Literature Word of the Week – Albion

26 Weeks to a Better Understanding of Literature

I’m aiming to improve my knowledge around all things English literature, and to help me do this I thought I’d start by learning a new literary word every week,  A-Z.  Although knowing me it might not be in any alphabetic order.  I might treat this more like a list on random shuffle.

So, I find a word that relates to literature and research the following on it:

  • How does it sound?
  • What does it mean?
  • Who invented it (if known)
  • When did the word come about?
  • Example to be used in a sentence (preferable in spoken form).


Week 11:


A word I’ve heard many a time although wouldn’t be able to quote when or even what the word meant and yet I still know it – why?

An ancient poetical name for Britain, perhaps derived from its white (Latin Albus) cliffs, visible from the coast of Gaul.  Blake frequently uses Albion as a personification of England. – Oxford Companion to English Literature

“Albion” occurs in a large number of pop culture names; for a listing see Albion (disambiguation)
“The Albion” is a popular pub name; there were 82 English public houses with this name in 2011.
In the Fable series, the land is known as Albion. –  Wikipedia

So it is indeed a popular word and yet used quite romantically in most cases.

Dating back from the 6 century rather than use the word, the Britannia, the Latin writer – Avienus – compiled a sea merchants handbook in which he describes England’s trade routes as “the islands of the Iernians and the Albiones

I haven’t read much Blake – well okay, I haven’t read any Blake poetry but now is a good a time as any to start although if the descriptions of the mythology series is anything to go by it might takes me some time:

The prophetic books of the English poet and artist William Blake contain a rich invented mythology (mythopoeia), in which Blake worked to encode his revolutionary spiritual and political ideas into a prophecy for a new age. This desire to recreate the cosmos is the heart of his work and his psychology. His myths often described the struggle between enlightenment and free love on the one hand, and restrictive education and morals on the other. – Wikipedia

Just by chance I was shifting through some online Blake texts (plates?) and picked the 4th once called Jerusalem. The Emanation of the Giant Albion and look how the poem starts:

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.


How close is that to our most well known English countryside descriptions – our green and pleasant land.  It’s actually no coincidence.  It’s one and the same poet!

I didn’t know that but I now feel like I’ve just circled a square, and makes it easier to understand why Jerusalem is one of our nations most recognised anthems 🙂



4 responses to “Literature Word of the Week – Albion

  1. Great stuff. I knew the word, I was born in Albion and am drawn to romance (not Mills and Boon but imagination) but only 82 pubs called “The Albion”? I must have drunk in all of them. Ah but wait, how many of those were actually “The Royal Albion”? Maybe there’s a difference? 🙂 I can’t wait for “B” 🙂

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