William Blake
The Blighted Corn 1821, reprinted 1977

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
Date 1821, reprinted 1977
Medium Wood engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 34 x 73 mm
Acquisition Presented by British Museum Publications Ltd 1977
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Virgil’s First Eclogue is about farmers who had been dispossessed as a result of the civil war in Italy after Julius Caesar seized power in 49BC. Thenot (Tityrus) has retained his farm. Meliboeus (Colinet) has lost his.

Thenot agrees that Colinet was born in a ‘hapless…time’. The illustration of Blighted Corn echoes Virgil’s description of the state of chaos in the land. In his hymn Jerusalem Blake sings for those dispossessed of their ‘own Imaginations’ as he describes them in the Preface to Milton.

December 2004

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