William Blake. The Dance of Albion, c. 1794.

Color print, approximately 11 x 8 inches. British Museum, London.

This picture was earlier known as Glad Day or Jocund Day, because Blake's biographer Alexander Gilcrest assumed that it illustrated a passage from Act III, Scene v of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo prepares to leave at dawn after their wedding-night and says:

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Whatever the original inspiration for the picture, sometime after 1800 Blake turned it into a line engraving, added a few details (a moth and a caterpillar fleeing as the sun rises), and appended several lines of poetry:

Albion rose from where he labour'd at the Mill with Slaves:
Giving himself for the Nations he danc'd the dance of Eternal Death.

Both titles may well apply, however; as M. W. Merchant observes, Blake characteristically "adopted a phrase or a single moment in a Shakespearian scene" and assimililated it to his own mythology (Apollo 320).