“Albion”- where, when and what is it?

Plate 4 of 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion' c.1795 by William Blake 1757-1827
Plate 4 of ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’ c.1795 William Blake 1757-1827 Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the National Gallery and donations from the Art Fund, Lord Duveen and others, and presented through the the Art Fund 1919 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03374

“All the nightmares came this year/ And it looks as though they’re staying here.”

I have been blogging about the idea Albion for some weeks.  Where can it be found; what does it look like? When will we arrive there?

Albion is a three part concept, derived from the work of poets, painters, visionaries and radicals.  Albion is:

  • a place- Albion is a landscape; it is an ancient land, made by nature and by generations of it s occupants.  It is the white cliffs; it is the chalk figures of Cerne Abbas and Wilmington.  It is an environment and an expression of culture- high hedgerows and deep-worn lanes; clumps of trees on barrows high on hill tops. Albion is not the same as Britain, though.  It may share its island boundaries but it is a new land without labels.
  • a story- Albion is myth that is the subject of stories and of poems.  It is how we imagine ourselves and the story we tell ourselves about our past and our possible futures.  It is a giant, it is a nation, it is a dream.  As it is a story that we tell ourselves, it is a story that we can choose.  The story of Britain is a familiar one- it is an nation alone in adversity, it is the underdog bravely struggling- it is Dunkirk, it is the Battle of Britain, it is the first day of the Somme.  It is bravery against the odds, it’s all about keeping your head when all around are losing theirs- etc.  The myth of Albion need not be identical; we might instead choose different struggles to commemorate- Peterloo, the battle of the Beanfield, the battle of Orgreave, for example- if we are creating a new nation we get to tell its founding stories.  We get to choose our heroes too- perhaps Arthur returning from his centuries’ sleep instead of Churchill and Kitchener?
  • a dream- Albion is a better land than Britain; it is a fairer society than that in which we live.  It is something we can aspire to and aim for, something to build.  It is a concept; it is a dream yet to be dreamed.  Albion is a blueprint for another way of life that has yet to be made, yet to be lived.

Albion can only be when we want it to be.  Some have already worked to create it; some are working now.  Has the time come to awake and arise?  Without the striving and the struggle, nothing will be achieved and nothing made.  Let’s not forget William Blake’s (edited) words on this subject:

“And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:

On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.”

For fuller details of my fiction and nonfiction writings on British folklore, see my website.

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