THE PROPHETIC BOOKS OF WILLIAM BLAKE MILTON and A Facsimile of the Original Bookby William Blake
"Milton" is the last in order of the books engraved by Blake himself, the date on its title-page being 1804. It consists of forty-five plates, with a relatively small number of illustrations, about twenty in all, and very light
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"Milton" is the last in order of the books engraved by Blake himself, the date on its title-page being 1804. It consists of forty-five plates, with a relatively small number of illustrations, about twenty in all, and very light decorative borders. The designs are altogether less elaborate than those in Jerusalem, some being quite rough sketches. One example of the book contains four additional pages, numbered 3, 8, 17 and 32 ; but these are not in sequence with any part of the text, and some of them appear to be quite unrelated to it.
The title-page (as indicated in the facsimile in the second half of the ebook) shows Milton, or the Prophetic Spirit, as a nude figure—who bears no physical resemblance to the author of Paradise Lost—entering into the flames of inspiration, in order to " Justify the Ways of God to Men." The other illustrations adhere fairly closely to the text, and depict various moments of inspiration : Milton as a star descending upon Blake ; Los standing behind him ; Ololon coming down from heaven to Blake's cottage ; Milton about to awake Albion ; Christ walking through the world of darkness, and supporting the corpse of the fallen Man ; the eagle of poetry flying in the air, while humanity lies asleep on the rock below. The preface is an indictment in prose of the Greek and Roman classics and their imitators, even Shakespeare and Milton, who were to a certain extent influenced by them. It is followed by a short rhymed appeal by the author for the restoration to poetry of the imaginative element, on behalf of which he himself is ready to maintain the " Mental Fight."
All this indicates clearly enough the nature of the book's main subject: the history of the Poetic Genius in Eternity, as Blake conceived it, or, in other words, the passing of the spirit of the Eternals first into Milton, and then into Blake himself, through the intermediary of Los. Blake's threefold vision seems here to have become fourfold. He has almost abandoned Albion, his Spectres and Emanations and their offspring, and to have lost sight of all the Zoas, except Los. We now find ourselves among the Eternals; and myths of which, hitherto, we have only had glimpses, are now developed and made to play the most prominent part.
The book is divided into three sections, two of which are included in the first chapter. The first section is the song, sung by one of the Eternals at their feast, which induces Milton (the Prophetic Spirit) to go down among men (pages 1-12). The second gives an account of Milton's journey through the land of eternal death (pages 12-30). The third describes the descent of Ololon into Blake's cottage, the visions that he sees, and his preparations for the "Mental Fight" in which he is about to engage.
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I was going to purchase this ebook, but decided to read it in store first. I'm sure glad I did. "Book the First" is totally garbled onto one page, and you can't examine the facsimile like you would think you would on a nook. I'll save my money until the bugs are removed.