'Earth's Answer' by William Blake
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Earth raised up her head.
From the darkness dread & drear,
Her light fled:
And her locks cover'd with grey despair.
Prison'd on watery shore
Starry Jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar
I hear the father of the ancient men
Selfish father of men
Cruel jealous selfish fear
Chain'd in night
The virgins of youth and morning bear.
Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower?
Sow by night?
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?
Break this heavy chain.
That does freeze my bones around
That free Love with bondage bound.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Earth's Answer by William Blake: A Poem of Rebellion and Revolt
Have you ever read a poem that made you feel like shaking the world and fighting for what you believe in? A poem that spoke to your heart, stirred your emotions, and challenged your mind? A poem that expressed the voice of a generation, the cry of a people, the rage of a planet? If not, then you need to read Earth's Answer by William Blake, a visionary poet who dared to challenge the status quo, question authority, and promote a radical vision of freedom and equality.
What is Earth's Answer? It is a poem that speaks of the Earth as a living being, a goddess, a mother, who has been oppressed and abused by the forces of industry, war, and religion. It is a poem that calls for rebellion and revolt, for the overthrow of the tyrants who have enslaved the Earth and its inhabitants. It is a poem that celebrates the power of nature, the beauty of innocence, and the hope of redemption.
Let us begin by examining the structure and language of the poem. Earth's Answer is composed of six stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, which gives the poem a simple, rhythmic quality. However, the simplicity of the form is contrasted by the complexity of the imagery and the symbolism.
The first stanza sets the tone of the poem and establishes the central theme of rebellion:
The Earth raised up her head
From the darkness dread and drear,
Her light fled,
And her locks covered with grey despair.
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the Earth is personified as a female entity, which is a common motif in Blake's poetry. Second, the Earth is described as rising up from a state of darkness and despair, which suggests a sense of awakening and defiance. Third, the Earth's light has fled, which implies a loss of vitality and energy. Fourth, the Earth's locks are covered with grey despair, which suggests a sense of mourning and sadness.
The second stanza introduces the idea of oppression and exploitation:
'Prisoned on watery shore,
Starry jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar;
I hear the father of the ancient men.
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the Earth is described as being "prisoned" on a watery shore, which suggests a sense of confinement and restriction. Second, the Earth is personified as weeping, which implies a sense of grief and sorrow. Third, the father of the ancient men is mentioned, which suggests a connection to the mythological past.
The third stanza introduces the idea of rebellion and revolt:
Selfish father of men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
Chained in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the father of men is described as selfish, cruel, and jealous, which suggests a sense of tyranny and oppression. Second, the virgins of youth and morning are mentioned, which implies a sense of innocence and beauty. Third, the rhetorical question at the end of the stanza challenges the idea of delighting in the suffering of others.
The fourth stanza introduces the idea of nature's power and beauty:
Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the imagery of spring, buds, and blossoms suggests a sense of renewal and growth. Second, the question about the sower and the ploughman implies a sense of natural order and rhythm. Third, the rhetorical questions challenge the idea of hiding or suppressing joy and creativity.
The fifth stanza introduces the idea of redemption and liberation:
Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around.
That free love with bondage bound.
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the heavy chain is a metaphor for the oppression and enslavement of the Earth. Second, the idea of selfishness and vanity is repeated, which emphasizes the negative qualities of the father of men. Third, the idea of free love is mentioned, which suggests a sense of liberation and equality.
The sixth stanza concludes the poem with a powerful image of rebellion and triumph:
The new morning's beam
Restored my earth to joy.
Have I dreamt?
Or did I hear
The shrieks of sorrow and fear?
What do you notice about this stanza? First, the new morning's beam is a metaphor for the light of hope and renewal. Second, the Earth is restored to joy, which suggests a sense of liberation and victory. Third, the rhetorical question at the end of the stanza challenges the reality of the experience and invites the reader to question their own perceptions.
Now that we have examined the structure and language of the poem, let us turn to its meaning and interpretation. What is Earth's Answer about? On one level, it is a protest against the industrialization, militarization, and institutionalization of the modern world. It is a critique of the capitalist system, the patriarchal hierarchy, and the religious orthodoxy that dominate human society. It is a call for rebellion and revolt, for the overthrow of the ruling class, and for the empowerment of the oppressed.
On another level, Earth's Answer is a celebration of nature, innocence, and beauty. It is a tribute to the power and resilience of the Earth, the goddess, the mother, who sustains and nourishes all life. It is a recognition of the importance of preserving and protecting the environment, the animals, and the plants, that form the web of life. It is a reminder of our duty to respect and honor the sacredness of all creation.
