From Jack Kerouac's On the Road

Through halos and rolls and gold foals that were like the existence of the gleaming spear in His right hand which sayeth c’mon boy, go thou across the ground. Go moan for man. Go moan. Go groan. Go groan alone. Go roll your bones. Alone. Go thou and be little beneath my sight. Go thou and be minutest seed in the pod. Go thou go thou – die hence, and if this world report you well and truly.

It can be inferred from the text that Kerouac probably uses it to mean "Go!" but where did it come form?

  • It is the straightforward instruction to go. – smatterer Dec 15 '17 at 8:04
  • I agree, and that can be inferred from the text. I do wonder where it came from. – Eddie Kal Dec 15 '17 at 8:10
  • I'm slightly confused by your question. I don't think there is any subtle inference or connotation here. It is the simple, normal meaning of the words "go" and "thou". – smatterer Dec 15 '17 at 8:36
  • Well, there's several things that are unclear and curious here. E.g. why is "thou" used here as opposed to "you"? Why is the order inverted? Why don't people say "go you"? Where did this expression come from? Did Kerouac make it up. Some of these issues are touched upon in an answer. – Eddie Kal Dec 15 '17 at 17:37

The word thou is a second person singular pronoun in English. It is now largely archaic

"Go thou" Imperative sentence If someone says" Go thou" he wants you go " Thou goest" You go" is Present simple tense


It means you go. It means get out. It means leave. It means get away from me. Be gone. The meaning of each word individally is quite simple.

To move from one place to the next. And you. Singular.


Thou was used to address one person in speech in Old and Middle English, with its use declining to the word you, although we would not necessarily tell someone to "...go, you!" - so it is not an apples for apples comparison in today's Modern English, it may seem, in combination with our current way of speaking. There is much to be read about its use and etymology on this wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou

An excerpt:

You is now the standard English second-person pronoun and encompasses both the singular and plural senses. In some dialects, however, "thou" has persisted,[38] and in others thou is retained for poetic and/or literary use. Further, in others the vacuum created by the loss of a distinction has led to the creation of new forms of the second-person plural, such as y'all in the Southern United States. The forms vary across the English-speaking world and between literature and the spoken language.[39]

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