In Fountain Court

Dawn on June 2, 2020. “The flickering green of leaves that keep / The light of June”

Last week, I mentioned that I would post about the poet William Blake. And here I am, following up!

I have to confess, I can’t hear William Blake’s name mentioned without thinking of one of my favorite scenes from Bull Durham. Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) shows up at the home of Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), dressed like she might be ready to attend a cotillion in some hot-weather place, and he calls her out on it. To which she replies, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. William Blake.” And then they just start shouting the name William Blake at each other, and there’s so much more going on between them than just a discussion of a 19th century English poet and artist.

My love of this scene didn’t seem to fit with the sober tone of my last post. But anyway, here are some things I learned after looking into the “fearful symmetry” from Blake’s poem “The Tyger:”

  • According to Wikipedia, William Blake spent his last days at Fountain Court in London.
  • Unless I read something wrong, Fountain Court is part of the Temple area of London. I have a vivid depiction of the Temple in my head from reading Dickens’s Great Expectations last year.
  • The poet Arthur Symons, who wrote the poem “In Fountain Court,” shared a flat in Fountain Court with W.B. Yeats.(!)

There’s a reason the mention of Blake living at Fountain Court had me dig a little deeper. It’s because I immediately recognized the title of Arthur Symons’s poem, since it’s one of my favorites. And I always think of it when June rolls around, because it just so happens to feature the month of June. (I wrote about all this 3 years ago: June in New Orleans.)

I guess all of this has given me a better idea of the setting of “In Fountain Court.” And maybe evened deepened my impression of the anticipation and hope that wend their way through the lines of the poem. In the last line — “Soon, love, come soon” — I choose to believe that real change, a true transformation, just might be possible.


4 thoughts on “In Fountain Court

  1. I had no idea that William Blake also lived at Fountain Court! While in London in 2007, my husband, our son (a writer), and I visited Fountain Court. The street number and a small photo were in a book of Symons’ letters, but the cabby got lost until I turned my head at just the right moment and there it was. We sat around the fountain under a tree for a few minutes just to meditate on who had been there before. I wonder if the present residents know about their illustrious past? I so wanted to knock on the door but didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a few different fountain courts in London. The Fountain Court where William Blake lived was just off the Strand and is where the Savoy hotel is now built. It was built over in the late 1800’s I think. So Julia cannot have visited it 🙂
    It was on the South side of the Strand just before what is now the Aldwych turning.

    I did a bit of research on it because one of my ancestors did an apprenticeship with a goldsmith on that Fountain Court in 1802.
    When William Blake lived there apparently he hardly left the building – he was in his 70’s at that point.

    This is quite a good document about the end of Blake’s life and it has a drawing of the building Blake lived in at Fountain Court.

    Click to access 39.2.whitehead.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

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