I went to an exhibition of photos by Yorkshire Water's photographer in residence this morning, and on one of the captions it said that the word mill derived from 'to circle' , referring to the millstones, and that Blake wasn't talking about textile mills but about stone circles like Avebury, Stonhenge and Castlerigg. That sounded quite appealing and even possible knowing Blakes spiritual leanings, so I went home and looked up the etymology - and got 'to grind or pummell', hence the other use of 'mill'as 'a fight', what I'd originally thoght before discovering the circle theory. But then it added 'milling around' is wandering or circling around aimlessly, as cattle do, which takes us back to circles again .
Anybody else either heard of the satanic mills being Stonehenge etc or have a better etymological dictionary, or just a view on it? I'm milling around a bit!
Makes more sense to me than the factory idea does, now you mention it. The Satanic mills are referred to in the past tense, rather than the present (at his time). Still, I would think he might have said 'Till we have REbuilt Jerusalem' if that were the case.
And did those Feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
In England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine down upon those clouded hills;
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those 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 shall 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!
Firstly, I'd remind anybody reading that this poem Jerusalem is part of the preface to the long work, Milton.
Blake used the term mill in quite a few different ways.
A Blake Dictionary by S Foster Damon says:
In MIlton, the mill's are Satan's. whose inferiior work is contrasted with the creative agriculture of Palamabron. When Satan undertakes the harrowing so disastrously, Palamabron shifts to Satan's mills ("the easier task"); but under his influence the servants of the mills get intoxicated, and Los stops the grinding. The "dark Satanic Mills" of the opening hymn visualise the enormous mills of the Industrial Revolution, but signify the philosophy under which all England was suffering.
Theotormon also has his mills; they are in Allamanda, "on the verge of the Lake of Udan-Adan. These are the starry voids of night & the depths & caverns of earth. These mills are oceans, clouds & waters ungovernable in their fury: here are the stars created & the seeds of all things planted, and here the Sun & Moon receive their fixed destinations".
Nice work chesil!! Though i would not prefer to discount Hugh's theory of it being linked to jerusalem or marion ideology of mills being referred to cirlcing such as stongehenge and such.
Lots of food for thought in those replies - and a lot of looking up to understand Chesil's properly - thanks very much everyone
I have been thinking about this a little more this morning while showering, where I have most of my best thinking!
The Blake Dictionary provides quite a large entry beyond the extract I copied as Blake seemed to have a slightly different concept for mill in his various longer works. None of these suggest usage in the context of monolithic circles - that doesn't mean he didn't have those in mind, just that the theory hasn't gained much popularity in Blake academic circles.
But beyond that, if there had been any established linkage between stone circles and Satanism, it just seems to me that the Church and their witchfinders would have found ways to pull them down. In fact, it seems strange that they didn't as the Circles represented an older Paganism that I suspect continued to be popular long after Christianity established its roots and thus a threat. I wonder why they didn't?
Maybe cause back than they thought they "knew" what the circles were, and put the meaning towards God, rather than satan!!!
The circles are ofcourse, not linked to satan, they were linked to the sky, stars, moon, and sun...so why would someone think it to be linked to satan...i miss the point of this.
You need to read the first message in the thread, Salma, where there is a suggestion that Blake may have been referring to stone circles.
I doubt that the Church ever saw the stone circles as Christian artifacts. Certainly, there is no evidence that they ever used the circles to worship in.
I agree with Chesil -- the ancient (Druid?) stone constructions were probably condemned by Christian missionaries.
There's a fabulous short story by Ursula K. LeGuin, called THE BARROW, in which a very early Christian missionary tries to prevent someone from sacrificing at an ancient stone altar (pagan) and instead make an offering in a Christian form. The ending is too good to give away.
That said, if Blake WAS talking about pre-Roman stone constructions when he referred to "Satanic mills," then he is conjuring up an image of JESUS visiting STONEHENGE ! And if THAT is the case, then he's drawing a line of connection, not separation.
He may even be saying that the great stones of England's ancient past should be the FOUNDATION of the new Jerusalem we must build in the present.
To "build [the new] Jerusalem" or to "build the Kingdom" is widespread churchspeak for creating a society that lives up to Christian ideals. If Blake was referring to that, he wouldn't have said "RE-buildt" (or RE-builded), because the idea is NOT that Jerusalem is gone and needs to be re-created. Rather, Jerusalem is just fine and needs to be expanded. (He might, however, have spoken of "rebuilding" the Temple, since the Temple was, in fact, destroyed.)
Or maybe Blake is just talking about witches...and people actually worshipping them, but people stoning them to death for that because they thought it was satanic and evil...condemned by the so called church and state???
Blake wonders if "the holy lamb of God" ever was "In England's pleasant pastures seen."
He doesn't ask whether the Tyger was ever seen there... peeking out from behind a monolith.
The Christians of England didn't pull down the stone circles for several reasons, Chesil.<br />
First, the circles are made of very heavy stones.
