Patti Smith
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53 Patti Smith I remember walking with my son in Bunhill Fields cemetery, EC1, just on the edge of the City in London. I had promised to show him the grave of William Blake, not that he knew who Blake was or cared very much at the time. I remember telling him that there were always fresh flowers on the grave. It also just so happened to be on the way to LiverpoolStreetstationwherewecouldgetthetrainto Colchester. Yet, as we approached Blake’s grave, facing the taller and much more imposing grave of Daniel Defoe, I saw a small group of people, one of them carrying a camera and another slight figure , wearing shades. ‘That’s Patti Smith’, I said to Edward. ‘Who’s that?’ he said. At that point, Patti Smith and I glanced at each other, perhaps we didn’t. It was difficult to see in the sharp sunlight. She was wearing huge shades. I spent the rest of the walk trying to render various 54 tracks from ‘Horses’. It is difficult to impress one’s children. Funny pairing, Defoe and Blake. Could there be an odder couple in the history of English literature than the transmogrifying spirit-seer and the plodding literalist? But they were both London boys and near neighbours in life, living close to the Dunciadical shame that was 18th Century Grub Street. Even odder, James Joyce, whose literary criticism bears strange comparison with his fiction, lectured on Blake and Defoe in Trieste in 1912 and saw them as the two key figures in the emergence of English literature. ...