On the birthday of William Blake here is what is probably, in England anyway, his best known poem. It is one of the most popular and patriotic English hymns of the Anglican Church.
It is the essence of what it is to be English. The English Rugby song is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. Queen Boudica, that very embodiment of Britannia, is portrayed riding her Celtic Chariot.
As the British Parliament prepare to vote on the Brexit deal with the EU it is not the Northern Irish that matter, nor the Welsh, nor the Scots. This is England Theresa May. This is the time to embody England, to don the mantle of Alfred the Great. To hell with those pesky Celts, this is an Anglo-Saxon matter.
Jerusalem: by William Blake
And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s 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 England’s green and pleasant land.
Born this day 1757.
The Clod and the Pebble; by William Blake
“Love seeketh not itself to please,
nor for itself hath any care,
but for another gives its ease,
and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
So sung a little Clod of Clay
trodden with the cattle’s feet,
but a Pebble of the brook
warbled out these metres meet:
“Love seeketh only self to please,
to bind another to its delight,
joys in another’s loss of ease,
and builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”
A close up photo of my gardening pants. I was amazed at how the Green Shield Beetle changes colour to match the autumn. They are bright shiny green when they emerge in May and change over the months until they are completely brown by November. A very sophisticated camouflage strategy at work.
It is not really a beetle at all. It is from a family called “true bugs”. I know lots of insects are called “bugs” in North America, but it is not a common usage in Ireland or Britain. So calling an insect a Bug in Ireland is being very specific.
Some shield bugs are called Stink Bugs because they engage in chemical warfare, releasing strong smelling odours to deter predators. Some of the odours are attractive to humans, smelling of coriander or almond. As a result stink bugs are a delicacy in some countries in indochina. They are ground into a condiment paste with chili, spices and herbs. I have even seen a recipe for Chicken Liver Paté which uses Stink Bugs as an ingredient.
The Fly; by William Blake
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.
If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;
Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.