‘Songs of Innocence and Experience,’ by William Blake

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was scarcely known during his lifetime, was considered mad by those who were aware of him, sold very few copies of his work, and was buried in a mass grave with borrowed money. Now that he can no longer profit from his works, he’s considered favorably as a poet and engraver.

His introduction to this volume of poems, written and engraved in 1894, shows the style of the work. Readers definitely need the illustrations in order to enjoy the intended scope and meaning of the work.

This edition promises the engravings that belong with the work.

From the Publisher

“This stylish reissue of Blake’s timeless work is sumptuously packaged in burnt-orange casing with gold sprayed edges, which allude to the treasures within.

“Songs of Innocence and of Experience is a rare and wonderful book, its seeming simplicity belying its visionary wisdom. Internationally recognised as a masterpiece of English literature, it also occupies a key position in the history of western art. This unique edition of the work allows Blake to communicate with his readers as he intended, reproducing Blake’s own illumination and lettering from the finest existing example of the original work. In this way, readers can experience the mystery and beauty of Blake’s poems as he first created them, discovering for themselves the intricate web of symbol and meaning that connects word and image. Each poem is accompanied by a literal transcription, and the volume is introduced by the renowned historian and critic, Richard Holmes. This beautiful edition of The Songs of Innocence and Experience will be essential for those familiar with Blake’s work, but also offers an ideal way into his visionary world for those encountering Blake for the first time.”

Wikipedia notes that, “Geoffrey Keynes says that Blake, as the prophet ‘calls the Fallen Man to regain control of the world, lost when he adopted Reason (the ‘starry pole’) in place of Imagination.’ Earth symbolizes the Fallen Man within the poem. Blake (‘the voice of the Bard’) calls him to awake from the evil darkness and return to the realm of Imagination, reassuming the light of its previous ‘prelapsarian’ state. Reason (the ‘starry pole’) and the Sea of Time and Spece (the ‘watr’ry shore’) “are there only till the break of day if Earth would consent to leave ‘the slumberous mass'”

As a reader biased in favor of Blake’s work, I feel that time spent with this volume is time well spent.



Did you read ‘Flowers in the Attic’ or pretend that you read it?

Of course, I read it. After all, there was a war on, I was addicted to Southern Gothic by running with a bad crowd and was working for an employer who tapped my phone (not because I read the book, though I’m not sure about that).

I like the Wikipedia comments about the book: “A review in The Washington Post when the book was originally released described the book as ‘deranged swill’ that “may well be the worst book I have ever read”. The retrospective in The Guardian agreed that it is deranged but called it “utterly compelling.”

Sure, there were claims that it might have been based on a true story. I didn’t care. There were also claims that its author V. C. Andrews was as messed up as her novel. I saw that as a plus. People are still arguing about such things thirty-seven years after Andrews died. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire? I think people want there to be fire even though the evidence about real fire is rather slim.

Last year the New York Post said, “Real life of ‘Flowers’ author VC Andrews was as creepy as her gothic novels.” The post based that view on a book about Andrews: “While the new book “The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story” (Gallery Books) by Andrew Neiderman may not be as salacious as “Flowers in the Attic,” it’s surely worth its own Lifetime Original Movie.”

I don’t think so, but the reporter never called me for a comment.

While one can hardly say the book is “just good clean fun,” everyone wants to find some reason anyone would write such a novel, and then follow it up with more or the same.

How or why it all happened seems irrelevant to me as an author.  The story stands for itself. What it means and/or what the author meant are the kind of swill we get from English departments that think novels must be explained–and possibly the authors as well.

Flowers in the Attic was, for me, a compelling story.


‘Even So, Remember Me’

The Complete Works of Rabindranath Tagore (Digital Fire Super Combos Book 7) by [Rabindranath Tagore, Digital Fire]Rabindranath Tagore  playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, and painter.  He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful” poetry of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore’s poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal. – Wikipedia

My father liked the work of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore , so my brothers and I knew his work well even though it wasn’t mentioned in any of our high school or college literature courses. My favorite poem/song by Tagore was “Even So, Remember Me.” There are multiple translations of the work online, but the only one I like is by Bengali author (a favorite of mine) Sunetra Gupta. You can see her translation here.

In spite of changing times and changing ideas and points of view, we all hope that those we loved will remember us fondly in later years. The hope of that is the power of this poem.

Gupta and I have corresponded and once planned to meet when she was in Georgia for a medical conference–her primary field–but schedules changed and we couldn’t manage it. What a loss. Even so, I sent her an old copy of Tagore’s work that I inherited from my father since Gupta is a well-known translator of Tagore’s work.

