Jerusalem is a strange and wonderful place to visit. With luck it won't get nuked any time soon (Update: On Dec 14, 2001, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (still a big wheel in Iranian politics, I gather) stated publicly that nuking Israel would be a really cool idea. He claims that he wasn't actually advocating it, just sort of... waxing poetic or something. The western press didn't consider this worth reporting). I've only been there once.

There's an Old City, the walls of which are new, having been built during the Crusades. The Old City is not large enough to qualify as a "city" by modern standards, but since 1948 a modern city has grown up around the original town. It's the capital of Israel, after all. The odd thing is that much of Jerusalem, this unthinkably ancient place, is newer than most of Boston. Inside the walls, however, in the Old City, you are in an old place and you can't miss it. It's a maze, and many of the streets are barely wide enough to get a single car through.

Tourist attractions include:

  • The Western Wall (a.k.a. the Wailing Wall), which is very sobering and impressive. When I was there, it wasn't being bombarded with rocks and firebombs by what CNN, the AP, and the BBC call "peaceful protesters".

  • The Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is believed to have taken from the court to Golgotha where they nailed him up. The Stations of the Cross are marked along the way, with little plaques on the walls of shops. It runs right through the Muslim Quarter.

  • Assorted other sites of Biblical stuff that happened in Jerusalem, like the Mount of Olives and so on.

  • The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which occupies the site of the Second temple on Temple Mount (sez ariels, "The first temple stood a bit downwards from there towards the City of David"). On that spot (if I recall correctly), Mohammed is believed to have ascended into heaven for a visit. The official Palestinian position is that both Temples either never existed, or were located somewhere else; meanwhile, artifacts from those temples have been turning up on the black market regularly. Since 1967, the Israeli government has left the al Aqsa complex under the administration of the Islamic Wakf. Consequently, Jews are forbidden to pray there.

As for Blake, he had cause for concern: The mills in question were being advertised at the time as "fifty percent darker and more Satanic than the other leading mill". Or maybe he was thinking of John Stuart Mill? I seem to recall that J. S. Mill was later, though.

A poem by William Blake (1757-1827).

The Jerusalem of the title does not refer to the city itself, but in the Christian imagery of the time meant a perfect place governed according to the principles of love and mercy. Blake vividly contrasts this hypothetical state to England as it was in his day, during the Industrial Revolution. In this period, the "green and pleasant land" was pockmarked with mills and other industrial buildings. These buildings must have looked pretty horrible: belching forth acrid black smoke, lit by the unholy red glow of the furnaces, and filled with the poor workers. To Blake these facilities were Hell on Earth, the antithesis of his Jerusalem. The second verse is a call to arms, both physical and mental, to right the injustices of the day and build the perfect caring society. It is more of an incitement to reform than a hymn to God, although the concept of Christ's mythical visit to England is used as a spur.

Here it is.

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills.

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

The poem is best known for its setting as a hymn by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918). This is the stirring anthem of the Women's Institute and is also sung every year at The Last Night of the Proms. It is regarded one of the British patriotic songs. For my money it is also the best.

It is not really about how great the country is (like "Land of Hope and Glory" or "Scotland the Brave"), how enduring it's institutions (like "God Save the Queen"), or how great its people are (like "Rule, Britannia!" or "Men of Harlech"). These are themes are common to most such songs across the world, and are better categorised as nationalist (or even jingoistic) than patriotic.

This one is about the problems it faces, and how no one should rest 'till they've all been put right. And the tune and arrangement kick ass, too.

I'm told (by tongpoo) that when sung in Northfield Mount Hermon School, USA, the last line is often replaced with "In every green and pleasant land".

Jerusalem: Also known as Yeru'Shalayim (City of Peace), or in arabic, Al-Quds ash-sharif (the Holy and Noble city); also known as the occupied city of Jerusalem.

