I have always loved William Blake’s poem Jerusalem and the hymn based on it. It is ironic that it was chosen for the recent British Royal Wedding as it has traditionally been the hymn of socialist vision for a radically changed society in England: ‘a New Jerusalem’ and is traditionally sung at the end of the Labour Party and the Trade Union Congress annual conferences. Blake himself was a poet, visual artist, visionary, and religious mystic, not to mention a radical opponent of the political status quo of his time. And of course, his times were those of the height of the Industrial Revolution, and the appalling urban living conditions, child labour and pollution, as well as serious militarily suppressed unrest in which Blake took a personal role in at least one riot, the Gordon Riots of 1780.
There is more about his poem at
and about William Blake (1757-1827) at:
Here are the words of his poem:
And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands 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 Englands green & pleasant Land
Beneath this poem Blake inscribed an excerpt from the Bible:
Which is not exactly an elitist sentiment.
And here is William, the dangerous radical:
And here is a monument to him and his wife who were buried in an unmarked grave, a sign of their poverty. When did a famous radical artist last die in such penury?