Before ‘Jerusalem’: Blake’s stanzas from Milton, 1863 to 1915

Last Thursday, Professor Jason Whittaker (School of English and Journalism) gave a fascinating lecture about the reception of William Blake in the ‘long’ nineteenth-century. The talk focussed on lyrics from Blake’s Milton, a Poem, lines which are nowadays better known as ‘Jerusalem’.

Jason discussed the confusion with which many mid-Victorians greeted Milton. As a result of this confusion,  Blake’s ‘Stanzas from Milton’ became detached from their original context – being commonly printed on their own without the eccentric longer poem. This decontextualisation was part of a long journey, at the end of which Hubert Parry would set Blake’s once-obscure lines to music – turning them into the famous hymn that we know today.

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