Pursuant to the Fourth Geneva convention, as well as the Hague convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN charter, and UN resolutions 127, 250, 251, 252, 267, 271, 298, 338, 476, 478, 672, and 1073 (as well as 242 and 194, which have been reaffirmed each year since the occupation of Palestine), Al-Quds is wholly part of occupied Palestine. Most notable is the text of UN resolution 476, which spells out the will of the international community vis-a-vis the occupied land, and which is included at the end of this node; bear in mind that the only UN member countries that have opposed the listed resolutions are the United States and Israel, the Occupying Power referred to and condemned in the aforementioned documents. Draw your own conclusions.

Text of UN resolution 476:

The Security Council,

Having considered the letter of 28 May 1980 from the representative of Pakistan, the current Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as contained in document S/13966 of 28 May 1980, Reaffirming that acquisition of territory by force is inadmissable,

Bearing in mind the specific status of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the Holy Places in the city,

Reaffirming its resolutions relevant to the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular resolutions 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969, 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971 and 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980,

Recalling the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Deploring the persistence of Israel, in changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, Gravely concerned over the legislative steps initiated in the Israeli Knesset with the aim of changing the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,

1. Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem;

2. Strongly deplores the continued refusal of Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly;

3. Reconfirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

4. Reiterates that all such measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council;

5. Urgently calls on Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by this and previous Security Council resolutions and to desist forthwith from persisting in the policy and measures affecting the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem;

6. Reaffirms its determination in the event of non-compliance by Israel with this resolution, to examine practical ways and means in accordance with relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations to secure the full implementation of this resolution.

Jerusalem, by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

On a roof in the Old City,
laundry is illuminated by the last light of day:
The white sheet of my enemy,
The towel of my enemy
to wipe the sweat from his brow.

And in the skies of the Old City,
a kite.
And at the end of the string,
a child
that I couldn't see,
because of the Wall.

We have raised many flags,
they have raised many flags.
To make us think they're happy.
To make them think we're happy.

I want to tell you about Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the the word 'shir' means song and poem, as if there really isn't any difference. Amichai was a poet, and he sang about Jerusalem. I can merely add and interpret.

This is the only Amichai poem to have only the epithet 'Jerusalem', and it's a relic of a forgotten time; the lament of the divided city, between 1948-67.

A lament. People not 100 metres away, going about their daily lives, are enemies. At this time, the Old City of Jerusalem - including the former Jewish Quarter - was in Jordainan hands, and Amichai must have been somewhere to the west, looking into the city from the next hill along. A kite, unaffected by the physical division of the Old City wall, acts as a symbol of universality in an understated way.

from Jerusalem 1967, poem 2 by Yehuda Amichai

A man who returns to Jerusalem knows
That the places that used to hurt no longer hurt
But a gentle warning remains on everything
Like a light veil moving,

A divided city. Even today, it remains divided. Arab neighbourhoods are in the East, Jewish in the West. The seam line never healed. And now this is seen as a good thing, because before long, Jerusalem will be divided again, with walls and borders. It's inevitable. But things have changed since 1967. Most East Jerusalemites work in the West, and the city functions as one economic unit. Jerusalemites, Arab and Jewish, are against dividing the city again, but they can see no choice. So it has always been in this city; waiting around for tragedy.

I've lived for six months in Jerusalem; not very long, but enough to feel the place. "Jerusalem is full of used Jews", said Amichai, and it's true; there's a sense of weariness there. It is not where you want to bring up your kids. There's a tension that you can't get past. Nowadays, of course, there's the russian roulette of getting on a bus or going to work, but that's new. It was there before. As the man said:

from Jerusalem 1967, poem 2 by Yehuda Amichai

Jerusalem is built on the reinforced foundations
Of a trapped scream. If there were no reason for the scream
The foundations would shatter, the city would collapse. If the scream were screamed,
Jerusalem would explode into the heavens.

Some days it seems that there really is no reason for the scream, that Jerusalem isn't worth it. The relics of former glory seem just relics. Some days, it's too much, the holiness and history and emotion seem to overwhelm me until I nearly scream the scream that will catapault the whole lot into the air.

