In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his first illustration to L'Allegro:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682)
1 "Heart easing Mirth. Haste thee Nymph & bring with thee Jest & Youthful Jollity Quips & Cranks & Wanton Wiles Nods & Becks & wreathed smiles Sport that wrinkled Care derides And Laughter holding both his Sides Come & trip it as you go On the light phantastic toe And in thy right hand lead with thee The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty"
Blake states: "These Personifications are all brought together in the First Design. Surrounding the Principal Figure which is Mirth herself"
In his comment Blake makes it clear that his images in this illustration are personification of states; each figure represents a state that Milton mentioned.
Of particular interest is Liberty since Blake says: "JERUSALEM IS NAMED LIBERTY AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION" (Jerusalem, Plate 26, (E 171)) Miscellaneous Poems, Song, (E 414) "I love the laughing vale, I love the echoing hill, Where mirth does never fail, And the jolly swain laughs his fill." Satiric Verses and Epigrams, (E 502) "The Angel that presided oer my birth Said Little creature formd of Joy & Mirth Go love without the help of any King on Earth" Letters, To Trusler,(E 702) "Fun I love but too much Fun is of all things the most loathsom. Mirth is better than Fun & Happiness is better than Mirth--I feel that a Man may be happy in This World."
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