Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Blake made only one copy of the illustrations to Paradise Regained. At one time it belonged to his friend John Linnell; now it belongs to the Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge University. There are twelve watercolors in the series which in the Fitzwilliam are called:

The Baptism of Christ
Christ temped by Satan to turn the stones into bread
Andrew and Peter searching for Christ
Mary's lamentation for Christ
Satan addressing his potentates
Christ refusing the banquet
Satan tempts Christ with the Kingdoms of the Earth
Christ's troubled sleep
Morning chasing away the phantoms
Christ placed on the pinnacle of the Temple
Angels ministering to Christ
Christ returns to His mother

Although much of Milton's poem is occupied with Satan's discourses, most of Blake's illustration are concerned with Christ and those who support him and share his vison. Images o
f Satan take a back seat in Blake's pictures. Satan is sometimes represented as a vigorous man in his youth or prime, and sometimes as an old man with the features of Urizen . Nine of the images include Christ himself; also included are John the Baptist, the disciples Andrew and Peter, Mary, Morning, and Angels.

Perhaps John Milton's views were nearer to Blake's when he wrote Paradise Regained than they had been earlier. Paradise Regained covers the short period in the life of Jesus between his approach to John the Baptist in the wilderness to be baptized and his return to the village where he was raised. Satan was the agent who, in the wilderness, facilitated the exploration by Jesus of the meaning of his baptism and the next step on his journey.

The encounter with Satan in the wilderness although recounting the experience of Jesus, is not unlike the encounters with the Selfhood narrated in Milton. The issues with which Jesus struggles are like those with which Milton, Blake and Los struggled on their journeys. The role of expressing vision through prophecy is explored in Milton as it is in the temptations of Jesus, in both the Bible and in Paradise Regained.

The image of Christ in the Wilderness is not part of this series but represents Christ as he struggled to integrate himself around the new illumination of vision he received at his baptism.

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 232)
"But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin.
Go therefore, cast out devils in Christs name
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease
Pity the evil, for thou art not sent
To smite with terror & with punishments

Crucifying &,encompassing sea & land
For proselytes to tyranny & wrath,
But to the Publicans & Harlots go!
Teach them True Happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace
For Hell is opend to heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free."


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