Neil Gaiman reckon that all cities have human personalities. Jerusalem is a single woman, of indeterminable age. Sometimes, she seems an old, childless widow and sometimes she plays the blushing, innocent maiden. And I'd be a fool if I didn't admit some love there for this mysterious creature. It's a difficult relationshp; she's sullen, and has been hurt without having learnt the lessons of the past. She ignores my advice but expects me to stand by her. And, like a fool, I will probably end up moving to be nearer to her one day.

Amichai showed me I'm not the first to feel this way, and I'm greatful. While love for a person drives lovers apart, love for a place brings them together; something long ago observed:

Jerusalem is built as a city that unites people as friends (Ps 122:3).

All translations my own, from Hebrew. The poetry remains (c) Yehuda Amichai's estate.
CST Approved

I'm just an American boy raised on MTV
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me

   So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
   And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
   Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

      A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
      There is no God but God

         -- Steve Earle, John Walker's Blues

Jerusalem is the 2002 studio album from musician Steve Earle, released on September 24, 2002 on Artemis Records. This album has a strong political streak running through it, mostly in response to 9/11; it's been described as the "opposite side of Bruce Springsteen's The Rising;" it retains much of the same optimism, but attempts to dig at the cause rather than lament the effect. The music is best described as rock with just a touch of folk and traditional country.

Track Listing
1. Ashes to Ashes (4:02)
2. Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do) (4:19)
3. Conspiracy Theory (4:12)
4. John Walker's Blues (3:40)
5. The Kind (2:04)
6. What's A Simple Man To Do? (2:29)
7. The Truth (2:21)
8. Go Amanda (3:35)
9. I Remember You (2:52)
10. Shadowland (2:52)
11. Jerusalem (3:56)

Track Comments
The album opens very strongly with Ashes to Ashes, which lends a great deal of instrumental feeling to the sentiments from 9/11. The lyrics nicely parallel the devastation of the event with the radical changes society has seen over the past several decades and will surely see in the future. A strong and courageous song.

Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do) is a bluesy number lamenting the problems of America today, from HMOs to a negative take on the war on drugs. This song probably provides the most "real" evidence of an anti-American slant in this album, but instead it strikes me as a lamentation; a critique by someone who authentically loves America.

Conspiracy Theory continues the thread of the previous two tracks, continuing to examine the flaws in America; this track has more of a rock feel again and dwells on issues such as xenophobia and consumerism, counterbalanced by a funky bassline, a drum loop, and distorted guitar licks along with the vocals of Irish singer Siobhan Maher-Kennedy, who basically provides an alternating perspective to Earle's resigned lyrics.

John Walker's Blues is the song that started the firestorm that surrounded this album upon it's release. The song basically tries to see the choices of John Walker Lindh from that man's perspective. Earle delivers the song in his usual resigned voice, as the fate of Lindh is already set in stone, but the song comes together with a chorus about religious unity. Of course, sympathizing with a traitor is very likely going to result in a similar branding being pressed upon you; that's why this song brims with courage.

The Kind steps away from the intense politics of the first four tracks and delivers a simple, melancholic ballad that seems to symbolize an attempt at a return to normalcy; if the rest of the album had been as dense as the first four tracks, it would have been some difficult listening.

What's A Simple Man To Do? returns to the more political stylings mixed with solid rock that make this album memorable. This song focuses on workers in Mexico, who are often dealt a hand of poverty that they cannot escape. Again, this song looks at America from a perspective that seems taboo in post-9/11 America.

The song that made me think more than any other on this album is The Truth, which addresses the topic of prisons in America, and whether or not they serve to help or hurt things. "Devil's Advocate" might as well be the topic of this album, as Earle takes the perspective that the prison system is outdated and that it breeds evil things by tossing people who are threats only to themselves or may have only made a simple mistake into the fiery abyss.

The album then switches pace a bit through the next three tracks. Go Amanda is probably the least memorable part of the album, but it is still a nice rock song (penned by Sheryl Crow) about the power of a single woman.

