Completely Up To Date, and Two Hundred Years Old 2


With thanks to David Rose.

I sometimes complain that we have forgotten so much of our fantastic hreitage of thinkers and writers in the British radical tradition. Please read this closely. It is the best comment I have seen yet on the current extraordinarily bad condition of our World.

It was written by William Blake in 1804.

What is the price of Experience; do men buy it for a song

Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No it is bought with the price

Of all that a man hath; his house his wife his children

Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy

And in the witherd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain

It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer’s sun

And in the vintage & to sing on the waggon loaded with corn

It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted

To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer

To listen to the hungry ravens cry in wintry season

When the red blood is filld with wine & with the marrow of lambs

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements

To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan

To see a god on every wind & a blessing on every blast

To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies house

To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, & the sickness that cuts off his children

While our olive & vine sing & laugh round our door & our children bring fruits & flowers

Then the groan & the dolor are quite forgotten & the slave grinding at the mill

And the captive in chains & the poor in the prison, & the soldier in the field

When the shatterd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity

Thus could I sing & thus rejoice, but it is not so with me!

Wlliam Blake: The Four Zoas – Vala (Night the Second)


2 thoughts on “Completely Up To Date, and Two Hundred Years Old

  • writerman

    My love laughs her last laugh

    and disappears in a red cloud

    I twist and turn and spin

    pain is no substitute for love

    With my one good eye I peer

    peer into the red cloud

    I know, I feel she's in there somewhere

    I can still, I think, I can see her

    a child, a lover, a memory

    My other eye lies bleeding on the sand

    I pick it up and hold it in my palm

    then I realise, it not my eye, it's hers

    the red cloud is gone

    She drove me wild with her smiles

    She could melt the hardest heart the coldest smile with just a simple look

    now she's gone, my love, my child

    I'm crawling on my hands and knees

    God, guide my heart to hers

    Help me, I want to kill and seek revenge in blood to raise her from the dead once more, just once more

    I've one good eye and an empty heart

    for a start I'll cling to a dead dream

    then I'll start walking in silence

    walking towards the sound of gunfire

  • Tom Kennedy

    You who live safe

    In your warm houses,

    You who find, returning in the evening,

    Hot food and friendly faces:

    Consider if this is a man

    Who works in the mud

    Who does not know peace

    Who fights for a scrap of bread

    Who dies because of a yes or a no.

    Consider if this is a woman,

    Without hair and without name

    With no more strength to remember,

    Her eyes empty and her womb cold

    Like a frog in winter.

    Meditate that this came about:

    I commend these words to you.

    Carve them in your hearts

    At home, in the street,

    Going to bed, rising;

    Repeat them to your children,

    Or may your house fall apart,

    May illness impede you,

    May your children turn their faces from you.

    Primo Levi, "If This is a Man"

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