Gates of Paradise: For the Sexes
Does thy God O Priest take such vengeance as this?
David Erdman recognized that Blake was not unscathed by the brush with possible imprisonment and death which became his lot when his opposition to military action was expressed against the Dragoon who was ensconced in his garden. Erdman specifies changes in the way that Blake felt free to express himself after he came so close to losing his own liberty. Blake became more careful about expressing publicly what his prophetic vision revealed to him.
In Prophet Against Empire David V Erdman wrote on Page 414:
"The most immediate poetic record of Blake's mental suffering in time of trial, however, is the plaintive notebook ballad partly incorporated into the preface of the third chapter of Jerusalem and partly transcribed into another manuscript as The Grey Monk. The story of a tortured pacifist who will not recant is associated with Blake's trial by the fact that the Gothic courtroom of Chichester was known to have been the chancel of the Grey Friars convent church. The monk's martyrdom is that of the honest man who has written against war and empire and whose writings were found out. He has been accused of sedition, jailed by 'War' personified (the fourfold Scofield?) and has been temporarily allowed (on bail) to visit the mother of his children (Blake's only children being his 'Giants and Fairies')".
Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201) " I saw a Monk of Charlemaine Arise before my sight I talkd with the Grey Monk as we stood In beams of infernal light Gibbon arose with a lash of steel And Voltaire with a wracking wheel The Schools in clouds of learning rolld Arose with War in iron & gold. Thou lazy Monk they sound afar In vain condemning glorious War And in your Cell you shall ever dwell Rise War & bind him in his Cell. The blood. red ran from the Grey Monks side His hands & feet were wounded wide His body bent, his arms & knees Like to the roots of ancient trees When Satan first the black bow bent And the Moral Law from the Gospel rent He forgd the Law into a Sword And spilld the blood of mercys Lord. Titus! Constantine! Charlemaine! O Voltaire! Rousseau! Gibbon! Vain Your Grecian Mocks & Roman Sword Against this image of his Lord! For a Tear is an Intellectual thing; And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King And the bitter groan of a Martyrs woe Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow!" Songs and Ballads, (E 489) "The Grey Monk I die I die the Mother said My Children die for lack of Bread What more has the merciless Tyrant said The Monk sat down on the Stony Bed The blood red ran from the Grey Monks side His hands & feet were wounded wide His Body bent his arms & knees Like to the roots of ancient trees His eye was dry no tear could flow A hollow groan first spoke his woe He trembled & shudderd upon the Bed At length with a feeble cry he said When God commanded this hand to write In the studious hours of deep midnight He told me the writing I wrote should prove The Bane of all that on Earth I lovd My Brother starvd between two Walls His Childrens Cry my Soul appalls I mockd at the wrack & griding chain My bent body mocks their torturing pain Thy Father drew his sword in the North With his thousands strong he marched forth Thy Brother has armd himself in Steel To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel But vain the Sword & vain the Bow They never can work Wars overthrow The Hermits Prayer & the Widows tear Alone can free the World from fear For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King And the bitter groan of the Martyrs woe Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow The hand of Vengeance found the Bed To which the Purple Tyrant fled The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head And became a Tyrant in his stead"
Prophet Against Empire, Page 415:"To write against War has nevertheless been his duty as a soldier of Christ, and he is ready to endure the tortures of the 'wrack & gitding chain' for the sake of his 'Brother,' the poor man, 'starved between two walls' (that is to say in the street) and the poor man's children, whose cry ever 'my Soul appalls.'
In continuing to write, Blake does of course defy the rack and chains. Yet their marks are ever upon this ballad, for he mutes 'Seditious Monk', to 'Thou lazy Monk' before transferring it to the public text of Jerusalem."