The next song is a fairly straightforward duet between Earle and Emmylou Harris. I Remember You is a song about lovers separated by a great distance who see each other again after a long time. Earle and the Red Dirt Girl mesh well together, and this song is solid.

Shadowland gears the album up for its conclusion, about a man riding alone through a land full of shadows. This song could easily be seen as an abstract criticism of the lack of friendliness in much of America, but mostly it is a good road song.

Jerusalem closes the album with a hammerswing, though. You might expect this album to close on a pessimistic note after all of the criticism and meditation on modern America throughout this album, but it is actually a track that details a future that includes the end of holy wars when we wake up and realize that all of our differences are actually similarities.

Some Personal Thoughts on Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the album that The Rising should have been.
    -- tes, September 25, 2002

I have a deep personal attachment to this album. It took me a long time to begin to accept what exactly happened on 9/11. It filled me with a mix of feelings, as it did most of us: I felt anger at the terrorists who would do this; I felt grief for those who died in the act; I felt confusion and loss and malaise.

Then, fate dealt my life a bizarre hand, and I found myself with a lot of time to think about my life and where it fit into the big scheme of things. I found my spiritual side and realized what I wanted to do with my life. And I also realized that, to an extent, America holds some of the blame for 9/11.

Music has always played a major role in my life, and it was no different while I was recovering from my accident. I discovered Sonic Youth and The Avalanches and the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players; what else did I have to do but read and listen to music?

I picked up a copy of Bruce Springsteen's The Rising when it was released on July 30, 2002. I figured that, since many of Bruce's earlier albums struck such a personal chord with me, that perhaps this album would strike a chord with the way I felt about 9/11. But it felt utterly flat to me. Rather than really addressing what's going on in America, the album instead focuses on the idea that "we have to rebuild what we had before."

But this message struck me as wrong. Wasn't it "what we had before" that contributed to the problem in the first place? Didn't we respond with more xenophobia? Isn't this wrong? I now live in a country where some of my closest friends are having great problems renewing their visas because of the insane acts of a small handful of people. I now live in a country where the word Muslim, to many people, means evil. I now live in a nation that views a country western song espousing ignorance of the fact that we're running roughshod over large segments of the world is praised as a wonderful and poignant tribute to 9/11, and a frighteningly angry song is almost as lauded.

Then, sometime in September 2002, I heard the song John Walker's Blues on NPR, and for the first time, I heard a musical perspective on 9/11 that didn't focus on the effects of the event, but on the cause. Why did Al Qaeda and the Taliban do what they do, and why was an American involved in this? It went a lot deeper than Alan Jackson or Toby Keith, and even further than Bruce dared to go.

The rest of the album didn't let down my initial sentiment, and for that Steve Earle has earned a loyal fan. After hearing the negative response that he's received for John Walker's Blues (and he surely had to know that that was coming), it took a lot of courage to go ahead and release an album in a similar vein, and carry it off with significant musical acumen. It will always have a place in my musical collection, and I plan on adding earlier Earle albums to join it.

If You Like This Album...
... you'd probably also enjoy some rock songs with a true social conscience. You should try
Freedom by Neil Young (featuring perhaps the best political rock song ever, Rockin' in the Free World)
The Rising by Bruce Springsteen
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

If you take but one thing from this album, let it be this:

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

A fifty-two minute song by Christian stoner doom metal band Sleep.

"Extreme" is an endangered adjective, nearly destroyed by misapplication and repetition, and yet it is the only appropriate descriptor for this masterwork. Nearly an hour in the eschatologically downtuned key of C, this is the heaviest, slowest, most gigantic rock you will ever hear. At appropriate volume, the buzzy mud of the guitar/bass double crush combines with the giant's heartbeat of a kick drum to force the listener down into a theta wave meditative state. You could collapse into this record like a feather bed.

