Blake Poems

HideShow resource information

The Blossom (I)

AO1: The speaker, who is perhaps a tree’s ‘happy blossom’ or a young female observer, describes how a carefree sparrow seeks its nest / shelter under the tree’s green leaves. However, for a robin, the tree appears to be a place of sorrow.

AO2: Form:The tone of simplicity and childlikeness is developed through the use of repetition and a very narrow range of vocabulary. Structure:Trochaic-echoing many children’s rhymes. Repetition of the patterns highlights contrast between the two birds which the voice of the poem itself does not heed. Language: Some read the poem as containing a message about sexual awakening which belies this apparent simplicity, the ‘swift’ ‘arrow’ is phallic, the ‘narrow’ ‘cradle’ is a ******, the repeated ‘bosom’ represents focus on erogenous breasts, the conjunction of happiness and ‘sobbing’ conveys the emotions associated with sexual ecstasy

AO3: Sparrows are traditionally associated with carefree survival, robins with warmth and compassion. Blake assumes his readers know this, even though the poem’s speaker does not. It seems as though the innocent voice of the poem rejoices in the external appearance of the birds – ‘merry sparrow!’, ‘pretty robin!’ - without distinguishing between them. The carefree sparrow and the compassionate robin, despite its sobbing, have the same welcome. Blake thus portrays innocence as ignorant:World includes reasons for both sobbing and weeping. Sexual awakening-innocent

1 of 7

Spring (I)

AO1: The speaker comments on the merry noises, animals and children that are the herald of – and who welcome – springtime. In the last stanza the speaker asks to caress, and be caressed by, a lamb, as together they welcome spring.
AO2: Language and Tone-Absence of definite and indefinite articles in stanzas one and two universalizes the scene and the children.Stanza three then brings the universal into a personal focus on the child speaker and the lamb- only here that the speaker is openly identified as a child. Personal focus is emphasised by the change in the grammar of the refrain. ‘to welcome the new year’ but ‘we welcome’; Unity between child and lamb.There is a preponderance of soft and liquid sounds – ‘little lamb’, ‘lick’, ‘pull’, ‘wool’, ‘kiss’, ‘soft face’.  Structure-The poem is song-like with four rhyming couplets with a final repeated refrain. The couplets are trochaic,nursery rhymes with two stresses per line.The refrain changes to swift dactyls then iambic metre, which has the effect of consolidating the disparate elements of each stanza.
AO3: Spring primarily conveys the beauty of unselfconscious innocence which includes shame-free sexuality and a capacity for unexploitative relationships. Cock -sexuality and ressurection. Lamb-innocence and victim Children-sexual yet innocent-grow to devour lambs



2 of 7

Infant Joy (I)

 AO1: The poem is read by most critics as an imaginary dialogue between a new born baby and its mother. The baby is asserting that its name, and, therefore, its nature, is joy. The mother wishes that joy will continue to characterise the infant’s life.
AO2: Language and Form-Simplicity-repetition of a few key words – ‘sweet’, ‘happy’, ‘joy’ – and words associated with these – ‘smile’ and ‘sing’. The lines:‘I happy am, Joy is my name.’succinctly express the unity in a child between its nature and its identity. The baby is joy. Speaker acknowledges that this joy is not guaranteed. The baby has entered a world in which its nature may come into contradiction with its experience. Structure-The poem relies for its effects on the patterning with difference of very few words – ‘joy’ occurs six times in twelve lines, ‘sweet’ four times. Although there are two stanzas, each stanza actually falls into two matching halves. Phrases are repeated: ‘but two days old’, ‘I call thee’. This gives the stanza a rocking-effect, suggesting a lullaby. The repetition of the closing line acts as a refrain and adds to this song-like quality.
AO3:Is the child born free and good, as Rousseau believed, or born depraved, as the Calvinist Christians believed?Child-image of imagination. Children enter the world tainted by original sin?.

3 of 7

The Tyger (E)

AO2: Language and Form-Sibilance- ‘twist the sinews’, which is associated with evil or dark forces. trochaic metre creates an insistent rhythm, perhaps reflecting the restless pacing of the animal, the beating of its heart or the hammer blows on the anvil of its creation.Enhanced by plosive alliteration.the driving repetition of ‘What … And … What’,Rhetorical questions-no answer.The ‘bright’ / ‘night’ imagery-constrasts within nature-beauty and terror. Shift from the repeated ‘dread’ in stanzas three and four to ‘deadly’ in stanza four-apparently simple connection-what causes dread-not always deadly The limitations of the speaker’s position are clear in the question, ‘Did he smile his work to see?’,-implication that only something malicious could be pleased with this creature. Structure- Six quatrains in rhymed couplets. Trochaic tetrameter,-children’s rhymes. Together with the use of monosyllables, it gives a misleading impression of simplicity as well as an emphatic tone. Masculine rhyme. Beat of smith's hammer Exclamations-energy. Some questions-iambic