Second, the stones were a mystery that Englishmen have long considered to be a part of their heritage.
Third, the survival of pagan religious groups and influence into the Christian era is largely the product of modern fantasy literature. Modern fantasy writers do not hesitate to make King Arthur a secret pagan, or to have Brian Boru consort with anachronistic druids. But these are modern fancies....derived from a need to reject Christianity....rather than a historical reality.
Certainly, pagan practices and even veneration have continued in the British Isles, down to modern times. But, since the Romans and their missionaries brought Christianity to the Isles, paganism really hasn't been much of a long-term threat.
As you are no doubt aware, the driving force in Blake's famous words was not to make English Christianity contemporary with paganism. It was to make English Christianity pre-date Roman Catholic Christianity.
Many people believed that Merlin built Stonehenge by that time
A lot of what today is credited to paganism is protestantism doing down catholicism.
Hocus pocus = hoc est corpus = this is my body = the central point of the mass.
Patter = pater noster = our father.
the pentangle = the five saving wounds of Christ (as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
Oh and King Arthur carried an image of the Virgin Mary on his shield for protection against evil.
Hocus pocus = hoc est corpus = this is my body = the central point of the mass
Abra-Kadabra = (n)ivra k'daber (Hebrew) = it shall be as it is spoken
When my mom wanted me to say "please", she'd say "what's the magic word?"
Little bastard that I was, of course I'd always reply "Alakazam" or "HocusPocus" or "Abracadabra"
Small wonder she threw shoes at me !
Thanks, I shall add that one to my list. What is the significance? Does it come from a specific prayer?
You can read about the magical use of ABRACADABRA here:
The former vicar of my local church told me that Blake's 'satanic mills' were the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
I started a thread on that, without knowing about this thread started by Marian2. See:-
Mark, the fact the stones are heavy would hardly have prevented the church from pulling them down. If the builders of Stonehenge could pull the stones from Wales, it would hardly be a difficult thing to pull them down. They certainly had the manpower.
Your second point also appears weak to me. I doubt that many Englishmen, or womne for that matter were aware of the circles unless they either travelled by them or lived nearby.
These website suggests that some were destroyed by the church. The point about superstition may ultimately be the reason more were not destroyed.
Finally, I think it wise to keep an open mind as to what we know for sure about Blake and what has been assumed through analysis of his work.
Supposedly St Patrick destroyed or at least desecrated the Snake Mounds, and that was the basis for the "chasing the snakes" story.
I mentioned "dust bunnies" to a friend from England and he didn't know what I meant. I explained, and he said THEY DON'T HAVE THEM, by that or any other name.
I don't believe it... but I thought it would be fun to give credit to some little-known saint for driving the dust bunnies out of Britain. Saint KESSOG, perhaps, who isn't the patron of anything in particular (yet).
So tell, what is a dust bunny?
Isn't a dust bunny what we'd call slut's wool ie the clumps of dust and hair etc you find coillecting on unswept wooden or vinyl floors , under the bed etc
Yes it is
The former vicar of my local church told me that Blake's
'satanic mills' were the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
I have also heard this, but cannot find a reference to it in any of the edited texts. Can anyone help?
There is a cereal company "General Mills" so while one is militaristic, the other is evil...perhaps where the "killers" come from...I'm adopted, I should know !
Good try, bitty buns, but current theory holds that Blake was actually referring to John Stuart Mill and his family. The Mills advocated such measures as public ownership of all natural resources, equality for women, birth control and compulsory education, all dark and satanic beliefs, which Blake was against.
Hugh, it certainly sounds plausible......as does the Universities....which are often cited as breeding grounds for malcontent, particularly in the 60s
(now they're so hopped up on politicla correctness, with potentially dangerous results)
THough the factories theory, ala Sauruman in LOTR, seems as good as any.
Hey, its making people think, all these years later !
"Blake's Satanic Mills" is a good metal band name
The dark satanic Mills were actually the utilitarian philosophers James and John stuart Mill.
Beatcha to it, nyaah, nyaah!
When you think of poems like London, you wonder why Blake was against these ideas.
"But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse. "
Birth control would have helped. I still vote for factories.
My vote goes to plumbing, a decent water supply and a bathroom to put it in cures a lot of ills.
Blake says that All Religions are One. That the Spirit of Prophecy or the Poetic Genius is above any religious codes, and that the gods and deities live in human breast. Therefore, he certainly is not condemning paganism here -- also satan is a symbol for energy, and Blake doesnt condemn it either! In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell he rather equalizes good & evil, saying ultimately that man should just follow his godly given impulses (thats NOT the lesser human ones!).
What Blake criticizes is materialism -- I believe thats what the satanic dark mills symbolically mean.Linda wrote:
It would be a long stretch to argue that the average Englishman of Blake's time did not know about Stonehenge and other neolithic monuments.<br />
Certainly, anyone important in the Church of England would have known about the stone rings. Any church leader inclined to tear them down could have done so at any time.
