Thursday, April 28, 2011

O Blazing Tiger of William Blake

Cover illustration of a dazzle-painted ship (1918)

On the cover of the October 12, 1918, issue of The Independent (Vol 56 No 3645) was featured a painting of a dazzle-camouflaged ship (the image shown here is a detail), with no mention of the artist's name. Inside, on the contents page, an equally uncredited subscriber contributed this poetic lament—

O blend of emerald wild and drunken amethyst, 
O wild, hysteric nightmare of psychoanalyst, 
O purple cow of Burgess, O blazing tiger of Blake, 
O neo-impressionist lily, O super-Barnumcular fake, 
What madman out of Potsdam, what loon from Blagovetschenskgeorgsrknlintvoff. 
What Bolshevik or sideshow freak or Greenwich village toff 
Told you that the way to hide was with vivid gobs of blue 
Cutting athwart green triangles and gray gridirons askew 
All done on a painted background of most unearthly hue 
Like a sunrise up at midnight dabbled with evening dew?