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Garden of Love, The Analysis



Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 3751





I laid me down upon a bank,

Where Love lay sleeping;

I heard among the rushes dank

Weeping, weeping.



Then I went to the heath and the wild,

To the thistles and thorns of the waste;

And they told me how they were beguiled,

Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.



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 turned to the Garden of Love

That so many sweet flowers bore.



And I saw it was filled with graves,

And tombstones where flowers should be;

And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,

And binding with briars my joys and desires.








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

.: :.

This poem is actaully very interesting as it not only juxtaposes the flowers and graves; which symbolize life vs. death but it gets into the keys issues of Theocracy and how it can have a negative impact on society. And im only 17 BOH!

| Posted on 2011-10-17 | by a guest


.: :.

The imagery is striking, with anticipation turning into horror, and joy turning into anguish. The garden becomes the setting for a forbidding chapel, the flowers have been dug up for graves, and the carefree playground is policed by sinister black priests marching to an ominously precise beat (\"priests in black gowns were walking their rounds\"): you can almost hear the drumbeat that precedes an execution.
The garden of love is, I think, an allegory for his childhood romances. He yearns to revisit them, but things have changed. His former sweetheart will no longer play along (\"the gates of this chapel were shut\"), perhaps because she is already married to another. The innocent lovemaking that he remembers (\"where I used to play on the green\") has now been demonized (\"thou shalt not commit adultery\").
Chastened, he turns to the other girls (\"sweet flowers\") that he used to flirt with. But many are already dead or moribund (\"tombstones where flowers should be\"), and the remainder are hidebound by moral conventions, and dead to his advances. The shadow of the Church (\"priests in black gowns\") chokes the relationships which he hoped to re-establish (\"binding with briars my joys and desires\"), and the poem ends abruptly with his desires unconsummated.
A sad poem, but hauntingly beautiful.

| Posted on 2011-08-13 | by a guest


.: :.

\"The Ecchoing 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 Ecchoing 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 thay 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 ened.
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 Garden of Love can be better understood when read in relation to The Ecchoing Green (Songs of Innocence). Note that Blake is not the persona or the voice either poems, it is the child speaking in the Ecchoing green. The green is the play space of the children where they are free to express themselves without the repression of the Church, to some degree. The Garden of Love portrays the Church\'s authority as invasive of the play shown in the Ecchoing Green. The idea that the Church is identified by what it condemns instead of what it allows is depicted in the images of the Church gates being shut with the words, \"thou shalt not;\" and in the figures of the priests. The notion of darkness and the night as forces that deprive play (a recurring motif in Blake\'s poems) are seen in both poems but in the Garden of Love, the darkness is linked with death, the ultimate end. It is important to note that the Church in the Ecchoing green is silenced and drowned in the background, it is even perceived as positive, while the children play. In the Garden of Love it is the dominant, negative force as the child has grown up. Therefore, we can surmise that the Garden of Love depicts tha influence of the church on society and the experience that comes with the transition from childhood to adulthood (innocence to experience) and learning more about the bitter reality of life where love is not enough, in contrast to the ignorance of play.

| Posted on 2011-05-13 | by a guest


.: :.

Blake writes an expose` of how true religion dampens the creative spirit as expressed with hopes and desires...It truly is a magnificent poem that resonates to the very last line how anyone can claim it to be the worst poem ever is beyond me.

| Posted on 2011-04-05 | by a guest


.: :.

why does this version have an extra stanza at the beginning? when others online do not? just wondering

| Posted on 2011-03-03 | by a guest


.: :.

Blake was a Christian in the true sense of the word. He believed that Christ\'s message of love for all mankind had been corrupted by organized religion.
True in England of his day and in much of the Westen world today. \"And did those feet in ancient times walk in Englands green and pleasant land?\" Good question Mr. Blake.

| Posted on 2010-11-12 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem tells us how everything man likes is sinful.The poet loves the garden.It shows the joys and happiness he craved from life.But all of them were sinful so God gave him the Ten Commandments.
Man is now bounded with all the rules and regulations of the church.So man is depressed because all his joy is labelled as sin.
The poet says that his Garde of Love looks like a greveyard as all he loved till now is prohibited by the church and it has taken man\'s freedom away.

| Posted on 2010-10-07 | by a guest


.: :.

