Jerusalem, the Emanation of the Giant Albion, presents an image of Albion in the final chapter of the grand poem Blake created between 1804 and 1821. Jerusalem, Blake’s heroine, inspires and orchestrates a global network, in which the music and treasures of every culture animate life in what Blake calls the Divine Body. In that organic system a socio-economic ethic of imaginative cooperation eclipses self-serving competition – and nationalism. Identity (both cultural and individual) is enhanced in Jerusalem’s system. In Jerusalem, cooperation does not mean subsuming an individual to a collective. It does not negate national or cultural identity. Mental fight, with a gleaming spiritual sword, is needed to build Jerusalem in England’s pleasant land. But Jerusalem isn’t confined to that land. She’s meant to overspread the earth, eradicating poverty and war; in Blake’s epic she embraces Jesus in Spain, the land of Teresa of Avila, whose spiritually erotic visions Blake most probably knew. She dwells in France, and lives in the Baltics as well, welcoming the sons of Ethiopia. In Blake’s Jerusalem every person, and every nation, is exceptional and blessed.
Susanne Sklar, a member of the Cumnor Fellowship (Oxford), has taught and written about Blake in six countries. She'd like Jerusalem to be staged!