Blake’s font

December 11, 2022

William Blake was baptised on Sunday 11 December 1757, 265 years ago.

John Riordan wrote the following poem and read it at the online launch of VALA issue 3.


The Grinling Gibbons font you were

Baptised in is formed into a marble tree.

I like to think it is the Tree of Life

That Eve sidles round, offering Adam

A crisp Golden Delicious.


How many other babes were dipped

In St. James’s cold holy sink

That Sunday, embarking on their journeys 

Down the River of Life, hoping to reach

Seven coils of the worm? Hidden rivers,

Covered over by London streets and clay.


Recently we’ve lost so many –

Poets, musicians, writers, my cat.

Yesterday the council came to chop

Down the tree outside my gate.

We will remember them by what they

Left us – books, music, memories, a

Stump. We hope that they are somehow

In Eternity.


William, your river burst through into

Sunlight after you had passed its length.

Your tree blossomed into life with a

Little help from friends and Ancients.

Now we enthusiasts tinker around the 

Edges of your City, drawing, singing,

Choosing newer kinds of fonts. Or,

More bravely, we pack a lunch and

Embark, exploring the streets and houses

Within – there may be trees, river, spectres

Or angels.