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Nurses song and Nurses song

Nurses Song and Nurses Song


In two of William Blakes poems from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience both
titled Nurses Song he depicts the view of life and of childhood from two very
contrasting viewpoints. The two poems are told through the eyes of a nurse which in
todays terminology would be a nanny. In both poems the speaker uses a very different
tone which helps illustrate a very different story of the nurse. The first line of each poem
is exactly the same in both poems, although the second line for each poem sets the
scene and tone for the rest of the poem and changes the meaning of the first line
altogether.
The first nurse from the Songs of Innocence seems to be a kind hearted and gentle
woman. She interacts with the children in the poem and indulges the children by giving
into their whims. She seems to adore the children and treats them as if they were her
own. In the Songs of Experience poem, the nurse instead seems to be extremely
mistrusting and spiteful of the children under her care. Despite it appearing that they
personally have not wronged her in any way.
The Nurses Song from Songs of Innocence is a sixteen line poem consisting of four, four
lined stanzas to make sixteen lines in all. This is twice the length of its counterpart from
the Songs of Experience. The poem uses an ABCB rhyming scheme throughout the
poem. The first stanza sets the scene for the rest of the poem. The next three stanzas
are of a call and response structure. This is seen as in the second stanza the nurse calling
to the children. The third stanza consists of their pleading response and finally the
fourth stanza is the nurses response to the childrens request. The poem is also
polyphonic unlike the latter from Songs of Experience.
The second Nurses Song from the Songs of Experience is made up of two stanzas each
being four lines long to make eight lines in total for the poem. This poem also uses an
ABCB rhyming scheme which is continued in the second stanza. The first stanza sets the
scene, which like its counterpart from the Songs of Innocence is also set on the green.
Although here this green is depicted as wicked and a sickly place, whereas in the first
poems the setting is seen as wonderful green rolling hills. The first stanza also hints to
the source of the nurses contempt and disgust of the children. The second stanza
showcases the nurses hate. Throughout the second poem from Songs of Experience
there is no voice of a child in the song.

Nurses song and Nurses song

In line three and four of the second poem the nurse says the days of my youth rise
fresh in my mind, my face turns green and pale. Judging by this statement it is easy to
assume that something awful occurred during her childhood what that was is not stated
by Blake, it is very likely that this is the cause for the nurses cynical outlook on the
world. It is also very likely that this might be one of the reasons for her seeming dislike
of the children that she has to care for.
The lack of the voice of a child adds to the far more bleak aspect of the second poem.
The second nurse does not hear the childrens joyful laughter but instead the
whisperings in the dale, which are secretive and even subversive. The laughter of the
children is free and open in the Songs of Innocence giving the poem a feeling of
optimism. Within Songs of Experience the dark whispers, hidden in the dale give a
foreboding feeling to the poem.
The nurse of the first poem from the Songs of Innocence listens as the children under
her care play on the green hills. As the day ends, she urges them to come home, but the
children plead that the sun has not yet set and that they cannot go to sleep. They
argue that the little birds fly and the hills are all covered with sheep, and if nature has
not put her children to bed, why should the nurse require that her children go to sleep?
The nurse relents and lets the children continue to play long into the dark evening.
In the first poem there is no suggestion of the cruelty of life that the nurse of the second
poem seems to promise. The theme of the Songs of Innocence poem is the childrens
innocence and their simple joy of life.
The nurse from the Songs of Experience poem is reminded of her bleak childhood as
seen in line three and four where the nurse says the days of my youth rise fresh in my
mind, my face turns pale and green. Unlike the second nurse, the first one from the
Songs of Innocence appears to gain much joy and comfort from the happiness and
freedom of the children in her care. This can be seen in line two and three when the
nurse says and laughing is heard on the hill, my heart is at rest within my breast.
The first two lines of the second stanza are identical in both poems, but the ways in
which the poems then develop are sharp in contrast. The first nurse simply tells the
children to come home because it is almost dark and that they can carry on playing in
the morning. The dews of night seem to be nothing more than an image of night fall.

Nurses song and Nurses song

The second nurse is far less lenient; she lectures them on the shallow falseness of their
lives, both now and later in life. Here the dews of night seem to gain connotations of
treachery and other sinister activities. Your spring and your day could refer to
childhood, when, from the nurses perspective, play is simply a waste of time; winter
and night would then refer to adult hood, which appears to be a time of deception,
concealing your true personality.
Blake makes good use of metaphors throughout the two poems. In the second poem he
illustrates this with your spring and your day which represents childhood and your
winter and your night representing adulthood. Other metaphors are in fact the
characters from Blakes two poems. The nurses actually represent England and the
children represent the people of England. With this further being illustrated where the
metaphors are England. The first nurse represents England, before the industrial
revolution, when the people lived in the country, relying on nature and were in touch
with nature. While in the second poem the nurse represents a sick England caused by
the Industrial revolution where children are forced to work in giant mills. Now the
countryside had mines which delved deep into the land to draw out minerals to feed the
machines and furnaces for the townships.
The children from the second poem would appear to be sick and weak although there is
no actual description or voice. These characters are Englands working class, sick and
miserable. Unhappy from being overworked and under paid in the so called dark and
satanic mills that Blake time and again expresses his disgust for. Blake like many
romantics of the period wrote of his hatred of the industrial revolution and the desire to
become closer to nature. Blake expresses this belief when he displays the children of the
first poem as being happy and carefree, enjoying being amongst nature, whereas their
voices are not even heard in the far darker second poem.
Blake uses the two poems to display many of his beliefs. Both of the Nurses songs share
the fundamental idea of the volumes they were first published in. The first poem
displays the sweet innocence while the second Nurses song displays the nurses
harrowing experience of life in England during this period.