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ASSIGNMENT TOPIC

THE THEMES OF THE ECHOING GREEN (poem)

BY William Blake

SUBMITTED TO: MAM KASHIFA

SUBMITTED BY: BILAL KHALID

DEPARTMENT: M.A ENGLISH


WILLIAM BLAKE

William Blake was born in London on 28th November 1757. From early childhood, Blake spoke
of having visions. Though his parents discouraged him from “lying,” they observed that he was
different from his peers and did not force him to attend conventional school. He learned to read
and write at home. At ten, Blake expressed a wish to become a painter, so his parents sent him to
drawing school. Two years later, he began writing poetry. When he turned fourteen, he
apprenticed with an engraver because art school proved too costly.

In 1782, Blake married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. He taught her to read and
write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry
for which he is remembered today.

SONGS OF INNOCENCE

The poem “The Echoing Green ” belong to the songs of innocence was his
first illuminated book which was published in 1789. This remarkable work of Blake was
reproduced by copperplate engraving and coloured with washed by hand . Through a vivid study
of the poems, one must take into account the section in which it is found within the collection
and one must inspect Blake,s intended meaning of the word “innocence ’’ , as he use it .

THEMES

The symbol of human life:

This poem spans the length of an entire day on the green. Some critics have compared this
diurnal cycle with the life cycle of man. The day starts on the green with the songs of birds and
the ringing of church bells. The children play in an energetic manner at that time. However,
towards the end of the poem, the sun sets and the green that had been brightened by the light of
the sun is shrouded in darkness. The children are too tired to play anymore. They want to rest
their heads on the laps of their mothers. They are so exhausted that all sibling rivalry is forgotten
and they lie with their brothers and sisters in the same place. Similarly, a man starts his life with
enthusiasm. As life progresses, he develops a kind of cynicism. However, at the end of life, all
battles are forgotten and all wrongs are forgiven. Man only wants to rest and relax for his last
days on earth. This is how the entire poem functions as a symbol for human life itself.

The beauty of nature

The poet beautifully describes about the beauty of nature .The sun shines brightly. The sky looks
beautiful. Pleasant sounds of bells come from the nearby church. Song birds sing cheerfully. The
sounds of bells and the songs of the birds merge into a beautiful melody worthy of the season of
spring.Greenry is spread everywhere. Everyone enjoy the beauty of nature.

The green as a site of innocence

The green that the poet depicts in this poem is a site of both lower and higher innocence. That is
why you find both children and old folks there. The children represent innocence in its purest
form as they are close to nature and enthusiastic about each day as it passes. The old folks
represent higher innocence or ‘Beulah’ since they have already weathered the storms of life and
emerged victoriously. They can now accept both joy and pain without being overly affected by
either. They reminisce about their own children but do not envy the younger generation even
though they have much more time left to spend on earth than they themselves do. They accept
that their lives are coming to an end, and only try to find some peace and quiet before it is their
time to leave this earth forever.

Suffering and joy

They want to forget their worries by sharing the joys of the children. The poet represents mostly
people are sitting under the trees and enjoy the game of children. As a human beings they have
some problems and worries in their lives. They gathered there actually. They want to forget their
worries by sharing the joys of the children. During the day it is filled with noises of the children.
Old men and women watch the children during play games and sorts.
.
Childhood and old age

In this poem the writer represents the joy of childhood contrasted with the gloomy old age in the
form of sunset when the grassy field becomes the "darkening green. The poet says that the
children continue to play on the grassy field till late in the evening.
The sun begins to set and the tired children return to their homes. They have enjoyed themselves
to their fill by playing different sports and games.
At home they have rest and sleep in the company of their brothers and sisters. They seem to be
like birds who have returned to their nests. The echoing green looks deserted and gloomy in the
darkness of the evening. Morning represents as a childhood age and the Darkening green

Critical Analysis of The Echoing Green:


This poem can be interpreted in many ways. The first interpretation relies on the fact that this
poem was included in Blake’s poetry collection known as The Songs of Innocence. Hence it
should not surprise us that the green is a metaphor for innocence. Children play here in the lap of
nature without any worries, for they have not yet experienced the harshness of life. They are still
under the care and protection of their mothers. They are also more in tune with nature now than
they will ever be again. As they grow older, culture and civilization will take the place of nature
in exercising a formative influence on them. However, the green is not just a place where young
children play. It is also a place where old men come to relax and leave behind their worries. Thus
the green also represents a higher innocence that Blake calls ‘Beulah’. This means that after man
has gone through the stages of innocence and of experience after he has seen the world both in its
beauty and its cruelty, he is able to find an inner sanctum of peace in his share of knowledge. He
learns to take both the joys and the sorrows that life offers in his path, and react to them with a
certain amount of stoicism. Neither does joy overwhelm him, nor does sorrow depress him. He
maintains an equilibrium in order to get through the day.
The other interpretation of this poem relies on the passage of time that happens as each stanza of
the poem progresses into the next. The poem starts at break of day with birdsong and the ringing
of church bells. It ends with darkness coming down upon the green. At first, the children are
enthusiastic about their play. However, by the end of the day, they are tired and only want to rest
their heads on the laps of their mothers. This progression of time is analogous to the life cycle of
man. When a man is born, he is close to nature, without any cares and with ample time for
himself. However, as he grows older, he becomes more attuned with culture and civilization,
develops a cynical attitude, is overburdened by worrisome situations and has no time for himself
at all. As he approaches the end of his life, he is inclined to rid himself of his worries and
troubles and take a break from the hectic pace of life. He wants to rest and relax. Just like the day
comes to an end in the green, a man also cannot avoid death. He is mortal and must succumb to
death at some point in time or the other. That is why he should seize the day and cherish his time
on earth.

Rhetorical devices:

Transferred epithet:
This rhetorical device is used when an emotion is attributed to a non-living thing after being
displaced from a person, most often the poet himself or herself. In this poem, the poet uses the
device of transferred epithet in the 2nd line of the 1st stanza when he says that the skies became
happy. Of course, the sky is a non-living thing and it cannot experience emotions such as
happiness. What the poet means is that the rising of the sun in the sky makes the people of the
green feel happy.
Personification:
This rhetorical device is used to bestow human qualities on something that is not human. In this
poem, the poet uses the device of personification in the 2nd line of the 1st stanza with respect to
the sun by endowing the sun with the human ability to spread happiness.
Simile:
This rhetorical device is used when an overt comparison is made between two different things. In
this poem, the poet uses the device of simile in the 6th and 7th lines of the 3rd stanza when he
compares the children falling asleep on the laps of their mothers with birds in their nests, and
also uses the word “like” while making this comparison.
CENTRAL IDEA

On the green, the day starts with the song of birds who have flown north in the spring and who
now perch on the bushes lining the green. In addition to these birds, you can also hear the sound
of church bells ringing. Children are playing happily, while old folks relax under the shade of an
oak tree. Among these old folk is John who seems to have left all his worries behind. All the old
folks reminisce about their childhood. At dusk, the children grow tired and abandon their play to
rest with their siblings on the laps of their mothers. The sun sets and the green becomes shrouded
in darkness.

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