The Echoing Green - William Blake

Pastoral Literature

William Blake - Songs of Innocence and of Experience

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  • Created on: 29-05-14 17:41
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  • The Echoing Green: William Blake
    • A storybook village, security
    • Pastoral Imagery:Pastoral imagery with the innocence of  childhood
      • 'Old John' = Pastoral Figure
      • 'When we all' = Nostalgia - reminiscing
      • 'Sun, merry, happy, cheerful, laugh, joys' = Golden Age
      • 'They laugh at our play/ And soon they all  say' = Innocence - Don't realise their luck - they're free how Blake wished them to be - before they enter a world of experience.
        • 'Like  birds in their nests' (simile) =similar to 'The Schoolboy', emphasising their innocence.
    • Natural Freedom: Advantages of freedom provided by the pastoral landscape.
      • The way the children are free to play  on the  green - no restrictions apart from darkness which can be  seen as the intrusion of experience.
    • Countryside and Children
      • Adults often seen to  watch benevolently over children's play - much indulgence. little interference 'old John with white hair'. Adults  needed for protection? Especially as they're aware that this is the place where  their innocence gradually decayed? 'Darkening Green'.
    • Sense of closure in London - Blake concerned about this being lost.
    • Expresses the pastoral idea of leisure time and is reminiscent of the lives of Virgil's shepherds, in a pre-lapsarian enjoyment of nature.
      • This is  paralleled by  the nursery rhyme feel caused by the semantic field of happiness ('happy' 'merry' 'cheerful'). The dimeters and simple AABBCC rhyme scheme.
        • Terry Gifford: 'Intermediate environmental inter-relatedness' is a crucial element of the pastoral genre, and is evident on the poems personification of the 'happy...skies' and the 'merry bells'.
    • Key Quotes
      • 'Does laugh away care' - Old Johnn is able to forger his worries and pressures of life e.g. money, food, illness
      • 'Old John,  with white hair' - loss of innocence with age.
        • Old John as a pastoral figure imitating a shepherd. The use of Old John signifies that 'under the oak' and 'happy skies'; we are able to forget the  pressures of everyday life.
      • 'Such were the joys/ when we all...were seen/  on the echoing green.
        • Nostalgia - looking back to a ritchel which has gone on enables people to remain connected to one another.
        • When we grow up we won't be playing - loss of innocence.
      • 'On the darkening green'
        • symbolising ending of life -  death of green itself as well as natural life circle.
          • Threat of traditions being lost.
            • Modern world people have moved  away from the stable 'oak' and children will not be given the luxury of 'the joys...on the echoing green'.
              • This is supported by the distortion in regular rhyme scheme when 'the sun does descend'.
                • Links to Genesis with idea of loss and destruction within humanity - tree of knowledge.
                  • Blake uses the 'green' as a ymbol for Eden serving as world before the snake ruins the harmonious ideal - 'green' now  way of life which is under threat.


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