William Blake Poetry


Introduction (I)

AO1: The narrator is a piper who is happily piping when he sees a child on a cloud. The child tells him to pipe a song about a lamb. He does so and the child weeps on hearing it. He then asks the piper to sing. He sings the same song and the child cries with joy when he hears it. The child then tells the narrator to write a book and disappears. The piper takes a reed to make a pen. With it he writes happy songs for children to bring them joy.

AO2: Form-Simple rhythm and reflexive tone. Structure-The meter is trochaic (stressed, unstressed) and ends with a stressed syllable. This gives it a positive-sounding tone.The pattern of repeated ‘So’ and then ‘And’ suggests the child-like simplicity of the piper: 'So' suggests the obedience of the piper to do as he is asked. 'And' sounding childlike, how a child would write, emphasises absence of complexity. Language-'Valleys wild' rustic and rural, untouched by humans. Repitition of words such as 'pipe', 'piper', 'cheer', 'happy' unalloyed simple life and happiness.

AO3: 'stain'd the water clear' negative connotations of corruption and staining innocence. Somehow it will be tainted, and writing about it in itself is tainted. Taking away purity of emotion, vision, creative moments, trying to contain it, staining it with language.the piper is destroying the clear purity of the water in making ink to write.

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The Shepherd (I)

AO1: This poem commends the life of a shepherd. His time is spent following his sheep, praising them for the innocence of the lambs and the tender relationship between lamb and ewe. They can be in peace because they know their shepherd is watching over them.

AO2: Form-Echoes Psalms 51: 15, a song traditionally ascribed to King David, Israel’s king. Stucture-Two quatrains, rhyming ABCB DEFE. End of the first stanza causes the reader to linger on the idea of the overflow of praise. The start of the next stanza focuses this on the innocent and harmonious relationships between the sheep.Language-Emphasises that everything is idyllic 'sweet', 'innocent', 'tender', 'peace'. There is little to disturb the tone of praise and peacefulness.

AO3: Sheep are in a complete pastoral setting, however the shepherd still watches over them. If they were completely free then there would be no need for the shepherd to watch over them, suggesting that there are dangers within the idyllic setting. However the shepherd would still watch over them, he is a christ like figure he and takes care of the sheep, not because he has to, but because he loves them.

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The Echoing Green (I)

AO1: Spring has come, signified by birdsong and ringing bells, and children are playing on the village green. The old men and women enjoy watching the children, reminded of their own childhood. Eventually the little children tire, the sun goes down and the children are ready for rest round their mothers’ knees.

AO2: Form-Nursery rhyme like, neatness of closed ryhming couplets enhances mood and tone of the simple completeness of the children’s experience. Structure-Using short lines means that the rhymes quickly follow one another, giving an audible sense of ‘echo'.There is a basic pattern of two stresses per line, with one stress on the end syllable. This creates a rising rhythm. and gives the poem a positive, jaunty feel. Language-Simple and repetitive, reflecting simplicity of speaker and the scene. Emphasis on words signifying happiness and simile for the birds and children suggesting their common pleasure and play.

AO3: Concludes with sense of menace and darkness 'the darkening green'. Suggestions of the childrens traditions are changed and erroded, they do not survive the end of the day and the ending of childhood.

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The Chimney-Sweeper (I)

AO1: A child chimney-sweep tells his story. His mother died in his infancy and, while the child was still very young, his father sold him as a sweep. He goes on to tell of another child, Tom Dacre, who cried when his head was shaved. The sweep consoled him, and that night Tom dreams of liberation. He is living an economically exploited life as a chimney sweeper during the industrial Revolution.

AO2: Form-Enjambement converys rush of emotions which is emphasised by short repetitive words. Structure- A simple AA BB rhyme scheme using monosyllables. Iambic meter which is usually found in comic or light-hearted verse contrasting with much of the content. Language-Irony of 'weep' advertising the labour 'sweep', also portraying misery of his situation. Also introducing a dream of paradise that is falsified by the last stanza.

AO3: Angelic figure informs Tom Dacre about God being his father, however, this is a dark angel, as it represses and contrains the child showing a sense of tyranny. There is a sense of manipulation which organised religion enforces. Concludes with a sense of tyranny, the angel is hypocritical. She will only allow him to enter heaven if he does his duty. Ironic view of religion, what you do in this life determines on what happens to you in the next life; heaven or hell.

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The Chimney-Sweeper (E)

AO1: The speaker sees a child chimney-sweep in winter, all black with soot, miserably crying ‘Weep!’ He asks where the sweep’s parents are. The child replies that they are praying in church. Because he was happy and playful, they made him wretched. Heaven is really dependent on the misery that the children have created.

