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Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt2.mornington.au.da.uu.net)
Date: April 22, 2004 02:13AM

I was startled the other day to hear it asserted that the 'dark, satanic mills' referred to in William Blake's poem 'Jerusalem' were not, as commonly supposed, the factories and smoke-stacks of the English industrial revolution, but the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Among a huge number of Blake sites on the Internet, I found a few containing this assertion, and explaining that Blake disapproved of the universities as bastions of the Church of England, but nothing that went beyond mere assertion. Is it just a radical modern theory, or is there hard evidence that he was referring to the universities?



Post Edited (09-19-04 09:51)


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-01rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: April 22, 2004 12:05PM

See also: [tinyurl.com]


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: April 22, 2004 12:18PM

So the "dark satanic mills" have been understood as:

-- universities
-- factories
-- Stonehenge
-- "oceans, clouds, and waters"

And if (as IanB pointed out) "Blake disapproved of the universities as bastions of the Church of England" -- then the mills might have been the C of E churches themselves.

I have no idea, but I'm very intrigued by the question.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: April 22, 2004 03:01PM

I was taught that they were the English public schools and their crushing out of childhood innocence. They grind the spirit down into conformity.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Henry (213.78.101.---)
Date: April 22, 2004 08:12PM

[66.102.9.104] />
I turn my eyes to the schools and Universities of Europe
And there behold the loom of Locke, whose woof rages dire,
Wash’d by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth
In heavy wreaths folds over every Nation: cruel Works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other, not so those in Eden, which,
Wheel within Wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace.

William Blake, 1757-1827

The following site also identifies Oxford and Cambridge as the dark satanic mills, but this time because they harboured 'mental scepticism and doubt.'

[home.no.net] /> Agnosticism and out-and-out atheism are evidently still very widespread in the scientific and academic community, and have long been so, even though great minds from Newton to Einstein and beyond have been believers in God. A much-sung Anglican hymn text by the mystic and poet William Blake refers to the 'dark Satanic mills'. By this he was not referring, as many subsequently assumed, to the terrible conditions of cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution but to those mills of mental scepticism and doubt, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. This reminds how atheism, or at best agnosticism, has been assumed along with faith in the scientific method by the intelligentia (sic), the planners and the politicians.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: April 23, 2004 10:26AM

Thanks, Henry. I'm convinced!

Yet Blake is taught at universities and "Jerusalem" is sung in university chapels.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Leicxky (---.range81-152.btcentralplus.com)
Date: April 23, 2004 01:37PM

Notes

"Inspired by an incident which had newly drawn public attention to the condition of some textile workers in London. A woman with a starving infant at the breast `was charged at the Lambeth Police-court with pawning her master's goods, for which she had to give two pounds security. Her husband had died by an accident, and left her with two children to support, and she obtained by her needle for the maintenance of herself and family what her master called the good living of seven shillings a week."

The Song of the Shirt

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread--
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the "Song of the Shirt."

"Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work — work — work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It's Oh! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!

"Work — work — work
Till the brain begins to swim;
Work — work — work
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

"Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not linen you're wearing out,
But human creatures' lives!
Stitch — stitch — stitch,
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

But why do I talk of Death?
That Phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own —
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep;
Oh, God! that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!

"Work — work — work!
My Labour never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread — and rags.
That shatter'd roof — and this naked floor —
A table — a broken chair —
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there!

"Work — work — work!
From weary chime to chime,
Work — work — work!
As prisoners work for crime!
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb'd,
As well as the weary hand.

"Work — work — work,
In the dull December light,
And work — work — work,
When the weather is warm and bright —
While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling
As if to show me their sunny backs
And twit me with the spring.

Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet —
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want
And the walk that costs a meal!

Oh! but for one short hour!
A respite however brief!
No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for Grief!
A little weeping would ease my heart,
But in their briny bed
My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread!"

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread —
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch, —
Would that its tone could reach the Rich! —
She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"

Punch (London, 1843)





Leiky


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-02rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: April 23, 2004 05:08PM

By Thomas Hood (1799-1845).


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Chesil (---.clvdoh.adelphia.)
Date: June 22, 2004 10:02AM

Blake is hugely open to interpretation. There is evidence that he detested the universities of the day for turning out and then continuing the philosophies of John Locke and Isaac Newton. There is also evidence for the industrial mills argument. There are no certain proofs, but a lot of interesting theories.

For those interested, the biography by Peter Ackroyd is very interesting. Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye which is not an easy read by any means, at least for me, might prove enlightening - or make it even more obscure!


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: phillip hill (---.range217-42.btcentralplus.com)
Date: September 18, 2004 11:16PM

I agree with your interpretation that it is not obvious. I believe that the mills do refer quite strictly to the upcoming industrial landscape but my partner differs and goes further in that 'universities' refer specifically to Oxford and Cambridge only - discuss!


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: RJAllen (---.creation-net.co.uk)
Date: September 19, 2004 02:46PM

As Oxford and Cambridge were the only universities in England then, it isn't surprising.
How did this thread, grossly truncated, rise like the kraken from the deeper depths of the forum?


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: September 19, 2004 03:20PM

Yeah, what's the deal with that...not that I said anything profound, but still.....


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: September 19, 2004 06:20PM

Roger, the thread isn't truncated. The GD forum has another thread on the same subject, which I didn't know of when I started this one. It can no doubt be found by searching 'satanic'.

