In this article, we go through Laughing Song: Summary and Analysis by William Blake. Blake’s works are known to possess sublime thoughts and ideas. He projects ideas emanating from clear images which are related to innocence and experience. The present poem is taken from Songs of Innocence and waves a stream of joviality in the mind of the readers.
“When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit.
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;.”
1) Dimpling stream: wavy stream
2) ..runs laughing by: projecting a picturesque as if the stream is laughing
3) When…..wit: The sound of the chit-chat, which is merry, gets echoed.
4) And…noise of it: even the green hills seems to echo the chit-chat and laughter
“When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Merry and Susan and Emily,
With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, Ha, He!””
1) Lively green: fresh greenery
2) Merry scene: the pleasant merrymaking scene
3) Ha, ha, He: expression of laughter
4) Merry, Susan, and Emily: names of the children
“When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread,
Come live and be merry, and join with me
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, Ha, He!””
1)painted birds: the colorful birds
2)When…is spread: the visual outburst of rural festivity
3) Chorus: the group song where the poet invites the listeners to join the singers
Laughing Song: Summary
Both the poems, “the echoing green” and “laughing song,” portrays nature with rich imagery. The poem “Laughing Song” can be considered as a rhapsodic outburst of rural festivity. Nature seems to be in perfect tune. Looking at the lively green woods, the narrator finds total ecstasy, and this makes him say, “voice of joy.” He can even relate this joy with the waves and running of the stream. Even the air and the green hills seem to echo with the inner expressions of joy and laughter.
The shades of “the theme of innocence” becomes prominent in the second stanza when the poet speaks of the meadows, the grasshopper, and the little children named Marry, Susan, and Emily. Innocence can be best captured in children and feeble life forms like grasshoppers. Everyone seems to be in a festive mood and seems to enjoy the merry scene.
There are two important points regarding the second stanza
1) The introduction of the grasshopper and the children intensifies the theme of innocence and merrymaking.
2) Somehow, the joy felt by the grasshopper, the children, woods, and water birds, in the poem actually elevates the mood of festivity. Mark, the festivity and merry-making are within and not outside.
The colorful birds, while resting in the shades, seems to chirp and laugh. The cherries and the nuts are not spread in the table; rather, they are laden in the trees! The word table is used to introduce the mood of the festivity.
Like in all William Blake’s poems, the last two lines form the very soul of understanding the poem. Here, in “join with me,” “me” actually refers to the “lively mood” that runs through the entire poem. This inner joy, liveliness, and laughter binds the entire poem and invites everyone in nature to be one with the expressions of joy and laughter.
Laughing Song: Analysis
The poet introduces one picture of festivity with the phrase, “our table with cherries and nuts.” However, the poet only introduces cherries and nuts to the reader. This is again because one can find abundant cherries and nuts in the woods! There is hardly any human-borne activity in the poem. The innocent voices of the children intensify the poem and are instrumental in setting the background of innocence which actually develops the theme of the poem.
Blake prefers assigning names to his characters, “old John” in the echoing green; Mary, Susan, and Emily in this poem, laughing Song. It doesn’t hold much significance in the poem, except it allows readers to get closely associated with the characters.
Carefree Expressions in the Poem:
The speaker is one of the participants of the carefree rural festivity. The theme is innocence and carefreeness. Unlike the urbane festivity, there is no portrayal of outbursts.
The Countryside Simplicity:
The poem has a theme of rural innocence clamped with innumerable pictures of beautiful landscapes. There is neither grief nor gravity in the poem. It simply rests in an elevated state of natural ecstasy!
The Magnificent Pageantry:
The festive images are well captured by the poet through phrases like green woods, dimpling streams, a vast meadow, and the lovely landscape. The word ‘laugh’ adds an overwhelmed audible sensation in the poem and acts as a reflection of the delight and ecstasy of all Natural objects. The readers are also invited to celebrate the innocent beauty and joy, thereby enriching the poem’s grace.
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What about the “painted birds”? Does not the use of painted suggest an artifice or falsity about life in this natural environment? The word “shade” also has darker connotations and can be compared to its use in ‘The Human Abstract’ in the ‘Songs of Experience’. Although ‘Laughing Song’ is seemingly as positive and emphatic as it seems, as usual with Blake there are more subversive elements below the surface.
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