On yet another level, Earth's Answer is a spiritual and philosophical meditation on the nature of existence, consciousness, and reality. It is a reflection on the dualities and paradoxes of life, such as light and darkness, joy and sorrow, freedom and bondage, and love and fear. It is a contemplation of the mysteries and wonders of the universe, such as the stars, the seasons, the cycles of birth and death, and the infinite possibilities of the human imagination.
In conclusion, Earth's Answer by William Blake is a masterpiece of poetry that combines social critique, spiritual insight, and artistic expression. It is a poem that challenges the reader to think deeply, feel passionately, and act courageously. It is a poem that speaks to the heart, the mind, and the soul. It is a poem that deserves to be read, studied, and cherished by all who seek truth, beauty, and justice.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Earth's Answer: A Poetic Masterpiece by William Blake
William Blake, the renowned English poet, painter, and printmaker, is known for his unique style of poetry that blends mysticism, spirituality, and social commentary. One of his most celebrated works is the poem "Earth's Answer," which was published as part of his collection "Songs of Experience" in 1794. This poem is a powerful critique of the oppressive forces of society and a call for rebellion and revolution. In this article, we will analyze and explain the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used in "Earth's Answer."
The poem begins with the speaker asking a question to the earth, "Earth raised up her head." This personification of the earth as a sentient being sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker then asks the earth why it is crying, and the earth responds, "I am sick, I must die." This line is a metaphor for the degradation of nature and the destruction of the environment caused by human greed and exploitation. The earth is personified as a victim of human cruelty and indifference.
The second stanza of the poem is a powerful indictment of the oppressive forces of society. The speaker asks, "What is the sword that gleams?" and the earth responds, "The sword that gleams in the sky, / Over the wound of war, / Is heaven's flashing thunderbolt, / And the clasps of dire despair." This stanza is a critique of the ruling class and their use of violence and war to maintain their power and control. The "sword that gleams" represents the power of the ruling class, which is used to oppress and exploit the masses. The "clasps of dire despair" represent the suffering and misery of the oppressed.
The third stanza of the poem is a call for rebellion and revolution. The speaker asks, "How can the bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing?" This line is a metaphor for the human spirit, which is born free but is constrained by the oppressive forces of society. The speaker then declares, "How can a child, when fears annoy, / But droop his tender wing, / And forget his youthful spring?" This line is a call for the oppressed to rise up and fight against their oppressors. The "youthful spring" represents the potential for change and revolution.
The fourth stanza of the poem is a celebration of nature and the power of the human spirit. The speaker declares, "How shall the summer arise in joy, / Or the summer fruits appear? / Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy, / Or bless the mellowing year?" This stanza is a reminder that nature has the power to heal and renew itself, and that the human spirit has the power to overcome oppression and create a better world.
The fifth and final stanza of the poem is a call to action. The speaker declares, "Till a man or woman can arise / Like a bird from the nest of pain / And fly back to their native skies, / Sweet joy shall fill the air." This stanza is a call for individuals to break free from the constraints of society and to embrace their true nature. The "nest of pain" represents the oppressive forces of society, and the "native skies" represent the freedom and potential for change.
Symbolism is a key element in "Earth's Answer." The earth is personified as a sentient being, which represents the interconnectedness of all living things. The "sword that gleams" represents the power of the ruling class, which is used to oppress and exploit the masses. The "clasps of dire despair" represent the suffering and misery of the oppressed. The "bird" and the "child" represent the human spirit, which is born free but is constrained by the oppressive forces of society. The "summer" and the "summer fruits" represent the potential for renewal and change.
Literary devices such as metaphor, personification, and repetition are used throughout the poem to create a powerful and emotional impact. The use of metaphor is particularly effective in conveying the themes of the poem. The metaphor of the "sword that gleams" represents the power of the ruling class, while the metaphor of the "bird" and the "child" represents the human spirit. The use of personification, such as the earth raising its head and speaking, creates a sense of urgency and importance. The repetition of the phrase "sweet joy" in the final stanza creates a sense of hope and optimism.
In conclusion, "Earth's Answer" is a powerful and timeless poem that speaks to the human condition and the struggle for freedom and justice. William Blake's use of symbolism, literary devices, and poetic language creates a vivid and emotional portrait of a world in crisis. The poem is a call to action, urging individuals to break free from the constraints of society and to embrace their true nature. "Earth's Answer" is a poetic masterpiece that continues to inspire and challenge readers today.
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