Le Chapeau de Paille by Rubens


MY MOTHER groan'd! My father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud:
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

It might have been of little Peter Rubens' birth that Blake wrote this.

Helpless?--perhaps he never was. But naked! Naked beyond good and evil; naked with the pagan exuberance of the good god Bacchus in childhood; piping?--he trumpeted! Wake up, dead world! You who are oppressed with sorrow, bowed in grief or prayer, solemn in worship, worn from thinking, broken by despair: Wake up! The sun has risen! Life, all life, life bathed in sunlight, in the flesh, is good! Wake up, be happy; live and love. Rubens is the incarnation of impulse, of swift, unreflecting, unrestrained response to life, to the beauty of men and women, their countenances, limbs, flesh, movements, to the world they live in, to the light--so warm and beautiful!--that envelopes them. Loving life so, his brush caressed it.

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