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 & pleasant land.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)
The poemJerusalem(1804), by William Blake, is actually an excerpt from the preface to one of his "prophetic books",Milton. Jerusalem is here the symbolic residence of a humanity freed of the inter-related chains of commerce, British imperialism, and war. Blake's "mental fight" is directed against these chains. In hisBlake: Prophet Against Empire, David Erdman tells us that Blake's "dark, Satanic Mills" are "mills that produce dark metal, iron and steel, for diabolic purposes . . . . London . . . was a war arsenal and the hub of the machinery of war, and Blake uses the symbol in that sense."iron and steel, for diabolic purposes . . . . London . . . was a war arsenal and the hub of the machinery of war, and Blake uses the symbol in that sense."