Blake continues – 9

[Mills and smokestacks – factories in Lowell, Massachusetts]

AG: There is a very strange book review in the last “New York Times” Book Review section, just talking about “law blasted wastes,” pointing out that it was a long study of the factory in small towns in America.  The history of factories in small towns like Lowell, Paterson, New Jersey, and England.  It was a study of American factory towns, rural factories.  (There) was at one time a tradition of rural (factories), like up in Schenectady, Utica, upstate New York.  Probably out here (in Colorado), or probably in Golden, (Colorado), you’ll find the ruins of an old factory, from early 19th century. And the sociological study of that pointed out that those factories drew people off the farms, set up a centralized authoritarian form right on the edge of the small cities, and their motif was some kind of Christian improvement capitalism.  Capitalism associated with Christian improvement  – that you had to improve the town.  That it wasn’t enough to have the field tilled by the small farmer, but that progress was a by-product of certain Christian virtues, such as continuous industriousness, almost like speed-freak stupidity-industriousness, continuous industriousness.  Protestant virtue, thrift, energy collection, concentration of intelligence, some kind of funny science that was bent on improving everybody and bringing everybody into Sunday School when they were off the factory, and that the Church was used as a handmaiden to the factory to keep people enslaved. Between the factory and the Church the entire culture of the small towns [was] changed, and the rise of the small factory in America went along with the rise of the Protestant churches. Well, you know that old thing  – Religion and the rise of the Protestant Ethic anyway.  This was applied to the American small town factories.

So that’s all implicit in “law blasted wastes.””‘Strength madden’d with slavery, honesty, bound in the dens of superstition,/ May sing in the village, and shout in the harvest, and woo….” – ( and here’s his ideal state – that the citizen might “sing in the village, and shout in the harvest, and woo in pleasant gardens” – an early Flower Power vision).

Student: Yes

AG (continues) :   “‘Their once savage loves, now beaming with knowledge, with  gentle awe adorned;/ And the saw, and the hammer, the chisel, the pencil, the  pen, and the instruments/ ‘Of heavenly song sound in the wilds once forbidden, to teach the laborious plowman/ And shepherd deliver’d from clouds of war, from pestilence, from night-fear, from murder,/ ‘From falling, from stifling, from hunger, from cold, from slander, discontent and sloth;  /That walk in beasts and birds of night, driven back by the sandy desert/  Like pestilent fogs round cities of men..”

That’s another great prophetic image:  “pestilent fogs round cities of men.”  How did he get that so early?  Because he did have the phrase, “dark Satanic mills” or Satanic mills – dark Satanic mills.  “(P)estilent fogs round cities of men,” “law blasted wastes” – so the sociology is impeccable for his time. And it’s just thrown in (as) incidental insights, like “shoes of contempt.”

“… and the happy earth sing in its course,/ The mild peaceable nations be opened to heav’n..” – (this is all late 1960’s rhetoric…) “…and men walk with their fathers in bliss” – (..except no war of generations. That’s kind of a nice (phrase) – “men walk with their fathers in bliss.”)

“Then hear the first voice of the morning: ‘Depart, O clouds of night, and no more/ ‘Return; be withdrawn cloudy war, troops of warriors depart, nor around our peaceable city/ Breathe fires, but ten miles from Paris, let all be peace,  nor a soldier be seen!'” – (He’s asking the King to withdraw his army again) .

“He ended; the wind of contention arose and the clouds cast their shadows, the Princes/ Like the mountains of….”  And so forth.

“…a murmur is heard descending into the valley” – (in line  two-four-six) – “And the palace appear’d like a cloud driven abroad; blood ran down the ancient pillars.”

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-five minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy minutes in]

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