The cherished poem on consciosness itself. \"thou shalt not\" written on the CLOSED chapel entrance patrolled by preists in black represents all repressive individuals that exist to deleberately control and crush the spiritual ideals of us all through negativity...lies, dissinformation, threats and compulsions to desist from freedom seeking behaviour including ultimately life itself. William didnt appreciate given the overwhelming christian religious culture of the day that chapels, even those whose doors are open with \"thou canst\" writ oer are still man made objects and subject to subsequent deceptive change. The Garden of Love is the chapel, with maybe a few stones...and the \"preists\" are always multi-coloured...
Love and Peace

| Posted on 2010-08-19 | by a guest


.: :.

possibly the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel
Blake tells it like it us nuff said.

| Posted on 2010-08-03 | by a guest


.: :.

this has got to be the worst poem ever written, that\'s for sure! however much i like literature, Blake just killed it with a single poem!!! true enough though, there are many ways of looking at it. there is a symbolic meaning as well as a surface meaning, which makes it all the more harder to understand. but we do understand that he hated the church and the role it played in society.

| Posted on 2010-08-01 | by a guest


.: :.

i think the poem is about something that i really dont understand. actually this is the worst poem ever!

| Posted on 2010-06-16 | by a guest


.: :.

Yes this poem is about how repressive the church is blah blah blah but another take on it might be how when you are an innocent child you always notice the positive attributes of a place. Then when you are grown up and have experience and responsibilites we see the same location but without the rose tinted glasses on. We see the faults in things that we never would see as a child and the faults of the generations that have led us to where we are?

| Posted on 2010-05-19 | by a guest


.: :.

Yes this poem is about how repressive the church is blah blah blah but another take on it might be how when you are an innocent child you always notice the positive attributes of a place. Then when you are grown up and have experience and responsibilites we see the same location but without the rose tinted glasses on. We see the faults in things that we never would see as a child and the faults of the generations that have led us to where we are?

| Posted on 2010-05-19 | by a guest


.: :.

The narrator seems to be bound by the rules of a specific religion; the religion orders the narrator to suppress all feelings and inner aspirations without question, and follow the church's ways. The narrator views the religion as "binding with briars, my joys & desires", as the religion labels the narrator's activities and aspirations as sinful or otherwise inappropriate.

| Posted on 2010-05-17 | by a guest


.: :.

I think Blake's target might have been broader one than just the Church of England. The contrast of the remembered paradise at the beginning with the rule bound vale of tears that he describes in the second part of the poem seems to be very Gnostic in tone. Maybe this was a critique of all established churches as being part of the demiurge's material prison in which humanity is blinkered and unable to see beyond the misery of day to day existance to true wisdom (sophia).

| Posted on 2010-05-02 | by a guest


.: :.

to the best of my understanding, this poem has to do with the unpleasantries the then church of England brought upon its citizens. then, the church was seen as the representative of GOd on man. the church got muddled up with politics and started to rule the citizens wrongly. william blake was not pleased with this turn and wrote this poem to express his views.he tells us of how his childhood when things were not as they were. the first stanza, tells us of how love was weeping. now, love doesnt weep because love is everything cheerful.once love weeps, then a serious situation present. this shows the gravity of the situation on ground. in the second stanza, i must admit that i dont understand it that much but i guess love was driven out. this is ironical because the church was meant to propel and foster love which is one of the attributes of GOD. the church had turned away from its primary purpose and had thus fallen from its purpose. he went to the garden of love in the third stanza and a church had been built in its midst where they used to play. i stand corrected but this may mean that a lot of urbanisation was going on and the church had no regard for nature and built one of those their fancy church buildings there. the next stanza reveals the segregation and discrimination that went on in the church.only the upperclass were allowed to the church. it was not a place for the commoners. the church had become a foul polluted organisation that went against the will of GOD and perfomed all sorts of abominable acts against its common subjects. this makes him want to go to his place of solace and comfort which is the garden of love but alas! it has been turned to a grave site for the peole who had died due to the harsh situations that arose from the rule of the church. the priests in black which represents evil(black is a know colour of darkness and evil) briaring his dreams and desires. what more can i say? the poem is just about williams strong disaproval of the church of england.

| Posted on 2010-02-26 | by a guest


.: :.

