The Echoing Green: by William Blake - Summary & Analysis

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The Echoing Green

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells’ cheerful sound;
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing Green.

Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say,
‘‘Such, such were the joys
When we all — girls and boys —
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing 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.

Summary & Analysis

       Unlike 'Introduction' where the only characters are the poet and the child, here in 'The Echoing Green' we have boys, old men and, what is more, a lovely landscape graced with the sound of vernal sports of children. birds and bell. As in Shakespeare's Forest of Arden in As You Like It, the meadow here is alive and free from the fret and fever of worldly cares. As in 'Introduction', here too the green meadow resembles the Garden of Eden where the objects of God's creation are always under his grace and mercy.

here in 'The Echoing Green' we have boys, old men and, what is more, a lovely landscape graced with the sound of vernal sports of children.
The Echoing Green


      In 'The Echoing Green' the poet presents a happy countryside view where the advent of spring is welcomed by sunny sky and ringing bells. The skylark and thrush are vibrant and they sing joyfully. It is amidst this seasonal festivity of full-fledged life and celebrations that the poet takes us to valley echoing with the shouts of sporting children. Here we see old John and other old men sitting under the oak tree and laughing their cares away. The playing children stimulate them and they ruminate upon the sports of their own childhood. But at the close of the poem the sun descends and the little children are weary. They all go to sleep in the laps of their mothers like he birds do in their nests. The poet, in the last two lines calls our attention to the empty valley where at night there is no sport and no din but a silence. 

Picture of Spring:

      In this poem, the poet contrives to depict all the tremulous and tender splendour of spring in the written word. The first few lines have the smell of April. The radiance of the sky and the sun, the happiness of the ringing bells, the thrush, lark, child is kept fresh by some graver sense of faithful and mysterious harmony, explained and vivified by a conscience and purpose in the artist's hand and mind. As A.C. Swinburne puts it "such a fiery outbreak of spring, such an insurrection of fierce floral life and radiant riot of childish power and pleasure, no poet or painter ever gave before."

The 'idyllic' Elements of the Poem:

      'The Echoing Green' is called an 'idyll'. An idyll' can be defined as a description in prose or in verse of picturesque scenes or incidents, especially in rustic life. Viewed from this angle 'The Echoing Green' is idyllic as it conveys to us the extraordinarily brilliant picture of village greenery where everybody is in unison with the jubilant children. The celestial loveliness of the meadow is further embellished by the sonorous music of bells and birds. The poem furnishes both audible and visual charm blended with the splendour of rapture. 


      As in almost all the poetic renderings of Blake, in 'The Echoing Green' too we can trace symbolic references. The first two lines point out the gay childhood of man. In his childhood, by virtue of his God-given intuition the child perceives every object of God's creation 'apparelled in celestial light', as Wordsworth puts it:

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life's star.

Hath had elsewhere its setting.


But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!"

      The very idea of Wordsworth is apparent in Blake's 'The Echoing Green' the 'Echo' suggests the shouts and hootings of children and the word, 'Green', can be presumably indicating the mirth of childhood, besides the scene of the children's sport. Due to the proximity with the playing children even the old men (represented by 'John') feel happy and the sight takes them back to their childhood. But their nostalgia is never clouded: it is evergreen with sweet memories. 'The Dark' in the thirteenth line unmistakably symbolises old age. Needless to say, the ascending sun denotes old age, and the darkness that spreads over the field can be denoting the days of old age. However, the mood of the poem is one of unmixed joy.

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