Friday, January 31, 2014


Original in Huntington Gallery
Milton's Comus
Illustration 8, Thomas Set
A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634
John Milton

"The Scene changes presenting Ludlow Town and the Presidents Castle, then com in Countrey-Dancers, after them the attendant Spirit, with the two Brothers and the Lady.
Line 958

Back Shepherds, back, anough your play,
Till next Sun-shine holiday, Here be without duck or nod Other trippings to be trod
Of lighter toes, and such Court guise
As Mercury did first devise
With the mincing Dryades
On the Lawns, and on the Leas.

This second Song presents them to their father and mother.
Noble Lord, and Lady bright,
I have brought ye new delight,
Here behold so goodly grown
Three fair branches of your own,
Heav'n hath timely tri'd their youth,
Their faith, their patience, and their truth,
And sent them here through hard assays
With a crown of deathless Praise,
To triumph in victorious dance
 O're sensual Folly, and Intemperance."

In the final scene of Milton's mask, he shifted from the imaginary events of the children journeying through the forest and encountering Comus, the attendant Spirit and Sabrina; to the real events of the children shedding their characters and rejoining the parents to celebrate their father's installation as
Lord President of Wales and The Marches. Blake, however, stuck to completing the story which was being told in mythopoeic events. The Lady had experienced an epiphany which completed her childhood and set her on the path of an adult woman confronting the challenges of living in a world where male and female, soul and body, inner and outer must be reconciled. Blake's picture shows the Lady returning to a modest home and being greeted by simple, middle aged parents. The couple is representative of the divided world in which matter and sexuality rule. The Lady had accepted consignment to the world of generation with the promise that it would lead to regeneration.

The work of the attendant Spirit was complete. The shepherd disguise was shed and the Spirit resumed an angelic form. 

But the work of the Lady in the world of Generation had begun. She had been offered the gift of sinking into the water of material life and had accepted it. The irony is that the garment of materiality was put on for the purpose of learning the skills for removing it: brotherhood, forgiveness and annihilation of the Selfhood.

Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 142)
"These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire
Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration."

Jerusalem, Plate 7, (E 150)
[Los speaks]
"Comfort thyself in my strength the time will arrive,
When all Albions injuries shall cease, and when we shall         
Embrace him tenfold bright, rising from his tomb in immortality.
They have divided themselves by Wrath. they must be united by
Pity: let us therefore take example & warning O my Spectre,
O that I could abstain from wrath! O that the Lamb
Of God would look upon me and pity me in my fury.                
In anguish of regeneration! in terrors of self annihilation:
Pity must join together those whom wrath has torn in sunder,
And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the destruction
Of Jerusalem, become her covering, till the time of the End.
O holy Generation! [Image] of regeneration!    
O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies!
Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!"

Jerusalem, Plate 90, (E 250)
"Los cries: No Individual ought to appropriate to Himself
Or to his Emanation, any of the Universal Characteristics
Of David or of Eve, of the Woman, or of the Lord.           
Of Reuben or of Benjamin, of Joseph or Judah or Levi
Those who dare appropriate to themselves Universal Attributes
Are the Blasphemous Selfhoods & must be broken asunder
A Vegetated Christ & a Virgin Eve, are the Hermaphroditic
Blasphemy, by his Maternal Birth he is that Evil-One         
And his Maternal Humanity must be put off Eternally
Lest the Sexual Generation swallow up Regeneration
Come Lord Jesus take on thee the Satanic Body of Holiness

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 3, (E 301)
"Los was the fourth immortal starry one, & in the Earth
Of a bright Universe Empery attended day & night                 
Days & nights of revolving joy, Urthona was his name
Page 4
In Eden; in the Auricular Nerves of Human life
Which is the Earth of Eden, he his Emanations propagated
Fairies of Albion afterwards Gods of the Heathen, Daughter of Beulah Sing
His fall into Division & his Resurrection to Unity
His fall into the Generation of Decay & Death & his Regeneration 
     by the Resurrection from the dead"  

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