A level student interpretation:
The main theme Blake is addressing in 'The Garden of love' is his sceptical and critical view on the church of England, a figure of great power and influence in society. Blake is always attacking the church in the majority of his writings, this chapel that has been built on the green is a symbol of the church's influence on society. The 'gates of this chapel were shut, and thou shalt not, writ oe'r the door', Blake is emphasising the control the church has over the people, it dictates what the people can and can't do.

| Posted on 2009-12-29 | by a guest


.: :.

This was absolutley the worst poem I have ever come across in my entire life time.

| Posted on 2009-12-16 | by a guest


.: :.

..If allowed I wish to correct a misspelled word in the last post by RR.
.."something that comes along and taps us on the shoulder to remind us of our mortality.."
I love this poem....reguardless of individual interpretations...and there are many. Choose one. RR

| Posted on 2009-12-01 | by a guest


.: :.

I discovered this poem while in college in the 60's. I have never quite understood all of it, but reading the preceding analysis' has opened my eyes somewhat.
I have read this poem 3 times for friends who have gone before me and at my 90 year old mother's wake. It like life is about change, something that interrupts our every day routine, something that taps us on the shoulder and reminds us of our morality.our coming departure from this life.
I read it as a goodbye to youth and sweet young love as only the "young can know, only the young, the young in love can really know".RR

| Posted on 2009-12-01 | by a guest


.: :.

I need to disagree with most commentators here. Certainly, this poem is about how the church opposes the "natural" state of "love" (at least, sexual love); yet I believe that Blake, like most romantic poets, was totally wrong.
First, they put up the bogeyman called "the church" and attack it, yet the church is not original here. Rather, it's the Bible that clearly supports some forms of sexual love and says "thou shalt not" about others.
But the more basic problem is that they assume, without argument, that the current natural state of sexual love is good and that the church (following the Bible) is wrong in stating "thou shalt not." This is far from obvious to me. There's no rational way of proving it. And, regarding our actual experience with life, a simple look at what is now the "natural" state of sexual love indicates this is not so: all the murders and infidelities and treacheries that have been committed in the name of "natural" sexual love, the hundreds of extant venereal diseases.
Blake is right on one point: in the "garden" (assuming he was referring to Eden), natural love was good; but we are clearly not in that garden any more. It's not "the church" that bars us from re-entering: it's your sin and mine.
In summary, by all means read and analyze the poetry of Blake: but if you want to get to the truth of the matter, I urge you to throw off the easy emotional answers chosen by Blake and look for deeper rational answers. Perhaps you'll find the church (and not Blake's caricatures of it) was really right in the first place.

| Posted on 2009-10-30 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem is wonderful. Blake was heavily influenced by religous thinkers such as Milton. He was a painter or artist for much of his life, and religion was often the subject of his art. However, he was a "nonconformist radical" (MSN Encarta William Blake). Thus, he was open to critiquing the Church.
think that he makes a beautiful point that many things which were created by God are to be enjoyed, but fear of potential sin causes walls to be put up to block out the beautiful.
Love is "weeping" because it is being called bad. I see the wild being symbolic of containing, (if it be possible to contain), love. Yet now a Chapel has been built, a human structure set in place where something perfect once was. Blake turns away because it puts him off of religion, but finds only a garden of dead flowers. The flowers must be the loves that never were.

| Posted on 2009-10-15 | by a guest


.: :.

This is to correct the ignorance of the last post. The time period Blake published this poem was 1794, as mentioned. The American Revolution (declaring independence from the British) began in 1775 and Britain declared war on France during the French Revolution after they executed Louis the XVI in 1793. So this poem WAS written/published in between two wars. Know what you are talking about before you act condescending. There was more than one war.

| Posted on 2009-10-01 | by a guest


.: :.

