Another version of Blake’s Milton a Poem has been published on the Blake Archive. Copy D, from the Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress, has now been added to join the three previous versions (A, B, and C).
The first of Blake’s two final great illuminated epics, along with Jerusalem, Milton a Poem represents the epitome of Blake’s art of book making. Work began on Milton in 1804 and by about 1811 Blake had engraved forty-five plates by about 1811, adding a further six plates by 1818. Of the four copies that survive, none contains all fift-one plates. One of the most famous of Blake’s lyrics, “And did those feet in ancient time” (later to become the words to the hymn “Jerusalem”), included in the Preface to Milton, only appears in the first two copies.
Inclusion of Copy D of the poem now means that the Blake Archive includes seventy-three copies of Blake’s nineteen illuminated books, as well as other manuscripts, drawings, paintings and illustrations.