Monday, June 10, 2013


Songs of Innocence & of Experience does not come with an instruction manual. The arrangement of the poems in the two sections was not firmly decided by Blake but varies among copies. Obviously various poems are related as continuations, complements or contrasts to others. But the reader is meant to explore to find the order of reading that awakens his imagination. 

In the previous post concerning the Nurses Songs the laughter and shouting took place on the green and was echoed by the hills. Another poem of Innocence which resumes the events taking place in Nurse's Song is the 'Ecchoing Green'. From Songs of Experience The Garden of Love will serve as a comparison plate.

This poem which is spread over two plates begins at sunrise and ends as the green is darkening. On the first plate there are an older and a younger generation enjoying the activities on the green. The adults sit around the tree with children clustered around. Older boys and an indistinct couple surround the tree. On the borders of the poem we note the ripened grapes and the circle of the hoop. The ripened grapes were prominent too in NURSES Song from Songs of Experience.

British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 7
Copy A 
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 6, (E 8)  
"The Ecchoing Green

The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush, 
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells chearful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.
Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,"

Late in the day the younger children are ready to go home with their mothers. The adolescents, however, are aware of those of the opposite sex. They may be ready to taste the ripened grapes which they are already picking and sharing. The older man seems to be pointing them toward the kite which he may be offering as an alternative to the grapes. Blake intimates that the sport unseen may continue among the youthful boys & girls when the green has darkened.
British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 7
Copy A 
"Song 7   
They laugh at our play,    
And soon they all say.
Such such were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,   
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green."

The green upon which the children habitually played is no longer present in The GARDEN of LOVE from Songs of Experience, but in its place are a chapel and a graveyard. The intimation is that the aroused sexuality of the young people has come under the censorship of the church which has erected prohibitions and punishments to suppress the joys and desires of youth. 
British Museum
Songs of Innocence & of Experience
Plate 45
Copy A
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 44, (E 26) 
"The GARDEN of LOVE                

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:    
A Chapel was built in the midst,  
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,     
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be: And 
Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires."

Jerusalem, Plate 20, (E 165)
"Wherefore hast thou shut me into the winter of human life   
And clos'd up the sweet regions of youth and virgin innocence:
Where we live, forgetting error, not pondering on evil:
Among my lambs & brooks of water, among my warbling birds:
Where we delight in innocence before the face of the Lamb:
Going in and out before him in his love and sweet affection."  

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