About Jerusalem, A Poem by William Blake

The poem Jerusalem (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 his Blake: 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."

Jerusalem was set to music quite movingly by composer Hubert Parry in 1916, and has since seen many variations, ranging from the magisterial to the rousing.  Our favorite is the version arranged by Emerson, Lake and Palmer.  A link may be visited here for a performance on the organ.


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