I feel it is my duty, to post that whoever thought this Blake wrote in the era before and after the great war, is perhaps the most ridiculous suggestion I have read in years. Blake would be rolling over in his grave.
Songs of Innocence and Experience was published in 1794, The Great War was 1914-1918.
Good god....

| Posted on 2009-05-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that blake has a dislike for rediculus oppression. Being that this poem was written in the early 1800's, churches were over-emphasizing rules.
With the freedom of early "innocent" childhood, the Garden of Love is symbolic of the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden being the utopia God set us to live in is also symbolic of the freedom left for us, so that we may grow in religion. The church's in the 1800's were oppressive and the typical bible thumpers over-emphasized every rule or commandment. This oppression inhibits the "innocence" and turns religion into a job. The symbolism of the graves being the loss or "death" of the real meaning of religion. "Tombstones where flowers should be."
A side and new look at how humans need to take a step back from their "perfect" lives and stop controlling everything. How humans need to look at the original plan and see the contrast portrayed. Very deep religious poem. I just touched on the major parts.

| Posted on 2009-03-11 | by a guest


.: :.

From what I knew about Blake's Song of Innocence and Songs of Experience is the era before and after the World War. From my own opinion, I think that what Blake is trying to portray about the "green" he used to play on has now a church I presume was built only to bury the soldiers who had fought and died during the war.

| Posted on 2009-03-09 | by a guest


.: :.

Blake is expressing his dislike of the repressive church. the garden of love could also symbolise the garden of eden and how the church is acting as the oppressor to all joyous and sensual experiences, i.e the sweet flowers.

| Posted on 2009-03-02 | by a guest


.: :.

I think the main theme Blake is trying to express in the ' garden of love' is that when he was an innocent child everything appeared perfect in the first stanza he used to play on the green and was allowed freedom. As the 'song' progresses we are made aware of the restriction of the church 'and the gates of this chapel were shut'The tone gradually becomes darker as he nears the truth and sees it with 'experienced eyes' He sees it 'filled with graves'The garden of love is a metaphor for change.

| Posted on 2009-02-19 | by a guest


.: :.

I think the main theme Blake is trying to express in the ' garden of love' is that when he was an innocent child everything appeared perfect in the first stanza he used to play on the green and was allowed freedom. As the 'song' progresses we are made aware of the restriction of the church 'and the gates of this chapel were shut'The tone gradually becomes darker as he nears the truth and sees it with 'experienced eyes' He sees it 'filled with graves'The garden of love is a metaphor for change.

| Posted on 2009-02-19 | by a guest


.: :.

well i think this poem is really good and i think that it really means that love has limits and sometimes we cant stop them...

| Posted on 2009-02-11 | by a guest


.: The Garden of Love :.

In “The Garden of Love”, William Blake portrays his disgust towards the church of his day and all the restrictions and limits it puts on his “joys and desires” and the way he expresses Love. He displays this foreboding tone with the use of imagery and symbolism.
The poem begins with the narrator lying beside a river and listening to Love weep. This is the first indication the reader receives that Love is under attack. He then walks over to the “heath and wild”, where the “thistles and thorns of the wild” tell him how they are “driven out” and made to be pure and innocent. These thorns and thistles represent Love’s wild passions and desires that are compelled to be subdued.
The next stanza actually states what is restraining Love. It tells of a chapel that has been erected where the narrator once used to play. Already, the reader can see that the church is restricting Blake. Where he once used to frolic, there is a mammoth building hindering him from doing so. The next verse goes into more detail as it describes the doors of the chapel. On them are written, “Thou shalt not”, a blatant allusion to the Ten Commandments of the Bible. The fact that the words chosen to adorn the doors to the church are restrictive in nature, instead of an instructive “Thou shalt”, demonstrates the constrained state that the church puts Blake in. Discouraged by the limiting statement on the doors, the narrator turns to the rest of the Garden in hope of finding “sweet flowers”.
Sadly, all he sees when he turns is a forlorn and gloomy sight, a desolate graveyard, filled with tombstones. In the middle of this graveyard are priests, outreaches of the church, fastening together his “joys and desires” with briars, symbolizing the rules the church weighs upon him, and thorns. These are his final hopes, killed.
Throughout the poem, Blake’s colorful use of imagery and heavy symbolism express his resentment toward the church. He makes obvious how he feels, that it is restrictive in nature and hinders him from expressing his loves, joys, and desires with all the rules and regulations that it places upon him.

| Posted on 2006-01-27 | by Approved Guest




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