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"Holy Thursday" by Blake

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Introduction

In "Holy Thursday" Blake expresses feelings towards the society around him; England in the 18th Century, and the emotional, spiritual and moral poverty. He uses the word "holy" as he feels people are being sacrilegious to the country and are misusing it's ****. "Rich" is the adjective used to describe the countries material things. "Fruitful" could mean it is an agricultural and productive place. Another possibility is that it could represent temptation or corruption, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Blake uses the words "reduced to misery" possibly representing the uneven distribution of wealth and power. England was a rich country, yet children as young as four years old were working in factories. At the end of the first stanza, Blake says the disadvantaged children are "fed with a cold and usurous hand". "Cold" could mean insensitive, unloving and callous. The use of the word "usurous" might convey that parents feeding their children see them as an investment - they expect them to work hard labour. Blake asks himself "Is that trembling cry a song?". This could mean that although all this poverty is surrounding him the people are still trying to be happy. In the third verse, Blake has used a metaphor in each line to express the meaning of poverty. The repetitive use of the conjunction "and" makes us feel like we are heaping burdens on top of each other. ...read more.

Middle

This shows the hypocrisy; Blake feels the church is corrupt, it is preaching to be good yet says nothing of the children's misery. He feels you must suffer for your reward. It also says "a Heaven" not "the Heaven" which makes it seem as if they have just made it up. This is another recurring theme in both poems; the organisation of society and the established church are committing sacrilegious acts. Both poems also use children to represent hope and innocence. The adults in the world exploit the children. One of the main recurring symbols is that of winter. It may represent spiritual and material poverty. The sun and rain are natural, God-given things. The poem "London" deals with the Industrial Revolution and therefore the doubling of London's population. The rich and poor gulf increased during this time and Blake expresses a bitter hatred of humanity, a weakness and sadness. The picture with this poem on plate 18 could represent God. He is broken and down and ashamed of his creation. The old man could be Blake himself, and he lets himself be led away by this child, he still believes in children's innocence. The first line says about Blake "wandering" through London. It is as if he is walking aimlessly, as he is an outsider. ...read more.

Conclusion

His use of metaphors and the general depressed feel of the whole poem proves a point and shows you exactly what London was like in those times. The sound of "London" is like a thudding repetition, like there is no escape. It builds up to the real horror at the end and has a heavy but regular rhythm. It sounds like a walk through London or as if Blake is hitting his fist on a table with anger. "London" also has rising vowels and mournful lows. The French Revolution of 1789 had a major impact on the works of Blake and as news spread of the appalling atrocities of The Reign of Terror in 1793, and the corrupting influence of greed and power foretold dictatorship, hope gradually decayed to be replaced by depressing disillusionment. Blake was disgusted like the rest but he was lonelier than the leading underground political radicals of his day who he associated with. It was only until after Blake's death in 1831 that Parliament agreed to set up an enquiry into child labour in 1832. Even at his deathbed, Blake sang to himself. To him, his attempts to change the perceptions of reality had failed. "Jerusalem" is Blake's most well known poem/song and is sung around the country. Blake had always hoped that England could become "the new Jerusalem", but I suppose this is as close as we, as a country, can get. Gary Smith 10H English Coursework ...read more.

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