The Romantic poet William Blake was considered to be possessed with divine madness that inspired him in his creative expressions of nature and colour. His early works included poetry that, although seemingly simple, used complex metaphorical language; his later poems became longer and more complex.
The Echoing Green is an early poem, simple – almost naïve, but reveals a closeness to nature and peaceful surroundings. His poetic project was, in his own words, “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower”. Blake was also a painter and illustrated many of his own poems.
The Echoing Green by William Blake (1757-1827)
The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the Echoing Green.
Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
“Such, such were the joys
when we all, girls and boys,
In our youth time were seen
On the Echoing Green.
Till the little ones, weary
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening Green.
A Closer Look at the Poem
- How does it shine through in this poem that Blake also was a painter?
- This poem belongs to Blake's so-called "Songs of Innocence" - does that show in any way?
- A romantic ideal was the connection and inspiration from nature; how is that reflected in the poem?
- How do you interprete the cast of characters that are mentioned in the poem?
- Look at the last line of the three stanzas - how do they work as we read the poem?
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