Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Yesterday, I was listening to NPR and heard a review for what sounded like a great new recording of Mussurgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". The today, reading an article about Bethlehem Steel in Slate, I saw the phrase "dark satanic mills".

So obviously, I immediately thought of one of my most guilty pleasures, masters of 1970s "progressive" rock, Emerson Lake & Palmer. They recorded both "Pictures" and Blake's "Jerusalem". Mabe I'll get out my CDs and listen to them again. Their version of Jerusalem is a great track to try out a new stereo system on. Greg Lake's voice is a rich, powerful and godlike barritone and the production results in a pretty massive wall of sound. If there's a better recording out now, I'd love to here about it. It's one of the few poems steeped in Christian language that I can appreciate emotionally without wincing at the dogma it invokes (primarily because Blake mythology doesn't entail traditional Christian dogma).

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of God
On England 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, oh 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 England's green and pleasant land!


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