In response to kathcal and singerofinnocence,
I agree that there are strong connections between Milton and slave spirituals, and especially the link to Blake’s disapproval of the mental enslavement by Urizen’s reason. When re-reading this plate, I was reminded of part of a poem by the Muslim mystic poet, Rumi, in which the speaker invokes the voice of G-d:
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.
Both in Rumi’s poem and Blake’s work, the idea of abandoning life on earth in order to connect with G-d is the only way for a person to achieve the level of oneness they desire. Without death, and the self-annihilation of the current state of existence, mankind will be deprived of the of the greater significance and connection for which they yearn, forever trapped in their own “Selfhood.”
One aspect of the picture on page 167 that I also noticed was the shape of the muscles depicted on Milton’s back as he pushes against Urizen. There seems to be a small, angular opening in his lower back that reminded me of the vaginal imagery we discussed in earlier works that is a symbol for Christ’s wound, as well as a path through which one can experience the poetic genius. Because of this, Blake perpetuates the link between self-annihilation and rebirth that ultimately brings man closer to Christ through an exertion of poetic genius and uninhibited sexuality.