Most importantly, Jerusalem is also, without any shred of doubt, the most stoned thing (of any medium) currently extant. What becomes readily obvious when the track is listened to under the influence of any amount of marijuana is that Jerusalem is the product of people who are permanently as stoned as humanly possible. In fact, I seriously doubt it would be possible to write, play and record this album in a sober state; how would you know where in the song you were? It's far too slow for any normal human being to count measures. The only answer is to become one with the weed gods and the distorted mantra they demand.

If the music were not sufficient to convince you that Sleep were at the zenith of bakedness, there are the lyrics. Remember: Sleep is a born-again Christian band... with a twist. Essentially, if in the entirety of the new testament the word Jesus were to be replaced with marijuana you would have Sleep's theology. A primary feature of the second pressing's album art is a pot leaf nailed to a cross.

Jerusalem, lyrically, is (vaguely) the story of a group of religious pilgrims journeying through the desert in search of the holy land while very, very, very high. Here, for your edification and enlightenment, is the story:
Timestamps provided to illustrate the dirgelike pace

(7:23) Drop out of life with bong in hand
(7:55) Follow the smoke toward the riff filled land
(8:25) Drop out of life with bong in hand
(8:57) Follow the smoke toward the riff filled land
(12:59) Proceeds the Weedian. Nazareth.
(15:38) Proceeds the Weedian. Nazareth.
(19:23) Creedsmen roll out across the dying dawn
(20:05) Sacred Israel holy Mount Zion
(20:48) Sun beams down onto the sandcean reigns
(21:31) Caravan migrates through deep sandscape
(22:52) Lungsmen unearth the creed of Hasheeshian
(23:19) Lebanon
(23:30) Desert legion smoke covenant is complete
(23:49) Herb bails retied onto backs of beasts
(25:30) Stoner caravan emerge from sandsea
(25:48) Earthling inserts to chalice the green cutchie
(26:08) Groundation soul finds trust upon smoking hose
(26:28) Assemble creedsmen rises prayer filled smoke
(28:30) Golgotha
(28:51) Judgement soon come to mankind
(29:19) Green herbsman serve rightful
(29:48) Hemp seed caravan carries
(36:09) Rides out believer with the spliff aflame
(36:46) Marijuanaut escapes earth to cultivate
(42:08) Grow room is church temple of the new stoner breed
(42:49) Chants loud robed priest down onto the freedomseed
(43:31) Burnt offering redeems completes smoked deliverance
(44:19) Caravans stoned deliverants
(44:55) The caravan holds to eastern creed, now smokes believer
(46:08) The chronicle of the Sinsemillian
(47:16) Drop out of life with bong in hand
(47:49) Follow the smoke toward the riff filled land
(48:17) Drop out of life with bong in hand
(48:52) Follow the smoke Jerusalem.

Sleep apparently recorded Jerusalem after being signed to semi-major label London Records as a gigantic "fuck you" to the corporate music world. Their sizable recording budget was spent almost entirely on Green amplifiers, marijuana, and producer Billy Anderson (who has worked with eyehategod, Jawbreaker, Neurosis, Brutal Truth and others). London Records decided the album (the song comprises one entire album) was unreleasable and dropped Sleep from the label.

Fortunately for Sleep they retained the rights to the master recording and ultimately released their opus on Rise Above Records in 1998. The album artwork of the original pressing features a woodcut of a Hebrew priest bowing down before a smoking censer. Inside the front cover is a lovingly crafted bong which appears to be made out of a gourd. Both of these photos rest on a deep green, leafy background. This pressing features the full lyric sheet, album credits, and a "highest thanks to the father and the son" dedication. A subsequent pressing has no label information on it at all, and the cover art is instead a hand-drawn, dreamy desert scene. The insert has no lyrics and abbreviated album credits. The CD itself sports the crucified pot leaf motif.

This album will test you, but I recommend listening to it under two conditions: you must be very high on the pot and you MUST listen to the whole thing. The first fifteen minutes will feel like a joke; the epic reality of what has been accomplished with this recording may only dawn in the final blasting guitar drones.

