Monday, April 6, 2009

Mind-Forged Manacles

This item in the New York Times really ought to tip off anyone who remains unconvinced to the fact that our society is every bit as beset with usurious evil--the poor and sick shackled to rich insurance salesmen, bloated city bureaucracies, and landlords--as that described by William Blake and Charles Dickens or Baudelaire and Balzac. Or even the one described by Dante. 

Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son. When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison.

I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

-Blake, "London" (Songs of Innocence and of Experience)

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