[To Thomas Butts, 22 November 1802],
"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"
In a letter to William Hayley of October 1804, Blake reports that he has suddenly been revisited by the ability to see as he had seen in his youth. Blake's familiar lines concerning fourfold vision clarify understanding about levels of vision which may operate in our minds. Actually achieving the ability to enter into the higher vision and allow it to be expressed through one's actions is more difficult. Apparently Blake came to realise his vision had become clouded by the conflicts within his mind and within his life. It was not until his eyes were opened at the Truchsessian Gallery that he knew what he had been missing in his perception and his execution.
Letters, (E756) [To William Hayley] [23 October 1804] "O lovely Felpham, parent of Immortal Friendship, to thee I am eternally indebted for my three years' rest from perturbation and the strength I now enjoy. Suddenly, on the day after visiting the Truchsessian Gallery of pictures, I was again enlightened with the light I enjoyed in my youth, and which has for exactly twenty years been closed from me as by a door and by window-shutters. Consequently I can, with confidence, promise you ocular demonstration of my altered state on the plates I am now engraving after Romney, whose spiritual aid has not a little conduced to my restoration to the light of Art. O the distress I have undergone, and my poor wife with me. Incessantly labouring and incessantly spoiling what I had done well. Every one of my friends was astonished at my faults, and could not assign a reason; they knew my industry and abstinence from every pleasure for the sake of study, and yet--and yet--and yet there wanted the proofs of industry in my works. I thank God with entire confidence that it shall be so no longer--he is become my servant who domineered over me, he is even as a brother who was my enemy. Dear Sir, excuse my enthusiasm or rather madness, for I am really drunk with intellectual vision whenever I take a pencil or graver into my hand, even as I used to be in my youth, and as I have not been for twenty dark, but very profitable years. I thank God that I courageously pursued my course through darkness"Blake's image sometimes referred to as Glad Day, sometimes as Albion Rose, represents a youth who is filled with the exuberance of allowing imagination to flow through him and to be expressed in his body, mind and spirit. When Blake engraved this image in approximately 1805 it was a copy of colored engravings from 1796 (included in the Large Book of Designs for Ozias Humphrey). But Blake dated his later engraving 'inv 1780', the year he had first made sketches of the rejoicing, spirit-filled youth. This was a signal that the image represented the return to clarity of vision he experienced before there was a closing 'as by a door and by window-shutters' of his ability to be enlightened with the light he enjoyed in his youth.
National Gallery of Art The Dance of Albion (Glad Day), c. 1803/1810 Rosenwald Collection
Large Book of Designs, 1796
Another indication that Blake associated this image with his emerging back into the light after a long period of obscured vision is the inscription on the engraving:
'Albion rose from where he labourd at the Mill with Slaves / Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death'. The contrast in this inscription is between laboring as a slave and giving oneself freely to the Nations in this paradoxical life/death of experience.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 134,(E 402) "Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air Let the inchaind soul shut up in darkness & in sighing Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years Rise & look out his chains are loose his dungeon doors are open And let his wife & children return from the opressors scourge They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream Are these the Slaves that groand along the streets of Mystery Where are your bonds & task masters are these the prisoners Where are your chains where are your tears why do you look around If you are thirsty there is the river go bathe your parched limbs The good of all the Land is before you for Mystery is no more Then All the Slaves from every Earth in the wide Universe Sing a New Song drowning confusion in its happy notes While the flail of Urizen sounded loud & the winnowing wind of Tharmas So loud so clear in the wide heavens & the song that they sung was this Composed by an African Black from the little Earth of Sotha Aha Aha how came I here so soon in my sweet native land How came I here Methinks I am as I was in my youth PAGE 135 When in my fathers house I sat & heard his chearing voice Methinks I see his flocks & herds & feel my limbs renewd And Lo my Brethren in their tents & their little ones around them The song arose to the Golden feast the Eternal Man rejoicd" Milton, Plate 40 , (E 141) "Before Ololon Milton stood & percievd the Eternal Form Of that mild Vision; wondrous were their acts by me unknown Except remotely; and I heard Ololon say to Milton I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years. I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas; The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies"
Jerusalem, Plate 95, (E 254) "Her voice pierc'd Albions clay cold ear. he moved upon the Rock The Breath Divine went forth upon the morning hills, Albion mov'd Upon the Rock, he opend his eyelids in pain; in pain he mov'd His stony members, he saw England. Ah! shall the Dead live again The Breath Divine went forth over the morning hills Albion rose In anger: the wrath of God breaking bright flaming on all sides around His awful limbs: into the Heavens he walked clothed in flames Loud thundring, with broad flashes of flaming lightning & pillars Of fire, speaking the Words of Eternity in Human Forms, in direful Revolutions of Action & Passion, thro the Four Elements on all sides Surrounding his awful Members." Letters, (E 766) To William Hayley Esqre, Felpham Decembr 11. 1805 ... "I speak of Spiritual Things. Not of Natural. of Things known only to Myself & to Spirits Good & Evil. but Not Known to Men on Earth. It is the passage thro these Three Years that has brought me into my Present State. & I know that if I had not been with You I must have Perish'd--"