Saturday 29 October 2016

Poetry: Blake's titanic message can pop up anywhere...

Ulick O'Connor

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

William Blake
William Blake

A recent examination of the English composer Sir Hubert Parry's (1848-1918) musical work has revealed a vast amount of composition that has never been used before. Parry is known worldwide for his magnificent composition of the music for the choral song 'Jerusalem', which can leave you emptied with ecstasy each time you hear it.

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When he set to music the words to 'Jerusalem', which are the creation of the poet William Blake, he could not have known the effect it would have. He realised, however, that he found a way to render its titanic message in musical form.

The poem is based on a popular belief that Jesus may have one time in his life come to England. Blake's marvellous piece allows you to view through the imagination this wonderful conceit.

Whisper - Blake had an Irish connection. His grandfather was James O'Neill, so it's not impossible that Blake allowed something of the Celtic side of his personality to express itself through the poem.

Let me warn you though, if you learn the poem by heart, it can pop up anywhere just as you are you are checking your weekly bank account for instance.


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.

William Blake 1757-1827

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