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Thread: Mystery:unknown poem by William Blake

  1. #1
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    Mystery:unknown poem by William Blake

    Hello,

    I read a nice poem about death and a sailing ship. Being french, I first read this poem translated in french and this poem is attributed to William Blake. However, I would like to read the original version and after many searches on the web, I didn't find any. Many religious websites have this poem and all of them attributes the poem to Blake.

    Does anybody know something about it? What is the original version? Is it really a poem by William Blake? Is it a scam?

    Any help is welcome. It is a mystery to me, a nice one :-).

    Thank you.

    Here is the french version:
    ---------------------------------
    Le Voilier

    Je suis debout au bord de la plage.
    Un voilier passe dans la brise du matin et part vers l'océan.
    Il est la beauté, il est la vie.
    Je le regarde jusqu'à ce qu'il disparaisse à l'horizon.

    Quelqu'un à mon côté dit :
    "Il est parti !"
    Parti ? Vers où ?
    Parti de mon regard, c'est tout...

    Son mât est toujours aussi haut,
    sa coque a toujours la force de porter sa charge humaine.
    Sa disparition totale de ma vue est en moi,
    pas en lui.

    Et juste au moment où quelqu'un près de moi dit : "Il est parti !",
    il en est d'autres qui, le voyant poindre à l'horizon et venir vers eux,
    s'exclament avec joie :
    "Le voilà !"...

    C'est cela la mort.
    ---------------------------------
    And here is its approximative translation (sorry for any mistakes):

    The sailing ship

    I stand up on the beach
    A sailing ship passes by in the morning breeze and goes to the ocean
    She is beauty, she is life
    I look at her until she disappears from the horizon

    Someone next to me says:
    "She's gone!"
    Gone? where?
    Gone from my sight, that's all...

    Her mast is still as high
    Her hull still has the strength to carry her human load
    Her total disappearance from my sight is in me
    not in her

    And at the very same moment when someone says "She's gone!"
    There are others who, seeing her coming up in the horizon and coming to them
    Exclaim with joy:
    "Here she is!"

    This is what death is about
    -----------------------------------
    Last edited by behel; 06-18-2007 at 09:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    Update:

    For those interested, a quick google searched with the key words "Je suis debout au bord de la plage" (include the quotation marks) shows many results and the majority refer to William Blake

    Any idea?

    The reason why I am looking for the english version (if any) is because I wanted to send it to an english friend. I couldn't find it surprisingly.

  3. #3
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    Update:

    Found something. It seems to be a prayer from Bishop (Charles Henry) Brent (1862?-1929?) or (1862? - 1926?). I found 2 versions. It goes like this:

    1st VERSION
    What is dying?

    I am standing on the sea shore,
    A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
    She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
    Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
    "She is gone."

    Gone! Where?
    Gone from my sight -m that is all.
    She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
    And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
    The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
    not in her.

    And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
    "She is gone",
    There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
    "There she comes"
    - and that is dying.

    An horizon and just the limit of our sight.
    Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further.


    ------------
    2nd VERSION
    "I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails and spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says: ‘She is gone.’ Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in the masts, hull a spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.

    The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says; ‘She’s gone’ there are others who are watching her coming and other voices take up a gland shout, ‘There she comes’, and that is dying."
    Last edited by behel; 06-18-2007 at 09:21 AM. Reason: 2nd version of poem found

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    2nd version:
    From Favourite Prayers compiled by Deborah Cassidi; Cassell, 1998; ISBN 0304 70315 X, price £9.99.

    Now about the author:

    Charles Henry Brent (April 9, 1862–March 27, 1929) was an American Episcopal bishop who served in the Philippines and western New York.

    More on wikipedia.

    Thanks.

    Conclusion: don't trust internet too much. A single error can propagate quickly... :-)

  5. #5
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    Maybe the last post here:

    Maybe Brent was inspired by a poem from Blake. If anyone knows more about this, I would love to know more.

  6. #6
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    I have read more or less all of Blake's works, and this one doesn't ring a bell. I would also be as brave as to suggest that it doesn't really even sound or feel like Blake. Nevertheless, I have sent a query to a friend of mine who is a Blake expert of sorts. Perhaps she knows something about this. I'll keep you updated.

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    Gone From My Sight...

    Behel - just stumbled across an old post of yours concerning the "Gone from my sight" death analogy. Wondered if you found your answer - I have also heard it attributed to many people, but the one that comes up the most often is Henry Van Dyke. Have you confirmed the true author? I've also seen Hugo, Holland, Brent and Blake. Bye! randy

  8. #8
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    I have honestly no idea - the style isn't reminiscent of Blake at all. Unless it is an obscure work, that I don't really recall, I cannot say I believe it to be Blake, or, perhaps the prosody in the translation was corrupt to the core, in which case finding this will be even more difficult.

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