New Jerusalem

I saw the ghost of William Blake 
Walk through fields of green
Through meadows and orchards
That ran down to the river
Where water powered the mills
Until it was exhausted
The mills left
For faster flowing waters downstream
Then the barges came
Bringing coal and more
Up to Rats Castle
And Butcherley Green
Jerusalem was not builded here
A low and grimy quarter of town
Bargemen, tramps, rag and bottle gatherers
All lived here
Amongst the smells and stench
Of crowded humanity
It was demolished
Slums and poverty gave way to buses
To take the citizens of Hertford away from this
To a greener and more pleasant country
Until the waste land too
Was home to a shopping centre
Preserve it was the call
Enhance it they demanded
Conservatives all
Plans and designs
Were submitted and amended
Until New Jerusalem was builded here
With apartments four stories high
For a new generation seeking
Hertford’s medieval market town centre
Not in Lea Wharf
But plenty of cafes and bars and seating
And places for houseboats to moor up
Blake still wanders through England’s green and pleasant land
But not here
It has been buried beneath steel and concrete
Cement and brick and glass
Made for men and women
To drink at their ease
This is not what we wanted
Is now the cry in town
Too late
The deed is done

Background on Folly Island by the author

The complete poems of William Blake from Amazon

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