AO3:1st reading-Demonic-"stars threw down their spears"-negative aspect of man and nature. BUT-attitude of the 'mind fettered' apeaker-God created by man, Prometheus referenced-

4 of 7

The Schoolboy (E) 1

AO2-Language and Form-Contrasting states-The instinctive inclination of the child to learn is suggested by learning itself taking place in a ‘bower’, a natural structure. This also suggests that children learn from nature, from their daily living-This contrasts with the unnatural character of the school. The oppressive nature of education is highlighted by emphasising the vulnerability of the child and its associated metaphors of bird and plant: ‘little ones’, ‘drooping / droop’, ‘worn thro’, ‘tender’-The child’s unfettered life is associated with words of energy and pleasure: ‘love to rise’, sing’, ‘sweet’, ‘joy’, ‘youthful spring’=The words associated with the effects of education are of negative emotion: ‘sighing and dismay’, ‘anxious’, ‘worn’, ‘dreary’, ‘fears annoy’, ‘sorrow’, ‘care’, ‘griefs'A child’s perspective?-The content of this poem seems to be from the standpoint of an innocent child. However the diction and style are quite sophisticated. The speaker uses expressions one might expect in eighteenth century poetry, for example, ‘The distant huntsman winds his horn’ and ‘learning’s bower’. The poem also uses rhetorical devices such as:Extended rhetorical questionsExclamation and apostrophe (‘O! father and mother’)Repeating a pattern three times.The voice of the poem appears much more that of the experienced adult speaker who sees and appreciates the child’s plight and is intent on persuading us of his/her view. He cannot enter into the child’s artless way of experiencing and of expressing himself.

5 of 7

The Schoolboy (E) 2

Structure-The five-line stanzas rhyme ABABB. The first four stanzas are self-contained. Each presents a point in the speaker’s argument or an illustration of it. The fifth stanza differs, by running on to the final stanza. This seems to echo the content. Stanza five begins with the plant’s life in spring, which is carried over into summer, autumn (‘the mellowing year’) and winter in the closing stanza. The repetition of the rhyme in the fifth line creates an echoing effect which gives the verse a regretful tone.The poem employs a varied metre. The spondees in the first stanza emphasise positive images: ‘birds sing’, ‘sweet company’, whereas that of ‘cruel eye’ in the second stanza is harsh, and the inversion of the foot at the start of l.8 (‘Under’) emphasises the sense of oppression. The plant metaphor in stanza five echoes this harshness, with plosive B alliteration (‘buds’, ‘blossoms blown’, ‘by’) and the hard contraction of ‘nip’d’ and ‘strip’d’.
AO3:All three are dependent upon, or vulnerable to, the way in which they are treated by human beings.Schoolboy-imagination. Bird-'sings with me'-natural to both-also symbol of freedom. Plant-vunerable-must travel through experience to survive. Innocence is presented here as freedom from constraint and self-consciousness. Pleasyre-uninhibited The fragility of this state is clear from images like ‘blossoms’ and ‘tender plants .. strip’d’.soon experiences the ‘woe’ in life and of learning the possibility of failure and betrayal.

6 of 7

My Pretty Rose Tree (E)

AO2: Language and Form-The indeterminate but rare and beautiful nature of the flower ‘as May never bore’ seems to contrast with the mundane ‘prettiness’ of the rose-tree. This serves to highlight both the speaker’s loss and the overblown self-esteem of his beloved.The language of the first stanza could be seen as a little hackneyed. ‘Such a flower as May never bore’ and ‘passed the sweet flower o’er’, both read like typical lines from contemporary popular verse. ‘Pretty’, too, is rather a well-worn adjective. This suggests that the speaker is conventional and mundane in his thinking and lifestyle, lacking the awareness to respond to life’s chances. Structure-The poem has an ABAB ACAC rhyme scheme and uses anapaestic metre, giving a jaunty rhythm. This is disturbed in the penultimate line with an early stress on the first syllable of ‘jealousy’ and an extended line length, both of which emphasise the strength of the negative emotion.

AO3:Flower - May-Spring-fertility-new life-virginity. The namelessness of the flower may also suggest its lack of self-consciousness and, therefore, its capacity for self-forgetful love, in contrast to the rose-tree. To be named is to have an identity, with the possibility of turning this into a possession which one is unwilling to share or give.Rose-tree – The rose is a literary symbol of love, especially sexual love. Linked to mortality-jealous possesive love. The Fall-chief pleasure in controlling others. Love becomes cruel.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all William Blake resources »