Apart from other poems of William Blake, “Jerusalem” is one of the best poems. Many of his critics say it is the preface of his famous epic “Milton: A Poem in Two Books”. Later Winchester Cathedral Choir sang ‘Jerusalem’.
In the song, there are some changes of words but it is a famous song. Along with Jerusalem, it is also known as ‘And did those feet in ancient time’. Here Blake basically talks about young Jesus and his later life. A.W Smith spoke includes his though which is,
“that there was little reason to believe
that an oral tradition concerning a visit made by Jesus
to Britain existed before the early part of the twentieth century”.
Jerusalem Poem Summary
So, before starting the poem or the song it can be said their many historical references are added and these make the poem more relevant to the readers. In the first line, he speaks,
“And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands Mountains green:”
Here, the poet is talking about someone who walks upon England’s green mountains by its feet in ancient times. Perhaps he is sleeping about Jesus Christ who walked even in the mountains.
Jerusalem with Lyrics
He was the ‘holy Lamb of God’. If we read William Blake’s other poem ‘The Lamb’ then will find that there also addresses god as a Lamb, here he is doing the same.
“Englands pleasant pastures seen!”
Jesus makes the field green that people are watching. The ‘countenance’ is so divine and here he is asking is it shining forth upon the hills. Here the hills are also a part of Jesus so every in the world belongs to him.
“And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?”
Here, these lines addressing ‘Jerusalem’ built by Christ. Maybe Jerusalem was a British king of England. The poet again addressing the hills as ‘dark satanic Mills’ it was dark before Christ makes it green that is why he is comparing the evil spirit of the hills with Satan.
“Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrow of desire”
Now Blake is saying to bring his bow back, the burning gold it is. Again he states to get him back his arrow of desire. The poet uses personification by the phrase ‘arrow of desire’.
He tells him, Jesus, to get him back the spear. ‘Spear’ is used as a symbol of thunder using that the poet can unfold the clouds.
In the last stanza, he says that he would not like to cease from the mental flight. Even the poet’s sword does not stay long at his hands. By these lines, he is trying to say what he thinks about Jerusalem and how he portrays Jesus.
“Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
The people of England build Jerusalem and England becomes a green and pleasant land. If a reader goes through the details then maybe he is comparing Jerusalem with Jesus Christ.
Throughout the poem, William Blake only speaks on Jesus’s works. He walked on the hills and make it full of green.
The New Jerusalem
Jesus himself established ‘New Jerusalem’.
What Does Jerusalem by William Blake Mean?
“Jerusalem” means the city of peace that God had made.
In England, ‘Jerusalem’ address the heaven where people find the ultimate peace. William Blake is also talking about that peace. According to the poet, all the weapons that he names describing the power of Jesus or the meaning of God.
Further, the poem is sung by many people. Even in some churches people sung this song. Though the lyrics become a bit changed but the sense remains the same.
As this poem is also a song and it fills with historical references here a reader will find allusions like, Lamb is being compared with Jesus Christ’s childhood.
In this poem, there is not a perfect rhyming pattern but still, that can be found is ‘abcb abba abba abab’.
Symbolism is another common poetic device. Here, the poet uses symbolism to symbolize something. Just for example,
“Englands green” symbolizes the peace of mankind.
Poet also uses ‘Anaphora’ that means the repetition of the same words at the beginning of two lines one after another,
“Bring me my bow…
Bring me my arrow of desire.”
The presence of Consonance is also given like,
“my sword sleep”
These are all literary devices that attract readers to the poet.
Questions and Answers
Where did William Blake write Jerusalem?
He was writing Jerusalem in Sussex.
What is William Blake famous for?
William Blake was famous for ‘Sings of Innocence and experience’.
What does Jerusalem mean?
Jerusalem means the city of peace.
What did William Blake believe in?
William Blake does believe in Christianity.