Ode to Friday: Blake

glover

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

~ And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time by William Blake (English, 1757-1827)
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Image: A corroboree of natives in Mills’ Plains by John Glover, 1832
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6 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Blake

  1. Interesting poem. I love the “dark satanic mills”, a reference, I think, to industrialization. It could describe a place on the southern Sicilian coast, Gela, which I just drove thru a few days ago. In what used to be a paradise, Italy put in a giant petrochemical refinery. Now, 40 years later, children are born deformed, cancer rates are high, and it’s an ecological disaster. Satanic, indeed.

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    • You really bring this poem up to date. Blake lived during the birth of the Industrial Revolution and was far-sighted to call them satanic. Ahead in the future was what would happen in the name of feeding those mills: colonisation, pillaging of resources, the East India company, slavery, and much more.

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    • I read the reference to the sword as something like gathering one’s will against the satanic mills, about striving to restore the lost Eden.

      Wikipedia says the first verse is about an idea that Jesus once visited England. This makes me smile. I imagine Henry VIII splitting from Rome and the Catholic Church because he wants to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, and to create some gravitas for his new Anglican church, he tells a courtier to go out and spread a rumour that Jesus once came to England.

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