Jerusalem – where are you now?
Jerusalem – where did you go?
Sunk in those dark, satanic mills?
Adrift amid the springtime snow?
Where is that green and pleasant land
where once we raised our hymn of praise?
Where is the sunkissed golden strand
we visited on brighter days?
And if those feet in ancient times
once walked here, they were welcome not
to linger: foreign footsteps here
are seldom praised but driven out:
Even the Holy Lamb of God
was slaughtered where the trees once stood
all in the name of progress, to the greater good
of markets, we draw further blood.
© Experimentsinfiction 2020, All Rights Reserved
About this poem
The above is a reflection, not on Blake’s poetic work Jerusalem, (from which the Featured Image was taken) but from his much better-known poem, ‘And did those feet’ which became the preface to his poem Milton, and which was later adopted as the lyric to a hymn composed by Sir Hubert Parry.
Although Blake used his words to express a hope that England would become a ‘New Jerusalem’ through a process of spiritual enlightenment, it seems today that the opposite has happened. Parry’s hymn and Blake’s words have been adopted as the unofficial ‘anthem’ of England, but it is by no means the England of Blake’s vision: insular, xenophobic and Brexit-bound. Many of its natural paradises have been depleted or destroyed in the name of economic progress, and even the skies seem darker now as the climate becomes more turbulent. We can still hope for better times, but without a radical shift in our collective mindset, these will not soon come.
Posted for dVerse Open Link Night – Live version where some dVerse poets will be reading their poems. Follow the link to find out more!
Also linking to Earthweal’s Open Link Weekend #48.
Image credit: By William Blake – The William Blake Archive, Public Domain