|New York Public Library|
Copy C, Plate 38
If any of Blake's images captures the world of generation on the brink of regeneration this may be it. This full page image without text is included as Plate 42  in Blake's Milton. In The Illuminated Blake, Erdman discerns that the closest passage to illuminating the image is near the end of Jerusalem. The setting of the picture is the Sea of Time & Space with Albion resting on the Rock of Ages or Albion's rocky isle. Albion symbolizes the Eternal Man who through division has become the Fallen Man. His female counterpart is Brittannia, a name for England when she is married to Albion. When she awakes and realizes the dissension caused by her Jealousy, time comes to an end. The work of time and space in the world of generation is complete. The female is absorbed into the male. This reunion manifests in the appearance of Jesus as the incarnation of God in man.
Milton, Plate 15 , (E 109) "First Milton saw Albion upon the Rock of Ages, Deadly pale outstretchd and snowy cold, storm coverd; A Giant form of perfect beauty outstretchd on the rock In solemn death: the Sea of Time & Space thunderd aloud Against the rock, which was inwrapped with the weeds of death Hovering over the cold bosom, in its vortex Milton bent down To the bosom of death, what was underneath soon seemd above. A cloudy heaven mingled with stormy seas in loudest ruin; But as a wintry globe descends precipitant thro' Beulah bursting, With thunders loud and terrible: so Miltons shadow fell Precipitant loud thundring into the Sea of Time & Space."
Jerusalem, Plate 94, (E 254) "Albion cold lays on his Rock: storms & snows beat round him. Beneath the Furnaces & the starry Wheels & the Immortal Tomb Howling winds cover him: roaring seas dash furious against him In the deep darkness broad lightnings glare long thunders roll The weeds of Death inwrap his hands & feet blown incessant And washd incessant by the for-ever restless sea-waves foaming abroad Upon the white Rock. England a Female Shadow as deadly damps Of the Mines of Cornwall & Derbyshire lays upon his bosom heavy Moved by the wind in volumes of thick cloud returning folding round His loins & bosom unremovable by swelling storms & loud rending Of enraged thunders. Around them the Starry Wheels of their Giant Sons Revolve: & over them the Furnaces of Los & the Immortal Tomb around Erin sitting in the Tomb, to watch them unceasing night and day And the Body of Albion was closed apart from all Nations. Over them the famishd Eagle screams on boney Wings and around Them howls the Wolf of famine deep heaves the Ocean black thundering Around the wormy Garments of Albion: then pausing in deathlike silence Time was Finished! The Breath Divine Breathed over Albion Beneath the Furnaces & starry Wheels and in the Immortal Tomb And England who is Brittannia awoke from Death on Albions bosom She awoke pale & cold she fainted seven times on the Body of Albion O pitious Sleep O pitious Dream! O God O God awake I have slain In Dreams of Chastity & Moral Law I have Murdered Albion! Ah! In Stone-henge & on London Stone & in the Oak Groves of Malden I have Slain him in my Sleep with the Knife of the Druid O England O all ye Nations of the Earth behold ye the Jealous Wife The Eagle & the Wolf & Monkey & Owl & the King & Priest were there Plate 95 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 ... Plate 96 As the Sun & Moon lead forward the Visions of Heaven & Earth England who is Brittannia entered Albions bosom rejoicing Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd"Milton O Percival provides a key to understanding regeneration on page 218 of William Blake's Circle of Destiny:
"The process which brings into being the Christ who is to reveal the selfhood is Blake's world of experience. His own cup of wisdom had been filled at that bitter well. 'I have indeed fought thro a Hell of terrors & horrors (which none could know but myself.) in a Divided Existence now no longer Divided. nor at war with myself I shall travel on in the Strength of the Lord God as Poor Pilgrim says.' (E 758) Struggling with his artistic problems, Blake had come to the conclusion that no man can know true art until he has experienced and cast out false art. Albion's peace is dearly bought. Mankind and the individual arrive at their regeneration by the same path. 'To be an error and to be cast out is a part of God's design.'" (E 562)