Thursday, 14 January 2016

Jerusalem. No, the One in England

In another example of the English sense of humour, while the world is on fire, news has come that the British Parliament might debate whether England should be given its own national anthem. If so, it might displace at sporting and other local, national occasions, the nauseating, genuflecting dirge 'God Save the Queen'. A favoured  option is William Blake's 'Jerusalem', a short poem published in 1808, and now used as a fake-nostalgic, patriotic, Methodism-not-socialism hymn of the beleaguered British Labour 'movement' (quotation marks indicating no real movement at all). As such, its chances of success are not negligible.

The words, although some of you may already know these by heart, are:

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 those 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 chariots 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.

I will make no comment on whether, in the two centuries since the poem was published, England remains a 'green and pleasant land'. Opinions differ, and there are relative, not absolute issues to consider for a full evaluation, as labour movement management consultants will attest. However, a German comedian, Henning Wehn, has noted that this is a song with four opening questions, the answer to each of which is 'No'.

Tony Norfield, 14 January 2016

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