Her work at Oxford as an infectious disease epidemiologist and a professor of theoretical epidemiology in the department of zoology takes her away from her novels, the last of which was So Good in Black which came out in 2009.  I’ve been waiting for something new from her!

Meanwhile, I love reading her Tagore translations on her website and hope that she will remember me.


Florida to Ban All Books in All Public and School Libraries

Tallahassee, Florida, June 7, 2023, Star-Gazer News Service–The Governor’s office announced here today that all books held in public school libraries, state university libraries, and city/county libraries are banned until further notice.

According to more or less informed sources, the action will save taxpayers millions of dollars that have heretofore been used to ban books individually.

Chief of Staff Honoré de Balzac told reporters at this morning’s briefing, “Le Gouverneur travaille 24 heures sur 24 pour garder les mauvais livres loin de tout le monde.” A translator flown to Tallahassee from Paris said that Balzac said, more or less, that the Governor was spending a lot of time and money chasing his tail on the book banning program and needed to use the time and money to govern the entire state and destroy Disney instead of worrying about “nasty” books.

DeSantis, who claims to be an “old fashioned American with old fashioned American values as promulgated in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books,” said that HB7, known as the Stop W.O.K.E. act was passed “to keep our state from being taken over my the kinds of screwed up people who belong in California and other godless places like Oregon.”

According to Balzac, “Le canular de l’interdiction des livres est désormais une réalité.” His statement was translated to mean “a hoax is a hoax is a hoax.”

Stoned sources said that DeSantis wants to return Florida–and the entire country–to the out-of-date ideas of the Founding Fathers who–if alive today–wouldn’t know the difference between a thumb drive and sitting on ones thumb.

“I’m a mom, apple pie, and The Good Book kind of guy,” DeSantis said, “and that means woke is broke.”

–Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

‘The Wind Knows My Name,’ by Isabel Allende

This is a day I celebrate since it’s the release day for The Wind Knows by Name by Isabel Allende, an author whose books I always read and enjoy. Plus, I’m inspired by the fact that an author older than me is still turning out high-quality stories, this one with a partial focus on Kristallnacht. 

From the Publisher

“Vienna, 1938. Samuel Adler is five years old when his father disappears during Kristallnacht—the night his family loses everything. As her child’s safety becomes ever harder to guarantee, Samuel’s mother secures a spot for him on a Kindertransport train out of Nazi-occupied Austria to England. He boards alone, carrying nothing but a change of clothes and his violin.

“Arizona, 2019. Eight decades later, Anita Díaz and her mother board another train, fleeing looming danger in El Salvador and seeking refuge in the United States. But their arrival coincides with the new family separation policy, and seven-year-old Anita finds herself alone at a camp in Nogales. She escapes her tenuous reality through her trips to Azabahar, a magical world of the imagination. Meanwhile, Selena Durán, a young social worker, enlists the help of a successful lawyer in hopes of tracking down Anita’s mother.

“Intertwining past and present, The Wind Knows My Name tells the tale of these two unforgettable characters, both in search of family and home. It is both a testament to the sacrifices that parents make and a love letter to the children who survive the most unfathomable dangers—and never stop dreaming.”

From the New York Times

“Telling a story that is rooted so deeply in political events can be a difficult balancing act; an author walks a fine line between writing immersive fiction and explaining historical and social context. “The Wind Knows My Name” contains little of the magic that defined Allende’s earlier novels. Instead, she turns her focus to the brutal details of government-sponsored violence and asks her reader to look closely at the devastation. Allende draws a straight line from Nazi Germany to modern-day atrocities — not because the specifics are the same, but because the damage is.”

From the Associated Press

“Allende moves the story back and forth between Europe and the United States, switches between the past and present, as two very different children in very different places and circumstances search for the safety of home and family.

“It’s a very different kind of book for Allende, who often places her stories in her native Latin America, including her best known and highly successful novel,The House of Spirits and last year’s Violeta, which stretches across a century of South American history.”

You can find an excerpt here.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal short stories and novels.

