Jerusalem’s Lament #poetry for Brexit

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

58 thoughts on “Jerusalem’s Lament #poetry for Brexit

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  1. This is incredibly evocative, Ingrid! I was extremely moved after hearing you read it aloud tonight. You are a natural when it comes to poetry reading 💝💝

  2. This was such a moving and beautiful poem, Ingrid! It was amazing and heartfelt, especially with the topics you discussed.

    “Where is the sunkissed golden strand
    we visited on brighter days?”

    This captured my mind while you were reading it, and it says so very much about the world. I love this poem and the profundity in it. <3 <3

    1. Thank you, Lucy. I can see now that this doesn’t just apply to Britain as many people have remarked. The whole world’s in a bit of a mess, isn’t it? At least we have poetry ❤️

  3. Ingrid, sorry to have missed you reading this one. It’s got to hurt seeing what you describe in your home. After seeing how close the US election was and knowing somewhere between 40 & 60% of the population is supremacist and xenophobic, there is a deep sadness.

  4. We’re only safe with imaginative projects, and even those are pretty well smoked out by the satanic mills of this century. Jerusalem may wait for Homo sapiens to vanish. – B

  5. I really enjoyed this–and your reading. I like the way you wrapped your thoughts around Blake and incorporated his lines into yours. This is very moving, and as Lisa said, here in the U.S. we’re also saddened by what we’ve seen/experienced recently.

    (As an aside, when I read “And did those feet,” I hear the hymn and think of Monty Python. Sorry. 😀)

    1. Well if I made you think of Monty Python that’s a bonus 😂 I’m pleased you enjoyed the reading, and I realise the US has already been suffering in this way for the past 4 years. At least you have a vast country to call your own – Britain is a small island about to cut itself off from its nearest neighbour 😳

  6. I truly enjoyed your presentation (both print & vocal) tonight, Ingrid. I was a HUGE Blake-ist, once upon a time; now I gotta get back to that. THANKS.

    1. Thanks Ron – you can do worse than going back to Blake. I keep returning to his poetry but I’d like to delve into his prophetic writings more.

  7. A powerful and thought provoking poem Ingrid, and again a mindful expose in your summary … a thoroughly superb article…. I wrote this “Jerusalem’ poem last year….

    “Blossom Over Jerusalem

    I write about the purple moon
    That eats the night with a silver spoon
    I write about the yellow sun
    That bathes our day with gold by the ton

    I hear the bird’s morning songs
    They caress the world’s souls, right or wrong
    I hear the animals’ mighty roars
    They remind us of the great outdoors

    I see the blue sky above
    Where life’s white doves carry our love
    I see the green pastures, beyond Jerusalem
    Where life’s fruit trees blush with blossom”

    1. That’s fascinating – very similar sentiments expressed in response to the same poem, coming from different sides of the world. That’s the power of poetry! I love your poem too 😊

      1. When I saw your wonderful poem, I said wow to myself, knowing I had written a Jerusalem poem this time last year, and sorry, but I just had to send it to you… and yes Ingrid, I find it so fascinating too…The themes are almost identical….. this is quite surreal and unusual, but thoroughly enjoyable to actually be involved in such a unique coincidence …

  8. What a beautiful gift to hear you read your poem Ingrid with such power and sadness. So sad what has happened and I’m sorry you can’t visit. You did an amazing job as did the other poets. Such a gift to have such a lovely community to share your poetry with. ❤️ Cindy

    1. Thank you Cindy: I didn’t realise the audio was up yet 😅 I was very nervous I think I had stage fright! Pleased my message came across anyway.

      1. you’re so welcome and it didn’t show a bit.. You looked so comfortable reciting your poem and interacting with the other writers on theirs! ❤️🤗

  9. Sorry I missed the live readings earlier! I watched the recording and you were great! This is a powerful, dramatic read and I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on it! 👏

    1. Thank you so much Helen! I am very sorry, your comment ended up in my spam queue. This happens sometimes even for regular visitors and its quite annoying.

  10. I can only repeat what I said last night, Ingrid – well said, that woman! I think much of our inner voices come from the poems we read and the songs we sang at school. I am emotionally attached to ‘Jerusalem’ and am amazed how you wove the words into your own poem, which is fresh and new. I wonder what Blake would have made of Brexit. I love the rhymes, which reflect the song/poem, especially in the lines:
    ‘Jerusalem – where did you go?
    Sunk in those dark, satanic mills?
    Adrift amid the springtime snow?’

  11. I did watch the video today, you seem more comfortable than at previous sessions. Your poem has great depth, and your research is evident. I enjoy watching the group rev up our fellowship, and reinforce our love of poetry.

    1. Thank you Glenn, I was still very nervous but perhaps I’m slowly getting used to it! There is definitely a feeling of fellowship during the readings and I really enjoy it.

    1. Thank you. Lots of questions but no answers I’m afraid. I really enjoyed your poem ‘Concurrence’ but was unable to comment without a google account. I just thought you captured that moment of the shot so powerfully. Thank you for sharing!

  12. you read this so beautifully, it saddens me that you won’t be able to see your family for a while. This world needs to be a kinder place. blood should bind us rather than spill out of our markets. I am hopeful for the future however.

    1. I am hopeful too, many countries and peoples go through dark periods in their history, but they usually emerge to better times, although they may look very different by then.

      1. Two thoughts on this, first from MLK: Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Change takes a long time, but it does happen. … Each of us who works for social change is part of the mosaic of all who work for justice; together we can accomplish multitudes.”

        and this from Eric Holder: “the arc bends toward justice, but it only bends toward justice because people pull it towards justice. It doesn’t happen on its own.”

  13. There is a harrowing sorrow to this poem – an aching yearning for more peaceful times of green and pleasant lands that I can really identify with.

  14. A thought provoking write and it made me wonder about hidden agendas such as economic progress and the denial that global warming. We are destroying our green lands in the name of greed.

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