AO2: Form-The rhyme changes after the first stanza. Structure-The rhymed couplets of this first stanza, present a self-contained introduction to the child’s explanation of his plight. In this first stanza the second line is slowed down by the use of the repeated exclamation ‘weep!’ and by being mainly monosyllabic. Language-Irony of weep 'sweep', misery and the reader being appalled at the situation 'you ought to weep!'. The tone is one of bitterness rather than pathos. 'Priase God and his priest and king' the trinity represented as tryanny, extremely challenging and antagonistic.

AO3: According to the sweep, the outside world is deliberately cruel and life-denying. He believes his parents are jealous of his capacity for happiness and play and so have handed him over to the experience of misery and repression. At a literal level, they have made him a sweep. Metaphorically, they have repressed him.

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The Garden of Love (E)

AO1: The speaker goes to the Garden of Love and finds there a new addition. A chapel has been built in the middle of it, on the green where the speaker used to play. The chapel gates are locked and over it is a sign ‘Thou shalt not’. Speaker turns to the garden which used to bear many flowers. Now the garden is full of graves and tomb-stones replace the flowers. Black-gowned priests constrain the speaker’s pleasures and desires with briars.

AO2: Form-Use of setting itself is pastoral however the narrator turns it to an anti-pastoral view of a nostalgic garden he used to play in. Structure-First two stanzas use ABCB DEFE rhyme scheme, however the final stanza is shaped by internal rhyme: ‘gowns’, ‘rounds’, ‘briars’, ‘desires’. Physical findings in a garden of love are confounded, echoed by the confounding of our expectations regarding pattern and rhyme. Language-Contrasting images/colours, green/black, flowers/graves/tombstones/briars, freedom with constrainment of priests walking in a round. 'Thou Shalt Not' are the opening words of 7 out of the 10 commandments.

AO3: Within the literary tradition, the Garden of Love is used as an image of the relationship between lovers and also of their inner selves.the speaker blames the inability to express ‘joys and desires’ only on external factors like the Church and ignores any personal responsibility.

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London (E)

AO1: The speaker wanders through the streets of London. S/he sees despair in the faces of all the people s/he meets and hears fear and repression in their voices. The woeful cry of the chimney-sweeper stands as a chastisement to the Church. The sigh of the dying soldier stains, as though with blood, the walls of the king’s palace.

AO2: Form-illustrates the cycle of life in experience. Vignettes of horror that the narrator see's everywhere. Hears images as well as see's them. Structure-The poem has four quatrains, with alternate lines rhyming. Repetition is the most striking formal feature of the poem, and it serves to emphasize inability to escape the all-encompassing effect of the ‘mind-forg’d manacles. Language-Repition used to convery speaker beleif that everything is a possession of the ruling system and that no-one is free. Universality of human misery denoted in repition of 'every' in second stanza.

AO3: The poem's title denotes a specific geographic space, not the generalised ‘greens’ of the Songs of Innocence. Everything in this urban space - even the natural River Thames - is ‘charter'd’. It exists under another’s authority, is regulated, measured and mapped and a possession of the ruling system. As a result, no-one is free. Blake's repetition of this word reinforces the sense of constriction the speaker feels upon entering the city.

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A Poison Tree (E)

AO1: The speaker was angry with a friend, revealed it, and the anger was dispelled. However, anger toward an enemy was not revealed, but nurtured with fears and negative feelings about the ‘foe’. The speaker’s growing antipathy was masked by smiles and pretence.

AO2: Form-The poem proceeds by this series of closed statements which allow no argument and echo the blinkered vision of the speaker. Structure-The trochaic metre of stanzas two, three and four emphasises this word, thus increasing the obsessive drive of the poem. We are invited to follow the logical progression of the speaker’s behaviour to its climax. We are also encouraged, therefore, to see it as inevitable. Language-The obsessional nature of the speaker’s feelings is suggested by the restrictions in the diction. The first stanza works purely in terms of ‘friend’ ‘foe’ ‘angry’ and ‘wrath’. All that is positive is false – the sun of smiles, and the softness of deceit.

A03: Pastoral imagery has been subverted to idea of gree, self-interest, authority and binding. Connotations of Adam and Eve, the speaker is the devil tempting his foe with an apple, and taking a bit had deadly consequences. Subversion of natural imagery and life is characterised by fear.

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AO4: Context

Context of William Blake

Greatly influenced by philosopher Plato, contrast between visionary and nationalism. The church went against his ideas of equality. He praised the child-like state of mind and imagination and the freedom it creates. He was a romatic poet and also politically radical, known throughout the enlightenment age. Antagonistic to Isaac Newton and his theorie/physics. Had opinions such as free love. Protested against the industrial revolution through his poems. William Blake wrote about how the industrial revolution represents the devil and that it must be purged. Blake focused on child labor and prostitution-the two adverse effects of Industrialization Revolution. Beleived in the idea of pantheism, nature could teach children more than school could, because in nature God is the teacher. God is everywhere in the pastoral world.

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