. As for many others, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell proved my way in. After that celebration of devilish wisdom, I was excited by America and could go on to experience the other Lambeth books. The long works came when I was ready for them. I began writing on Blake in order to understand him better. Among the many rewards of my research have been friendships with other scholars—older at first, then my peers, and now in many instances younger—that have enriched my life in ways that I can hardly describe. Among these has been my relationship with Morris Eaves, who blazed across my path in 1970 and has been deep in my mind and heart ever since.

While I have continued to write books to help me understand Blake, I’ve also explored apocalyptic art in Britain, apocalyptic and millennial poetry, and at this moment the art of George Romney. Yet I keep coming back to the poet-artist who for me is the greatest of all.

Morton Paley’s CV