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by: William Blake

William Blake is credited with coining the phrase "dark Satanic Mills", in this poem. The phrase is often interpreted as referring to the early Industrial Revolution, and its destruction of nature and human relationships. The poem, “Jerusalem,” was originally part of a long narrative poem “Milton,” but it was adopted and popularized by the English labor movement. There is much debate about the meaning of this poem–is it ironic or patriotic? Is the poem looking to the future return of Christ or the apocryphal story that Jesus visited England to further his education before he began his ministry? Blake appears to imply that a visit by Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the "dark Satanic Mills" of the Industrial Revolution.

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 and pleasant land.

Taken from Milton by William Blake (1757-1827). Public Domain.

William Blake

William Blake was a 19th century writer and artist who is regarded as a seminal figure of the Romantic Age. Blake was born in 1757 in London and began writing at an early age. He studied engraving and grew to love Gothic art which is incorporated into his own work. Blake was misunderstood throughout much of his life, but he been influential since his death in 1827.

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