Saturday, April 23, 2005

Blake's Holy Thursday

I've been told I need to learn and adhere to blog etiquette, so I will not be continuing conversations from pervious days on other persons' blogs of which I am guilty of on matt's blog ("Comments" 3-21-05). Oh what the hell, I can't even try to follow the rules.

(So I never know whether matt is kidding when he says he doesn't know something--perhaps I am saying the obvious, but here goes.)

Blake has two parallel poems (various similar versions) named "Holy Thursday" in "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" (1789).

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Apparently, in England, Maunday Thursday was the day when the church felt guilty enough to clean up the streets and get the heathen homeless children into costume to impress the diocese that they had done a good deed for Holy season. (Wow, was that one terrible sentence.) The first poem (in the Innocence section) begins,

"'Twas on a holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red, and blue, and green:"

Sounds nice enough, especially after they perform their song raising their innocent hands to heaven:

"O what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London town!"

Yet their innocence is contrived and hypocrisy abounds among the congregation as evident in Blake's accompanying poem by the same title (in Experience, of course):

"Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land, -
Babes reduced 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!"

By calling attention to England's orphans during a time when people want to feel ok about their spiritual condition and their community service, Blake undermines the spiritual with the real (political). Blake is all about these contraries (eg. innocence and experience, black and white, etc.): “Without contraries there is no progression,” he says.

Well, I think I need to work on my "tone" (for better etiquette) since my recent blogs have sounded too preachy and overly assertive.

So does anyone have any good papers on Coleridge or Blake lying around--say, 10-15 pages?

Friday, April 15, 2005

On keeping friends, blotiquette, and reading

It has been some time since my last confession, I mean post.

Previous concerns (I'm saying screw blog etiquette and I'm answering questions from previous posts): yes, Holy Thursday is one of Blake's more famous poems. It's one at least that the professors keep returning to. All of Blake's works are worth a (re)reading. He single-handedly created his own mythology which the best critics have yet to resolve. Plus, anyone who believes in eminent utopia and nude picnics is worth a closer look.

So, yesterday I had to sit down with the librarian at school and decide what works we'll be forcing the students to read next year (ha, ha, ha). We have to create a system by which they must read a certain number of books (independently, mind you) each quarter. So we ask ourselves, "If I were attempting to do the least amount of work to complete the assignment, which books would I read?" This is a shame. A crying shame--in fact, I have shed not a few tears thinking I once was this kind of person--until I thought I had discovered something noone else had considered--books. Yes, my first book was Jimmy Buffet's Tales From Margaritaville, but I moved on to Grisham and a biography of Jimi Hendrix by the end of that revelatory summer.

I return to a reoccuring problem: how to interest the students in books?

Ok, so the librarian's are yelling over the speaker phone that we must get out, but for more on the redemptive purpose of reading (an essay) see my brother's new blog: