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Laughing Song Analysis

Author: poem of William Blake Type: poem Views: 66

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When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy

And the dimpling stream runs laughing by,

When the air does laugh with our merry wit,

And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

When the meadows laugh with lively green

And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene.

When Mary and Susan and Emily.

With their sweet round mouths sing Ha, Ha, He.

When the painted birds laugh in the shade

Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread

Come live & be merry and join with me,

To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Three poems in Blake’s “Songs of Innocence” have the word ‘song’ in the title. Of the three, “Laughing Song,” is the simplest and clearest example of Blake’s notion of innocence: a purity of emotion, connected to youth and to nature. In the poem, Blake lists a number of aspects of nature joining together in laughter. These aspects include “the green woods,” “the dimpling stream,” “the air,” “the green hill,” “the meadows,” “the grasshopper,” and “the painted birds”. This personification of the landscape has two functions. First, it highlights the organic quality of laughter itself, presenting it as a force of nature. It connects laughter to the natural and the essential, using it as an example of a clean expression of pure joy. Second, it reinforces a sense of communion with the earth. All of the different aspects of nature are coming together in harmonious laughter, not just with each other, but with people. In the second stanza Blake introduces three girls, Mary, Susan and Emily. While we are not told explicitly that they are children, the characters populating the rest of the “Songs of Innocence” make it highly likely. The three girls are in communication with the rest of nature as they all join in laughter. They possess the special quality inherent in children that allows them such a supernatural connection. Blake further cultivates this sense of community by inviting the reader to “Come live & be merry, and join with me”. The narrator tells us a “table with cherries and nuts is spread,”, another symbol of community. It is worth noting that the only foods on the table are those that could be picked from nature without harm to any plants or animals. We can imaging the “painted birds” eating much the same thing. By inviting the reader to join in the meal and the laughter, Blake tells us that this is a universal experience, something that everyone does and that everyone can take part in. The poem’s simplicity, its connection to nature, the presence of the three girls, the musicality and the purity and universality of the subject matter all combine to marvelous effect, one which beautifully reflects Blake’s conception of innocence.

| Posted on 2011-02-25 | by a guest

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