William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”. His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”. In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. Although he lived in London his entire life (except for three years spent in Felpham), he produced a diverse and symbolically rich oeuvre, which embraced the imagination as “the body of God” or “human existence itself”.
I LOVE TO RISE IN SUMMER MORN
WHEN THE BIRD SINGS ON EVERY TREE
THE DISTANCE HUNTS MAN WINDS HIS HORN,
AND THE SKYLARK SINGS WITH ME.
OH WHAT SWEET COMPANY!
The speaker in this poem is a young boy who fills joyful to rise in the fresh and delightful summer morning. The cheeping of the birds announces the day break. The boy gets entertained by the company of the hunter who blows his clarion from a distance field and sweet lullabies of skylark.
BUT TO GO TO SCHOOL IN SUMMER MORN,
OH! IT DRIVES ALL JOY AWAY.
UNDER A CRUEL EYE OUTWORN
THE LITTLE ONE SPEND THE DAY
INSIGN AND DISMAY.
It is a matter of utmost disappointment for the speaker to attain school in a sweet summer morning where actually he wishes to enjoy the mirth of summer. He is tired and even puzzled under the strict supervision of his teacher. The phrase outworn refers to the eyes of the teacher that actually tires the boy. Instead of enjoying the pleasures of summer, the child has to compulsory attended the school where he spends his day in boredom and dismay.
AHH! THAN AT TIMES I DROOPING SIT
AND SPEND MANY AS ANXIOUS HOUR,
NOR IN MY BOOK CAN I TAKE DELIGHT
NOR SIT IN LEARNING’S BOWER
WORN THRO’ WITH THE DREARY SHOWER.
The child expresses his weariness. He sits drooping out in the sea of tediousness. The child restrains the assault on him by the oppressive personality of the teacher and unnecessary lectures (shower of meaningless words) the finicky teacher gushes his words of erudition without even attempting to understand the child’s intention and his urge for unchecked freedom.The learning’s bower refers to a garden where the child can be taught in a interesting way, only if nature accompanies him instead of the school teacher.
HOW CAN A BIRD THAT BORN FOR JOY
SIT IN CAGE IN SING
HOW CAN A CHILD, WHEN FEARS ANNOY,
BUT DROOP HIS TENDER WING
AND FORGET HIS YOUTHFUL SPRING?
A bird which is born cheerful and jovial can never sing sweet songs if caged. Similarly, a child if remained under the umbrella of annoying fear and tension, the skepticism of his teacher can never enjoy the natural instincts of joy and playfulness. Indeed a world full of rigid course of discipline will ruthlessly take away the beautiful springs (the childhood days) of a person’s life.
OH! FATHER AND MOTHER IF BUDS ARE NIPPED,
AND IF THE TENDER PLANTS ARE STRIPPED
OF THEIR JOY IN THE SPRINGING DAY
BY SORROW AND CARE’S DISMAY;
The boy complains to the highest authority, to father and mother, if a budding child is picked and swept of in the early stage of life in an ocean of sorrow, where there is no one to care for. If misery withers the tender plants the beautiful buds and the new born buds, summer can never be joyful.
HOW SHALL THE SUMMER ARISE IN JOY
OR THE SUMMER FRIUTS APPEAR?
OR HOW SHALL WE GATHER WHAT GRIEFS DESTROY,
OR BLESS THE MELLOWING YEAR,
WHEN THE BLAST OF WINTER APPEARS?
If care and concern rule over the plants, flowers, birds, such a summer will be dry and will bear no fruit. The child enquires his parents as to how they can win back what grieve has destroyed. If the plants are withered due to the canker of grief, no fruit will be there in the season of autumn (mellowing year) this implies that if childhood pleasures and joys are censored and truncated one has to be very sure that the adult life will be utterly dry and unproductive.
Read critical appreciation of the school boy, Go to Page 2!