Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)
"There in close covert by some Brook
Where no profaner Eye may look
With such concert as they keep
Entice the dewy featherd Sleep
And let some strange mysterous
Dream Wave on his Wings in airy stream
Of liveliest Portraiture displayd
On my Sleeping eyelids laid
And as I wake sweet Music breathe
Above; about: or underneath:
Sent by some Spirit to Mortals good
Or the unseen Genius of the Wood"
"Milton sleeping on a Bank. Sleep descending with a Strange Mysterious Dream upon his Wings of Scrolls & Nets & Webs unfolded by Spirits in the Air & in the Brook around Milton are Six Spirits or Fairies hovering on the air with Instruments of Music"
The wing of sleep dips into the water of materiality to bring images to Milton's dreaming self. Milton sleeps in what appears to be a grave; his hands cover his genitals warding off sexual involvement.
The upper part of the picture is dominated by a circular rainbow in the center of which are the four fallen Zoas. The angel who brings the dream to Milton bears the Seven Eyes of God on his wings.
This illustration attempts to show a process of integration taking place. The dreaming man is receiving images from his unconscious which may resolve the conflicts which divide his psyche. He has the protection of the numinous forces to provide assistance in assimilating the experiences which have created entanglements in 'Scrolls & Nets & Webs'. He is surrounded in his sleep by 'his Sixfold Emanation' as 'Six Spirits or Fairies hovering on the air with Instruments of Music.'
The symbolic meaning of this illustration is closely related the conclusion of Blake's Milton and can be contrasted with the Epilogue to Gates of Paradise.
Milton, Plate 2, (E 96) "Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep In torment!"
Milton, Plate 33 , (E 132) "Behold Milton descended to Redeem the Female Shade From Death Eternal; such your lot, to be continually Redeem'd By death & misery of those you love & by Annihilation When the Sixfold Female percieves that Milton annihilates Himself: that seeing all his loves by her cut off: he leaves Her also: intirely abstracting himself from Female loves She shall relent in fear of death: She shall begin to give Her maidens to her husband: delighting in his delight And then & then alone begins the happy Female joy"
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."
Milton, Plate 41 , (E 143) "Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair Is this our Femin[in]e Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro. Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into Plate 42  Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold & with a shriek Dolorous that ran thro all Creation a Double Six-fold Wonder! Away from Ololon she divided & fled into the depths Of Miltons Shadow as a Dove upon the stormy Sea. Then as a Moony Ark Ololon descended to Felphams Vale In clouds of blood, in streams of gore, with dreadful thunderings Into the Fires of Intellect that rejoic'd in Felphams Vale Around the Starry Eight: with one accord the Starry Eight became One Man Jesus the Saviour. wonderful! round his limbs The Clouds of Ololon folded as a Garment dipped in blood Written within & without in woven letters: & the Writing Is the Divine Revelation in the Litteral expression: A Garment of War, I heard it namd the Woof of Six Thousand Years And I beheld the Twenty-four Cities of Albion Arise upon their Thrones to Judge the Nations of the Earth And the Immortal Four in whom the Twenty-four appear Four-fold Arose around Albions body: Jesus wept & walked forth From Felphams Vale clothed in Clouds of blood, to enter into Albions Bosom, the bosom of death & the Four surrounded him In the Column of Fire in Felphams Vale; then to their mouths the Four Applied their Four Trumpets & them sounded to the Four winds"
We went to the tennis court early this morning as usual but found something unusual: a moth clinging to the fence behind the court. Since I remembered from long ago that this was a particularly beautiful species of moth, I went for a closer look. I remembered the color - a pale luminous green, and the form - graceful wings with extended tails, but I had forgotten another feature - small well articulated 'eyes' on the wings. Since I had been looking at the wings of sleep covered with the Eyes of God, I was astonished to find eyes on the wings of a Luna moth. The name of the moth connects it with the moon, the feminine and Beulah. So Milton's Mysterious Dream is not far removed from the commonplace of ordinary life.