Taking liberties

Mike Harrison very thought provoking today on control, mass trespass and fantasies of childhood in the English countryside:

‘The utter brilliance of the Kinder mass trespasses was that they gave the non-magic kind of children permission to occupy some of those landscapes.’

A forced ceding of control by the controlling classes. This conflict over control seems to me to be a key feature of the broader English landscape. It’s there in the battle between our two national anthems, ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Jerusalem’ – thus:

‘…God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen…’


‘Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariots of fire!’

The official anthem is a call to be commanded, to become entirely passive. What riches there are in the world – material, spiritual – are to be administered for us, by our betters:

‘Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign’

The second a great dynamic roar, demanding the tools needed to get out there and actively remake the world – as unpassive as you can possibly get:

‘I will not cease from metal fight;
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.’

Blake used to say ‘I must create my own system, else be enslaved by another man’s’. Two different Englands to choose between; I know which one I want to live in.

Oh, and, for a modern take on how we’re controlled, check out new documentary ‘Taking Liberties’ – on cinema release this weekend.

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