ï»¿A War Song to Englishmen (By William Blake)
Prepare, prepare the iron helm of war, - jambus, anapaest, jambus, jambus
Bring forth the lots, cast in the spacious orb;
Th' Angel of Fate turns them with mighty hands,
And casts them out upon the darken'd earth!
Prepare your hearts for Death's cold hand! prepare
Your souls for flight, your bodies for the earth;
Prepare your arms for glorious victory;
Prepare your eyes to meet a holy God!
Whose fatal scroll is that? Methinks 'tis mine!
Why sinks my heart, why faltereth my tongue?
Had I three lives, I'd die in such a cause,
And rise, with ghosts, over the well-fought field.
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William BlakeÂ (28 November 1757Â â€“ 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of theÂ Romantic Age.Â
This poem is from the Poetical Sketches. ThisÂ is the first collection ofÂ poetryÂ andÂ proseÂ byÂ William Blake, written between 1769 and 1777. The book was never published for the public, with copies instead given as gifts to friends of the author and other interested parties.Â The ballad 'A War Song to Englishmen' is usually interpreted as forming a part ofÂ Edward the Third, perhaps written by Blake to be inserted later. Specifically, the poem is seen as the second song of the minstrel, whose first song closes the fragment with a passionate evocation ofÂ Brutus of Troy, supposed founder of Britain. "War Song" continues to urge troops to battle and, like the minstrel's first song, is usually interpreted as parody and an ironic celebration ofÂ patrioticÂ bloodlust.
What is still unclear by the end of the song is why the tyrannical Kings of old England are there to â€œwelcomeâ€ the rebels. Perhaps this is representative of Blakeâ€™s difficulty with deciding life over freedom. Regardless, the fate of the soldiers reaches beyond Englandâ€™s history anyhow and is subtly intended for all mankind. Overall, the verse is dignified with patriotism for all humankind, however ironic his patriotism to his own country may appear.
In the end, â€œA War Song to Englishmenâ€ is an uncharacteristic poem in the Blake canon. A direct call of patriotic duty, it is as obvious in meaning as it appears. It is a general call to war of his countrymen, only...