Essay, Pages 6 (1293 words)
“The Echoing Green” opens with the sun rising on a green field where birds sing and children play. As the children play, “Old john with white hair” and elderly crowd watch and laugh at their antics, remembering less troublesome times. The poem ends with the children going to sleep as the “Sun does descend” However, the tiger from songs of experience is a poem praising god for his ability to formulate “the tiger”, representing the pinnacle of perfection on earth. I will be further investigating the theme of the “cycle of life”.
William Blake effectively uses structure to deepen the content and the meaning of the poem. Furthermore, this can be envisaged from the quotes “The sun does arise” and “The sun does descend”. “The sun does arise” symbolizes birth/youth and “the sun does descend” is a symbol for death and maturity. By placing the quotes in the respective order of the life cycle, the reader can further engage with the poem and understand the essence behind the poet’s words.
As everyone is affected by the inescapable biological clock, this will affect all readers. Creating a sense of re-examination as they are presented with the concept that time is limited and you’re unable to recover used time. Furthermore, leading to the reader feeling emotions of envy and regret. This is because they envy the careless youth and regret choices made or not made.
Blake uses a variation of literacy devices to further illustrate the cycle of life. This is further emphasized upon in the quotes “The merry bells ring”, “To welcome the spring” and “till the little ones, weary no more can be merry”.
The adjective “merry” creates a happy atmosphere as it reminds the reader of celebration and further associates it with their own perception of a merry situation, combined with the auditory imagery “merry bells ring” it engages the readers imagination, leading to the reader associated happiness towards the beginning of the life cycle. Furthermore, the metaphor “To welcome spring” is also used to contribute to the happy atmosphere. As the metaphor “spring” is used to represent birth/youth, the use of the word “welcome” further demonstrates that youth is celebrated and to be cherished. However, in the second last paragraph a contrast can be observed, at this point the youth are now transitioning from innocence to experience as the life cycle is coming to an end. The quotes “weary” and “no more can be merry” are used to describe the effect of this transition, this creates an effect of sympathy as the reader witnesses the aftermath of the life cycle and how the once joyful youth now “no more can be merry”
The poet successfully uses a range variation of diction to achieve moods and atmospheres to express his emotions on different topics. The diction “happy” “merry” “cheerful” “weary” and “no more can be merry” are all used to achieve designated moods and atmospheres for different components of the cycle of life. The beginning of the poem/life cycle starts off with a joyful atmosphere, this effect is achieved through the selected diction of “happy” “merry” “cheerful”. The joyful atmosphere is used to further emphasize on the care free aspect of youth, and how at this point it is normally the happiest point in the cycle. By emphasizing on this, the author also emphasizes on the purity of youth and how it should be cherished and celebrated. However, towards the end of the poem there is a juxtaposition of diction to emphasize the toll that responsibilities have left on the once carefree youth. This can be seen in the diction weary” and “no more can be merry”. The transition from “merry” to “no more can be merry” repeats the theme of transition, this is the development of innocence to experience. This further leads the reader to feel empathy towards the “old john” and the others as they have gone through the life cycle and the toll can be seen to have taken an effect. This also creates a sad atmosphere as what was once so pure and joyful has now wound down to a sad ending.
William Blake uses structure to establish a theme of continuity to the life cycle. This can be identified as the first paragraph is repeated at the end of the poem. The use of “fire” in the first paragraph is used as a metaphor towards the life cycle. This is because like the life cycle, fire is beautiful however temporary. Thus, by repeating the first paragraph it shows that after the life cycle is complete, it starts once again, or by the metaphor the fire is relit. By using metaphors to relate towards to life cycle, it forces the reader to reflect upon the meaning on the metaphor. This then leads to a better understanding of the poem in general, and it could reassure the reader as the end of the cycle is not the end as the life cycle will start once again.
The poet uses a variation of stylistic devices to achieve a theme of the cycle of life. This can be seen to be expressed through the metaphors “in what furnace was thy brain?” “burning bright” and “immortal hand”. “In what furnace was thy brain?” is a metaphor that refers to the theme of creation. This is because a furnace is where materials are processed to produce a finished substance, this further refers to the furnace being the furnace of an “immortal hand”, whereby all living beings are made. Furthermore, the reference to the bodily functions of the tiger such as “sinews of the heart” and “heart began to beat” demonstrate that even a creature as perfect as a tiger still falls victim to mortality. This once again refers to the life cycle as it demonstrates that all must end. This leads to the reader to engage in thought and brings their attention towards the meaning of the poem, thus helping William Blake achieve his goal.
Blake uses tone and atmosphere to establish his appraisals towards god for the creation of such perfection. This can be seen in the rhetorical questions “dare frame thy fearful symmetry?” and “in what furnace was thy brain?”. Through the use of these rhetorical questions, the poet creates a tone of astonishment. This can be seen through the word “dare”, this demonstrates how tricky and sophisticated It must have been to create such a creature. This demonstrates that the “immortal hand” that created such a creature would have to be highly skilled and creative. The skill of the “immortal hand” can also be seen through his creation of the cycle of life, as it beautiful however so fragile, also adding beauty to time as it is limited. Through these quotes, it now gives the reader a feeling of reassurance as they are in good hands. It also leads to the reader to think and to see the bigger picture and to enjoy their surroundings.
To conclude, William Blake has successfully gained the readers attention through the use of structure, tone, mood and literacy devices. Also, with reference towards the research question, William Blake has successfully illustrated the life cycle. However, he does not only go to the extent of just illustrating the life cycle, he also brings the reader along on an emotional rollercoaster as they are demonstrated both the highs and the lows of the life cycle bringing an abundance of emotion to the reader. Ranging from astonishment, to sympathy and even to happiness. Also helping the reader to see the bigger picture and enjoy their surroundings more and to enjoy the purity of the time they have.
- Enterprises, C., n.d songs of innocence and experience. 1st ed Karol Bagh, New Delhi: Rama brothers India Pvt. Ltd.