January 9, 2018
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[On a cloud I saw a child]
This reference to a child on a cloud invokes the idea of a cherub, as depicted here. Cherubs appear in religious iconography as a lesser order of angels commonly portrayed as a very young child with wings, scantily clad, and waiting upon saints or other immortals. The association may indicate Blake’s conception of innocent children as semi-divine beings, spiritualized by their innocence and atuned to higher truths and perspectives than adults who have lost their innocence and lost their religious sense of reality and experience. It is significant that the child appeals to the poet to “pipe” a song. This indicates the child is playing the role of a classical muse, inspiring Blake to write poetry.
With the introduction of the child and the representation of innocence, we are then are provided with that said child showing his understanding beyond the basic level of innocence. It appears at John 1:29, where John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God who take away the sin of the world.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God With this biblical reference one can draw the conclusion that the child sitting on the clouds is searching for some way to remove the sins from the world. Also with our conversations from last class about the rise of empiricism, one can look at the following lines when the piping of a biblical reference brings tears to the child’s eyes as something hearkening back to a previous era of thought.
Something that struck me as interesting here was “Old John, with white hair” sat “among the old folk”. I’m not sure if this is intentional, but it feels like Old John is excluded from this ‘old folks’ group, despite his physical descriptions.
This repetition can be seen a lot in hymnals and in religious text, so I found it a really smart move by the author to include it in this little lamb poem. The lamb is an incredibly common religious symbol, so I liked that they didn’t just bank on the historical connotations of lamb, but added more tie-ins to traditional religion. It feels more genuine to me.
In Robert Blake’s poem “Song of Innocence,” stanza 6, he adds to his inspired poem by using a Volta to change the rhythm and theme of his poem. At the start of his poem he expresses inspiration and audience choice and his Volta begins with a poem within a poem, about the beauty of the “sun rising, happy skies, merry bells ringing” and explains that Spring is being welcomed by all. He references religious aspects, such as, “Old John, sisters and brothers, THE LAMB, Little lamb, who made thee?…Gave thee life.” His religious background adds to the depth and richness almost like the gold decorating his family Bible might with beautiful flowers and illustrations often found in old Family Bible. His poem has that sort of feeling to it too.
Throughout all of these poems, Blake seems to repetitively use the word white in contrast with black or dark. Of course, white is a symbol of purity while black is something that is stained or wrong. Just something I noticed in quite a few of these poem, he uses a lot of contrasts to get the point across to the readers.
This stanza stood out to me because of the similar stanza in “The Divine Image”. In that poem, the words used are mercy, pity, peace, and love which are all characteristics attributed to God. In that poem, I would say that Blake’s poem reflects that humans are made in God’s image which means that humans also have these traits. This idea would fit well in a grouping of poems about innocence.
This poem however, definitely relates more to experience. Cruelty, jealousy, terror and secrecy are all natural and common human traits. Even though humans were created in God’s image, they didn’t inherit his good nature.
In the Echoing Green, the movement of the sun seems to echo life. The children romp and play as the sun rises, energy unbound as it is with the young. Memories of youth gives the experienced and aged found memories while the sun is high. Then as the sun sets, the energy of the children is replaced with weariness, showing that as life winds down the need to rest.
It wasn’t this particular stanza, but the whole of “The Fly” that resonated with me. It sounds like the thoughts you have when your so deep in thought that normal boundaries of thinking are broken. Or he is drunk. Ha! But it makes me think of the Buddhist way of thinking and how we shouldn’t even hurt a fly. Our perspectives as humans are as being superior just because we are humans. So just because we breathe with lungs and study topics like this we are far too busy to be bothered by fly. But they are just living their lives. It’s a humbling part of this entire collections of poems (or songs).
When love is formed out of acts of selflessness and care for only the person of interest it “builds a heaven in hell’s despair.” A selfless person is able to love innocently and openly therefore creating a joyous experience. In contrast, Blake suggests that love when formed on reason based off of prior experience builds a hell on earth despite heaven being an option. He used a pebble from the brook as a symbol of love being hardened by time and experience and a little clod of clay as the symbol of innocence showing it’s impressionable nature. I found the duality of the two conditions to be interesting because to me it suggests that although the idea of destroying something or having experience with it creates an understanding it also kills it’s innocence.
The joy he has in this poem is so wonderfully happy, as shown in this part. He wants everyone that reads this to be as joyful as he is and as I continued to read through it, it never wavered.
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
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April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
See in context
January 11, 2018 at 9:55 pm
January 11, 2018 at 5:56 am
January 11, 2018 at 5:12 am
January 11, 2018 at 5:01 am
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January 11, 2018 at 4:13 am
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January 11, 2018 at 2:57 am
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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