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What Did William Blake Mean By "Dark Satanic Mills"?

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When Blake wrote these words in his poem "Jerusalem" around the turn of the 19th century, England was still a largely rural place or, as the poem describes it, "green and pleasant land." However, the Industrial Revolution was already well under way; factories had sprung up and the old cottage industries were disappearing. In the years after "Jerusalem" was written, one major invention followed another. The spinning Jenny and the power loom revolutionised the textile industry, making Britain a huge textile manufacturer. Developments in iron and steel production, improved roads, waterways and the invention of the steam engine, would fundamentally change people's lives. Britain would become the world's first industrialised nation, as well the richest, but would pay a heavy cost in human health, quality of life and pollution. Blake's words, written before the major changes took place, seem to foreshadow both the power of the new technology and its destructive effects.

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