Verse > William Blake > Poetical Works
William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
Poems from the Rossetti MS.: Later Poems
Now Art has lost its mental charms
‘NOW 1 Art has lost its mental charms
France shall subdue the world in arms.’
So spoke an Angel at my birth;
Then said ‘Descend thou upon earth;
Renew the Arts on Britain’s shore,        5
And France shall fall down and adore.
With works of art their armies meet
And War shall sink beneath thy feet.
But if thy nation Arts refuse,
And if they scorn the immortal Muse,        10
France shall the arts of peace restore
And save thee from the ungrateful shore.’
Spirit who lov’st Britannia’s Isle
Round which the fiends of commerce smile—
[Cetera desunt]
Note 1. Now Art, &c.] Cp. a passage from Blake’s Advertisement in the MS. Book: ‘Let us teach Buonaparte and whomsoever else it may concern that it is not Arts that follow and attend upon Empire, but Empire that attends upon and follows the Arts.’ Also an annotation in his copy of Reynolds’ Discourses, p. cxxv: ‘The foundation of Empire is Art and Science. Remove them, or degrade them, and the Empire is no more. Empire follows Art, and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose.’ 12 And save thy works from Britain’s shore. MS. 1st rdg. del. [back]

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