Potpourri for Sunday, June 4

  • As I read Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, I’m happy to say this novel is a dream. And yet, it’s hard for me not to think of Holden Caufield with quotes like these:  “The wonder is that you could start life with nothing, end with nothing, and lose so much in between.” “People love to believe in danger, as long as it’s you in harm’s way, and them saying bless your heart.”“Sunday school stories are just another type of superhero comic. Counting on Jesus to save the day is no more real than sending up the Batman signal.” The Christian Science Monitor review says, “Her exquisite writing takes a wrenching story and makes it worthwhile. The details are difficult, but they are never gratuitous. She thrusts the reader into the midst of real-world circumstances – especially the opioid epidemic – and she compassionately demands that we not look away.”
  • As I work on my novel-in-progress, I notice once again that finding a year-by-year timeline for whatever you want to know seems impossible. I can find overviews. I can find out how things work today. But finding out what happened exactly in any given year is a hell of a lot of trouble. Right now, I’m wondering what the standard morphine dosage was in 1955. I guess I’m going to just throw a dart at the morphine history and hope for the best when it comes to oral usage or injection. It’s been around for a long time.
  • Three of the characters in my novel served in Korea. Good news: I have Jeff Shaara’s Frozen Hours and The Last Stand of Fox Company. These books help me keep up with battles, timelines, and the mess General MacArthur made of the whole thing. If I had been Truman, I would have gotten rid of MacArthur long before the first battle. News from Korea comprised some of the first stories I saw in newspapers and in newsreels, so I would have bought these books even if I weren’t using them for book research.
  • My wife and I have most of Billy Joel’s recordings. However, since I don’t live in or near New York City, I didn’t realize how long Joel has been at Madison Square Garden. I read in today’s Guardian that, “Billy Joel will conclude his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden in July 2024, with his 150th-lifetime performance at the venue. ‘It’s hard to believe we’ve been able to do this for 10 years,’ Joel said at a news conference on Thursday. ‘I’m now 74. I’ll be 75 next year. It seems like a nice number.'” Heck, I’m older than Joel. Maybe I should start cutting back on all my books and blogs.
  • For the home viewer, we want the writers’ strike to end so that we can keep watching the stuff we watch. According to Variety, “The Directors Guild of America announced a tentative deal with the studios on Saturday night, providing pay hikes and an improved residual for international streaming. But a summary provided by the DGA makes no mention of pegging the streaming residual to viewership. That indicates that residuals will continue to be the same on streaming platforms — whether a show is a hit or a flop.”
  • Every time I make Waldorf salad, I think of the Fawlty Towers episode in which Basil is asked by a guest for Waldorf Salad but has no clue what it is. I grew up in a family that had this quite often, so I never understood why Basil didn’t know–other than the fact he’s English and those folks aren’t known for edible cooking.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of novels that can be found on Amazon here.

Yes, I still watch ‘Survivor’

If you’re still watching “Survivor,” then perhaps you’ll understand that since I did not grok Yam Yam that meant, according to my experience with this show, he would end up winning. And now we read that the next season will feature 90-minute episodes instead of one-hour episodes. I’m not sure I can cope with that much “reality.”

However, I want to quickly point out that we do watch quality programs like the three-day documentary about FDR. The producers and directors did, I think, a great job capturing many hours of a man’s Presidency and the years leading up to it. We learned about him many years ago in school, but documentaries with actors playing the lead roles clarify those dusty memories from history class.

Upcoming is another Ken Burns film.  I think we’ve seen all of them because we enjoy the superb storytelling and great cinematography.  The “American Buffalo” will air on October 16 and 17. According to Burns’ website, “This film will be the biography of the continent’s most magnificent species, an improbable, shaggy beast that nonetheless has found itself at the center of many of our nation’s most thrilling, mythic, and sometimes heartbreaking tales. It is a quintessentially American story, filled with a diverse cast of fascinating characters. But it is also a morality tale encompassing two important and historically significant lessons that resonate today.”

I don’t think American TV is all schlock even if we watch some of that. If you have some guilty TV-watching pleasures, feel free to confess them in your comments.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the four-book series of novels that focus on Florida Folk magic, i.e., hoodoo. Save money by purchasing all four novels in one Kindle volume.

Climate Change – Is Resistance Futile?

If you watched Star Trek, you saw the spaceship built like a giant cube. You know that this cube attacked everyone in order to assimilate them into the cube. Those in the Borg gun sites were told: “Resistance is futile.”

I think of this when I think of climate change. Individually, have we decided that resistance is futile; or, as Robert Swann said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

I do not think Marianne Williamson has a chance of becoming President. But I do think her statement on her website about climate change is worthy of consideration:

“Our biggest crisis regarding the climate emergency is humanity’s massive state of denial that it exists on the scale it does. Yet a willingness to recognize the depth of the problem is a prerequisite to our solving it. It is a psychological and moral challenge to face the horror of what stands before us over the next ten years should we not act; yet there – in our standing raw before the truth that it confronts us with – lies our only hope for surviving it.

