1093 views, 2 favourites, 27 October 2013
Featured in “Inspirational Greeting Cards” on 28 August 2011 and in “Country Bumpkin” on 31 March 2013
I have chosen a picture of the grounds of Hyde Hall in Essex to illustrate the first verse of the well loved hymn,“Jerusalem” and made it into a vignette with the Ortonish effect to indicate that this is legend rather than Scripture. However, the picture is available with the text but without the Orton effect upon request (see below right)..
I would like to have made one small editorial change, substituting “those” for “these” in the phrase “these dark satanic mills”. The reason for this is that more than a century has passed since Blake penned the words, so we are distanced in time from that era, whereas he was alive during the Industrial Revolution, so “these” was the more appropriate demonstrative to use. See Wikipedia article.
Words: William Blake (circa 1904)
Music: Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
Enjoy this rousing rendition of Jerusalem!
The poem was inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, travelled to the area that is now England and visited Glastonbury. The legend is linked to an idea in the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem. The Christian church in general, and the English Church in particular, used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.
In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit of Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the “dark Satanic Mills” of the Industrial Revolution. Analysts note that Blake asks four questions rather than stating a visit to be true. According to this view, the poem says that there may, or may not, have been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England. But that was then; now, we are faced with the challenge of creating such a country once again.
There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that Joseph of Aramathea was Jesus’s uncle.
The term “dark Satanic Mills”, which entered the English language from this poem, is interpreted as referring to the early Industrial Revolution and its destruction of nature and human relationships.This view has been linked to the fate of the Albion Flour Mills, which was the first major factory in London, designed by John Rennie and Samuel Wyatt and built on land purchased by Wyatt in Southwark. This was a rotary steam-powered flour mill by Matthew Boulton and James Watt, with grinding gears by Rennie,9 producing 6,000 bushels of flour a week. The factory could have driven independent traditional millers out of business, but it was destroyed, perhaps deliberately, by fire in 1791. London’s independent millers celebrated with placards reading, “Success to the mills of ALBION but no Albion Mills.” Opponents referred to the factory as satanic, and accused its owners of adulterating flour and using cheap imports at the expense of British producers. An illustration of the fire published at the time shows a devil squatting on the building.The mills were a short distance from Blake’s home.
Blake’s phrase resonates with a wider theme in his works, what he envisioned as a physically and spiritually repressive ideology based on a quantifiable reality. Blake saw the cotton mills and collieries of the period as a mechanism for the enslavement of millions, but the concepts underpinning the works had a wider application:1112
“And all the Arts of Life they changed into the Arts of Death in Albion./…13 "
—Jerusalem Chapter 3. William Blake