na foine ting
Thursday, April 14, 2005
If you haven't seen Cronenberg's "Spider" yet, do.
It's a gorgeous, understated, beautifully acted piece, with Ralph Finnes as usual having exactly the right sense of how much is precisely enough, all the time.
It's visually stunning, in a very low key way, and Cronenberg manages to take you along on this journey to the more extreme parts of the human psyche without ever resorting to cheap shock or sentimentality to deliver a serious punch.
Gabriel Byrne and Miranda Richardson also deliver top-notch performances. It's a nearly perfect movie.
You know that Blake poem we all know because it's also a hymn and it gets used in cinema all the time?
- 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.
I mean, just look how rich a source it's been. "Chariot of fire," "dark Satanic mills," and I know if I hummed the tune you'd go, oh yeah, that one. Think "Chariots of Fire" and "Calendar Girls," just for a start.
And Blake... we'll, Blake's Blake and we love good old one brick short of the Masonic load Blake, but does this poem strike anyone else besides me as somewhat sinister?
No sheep in England but those who are good Godly sheep, and Catholic to boot?
Blake wasn't Catholic. He was anti-deist, and certainly against the conservative structure of religion in general, despite being his own sort of wild, somewhat Gnostic breed of Christian.
I've been mulling this poem over, and although I'm reading that it's supposed to be about a sort of pious statement of zealous intent to convert England to a sort of idealized Christian state, and certainly it's sung that way as a hymn...
...I'm wondering if it isn't meant to be deeply ironic.
In other works, Blake depicts pastoral England as an "innocent" England, and any visitation of "heaven" on earth is usually a negative influence. The demonic influences he depicts are usually in fact the fires of revolution, which as a radical he was mostly sympathetic to.
Which means that in "Jerusalem," the angelic force tranforming the green and pleasant hills is potentially one of devastation, and not a good, revolutionary kind.
Something to think about, anyway. If it's the case, I like this poem a lot better than I thought I did.
Ah. Found a midi link.
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