Monday, November 26, 2012

Glad Day

Blake made a drawing of this picture in 1780 and engraved it in 1800. What 
meaning it might have had to Blake requires some understanding of it in 
terms of these two dates. 

In 1780 Blake was 23. The American Revolution was near its conclusion. 

 The Gordon Riots occurred in England; Blake was said to have been 
swept up into the foreground of the assault on Newgate Prison.   He also 
made a drawing which came to be called Glad Day.

Twenty years later, when Blake was 43, he  engraved the drawing that he had
made in 1780:The picture resembles the 
"Vitruvian Man".

Note his spikey 

Immediately behind 
appears to be 
the radiant Sun.

The stance 
suggests triumph and

Blake's mind had 
tremendously in the interim. At 43 
he had seen a lot and learned a lot.

This post is highly dependent upon page 7ff of David Erdmans' Blake Prophet 
Against Empire. (He printed the picture on the facing page of p.182.)

Another source for the post is the big William Blake edited by Robin 

Here it's called Albion Rose:
"When shall the Man of future times become as in days of old"
(The Four Zoas; Erdman 389)

In Blake's myth Albion fell and broke into the four zoas. He lay on 
a Rock while the 4Z's traversed the Circle of Destiny; at the End Point
Albion Rose. Plates 96 and 97 of Jerusalem describe at length Albion's awakening.

Woe and Joy is an earlier post  with an indication that Blake associated this 
image with his emergence back into the light after a long period of obscured 
vision. At the bottom is an inscription:

"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.

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