Saturday, February 28, 2009

William Blake: Preface to Milton

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands 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.





14 comments:

Aggie said...

Having travelled all over Blake's England, I understand the sentiments expressed here. It is just beautiful.

Devin said...

I know what you mean Aggie! I was there in 82 and 95-simply beautiful beautiful country! thanks so much for stopping by and commenting-best to you as always!

Middle Ditch said...

Wow Devin! I like this a lot. Wonderful.

Mike and Julie said...

Wonderful post....I hope someday to be able to visit those lands.
Julie

Anadæ Effro said...

Wm Blake! One of the most underrated, all but forgotten Christian mystics anywhere, ever! Thank you for posting this, Devin. I'm far, far less conversant in Milton, although, you'll be keen to change that, I'm sure.

Say, have you ever heard Blake's poem, "Jerusalem" before? Well, then, here 'tis:

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.

Not only is it often found to this day as a mainstay in Anglican hymnals & sung in Sunday services, it was featured in the 1976 David Bowie cult sci-fi gem, The Man Who Fell To Earth, even featured as the first song on the Lp Brain Salad Surgery by the (former) gods of Prog Rock, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

That album cover was the first (for many of us) in introducing the work of the Swiss artist & Thelemite, HR Giger, who went on to design the extraterrestrial creature for the 1979 blockbuster & subsequent long-lived sci-fi hobbyist franchise, )Alien,, talk about one of my favorite monsters!

Thanks for getting my gears spinning ~ Anadæ Effro ( :-)}

Devin said...

Middle Ditch-Mike and Julie and Anadae-thanks so much for stopping by and commenting -really appreciate it !! sorry it took so long to get to these-having a bout of illness again -best to all of you as always!

Anadæ Effro said...

Devin & all ye presents, you've my apologies; I'd not even read the body of your text, just fleetingly seen its heading. This what I get for juggling too mnay open tabs simultaneously.

But in addition to William Blake, another William & gentleman of British extraction as well, a catastrophist on the lines of Immanuel Velikovsky, William Comyns Beaumont, was also a subscriber to the belief in British Israelism. Get well soon, Devs! Chicken soup, homemade, and garlic with it. Ginger tea, too, is a well known bactericide ~ A.E. ( :-)}

Devin said...

no need at all to apologize Anadae-appreciate you stopping by-thanks for the health advice also -i am making something right now that i hope will at least keep it at bay-best as always to you!

Autumnforest said...

I think I'd like to recite that while I watch the winter solstice at Stonehenge. I want to bring a blank journal and finally master poetry because I'm so inspired by my surroundings. Thanks for the grace and beauty in the middle of a mixed up and self-absorbed world. This is what really matters.

Devin said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Autumnforest-I am so happy some people are enjoying these! Blake is magnificent -if I can remember where I found the it (i think it was on scribd?) you can download his complete works for free-and of course a scribd account itself -is or at least was free-best to you as always!

Autumnforest said...

Devin;
I admit to being a Dylan Thomas freak, but then I'm a very romantic-type of female and his writings reminded me of my very British-like setting in Virginia where I grew up with English gardens in a very pastoral setting. If I ever stop writing the horror novel and quit painting and gardening for a few minutes, I might like to try poetry again. I was an English major, but I fear that I never had the patience when I was younger for poetry--I was too self absorbed and had no body of life experience to properly feed my creativity.

Devin said...

I agree so much about life experience autumnforest-i also like thomas -I never even had a thought to try poetry really-but do enjoy it so much -I definitely hope you keep writing horror (my fave or one of my fave genres-besides mystery)-thanks so much for stopping by and best as always to you!!

James said...

well... people who think this poem is crediting england, are deeply wrong. it has got nothing to do with the beauty of england, he is criticising it, he has a love hate relationship concerning his england. He despises it. It is full of the "Dark Satanic Mills", he says that jesus would never come onto this country.
it is pure irony, a subtle irony that has fooled generations of people. these dark satanic mills, are the factories of the industrial revolution.
it is such a hyperbole that it makes england sound ridiculous.
he wants to fight, he will not "cease his mental fight", he will not let his "sword sleep in his hand", he wants to build "jerusalem in his country" he wants to fix it, but he cant. it is stuck, it is filled with the dark satanic mills.
please, dont think this poem is patriotic. it isnt.
and the people who sing this at rugby games, and as an almost national anthem ]are seriously misguided.

Devin said...

Hi James,
I so appreciate you stopping by -not only for the fact of leaving a great comment -but also that your comment is under an "old" subject/topic -I think before yours this eve I have had a grand total of 2 or 3 comments that were made under something not on the current "front" page.
I had no idea folks sang that at rugby games! The "Satanic Mills" certainly put in my mind the dark, dreary factories and mines and overworked and poor populace of the industrial revolution. Your comment reminded me of a modern example of people "misreading" an artist's intentions-although I am very reluctant to compare it in anyway to anything Blake did-but now that I have mentioned it I will -the modern rock star Bruce Springsteen had a song called "Born in the USA" in the mid-1980s-and even tho the tempo is upbeat any moron (which I can be quite often:-) listening to the words carefully can tell the song is anything but a "let's roll" kind of busllshit jingoist song-it is a sad song and even mentions a brother losing a brother in Vietnam-well some dirtbag in the Reagan re-election team for 1984 wanted to use the song as a campaign theme song for the Gipper's reelection-was very happy Springsteen said NO! like i say-had they listened to the damn words it woulda been obvious -sorry to go on and on and i hope it didnt seem like i was comparing apples and oranges with this analogy-best to you as always and thanks again for your well-thought out comment!