This sceptic isle

I must disagree with Mike Davis's assertions (Letters, 21 June) about "Blake's heaven". He suggests that "those feet" referred to are not Christ's but Joseph of Arimathaea's. Has he considered the following lines?

"Was the Holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen? And did the countenance divine shine forth . . ." Are these also supposed to refer to Joseph of Arimathaea? I don't think so.

To state that there is nothing to suggest that Christ ever visited England is plain silly; this theory is already widely known and accepted as an explanation for the total absence in the gospels of any details about Jesus's youth and early adulthood. His uncle, Joseph of Arimathaea, was a merchant trading with the south-western British tribes for tin and gold, and Jesus was probably apprenticed as a ship's carpenter on vessels of his uncle's fleet. Not unreasonable: his dad (St Joseph) was a carpenter, and Jesus spent most of his documented life in the port of Capernaum and seemed to find a lot in common with the seafarers/fishermen there. A seagoing carpenter surely explains the link.

There is a long-standing belief among the Cornish that Jesus visited England before he began his ministry. That is why Joseph of Arimathaea chose to return to England after Jesus's death, planting the Glastonbury Thorn and possibly concealing the Holy Grail somewhere within these clouded hills . . .

I don't know anything about Blake's views on the Anglican church - can't say I think much of it myself - but when Blake was talking about "dark satanic mills", I strongly suspect he meant the dark satanic mills. He was sufficiently alert and socially conscious to know what was going on at the time, even if it was completely new.

Kate Butterworth

This article first appeared in the 05 July 1999 issue of the New Statesman, He makes us nice enough for export