New Jerusalem has been referred to as a prophetic, unhappy and a model poem, that was written by William Blake in the year 1804, that is in the 18th century. It is a misleading and an ironic poem in the sense that England has adopted it as an unofficial anthem. The author was a known social activist and he was also a staunch supporter of the French revolution who believed in radical change and he always imagined the collapse of the monarchy. His poem literally revisits a legendary story of a young Jesus who was walking on the shores of England during his termed 'lost days'. His poem is termed as a realistic and fantasy-built poem, that is in cooperated with both social and political messages. Blake has been known to possess a high affinity to Christianity and he, therefore, focuses most of the pieces on Christianity.
New Jerusalem consists of four stanzas, each carrying four verses. He uses rhyming verses, alliterations, vagueness, and embodiment throughout the poem. In the first stanza, the author asks a series of questions, one of them being if the divine feet ever walked on English shores. According to the Bible, the lamb of God is a term that has been used describe Jesus Christ. According to the gospel of John, when Jesus was crucified he was referred to as a sacrificial lamb for the people. Therefore, the reference made about the lamb of God refers to Jesus. The question posed by Blake is an open-ended question, meaning that it does not possess an instant answer which leaves the reader intrigued and asking questions (Rix, Robert, 56).
Blake gets his poetic idea from the time that Jesus was said to have been disappeared from all the writings, a period said to have been between twelve to thirty years. During this 'missing' time it is said that Jesus together with Joseph of Arimathea visited the British shores. In the second stanza, the poet continues to contemplate, that if Jesus did walk on the British shores, did he manage to walk on England's clouded hills and teach his disciples the message of forgiveness and peace. the poet acknowledges the need for light and darkness and biblically, Jesus is referred to as the light of the earth and He brings light to those in the dark. This, of course, is a metaphorical term (Gilpin,77).Before the third stanza, the poet is curious as for whether Jesus built a Jerusalem in England before proceeding to his native land. The said Jerusalem was built on the inhuman mills. According to Jerusalem, it is said that there is going to be another Jerusalem after earth is destroyed, that is the new Jerusalem in which the people were going to live happily. According to Blake, he imagines Jerusalem as a lawless place, with equality and a paradise. As for the reference to the satanic mills, the poet has great sympathy for the casual laborers at these mills as he sees that as a form of slavery, mechanization of people's lives and monarchy over people who do not possess much in this life. William Blake despises this age of industrialization, where everyone has to work under someone just to make them richer as one is used in a pitiful manner.
The satanic reference to the mills used is from the coal-burning, employing child labor, unconducive and hostile working environments and the pollution that is made just from the operation of the mills. After the second stanza, the poet is hyped up about the mills and what it has done to the people. The poet is seen to be alluding to the Greek gods who were believed to manifest themselves in huge and mystical beings in magnificent forms. This is another reference to the bible from the book of kings, where Elijah, the prophet of God was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. The poet seeks to reincarnate this moment in his poem, as demonstrated in the second stanza he is unhappy by the mechanization and industrialization that is taking place.
Therefore, just like Elijah ordered fire from above to burn certain people, he wished he could do the same thing. The poet is greatly attached to the bible and its happenings' and he, therefore, writes his poem with the essence of bringing some of the events that took place there to real life. In the fourth stanza, William Blake still insists on bringing England back to its glory before mechanization. The weapons that are mentioned in his poem are used to represent action but with the use of vigor, they are used to indicate strength. He advocates for a mental fight which is a reference to non-violent struggle, that will enable England to emerge from the ashes reborn.
William Blake's idea of a changed world does not come from bloodshed and fighting, but it instead comes from a lot of understanding and reformations all through. He wishes that there is a way of going back to the old days when there was no industrialization and it was just a simple life. That's why he makes reference to the new Jerusalem because to him he believes that it is the clear definition of peace and serenity as he is deeply disturbed and not at peace with the industrialized world.
William Blake is a dedicated poet who is driven by the urge to tell his truth through his poems. The poem does not by any chance insinuate any fights, however, Blake is determined to fight for what he believes is right. With reference to the lamb of g=God and the rumor that he once walked on British's shore, gives the poet all the faith that he needs to comprehend the possibility of the making of a new Jerusalem. From the third stanza, we see a fired-up side of the poet, expressing his deepest of emotions and his wishful thinking. He wishes for a chariot of fire so like Elijah he can be able to clear out everything from his path and make a new Jerusalem.
The poet is depicted as a very selfless person and he considers others feelings before his. He feels that what industrialization has done to the casual laborers there is not fair and it is nothing that needs to be reformed and changed for the better of everyone. He acknowledges that not everyone enjoys being controlled, overworked and literally has their lives mechanized.
The poet's work has inspired many scholars up to date because he was not afraid of speaking and expressing his truth. His deep connection to the Bible and the references there are what make many people interested in his work. He has written other poems which all seem to be based on Christianity themes throughout like the Tyger. Scholars have overtime tried to bring sense to this poem and come up with different angles of looking and approaching its meanings as it has and jumbled poetic structure, apocalyptic themes, and a controlled dissonance (Goslee, Nancy Moore, 11).
After years of trying to come up with the perfect theory for this poem, there are several theories that have been realized since and they include; a clear description of the development of a person that is from childhood to adulthood, the inconsistent nature of man to commit sin and then go back on his word and repent for their sins, the use of biblical legends to advocate for change or a revolution, humanity normally finds its way back home even after a period of being lost, a way of reaching out to the people who missed out on his Christian based themes in the past and to show that human beings have been thorough a lot including surviving end of times and life and showing them that they could continue doing so.
However, with the unclear nature of the theories that the poet brings forth, the scholars and their curiosity continue to analyze this poem in order to get its clear meaning. however, there is one clear thing and that has Blake based his pieces on Christianity and he was very passionate about what he believed in. he starts by imagining a young Jesus walking on the British shores showing his level of faith and belief in the religion. The way he refers to the biblical terms that he is someone is well conversant with the text.
Gilpin, G. H. "William Blake and the world's body of science." Gilpin contends that The Book of Urezin "satirizes theories of creation favored by the reason-bound and theoretical science of the Enlightenment." Studies in Romanticism (2004).
Goslee, Nancy Moore. "'Soul' in Blake's writing: redeeming the word." Wordsworth Circle (2002).
Rix, Robert. William Blake and the cultures of radical Christianity. Routledge, 2016.
Rix, Robert. "Magnetic Cure in William Blake's THE FRENCH REVOLUTION." The Explicator 68.3 (2010): 167-171.
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