Sunday, July 08, 2018

Dark Satanic Mills

First posted Oct 2009.

The famous hymn called 'Jerusalem' is found in the Preface of Blake's poem 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.

Would to God that all the Lords people were Prophets.
(Numbers ch 11, verse 29)"

From Little Black Boy in Songs of Innocence we read "To lean in joy upon our fathers knee."

Like most of what Blake wrote 'Satanic Mills' has more
than one meaning. The most obvious one might be the
monuments to the Industrial Revolution that took
thousands of landless, homeless peasants and paid them
a pittance to work 16 hours a day at a deadening,
repetitive task.

That happened not just to adults but to very young
children. Charles Dickens novels gives a taste of that
outrage, and it was echoed as late as the mid 20th
century in furniture and garment factories in this

British Museum
Illustration's to Young's Night Thoughts
More basic to Blake's spiritual and psychological orientation was the sense in which it was applied in an earlier post: "the same dull round", applicable to the essentially meaningless lives that millions of people live.

They may or may not go to essentially meaningless churches (or taverns) in search of something made inaccessible to them by the deadening atmosphere of the schools they attended.

At the end of Chapter Three of Jerusalem (Plate 76; E230-31) Blake imagined the horrible reality of a return to the beginning of history at its end:

"For Los in Six Thousand Years walks up & down continually
That not one Moment of Time be lost & every revolution
Of Space he makes permanent in Bowlahoola & Cathedron.

And these the names of the Twenty-seven Heavens & their
Churches Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared,
Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; these are the Giants mighty,
Hermaphroditic Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Cainan the Second,
Salah, Heber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah: these
are the Female Males: A Male within a Female hid as in
an Ark & Curtains. Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Paul,
Constantine, Charlemaine, Luther. these Seven are the
Male Females: the Dragon Forms The Female hid within a
Male: thus Rahab is reveald Mystery Babylon the Great:
the Abomination of Desolation
Religion hid in War: a Dragon red, & hidden Harlot

But Jesus breaking thro' the Central Zones of Death &
Hell Opens Eternity in Time & Space; triumphant in

Thus are the Heavens formd by Los within the Mundane
Shell And where Luther ends Adam begins again in
Eternal Circle...."

"where Luther ends Adam begins" expresses the
fear that there will be only 'another dull round' of

But Blake saw a happier outcome as you find portrayed at
the ends of The Four Zoas and Jerusalem.

1 comment:

Atlantic Publishers and Distributors said...

REad this compilation of Selected Poems by Wiliam Blake. The book contains both poems and songs written by William Blake.