What God is he, writes laws of peace, & clothes him in a tempest
What pitying Angel lusts for tears, and fans himself with sighs
What crawling villain preaches abstinence & wraps himself
In fat of lambs? No more I follow, no more obedience pay.
This poem is a fulfillment of the ideas Blake had when he worked on his unfinished (or perhaps simply incomplete) poem The French Revolution. Here Blake looks at the American Revolution in the same way, viewing it as a clash between mythical forces. This poem is, I believe, the first appearance of Orc, a figure that will play a major role in the rest of Blake’s mythology. He’s a figure that represents rebellion and this poem finds Orc visiting the Angel of Boston and provoking him to rise up against the oppression of America by Great Britain. To a degree, there’s a sense of subjectivity to the morality here; Orc paints the Angel of Albion (symbolic for Great Britain) as the Biblical anti-christ, while the Angel of Albion paints Orc himself as the anti-christ. But Blake, at the end of the day, viewed the American Revolution as a moment of real heroism and growth in terms of the world stage and that certainly comes across. There’s a lot of really beautiful poetry here and, if Blake hasn’t quite reached the dizzying heights of his later mythological works, this is the first work that really feels totally of a pieces with later works like Milton & The Four Zoas, which is a good thing in my opinion. 3 stars.
tl;dr – Blake explores the American Revolution as a clash between Gods, Spirits & Angels; beautifully written and the first of his works to substantially explore his mythology. 3 stars.