A Stylistic Analysis of William Blake's Poem "Holy Thursday I"

Essay, 2017

7 Pages




2. Holy Thursday
2.1. The Poem
2.2. The Theme of the Poem

3. Stylistic Analysis of Blake's Poem
3.1. Graphological Level
3.1.1. Use of Capitalization
3.1.2. Use of Punctuation
3.2. Phonological Level
3.2.1. Rhyme Scheme
3.3. Figures of Speech
3.3.1. Imagery and Symbolism
3.3.2. Use of Metaphors
3.3.3. Use of Simile
3.4. Grammatical Level
3.5. Lexical Level



Holy Thursday I is one of the poems that Blake wrote in his book called Songs of Innocence in 1789. The poem describes a ceremony called Ascension Day in England and the presence of children in a cathedral to celebrate and do their singing activities. So, this term paper aims to analyze stylistically Blake's poem “Holy Thursday” in terms of phonetic, phonological, graphological, grammatical, lexical levels and figures of speech.

2. Holy Thursday I

2.1. The poem

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,

The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green, Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow, Till into the high dome of Paul’s they like Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, 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 and 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.


2.2. The Theme of the Poem

William Blake in his poem describes the the charity-school children of London and their going to St. Paul's Cathedral on holy Thursday, Ascension Day. He says that the children wore clothes with shiny bright colors: red, blue, and green, and their innocent faces were clean. The children were not alone, they were guided by “gray headed beadles” who walked before them holding white wands. The children sat in the cathedral and formed a large multitude that reminds the poet of multitudes of lambs praying and “raising their innocent hands” The children then began to sing and they sounded like “a mighy wand” or “harmonious thunderings” where as “the aged men” or their supervisors standed by. The poet then reminds the reader to see that those children are looking like angels of God.

3. Stylistic Analysis of Blake's Poem.

3.1. Graphological level

3.1.1. Use of Capitalization

In this poem, each line of the three stanzas starts with a capital letter. There are also some words within the lines that are capitalized such as Holy Thursday, Paul's, Thames', London, and Heaven. The poet uses this way of capitalization in order to show the importance of these two words in the poem. For example, the words (Paul and Thames) are capitalized in order to show the importance of these words in the poem. Thames' river has a great importance, since it flows to the heart of the foggy city, London. So, the poet uses it in his poem to tell the reader that the going of the innocent children is just like the flowing of Thames' river, to the heart of the high dome of Paul's. In the second and the eight lines, the poet also used a sign of ampersand in order to catch the attention of the reader and as a kind of style is his poem.

3.1.2. Use of Punctuation

Many punctuation marks are used in this poem t present different views. There is a use of a period, colon and semicolon.

3.2. Phonological Level

3.2.1. Rhyme Scheme

The rhyme scheme that is used in this poem is AABB. (clean, green. Snow, flow. Town, own. Lambs, hands. Song, among. Poor, door)

3.3. Figures of Speech

3.3.1. Imagery and Symbolism

Imagery and symbolism can be seen in the poem in these words below.

Flowers: referring to children's prettiness and fragility as written in the poem “these flowers of London town!”

Children: referring to the image of purity, innocence, and angles.

Lambs: referring to the innocence of the children, and their childish voices.

3.3.2. Use of Metaphors

The poet uses metaphors in his poem to describe those innocent children by saying “Grey headed beadles walk'd line” “these flowers of London” and “multitudes of lambs”

3.3.3. Use of Simile

In this poem, the poet uses simile at many places. The similes are shown below

- “. . . with wands as white as snow”

- “. . . They like Thames' water flow”

- “Now like a mighty wind they raise . . .”

- “Or like harmonious thundering . . .”

3.4. Grammatical Level

The poet uses simple grammatical structure in this poem with no use of auxiliary verbs. The simple structure the poet uses reveals different views of the poet about the theme of the poem. The poet is just like writing his own ideas that are related and flowing with each other. This makes the theme of the poem, about innocent children's going to the church and practicing a set of singing activities.

3.5. Lexical Level

In this poem, the poet makes a choice of his words and uses very simple words which are mostly nouns which creates a sense of innocence just like the innocence of the children. The table below shows the types of words used in the poem

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Excerpt out of 7 pages


A Stylistic Analysis of William Blake's Poem "Holy Thursday I"
Thi-Qar University  (College of Education for Humanities)
M.A. Course
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
522 KB
Stylistic analysis, William Blake, Holy Thursday, Literature, Stylistics
Quote paper
Ahmed M. Hashim (Author), 2017, A Stylistic Analysis of William Blake's Poem "Holy Thursday I", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/385858


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