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Poetry

Sunday Sonnet

Blake may talk about a mental fight building Jerusalem in England’s land. Blake was wrong. The fight is not mental: it is either spiritual or physical. I am sure I have used this before, but here the contrast between the reformed and the romantic is clear.

Blake was too enamoured with nature, and bended the gospel to build is mental Jerusalem. But is it to be?

Jerusalem (preface, Milton a poem)

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands 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 Englands green & pleasant Land.

William Blake

Locke new better. She knew that castles and walls could fall: the Scotland of her youth and England of exile were not peaceful kingdoms. The line “Myning fraude” probably implies that to dig under and blow up the wall was considered dishonourable but necessary.

When she moves to her time, and from Jerusalem, the poem becomes more powerful… despite of tyrannie to stand is as relevant in this time as it was in hers. As in her time, we seek a safe abode for those of faith.

But in this time, that is probably not Israel, beset by many enemies, nor the new land that the Puritans fled to a generation after Locke. Both are under attack.

Shew mercie, Lord, not vnto me alone:
But stretch thy fauor and thy pleased will,
To sprede thy bountie and thy grace vpon
Sion, for Sion is thy holly hyll:

That thy Hierusalem with mighty wall
May be enclosed vnder thy defense,
And bylded so that it may neuer fall
By myning fraude or mighty violence.

Defend thy chirch, Lord, and aduaunce it soe,
So in despite of tyrannie to stand,
That tre[m]bling at thy power the world may know
It is vpholden by thy mighty hand:

That Sion and Hierusalem may be
A safe abode for them that honor thee.

Anne Locke

The transliteration has some challenges with scansion, again driven by the fact that English has changed. Pleased is now one syllable, so one has to add a word. I split mining from fraud, for that seems more apropos to my time. If your remove upholden you need to add a participle: I think that I have made that line a little too specific.

Show mercy Lord, not just to me alone
But stretch out your favour and your pleased will
To spread your bounty and your grace upon
Zion, for Zion is your holy hill.

That your Jerusalem with mighty wall
May be enclosed under your defence
And builded that it may never fall
By mining, fraud, or mighty violence

Defend your church Lord, and advance it so
So in despite of tyranny to stand
That trembling at your power the world may know
It is upheld but by your mighty hand

That Zion and Jerusalem may be
A safe abode for them that honour thee.

Anne Locke, Translit.

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