O Lord, wilt thou not look upon our sore afflictions
Among these flames incess­ant labour­ing? Our hard mas­ters laugh
At all our sor­row. We are made to turn the wheel for water,
To carry the heavy bas­ket on our scorched shoulders, to sift
The sand and ashes, and to mix the clay with tears and repentance …
Furrow’d with whips, and our flesh bruised with the heavy basket.

Wil­li­am Blake, Vala, 273.

Although Blake’s know­ledge of industry was uncer­tain, his vis­ion of it was not. It is an aston­ish­ing vis­ion. The read­er must turn the pages of the last proph­et­ic books him­self, at ran­dom: and find every­where the same sooty imagery, the air belched by industry. Men of let­ters, whom the machine keeps clean, have groped through this sul­phur­ous rhet­or­ic for the names tidily lis­ted in the books of mys­tics. The names are there, and they are worth the find­ing. But Sweden­borg the mys­tic had been an inspect­or of mines; Paine the deist planned iron bridges; Blake the poet lived in the Indus­tri­al Revolu­tion bit­terly, in the decay of his engraver’s craft. The oratory of Vala or the Four Zoas, of Milton, and of Jer­u­s­alem is loud with machines, with war, with law; the cry of man prey­ing on man; and with the rebel­li­ous mut­ter of work­ing men.
 
Jac­ob Bro­nowski, A Man Without a Mask, Lon­don 1944, pp. 85–6.

Wil­li­am Blake
Jer­u­s­alem is Named Liberty