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Comparison Between Holy Thursday and London

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Comparison Between Holy Thursday and London

Gloria Garcia

Holy Thursday and London, by William Blake, are sister poems that describe the conditions of London, England. Both poems were written while England was enduring severe economic turmoil and paint a rather negative picture of London. Holy Thursday is about a large group of orphans entering their school, which is a church. This poem shows a sadder, lonelier side of the city, where children live without parents or families. This poem sharply contrasts London, in that it ends with the children singing in their choir, and their song lifting them above everyone else, into heaven, and away from their sadness and misfortune, even if only for a moment. Holy Thursday is a poem about the destitute overcoming their problems and finding ways to cope with their misfortune through faith in God. London also speaks of misery and distress on the streets of London, however, the sadness of the times is expressed more blatantly and without an optimistic ending. This poem describes the sorrow and poverty on the streets of London, including dying soldiers and pregnant prostitutes. During this era of economic distress and tragedy, many men were forced to go fight in wars in other countries, away from their loved ones, and women and girls were forced into prostitution. Blake speaks of "cries of fear", blood, plagues, hearses and "mind-forg'd manacles". He wrote that he could hear the cries of poor people, adults and children alike, and that he could sense that everyone was bound by their thoughts of hopelessness (mind-forg'd manacles). The primary difference between the two poems is that one represents the ability to overcome one's problems through hope and religious faith, while the other illustrates defeat, loss of hope and the inability to continue living in such unfortunate conditions, eventually ending in a sad a painful death.

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