Jerusalem: William Blake

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_did_those_feet_in_ancient_time

and about William Blake (1757-1827) at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

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:

Would to God that all the Lord’s people were Prophets” Numbers XI.Ch 29.v.’[7] (Book of Numbers 11:29).    

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?

File:Finsbury bunhill blake 1.jpg

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Humor, Conflict Poetry, Conflict Processes, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Jerusalem: William Blake

  1. Kathy says:

    I always think of “Chariots of Fire” when I hear this song. Thanks for posting it — I could never understand the last two lines!

    • And don’t worry any ‘new Jerusalem’ I build while I am here will be very Kathy friendly and I am sure not put you off visiting England and Wales. 🙂 I too love the hymn and we used to belt it out loudly in school: UK schools are all under the state religion, Church of England, aka Episcopalian, and so I used to read the morning lesson when I got to 11th and 12th grade equivalent. It’s how I learnt to speak publicly. 🙂 No separation of Church and State in England (there is in Wales), which I am not sure is good for the Church.

  2. mmorts says:

    bonjour. i like your blog Jerusalem: William Blake | Creativeconflictwisdom's Blog and will shurely insert a link to https://creativeconflictwisdom.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/jerusalem-william-blake on my site.

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