The fact that English Christians did not consider the old stones to be a threat is self-evident: The stone rings still exist.
The pattern of Christian missionaries in Europe was to incorporate and build atop pagan rituals and sites. This is no where more evident than at Avebury, where a town and church stand within the neolithic enclosure.
It is significant that not even Puritans or other radical Protestant groups ever called for the destruction of pre-Christian sites. Rather, the English have preserved these sites remarkably well.
None of this suggests that English Christians thought of Stonehenge and its ilk as "Satanic." It suggests the opposite.
However, given Blake's own mythology and point of view (in which ancient druidism is seen as Satanic in nature) is striking for how DIFFERENT it was from his contemporaries' views. It is not a long stretch to guess that Blake might have had a different view of the "Satanic Mills" than other Englishmen of his time.
As for the size of the stone monuments: While an orgnized body (such as the Church of England) might be able to tear them down, the sheer weight and daunting size of the stones would have frustrated casual vandals.
Well, it was only fairly recently at Blake's time that the stone circles were respected. Stonehenge was fairly safe because it was isolated, but Avebury was used as building material, like Hadrian's wall, until John Aubrey made a fuss in the seventeenth century.
Lots of good stuff here:
They were obviously following government exortations to reuse and recycle to save the enviroment.
Post Edited (01-25-05 10:39)
It seems quite likely that the popularly accepted view is right- that Blake was comdemning the Industrial Revolution. As part of the Romantic Movement, mostly hostile towards the Revolution, he was probably not actually being enigmatic. His contemporaries included the parents of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, in which, among other themes, she explores the possibility of the monster as a metaphor for the Industrial Revolution which she then shows a rejection of. Boring book but interesting themes! Anyway, it seems fairly unlikely that Blake was condemning universities and I should think he would be more interested in the Industrial Revolution than in Stonehenge.
Also the Mills as in people- why would one describe people as dark? Satanic quite possibly, but dark I think not.
Reading the preamble to the poem in its original context [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/PrefacetoMilton:aPoem], I wouldn't throw away the universities theory: Blake writes "For we have Hirelings [i.e. of Satan] in the Camp, the Court, & the University", and he generally seems to despise them for encouraging conformist thinking. I don't know much about John Stuart Mill, but it's rubbish that Blake was against womens' rights - he even collaborated with Mary Wollstonecraft on one book! Whether there were other aspects of Mill's philosophy Blake objected to I couldn't say, but it seems unlikely to me.
From [en.wikisource.org] />
"The Stolen & Perverted Writings of Homer & Ovid; of Plato & Cicero. which all Men ought to contemn ... "
"... there is a Class of Men whose whole delight is in Destroying. "
Hmmm. Apparently Blake himself was in that Class? Just because one is a great poet doesn't necessarily mean one is not also a great hypocrite, I am thinking.
Hugh, poets could certainly be many things as men. Oscar Wilde and Dylan Thomas come to mind.
Could be the Mills Brothers:
Thou aeronautical boll weevil.
Illuminate yon woods primeval.
See how the shadows deepen, darken.
You and your chick should get to sparkin'.
I got a gal that I love so.
Glow little glow-worm, glow.
It's Heather Mills...of this i am certain.....almost
Hmmm....the Satanic Mills Brothers. What dark message lurks within the lyrics of "Glow Little Glow Worm?" I wonder....
There's a group out here (Los Angeles) that puts on Shakespeare (and other) plays mixed up with modern music. The current production- Much ADoobie Brothers About Nothing.
I came up with a bunch of Shakespearean porn titles once.
You can't leave us hanging like that. Do share.
Two Gentlemen Do Verona
Hard As You Like It
Horny Wives of Windsor
Blomeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Nights Cream
Testicles, Wince of Tyre - story of a nobleman injured in chariot race
The Serpent of Venice - John Holmes in Italy
Twelfth Wight - Prostitute services an even dozen dwarfs
The Winter's Tail - Brothel loses furnace in February blizzard
...and then there's Poe:
The Fall of the House of Whores - Earthquake destroys London brothel
WhyThe Little Frenchman Wears His Hand In His Pants - Secrets of a happy Parisian
The Island of the Gay - Travelogue published by the Lesbos Chamer of Commerce
The Ova Portrait - Retired gynecologist takes up oil painting.
The Tits and the Pendulum - Busty beauties learn how to swing.
The Telltale Whore - Shh...don't say a word.
The Black Cathouse - How to achieve inter-racial harmony in a single night.
"Thou Art The Man" - Nuns marvel at choir director's organ.
The Imp of the Perverse - Elf goes where others fear to tread
Don't forget good ol' Henry "Wadsworth" Longfellow
One more from Poe:
The Loined Letter: Long-awaited sequel to "The Scarlet Letter." Wait 'til you see where they make Hester wear that 'A' this time.
Cramlet - tragedy of a prince with a small member, whose wife was smaller yet.
That it should come to this!
Hamlet, 1. 2