My school sang Jerusalem at the end of every term in assembly, to the accompaniment of a large pipe organ played by one of the music teachers who really knew how to get the most of it. Needless to say, it sounded great.

My school also had a car park for the use the sixth formers (which I believe is now called year 12 and 13 - boys who would be 17 and 18 at the end of the school year). Until one year, when development work was taking place, and a new building was being put up. Where the current staff car park was.

Of course, this meant that the sixth formers lost their car park to the staff. And a number of sixth formers weren't very happy about this.

So someone (I don't know who - this was before I was actually in the sixth form myself) composed some alternate words to "Jerusalem" to be sung in assembly. Which they were, by about 300 of the 1100 boys there.

And did those feet in ancient times
Walk upon Elstree's mountains green
And was the holy GTI
On Elstree's pleasant pastures seen
And did John Carleton divine
Shine coach fees on our crowded bills
And was a car park builded here.... NO! (shouted)
Among those dark satanic mills

Bring me my keys of burning gold
Bring me my back seat of desire
Bring me my spear, oh, clouds unfold
Bring me my Ford Escort of fire
I shall not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my Ford sleep in my hand
'Till we have built a sixth form carpark
In Elstree's green and pleasant lands


  • Elstree - The location of the school (just outside London).
  • John Carleton - The school's Second Master (deputy Head). Top bloke.
  • Crowded bills - School bills. This was an independant school with high fees, soon to go even higher if people had to use school coaches as they couldn't drive to school.

Unfortunately, despite the large number of people singing the alternative verses, the only bit that stood out was the loud "NO". Never mind.

If you went to my school, /msg me!


"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." Mt 10:34


When I was six I was given a globe--
A Christmas present--
We sang "Peace on earth,
Goodwill toward men"

America was patchwork quilt of states
And the Soviet Union a menacing red
Two Germanys, one Yugoslavia
A country called Zaire.

I spun the globe,
Playing that game that
Wherever my finger would land,
I would someday live.

Small islands, mountain ranges
Continents and subcontinents
Each a different answer to the question
"Where am I going?"

When I was six, I looked at my globe,
And noticed the name "Jerusalem"
Not believing it was real but
Another name I'd read in books.

In a child's life there are
Thousands of unreal countries
Which are all the more real
For the people who inhabit them:

Other lands weren't real--
New York, London, California
Neverland, Narnia, Tir na nOg
And Jerusalem their capital.

So I believed and unbelieved in Jerusalem
They way I believed and unbelieved
In all those places
Written of but never seen.

When I was six,
They sent me to school
To learn math, science, history
Reading, writing, geography

School is the child's life--
Hated or loved, where you learn to become
A citizen-soldier, a productive member
A fact-spitting creature of convenience.

In Catholic school you learn a truth--
For there is never the truth
And Jerusalem became
My omphalos


God said, "Let there be light"
And we've stumbled ever since.
God said, "Let us make man in our image"
And we've sinned ever since.

I read a word--"Jerusalem."
It means "City of Peace"
A fool, I once believed
The definitions of words.

Read the Quest for the Holy Grail
As I did as a child, and learn--
Jerusalem is the alpha, the omega
The beginning and the end,

Where Zion reaches like
A natural ziggurat,
Eden once stood, and we
Stole knowledge from God.

We are broken creatures, made
Capable of sin
And incabable of virtue
And God knew it.

When a globe is given a center--
Geometrically impossible, for
The center is everywhere,--
All squabble to be at that center

God made a globe, and I
Can't help to wonder why
He carved out one spot
And called it home.

The Great Architect's design
Is flawed, built on sand
As no mason would
And we are deaf because of it.


But how do you erase
Four thousand years of hate?
How do combat
A four thousand year grudge?

Did Abraham know
When he lay with Hagar
Did Abraham know
When he lay with Sarah

Did Abraham know
When God spoke to him
Did Abraham know
That his seed was destruction?

