[New-Poetry] William Blake's America, 2010
robin.hamilton3 at virginmedia.com
Fri Nov 5 18:16:35 EDT 2010
Bob, It's an Innocence/Experience thing -- "Jerusalem" is Innocence, "London" is Experience. It’s not meant to be either strictly literal or (either of them separately) An Entire Truth.
(And as the Mullah Nazradin said about tigers in Bagdad, of which there are none in either London or any American city, as far as I know, "See, it works!")
As to "only a wacked-out radical", that sounds a perfect description of Blake, who was busted for wearing a Phrygian cap to support the French Revolution, and arguing with a soldier in his back yard. I imagine he (Blake) would consider the politics of New Poetry as, at the best, that of well-meaning but not terribly radical bien sophonts, along with Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Blake would in today's terms, I'd guess, be further to the left than Noam Chomsky.
From: Bob Grumman
Sent: Friday, November 05, 2010 10:52 PM
To: NewPoetry List
Subject: Re: [New-Poetry] William Blake's America, 2010
On 11/5/2010 1:14 PM, Tad Richards wrote:
> Actually, I would say that there are far more similarities between
> Blake's London and America than between New-Po and an people's
> republic, starting with the fact that both London and America are
> geo-political entities. Beyond that, it doesn't seem to me to be such
> a stretch to imagine contemporary America caught in mind-forg'd
> manacles. You, yourself, see the the contemporary poetry establishment
> caught in mind-forg'd manacles.
Okay, Tad, I finally pulled out the thick text I have of Romantic Poetry
and looked up "London":
I wander thro' each chartered street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
Sorry, I think only a wacked-out radical would mark in every
contemporary American face what Blake marks in Londoners'.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forge'd manacles I hear.
I suppose I hear the equivalent of mind-forged manacles in a few
voices, especially those in charge of the surface of the poetry world,
but not in "every voice," or in more than a very few voices. I don't
hear many cries.
How the Chimney-sweeper's cry.
Every black'ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.
A left-winger, I suppose, would find sighing soldiers in our
country, but my impression is that most American soldiers are only
sighing at how they're misused by politicians, and at how little
Americans realize their importance. And we do not have the equivalent
of chimney-sweepers now. Moreover, our citizens are INCREDIBLY affluent
compared to the English of Blake's time. And what you want to say about
American churches, they do a great deal for the poor. We don't have
clergy wallowing in wealth, that I know about.
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
I can't find the parallel to this in contemporary America but it's such
a wild metaphor that I suppose a hysteric could apply it to any country
at any time.
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