Wednesday 24 August 2016

And did those feet?

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

By William Blake:


Jesus came to England in his youth, with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. They are supposed to have visited visited Priddy in the Mendip Hills of Somerset and nearby Glastonbury, also the mines of Cornwall.

So runs a rich and plausible vein of history, legend and folklore. The missing years of Jesus: The extraordinary evidence that Jesus visited the British Isles by Dennis Price gives a thorough and engaging account of the matter.

The idea is that this visit was between the ages of 12 and 30, and was prolonged; but it was not part of Christ's ministry and He did not perform any miracles; but rather was engaged in some kind of 'work' relating to the metal and stone (tin, perhaps silver, mining and smelting) trade and business interests of Joseph of Arimathea (who is here presumed to be Jesus's uncle).

After the Resurrection, Joseph of Arimathea retruned to Somerset where he founded the first church, in Glastonbury (and planted his staff which grew into the ancestor of the sacred Thorn). This earliest Christian settlement then became bound-up into The Matter of Britain - Arthur, Merlin, Alfred the Great - and the major centre of scholarship at Glastonbury Abbey.  

The interest of Blake's prophecies is especially about the future Jerusalem: the past association with Jesus explains the future of England - in the fragment below (listing places in and around the City of London) the shifting tense seems to imply that Jerusalem is both the past and the future - and also here-and-now; for those, like Blake, able to perceive such things.

The fields from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold;
And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

Her Little Ones ran on the fields,

The Lamb of God among them seen,
And fair Jerusalem, His Bride,
Among the little meadows green.

Pancras and Kentish Town repose
Among her golden pillars high,
Among her golden arches which
Shine upon the starry sky.

The Jew’s-harp House and the Green Man,
The Ponds where boys to bathe delight,
The fields of cows by William’s farm,
Shine in Jerusalem’s pleasant sight.

She walks upon our meadows green;
The Lamb of God walks by her side;
And every English child is seen,
Children of Jesus and His Bride.

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