Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Building the New Jerusalem

Composed this entry yesterday. Had a few technical difficulties posting it.

My empathy, compassion and solidarity, for what it’s worth, for all the casualties of the Indian Ocean Seismic Wave. Including Dickie Attenborough.



My home improvements are off to a slow start. It has taken me over 2 years to borrow a drill. Still, finally drill hit wall today. Then headed into town for more screws and some DIY advice. Was going to buy some curtain rails but I seriously underestimated the price. Don’t worry, I am not Scrooge, and I will cough up the wonga when I have slept on it.

Anyway, was listening to State Controlled Radio when what should be on at 1330 hundred hours but a programme called “And Did Those Feet” it being 200 years since the immortal William Blake wrote Jerusalem – the Glastonbury Hymn, England’s national anthem.

OK, a bit of a long blog this one but it will be worth it.

So yes, I forget which commentator/interviewee said it but Blake was part of English Dissent as shown by the fact that if you visit Bunhill Fields Burial Ground in London you will find his grave there along with those of Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan (as well as Cromwells, and Wesleys, and the chap who invented life assurance). Alas, I have not yet scanned my pictures of John and Daniel’s graves, but here I am at the Blake’s memorial.

flowering passion throughout all the ages

Many thanks to Nikki for making said visit possible, and for the picture.

Anyway, I am beginning to ramble. There seems to be a conservative theory of history that dissent is very un English. I funnily enough dissent from such a theory. What could be more English than Dissent? And of course Blake was a Republican as all right thinking Englishmen and Englishwomen are (oops yes this is a touch rhetorical, I do have royalist friends, or at least I hope I still do LOL! But hey! this is my blog and please allow some venting of my roaring passions). Indeed he was vehement in his attacks on warmongering Prime Ministers (ahem are you listening Tony?) and the established “church”.

Again, one conservative contributor seemed to be saying that “Jerusalem” would be fine for a national anthem but “would you want a revolutionary to write your national anthem? Well, this is England, and a revolutionary did. Again, ironically for a country not unknown for squalid imperialism and xenophobia, Jerusalem is entirely devoid of imperialism, jingoism, xenophobia or narrow nationalism of any kind.

Maybe this is not quite the entry I had planned. And yes, my ringtone on my mobile phone is….. Jerusalem.

Of course, the words by Blake are only part of the story. Charles H H Parry was justly proud of the music he composed for it. Parry was described as socialist leaning in the programme, perhaps left of centre would be a bit safer. Not again quite a card carrying conservative, even if an old Etonian. George Orwell went to Eton as well. And to his credit again, Parry was unequivocal in his support for votes for women.

OK. I will come clean. I am a fan of Blake. I am for my sins, which are multiplied, oh lord they are multiplied (Prayer of Manassas verse 9 if you must) English. I am an English Republican, Internationalist, moderate anarchist and moderate pacifist. Something stirs inside me every time I hear Blake’s Jerusalem.

Something else. I profess not to be a nationalist. Was M K Ghandi a nationalist? I remember Dickie Attenborough being interviewed in a programme about Humphrey Jennings, the maker of propaganda films in the last unpleasantness (not counting the Gulf wars and all the other unpleasantnesses since the last unpleasantness, when will we ever learn…..). Dickie said that Jennings was a great patriot, “……but of course being left wing you are not supposed to say that”.

Here’s to the eternal memory of William Blake!


Taken in an alehouse near Bunhill Fields. Cheers Nikki!

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand!

yes that is stonehenge!  Blake had a fascination with it

Till we have built! Jerusalem!

Right, to bed.

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