At the cusp of midnight on New Years Eve 2020/2021 poet and musician Patti Smith planned to perform her song "My Blakean Year" on the Piccadilly Lights screen in London. The piece was dedicated to the immensely influential 18th century poet, painter and mystic William Blake. Like many events that eve the performance was postponed, however it remains available to watch above and online through the circa.art website. Smith tells us:
"Almost all the songs I record are collaborations but occasionally I write a little song myself. I hear the melody in my head and sit on the floor with my acoustic guitar. After a bit of struggle I work it out and bring it to my band.
I have worked on this song for a while. Reading a lot of William Blake as well as the wonderful Blake biography by Peter Ackroyd. His life was a testament of faith over strife. He suffered poverty humiliation and misunderstanding yet he continued to do his work and maintained a lifelong belief in his vision. He has served as a good example in facing my own difficulties and feeling a certain satisfaction in doing so." - Patti Smith
Smith's recital also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the same performance she first staged at The New York Public Library on April 29, 2010
A New Year
The new year began, as the world fell into a state of unprecedented calm. And the farmer dropped his sickle and froze, witnessing a spectacle overwhelming in its common majesty. The sky was the brightest of blues, unblemished by cloud, the fields stretching before him were as the purest gold and without shadow. The wheat was plentiful and the hive ran with a honey rivaling the gold of the fields. Beyond, the streams were bright and clear as if poured from a crystals infinite center.
The children ceased their play and stood in baffled silence as a host of luminous balloons, wider than great ships, hovered, dipped as if in greeting, then ascended deep into that same blue.
Bowls of bread and fish and fruit materialized in the hands of the hungry. The sun drew the water from raging flood, relieving the saturated earth. The rain satiated drought and the desert flourished. Rivers teamed with fish, pink and plentiful. And the lame ran, the blind spun in a new radiance, and the sick rose refreshed.
The healing worm rose from the clay of creation and the tongue of every living thing brought forth understanding. And laughter rang out and the grieving were comforted. Bells of silver chimed and all bowed their heads, giving thanks. And rainbows circled the earth like the rings of Saturn, and all dipped their fingers into its formlessness and knew that it was good.
The Divine Image To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, All pray in their distress, And to these virtues of delight Return their thankfulness. For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, Is God our Father dear; And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, Is man, His child and care. For Mercy has a human heart; Pity, a human face; And Love, the human form divine: And Peace the human dress. Then every man, of every clime, That prays in his distress, Prays to the human form divine: Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace. And all must love the human form, In heathen, Turk, or Jew. Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, There God is dwelling too. by William Blake (from Songs of Innocence) , 1789