In this episode I have a movie recommendation too!
There are two Holy Thursdays, one in The Songs of Innocence and another in the Songs of Experience. The focus for this episode is the innocence.
As with other songs of innocence poems, there is a layer of darkness just beneath the surface. Ostensibly this is a poem about an annual procession of orphans in London called Ascension Day. The poem is told from the perspective of a casual observer of the ceremony.
We'll go line by line and see how Blake is using the form and meaning of his poem to vibrate your brain in such a way as to allow you to understand a deeper meaning behind this ceremony.
Holy Thursday: Songs of Innocence BY WILLIAM BLAKE Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean The children walking two & two in red & blue & green Grey-headed beadles walkd before with wands as white as snow, Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow O what a multitude they seemd these flowers of London town Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door Holy Thursday: Songs of Experience BY WILLIAM BLAKE Is this a holy thing to see, In a rich and fruitful land, Babes reducd to misery, Fed with cold and usurous hand? Is that trembling cry a song? Can it be a song of joy? And so many children poor? It is a land of poverty! And their sun does never shine. And their fields are bleak & bare. And their ways are fill'd with thorns. It is eternal winter there. For where-e'er the sun does shine, And where-e'er the rain does fall: Babe can never hunger there, Nor poverty the mind appall.