Jim McCord: “William Blake’s America a Prophecy Revisited”

William Blake’s America a Prophecy Revisited

My daughters and my sons weep for you, America.

You were a flower in the vales of Leutha that labored through ages
    to blossom with beauty & hope.
You were a portion of the infinite that’s now lost.

Your meadows faint, America, the hearts of your people soft as flowing fields
    of grain because pity is a trade your Princes get rich by.

For profit they go hard on the virgin, easy on the harlot,
    easy on the Governor, hard on the work bruis’d laborer.
They plague with chemicals your fields of corn and your innocent plains.
They turn green & pleasant lands into Satanic mines.
They say your doors of marriage are open when they’re bolted shut,
    pronounce manacles of religion broken when they’re bloody tight,
    declare privacy sacred when spiders weave invisible nets.
They fill your people with suffering, America, so many diseas’d babes
    tonguing mothers’ poison milk.
They keep the hearts of your people afflicted by still births,
    keep the minds of your people trembling at the torment long foretold,
    keep them dreaming, America, of a future that never has been or will be.

You cast aside golden cups to devour food & drink from iron vessels.
Your body was made strong as adamant to battle like a fire storm of lust.
Your howl is like the eternal Wolf, your tail lashes like the eternal Tyger.

Black smoke thunders and loud winds rejoice in your terrors.
You turn the world red as fierce fire & blood, melt its life-giving snows
    & icy magazines.
Your folded flames roar fierce around all inhabitants of earth.
Nations grovel & writhe at your feet.
Legs quiver.
Muscles & sinews convulse.
Mouths chatter & yowl.

Your friends tormented, their ensigns sicken in the sky.
Your liberating flames destroy all lands they touch.
Your trumpets blast victory, drown truth.
Your wrathful people filled with hatred of the Jew, the Papist,
    the atheist, the Muslim, the Black, the Chicano, the Asian.
Your citizens blinded by fear worship war like Roman gods.

But a body without a soul is no sweet delight.

A body without a soul is an old man whose fire is spent, who hides in caves
    & reptile coverts, grows scales, hoods his self, feeds on his own dark secrets
    until he sees no difference between a man & a machine, the sun & a shining
    gold coin.

How easy, America, for your Princes to speak with conviction, without doubt,
    with firm persuasion from their cowl of flesh.
How easy for them to preach abstinence and wrap themselves in the fat of lambs.
Their judges write laws of peace & wield weapons of war.
Their priests sermonize the holiness of life & condemn citizens to death.
Their law makers mouth diversity & imprison the diverse.
Their profiteers market the visions of artists.
Their angels spread pestilence over the facts of scientists.

Your dream of empire, America, is a sick-man’s dream.

Of thee I sing with hoarse note on black raven’s wing.

Would that this time was ended, this shadow passed.
Would that a new morn would plume her golden breast.

Would that empire were no more.

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