‘Dark Satanic Mills’: Meaning and Origin

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Let’s begin with a quiz question: what is the title of the poem in which the phrase ‘dark Satanic Mills’ appears? Is it a) ‘Jerusalem’ or b) Milton?

Most people would probably go for a), but although we know commonly know William Blake’s poem (or the words to the hymn ‘Jerusalem’, taken from Blake’s poem) by that title, strictly speaking those ‘dark Satanic Mills’ first appeared in a much longer work, an epic poem titled Milton: A Poem (1804-8).

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