Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience)

Holy Thursday (Songs Of Experience)

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience)

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"Holy Thursday" is a poem by William Blake, first published in Songs of Innocence and Experience in 1794. This poem, unlike its companion poem in "Songs of Innocence" (1789), focuses more on society as a whole than the Holy Thursday ceremony.


The primary objective of this poem is to question social and moral injustice. In the first stanza, Blake contrasts the "rich and fruitful land" with the actions of a "cold and usurous<!--Sic--> hand" - thereby continuing his questioning of the virtue of a society where resources are abundant but children are still "reduced to misery".

"Holy" or "Maundy" Thursday refers to the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples as recorded in the New Testament. One particularly significant episode during that event was that of the master's foot washing - an act which signified the utmost humility in service. English monarchs and the wealthy traditionally used this festival for symbolic acts of charity: with the complementary poem in "Songs of Innocence", Blake pictures such an act, of which he appears to approve, carried out in St. Paul's Cathedral. However, our appreciation of the "wise guardians of the poor" thus advertising their charity may not be wholly shared by Blake's "Piper", the supposed narrator of the "Songs of Innocence". In their state of innocence, children should not be regimented; rather, they should be...
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