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Blake’s idea of how Jerusalem, City of Peace, should be built in England is perhaps easier to contemplate for those who remain at home while others fight for it abroad. Set to rousing music, as Jerusalem was by Hubert Parry in 1916, the vision is apparently more attainable.

The enduring awareness of successive governments of the gulf between fact and vision in war was one of Blake’s major preoccupations. The inscription on this drawing – ‘Passed by Censor A N Lee, Major’ – shows its subject was officially acceptable. But it betrays a government tyranny in wanting to order man’s imagination.

July 2008