The two threads between them contain probably all of the known circumstantial evidence, which is inconclusive, as well as suggested conclusions to be drawn from it, ranging from serious to ingeniously frivolous.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Minho (210.181.181.---)
Date: October 03, 2004 11:14PM

"Dark, satanic mills" is understood as the industrial society, and at the same time, as the educational institutes. In the industrial society, Laborers
had no time for cultural activities. They had to work day and night in factories. It means that on the cultural side the society was led by the citizen class. The industrial society of the the citizen class was based on the natural science. Instead of metaphysics, the natural science was understood as the only criterion of Knowledge in the educational institute.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: October 04, 2004 04:22PM

Only non-conformists, who like (in the same way as) women, Catholics and Jews, were not allowed to attend universities in England studied science as such. Universities taught the classics to gentlemen.



Post Edited (10-04-04 18:12)


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: October 04, 2004 05:07PM

LOL @ Linda's lack o comma, which makes it look like non-conformists are the ones who like Women, Catholics and Jews !

(no longer appropriate due to the damned edit function



Post Edited (10-07-04 13:13)


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Minho (218.145.25.---)
Date: October 07, 2004 06:29AM

Laborers were allowed to attend universities, but they couldn't attend universities financially.

Regarding the classics and the natural sciences, we have to look them back on the ideological side.

The classics which had been related to historical events were used to propagate the old regime.

The universities criticised as satanic mills by Blake were meant as those of the civil society after the French Revolution.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: October 07, 2004 02:07PM

but they couldn't attend universities financially.

Say what? They could only go if they paid nothing?

The universities criticised as satanic mills by Blake were meant as those of the civil society ...

As opposed to the uncivil society? Lost me again, I am afraid. Some of those university names might help me out.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: October 07, 2004 02:15PM

Must be those weirdos who like Kathleen Levine


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: October 07, 2004 06:23PM

At least it wasn't against the law for labourers to attend university, they were male and Anglican (established church). Women and non Anglicans were forbidden from attempting to gain a university education.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Jon Pat (---.dsl.pipex.com)
Date: November 22, 2004 12:35PM

I understand the 'satanic' mills were the Albion Mills, in the parish of Christ Church on the south bank of the Thames, by Blackfriars Bridge.

Blake passed the Albion Mills on his way from Hercules Buildings (off the Westminster Turnpike) to work in the City.

The Albion flour mills were steam-powered, and the first of their kind in London. They were destroyed by fire in 1791.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh16rt-04rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.ne)
Date: November 22, 2004 02:16PM

Good information, thanks. Here is some more:

[www.vauxhallsociety.org.uk] />
I am concerned about the singular Albion mill versus the plural satanic ones, though.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Saulo (200.234.26.---)
Date: December 07, 2004 11:22PM

I turn my eyes to the schools and Universities of Europe
And there behold the loom of Locke, whose woof rages dire,
Wash’d by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth
In heavy wreaths folds over every Nation: cruel Works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other, not so those in Eden, which,
Wheel within Wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace.

where is this from? its a very good quotation.



I think the point is not what the dark satanic mills exactly means, but its poetic meaning: that is materialism and loss of spirituality.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.phoenix-01rh15-16rt.az.dial-access.att.net)
Date: December 08, 2004 12:02PM

where is this from? its a very good quotation.

[eir.library.utoronto.ca]


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Evelyn (202.103.41.---)
Date: December 19, 2004 04:39AM

Hi, Jon,

I'm Evelyn from China.

I have read one sentence from one article as "turning those pages and studying their photographs is like flowing on a sad current that, like Blake's Thames, seems to 'mark in every face, marks of weakness, marks of woe.'"

I am not sure of the content of the Blake's Thames, so I resorted to the internet and found your message. Would you mind telling me if there is any poem of Blake's regarding the Thames? and what's your understanding of that sentence I quoted from the article?

Thanks in advance,

Evelyn


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: RJAllen (---.creation-net.co.uk)
Date: December 19, 2004 08:34AM

It's from Blake's poem London:

I wander through each chartered street
Near where the chartered Thames doth flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

It should be in the archive here, or just google. London livery companies which controlled the city had charters which give them powers and rights and so the city- the streets- werte chartered, but it also means hired or bought, with the pun on "charted" meaning mapped and known. There's more obvious puns in "mark" too.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: December 19, 2004 07:19PM

For some words Blake may have changed, see also:

[eir.library.utoronto.ca]


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: Mike Jefferis (71.34.20.---)
Date: January 09, 2009 03:38PM

That Blake may have referred to Cambridge or Oxford rather than a cotton mill is an intriguing idea, about which I have no evidence either way. It strikes me, though, that several commenters touched on divers but common possibilities, from the most dreary soul killing factory to the more elegant soul killing educational facility, whether that be Cambridge or some less elevated local school. These days the dark satanic mills have been replaced by well-lit, airy, and ergonomic satanic mills which are just as effective at soul killing as the real mills of the early (and late) industrial revolution. The mental strait-jackets which billions are required to wear in order to get on in their respective societies is, in certain ways, not much different than living in the ruthless industrial machines that ground workers up.

In my experience the impulse to build "dark satanic mills for other people to live in" can grow out of (and despite) almost any thought system, whether it be the church, the academy, the factory, the office, the political party, or whatever institution one has to work with.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2009 03:40PM by Mike Jefferis.


Re: Blake's 'dark, satanic mills'
Posted by: petersz (69.181.22.---)
Date: January 12, 2009 02:47AM

You might be interested in some of the material available on Wikipedia regarding alternate interpretations of the poem:

[en.wikipedia.org] />
I do agree with you, Mike, it is usually for 'other people' such places are built.

Peter




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