The poem, The Echoing Green is taken from the collection “Songs of Innocence” by William Blake. After, “Introduction”, we are set into a carefree world of alluring happiness. The Echoing Green turns out to be a bit different.
The Echoing Green Analysis by William Blake
Let’s get lost in the shouts of the playing children and the ringing bells. Blake paints many a beautiful pictures though his poetic verse to provide a vivid imagery of the Spring, the swiftness of the fresh air and the magic of blazing sun. Amidst the pleasant shouts of the children, the poet introduces characters like old John with white hat; the character seems to play a significant role in the development of the theme of the poem.
In the eighteen century children were regarded as miniature adult. The poem really extends a one sided feeling from Blake’s end who portrayed children as they are. Much with gay, purity and joy, Blake introduced the element of security (the need of a guardian) by the introduction of “old John” with “white hair”. Though the character is a sheer necessity in the poem, it well supplements Blake’s thought of having someone old enough to have a look at the children (since they are children, and not miniature adult).
Development of the Poem:
The poem is set to be in running verse with a high momentum which readers may have difficulty to grasp, initially. However, the simplicity of the verse makes life easy! The first stanza of “The Echoing Green” presents a beautiful countryside view which welcomes the advent of the spring (mark the words, sunny sky and ringing bells). The poem possess elements of festive delight accompanied with the echoing shouts of the sportive children. Here we see the skylark’s vibrant singing and the old man’s stimulation to ruminate his own childhood. Proceeding to the third stanza, the picture becomes grave and things turn weary. The old speaks of the old age which needs more care and is symbolized through “round the laps of their mothers” and “are ready for rest”.
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green
The poet draws our attention to the empty valley in the last two lines with no more echoes!
The Beautiful Spring
The echoing green analysis would be incomplete if we fail to understand the idea of the spring, as conveyed throughout the poem! The radiance of the sun and the florid sky sets the smell of April. Only a poet of Blake’s authority can create such a wonderful background in simple verse, yet preserving the substantial theme of the poem.
Swinburne put it, “such a fiery outbreak of spring, such an insurrection of fierce floral life—and radiant riot of childish power and pleasure, no poet or painter ever gave before.”
Use of Symbolism in The Echoing Green
Symbolism is associated with every poetic composition of Blake, and the same goes with the Echoing Green. The first stanza highlights the happiness of childhood. It’s during the period of childhood that one is powered with the God given intuition to perceive every natural object through the eyes of God. The word ‘Echo’ has a special importance! Green apart from signifying the scene of children’s sport refers to happiness and mirth of childhood! If we go by the very definition of Echo, the poet actually wants to convey the message, the very happiness of the children (through sports or any other action) echoes around their family members, and in turn they become happy, just by seeing the children play.
Blake introduces an old man in the very proximity of the green valley to further intensify this thought. The old man may be the grandfather of any child playing, or he simply may be a local with others accompanying him. The poet clearly and confidently picturize the old man’s nostalgia; the evergreen sweet reminiscence of childhood.
‘The Dark’ and ‘ascending sun’ denotes old age. Old age hinders the sportive spirit; as all slowly get ready for rest. The phrases “sports have an end” and “ready for rest” sways the mood of the poem to that of unmixed sorrow/joy.
The poem is filled with imagery. As if we can see every scene, every action happening in-front of our eyes. Blake is the only poet ever produced in the history who can create so many scenes with so less words.
The tone is childish, soft, gentle and imbibing. There is a strong flow of contentment in the tone dipped in an atmosphere of mirth.
Nature’s mirth is expressed in the poem keeping in the mind the human cycle. The poem consists of dual theme. The theme of Nature; Nature is vibrant and dynamic in this poem of Blake. The other closely relates to the human life cycle, illustrating the rising and setting of life.
Blake’s idea was to portray the ‘rising and setting’ of human life amidst the colourful vibes of Nature. Sorrow is not highlighted anywhere and that is why the poem is in the “innocence” section.
It is true that you have to read much of Blake’s work to understand his perception and mind set. Blake’s poetry becomes very difficult and ambiguous at time simply because of his less use of words in poems. I hope you’ve enjoyed the echoing green analysis by William Blake. Enjoyed reading! Now it’s time to share your views, thoughts, opinions and show us you’re alive. Let’s begin a discussion
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