“And our environmental crisis is not only climate; it is also water, air, food, and soil. Our earth is like a body beginning to experience an all-systems breakdown. The glacial ice melt is so extensive that the sheer weight of melted polar water is changing the shape of the earth’s crust.”

The problem is so huge, all most of us can do is hope that some smart person will come along and fix it. We balk, though, at many of the proposals because they are inconvenient and ask us to greatly change our habits and our attitude about what the environment needs to survive. In some respects, people use a similar excuse to the one they use when they don’t vote: “My vote won’t make any difference.” And so we say, my “green car and green house” won’t make any difference.

When millions of people think this way, then we’ve basically written off the planet and decided that while the planet will support us, it won’t be here for our children and grandchildren. “Kids, it was just too much trouble to leave you a viable world.”

So, we’re sitting here watching it happen as though doing anything about it is futile.  I have to say, I don’t understand this attitude.






‘The Old Lion,’ by Jeff Shaara

The television documentary “FDR” is a wonderful introduction for those who aren’t familiar with the events leading up to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election as President or the programs he instituted to end the Depression. Since his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt is part of that documentary, it bought to mind Jeff Shaara’s latest historical novel about Teddy Roosevelt, The Old Lion which was released on May 16.

Shaara’s historical fiction makes no pretense of serving as autobiographies of the primary characters nor even a definitive history of people and events. This book is no different. It brings to life a man and his times in the way well-written historical fiction does best: through a story, or multiple stories, that show readers what happened in an understandable way.

From the Publisher

“In one of his most accomplished, compelling novels yet, acclaimed New York Times bestseller Jeff Shaara accomplishes what only the finest historical fiction can do – he brings to life one of the most consequential figures in U.S. history – Theodore Roosevelt – peeling back the many-layered history of the man, and the country he personified.

“From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, from the waning days of the rugged frontier of a young country to the emergence of a modern, industrial nation exerting its power on the world stage, Theodore Roosevelt embodied both the myth and reality of the country he loved and led.

“From his upbringing in the rarefied air of New York society of the late 19th century to his time in the rough-and-tumble world of the Badlands in the Dakotas, from his rise from political obscurity to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, from a national hero as the leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War to his accidental rise to the Presidency itself, Roosevelt embodied the complex, often contradictory, image of America itself.

“In gripping prose, Shaara tells the story of the man who both defined and created the modern United States.”

Kirkus Reviews wrote, “A glowing tribute to a Rushmore-worthy president. The Old Lion himself would have called it “dee-lightful!”

The Historical Novel Society wrote, “Readers will find no surprises in the plot of the novel, but they will come away with a greater understanding of Roosevelt and his place in history. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and those interested in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.”

Newsday wrote, “Midway through Jeff Shaara’s ‘The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt,’ Roosevelt, “a tornado of energy,” whirls about the White House on Christmas Day, 1901. He entreats his wife, Edith, his children and others gathered there to dance along. As one guest, Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, observes, “It is apparent to those of us who love him that the president is 6.”

“Roosevelt’s childlike enthusiasms enliven Shaara’s appealing and spirited portrait of the 26th President of the United States. Replete with the author’s vividly imagined Western showdowns, cavalry charges and jungle expeditions, “The Old Lion” entertains the 6-year-old in all of us.”

The book is a welcome addition to the libraries of fans of historical fiction.


There are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves

original cover

“For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.” ― James Kavanaugh, “There are men too gentle to live among wolves.” Please click the link to see the related poem.

My copy of this classic book looks like the photo displayed here which tells you I’ve had this since the collection was released in 1970. It has been a touchstone. It talks about the kind of men the world needs now more than ever.

Most men are afraid to be gentle. This fear has cost them the ability (should they ever change their minds) to walk gently upon the earth and show genuine and infinite kindness to all others. They fear their toxic masculinity will be doubted should they ever display one moment of gentleness. And so they miss–are completely unaware of–the greater beauty life offers them. The offer is free to those who understand they cannot flex their muscles to obtain it.

They are not the men who kick in store windows during power blackouts or because they feel society has wronged them in some way. They are not the men who threaten women with their words and physical strength. They are not the men who cannot read a poem or see the wonder within a flower.

A gentle man (as opposed to a gentleman) has the power to change the lives of millions and even the failing environment of Earth itself. But he holds back for fear of being called unmanly.

Most of us know what kinds of men we need but fail to stand next to them when we see them for fear the taunts hurled at them will also be aimed at us. And so the world continues downward to hell in a handbasket.

It’s not too late to change who we are if we want to.