When Abraham bought
A small plot of land,
A cave to be buried in
A place to rest his bones

Did Abraham know--
Or worse yet, did God--
That all the tribes of the world
Would call him their own?

Three thousand years ago
Athens was a dusty hill, Rome a few mud huts
London a fishing village
And New York a hunting ground

Three thousand years ago
King David conquered the Jebusites
And walked on Mount Moriah
Claiming Jerusalem for God

David walked on Mount Moriah, where
A thousand years before
Abraham was willing to submit
To God's will and sacrifice his son

The son's blood was spared
So that our own blood would be shed
To pay the ancient debt of Able's blood
When God let a murderer go free.

The streets of Jerusalem
Has flowed with blood
From the days of King David
To those of the Templars.

When Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian God-King
Marched three times against the city
Destroying Solomon's Temple
Destroying God's seat--

When Alexander the Great
Tried to bring Zeus, philosophy,
And the great pagan mysteries
And the uncircumcised, the unclean--

When Antiochus IV Epiphanes, tired
Of this strange, rebellious, "unnatural" people
Profaned the Holy of Holies
Though the world did not end--

When Pompey came for Rome
And in his cold intellect
Gave Abraham's sons small freedoms, but gave
Rome the city itself--

When carpenters and desert monks
Preached and died
When man and God united
And untied--

When revolution was preached
When zealots ruled the heart
When Jerusalem was burned
And the Second Temple destroyed--

When Rome grew tired of rebellion
Hadrian created two fronts,
Destroying warring Jews--
Walling off warring Scots

When Persians and Byzantines
Battled for the land
Where God walks,
A fool for man's love--

When Caliph Omar captured the holy rock
The rubble of God's seat
Where Muhammed ascended into heaven
And reclaim Ishmael’s place

When Caliph Hakim destroyed
Church and synagogue alike
And set in play the old blood-feud
Always waiting underneath—

When Godfrey de Bouillon, in 1099
With Knights Templar, entered like a king
Son of Man, a second coming
Profanely claiming Jerusalem for the Christian God--

When Saladin reclaimed the city
When Richard Lionheart invaded
When Christians lost the Crusade
When they went home, hated—

And other empires take the city:
Seljuks, Malamuks, Ottomans, and British
All took it in their turn
All building it in their image—

When the so-called War to End All Wars
Was two years from its end,
And General Allenby reclaimed
Jerusalem for de Bouillon—

There was no stopping the tides
Of blood, staining the walls.


Salem to Mechizedek
Rusalimum to the Pharoahs
Urusalim to the Canaanites
Aelia Capitolina to Rome

Jerusalem! City of Peace!
Home to Abraham's Sons
The navel of the world
I'm tired of this navel gazing.

Jerusalem is the snake
     I shall not cease from Mental Strife
That swallows itself
     Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Never-ending, eternal,
     Till we have built Jerusalem
Full of entwined self-loathing.
     Till we have built Jerusalem

They promised me peace.
They gave me a sword.

Je*ru"sa*lem (?), n. [Gr. , fr. Heb. Yrshalaim.]

The chief city of Palestine, intimately associated with the glory of the Jewish nation, and the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Jerusalem artichoke [Perh. a corrupt. of It. girasole i.e., sunflower, or turnsole. See Gyre, Solar.] Bot. (a) An American plant, a perennial species of sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus), whose tubers are sometimes used as food. (b) One of the tubers themselves. -- Jerusalem cherry Bot., the popular name of either of either of two species of Solanum (S. Pseudo-capsicum and S. capsicastrum), cultivated as ornamental house plants. They bear bright red berries of about the size of cherries. -- Jerusalem oak Bot., an aromatic goosefoot (Chenopodium Botrys), common about houses and along roadsides. -- Jerusalem sage Bot., a perennial herb of the Mint family (Phlomis tuberosa). -- Jerusalem thorn Bot., a spiny, leguminous tree (Parkinsonia aculeata), widely dispersed in warm countries, and used for hedges. -- The New Jerusalem, Heaven; the Celestial City.


© Webster 1913.

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