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Compare and contrast The Echoing Green with The Schoolboy by William Blake

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Introduction

Compare and contrast "The Echoing Green" with "The Schoolboy" by William Blake Both "The Echoing Green" and "The Schoolboy" are classed under the section, "Songs of Innocence", which at first suggests that they will be of a similar nature. However this presumption is dispelled early on, as one examines the issues behind the often comparable wording. Many elements in "The Schoolboy" do echo those in "The Echoing Green" and visa versa, but the atmospheres of each poem that are presented are so different that it becomes difficult to see how two such contrasting pieces of work can unite in the same genre. "The Echoing Green" is one of Blake's most idyllic poems, as it is set in a pastoral and carefree atmosphere, which centres around the activities on a village green. Much of the imagery used is nature-associated, such as "the skylark and thrush", and the presence of the oak tree under which the elderly people in the village sit to "laugh at our play". The entire poem takes place in a single day, which gives rise to many different interpretations and suggests an idea of continuity within the community. The first two stanzas concentrate mainly on the bliss of the spring day, and the enjoyment that both the young and the old in the neighbourhood get from the 'echoing green'. ...read more.

Middle

However, in line with the destruction of youth, it could also be interpreted as the life of the schoolboy moving through its various stages and on into old age: "the mellowing year". In the final few verses, the poem is twisted to alert the previous generation, who are now sending their children to school, and Blake even calls out to them: "O father and mother!". This not only demonstrates that the poet is attempting to project the view that education destroys the beauty of childhood, but also that this poem is literally a forewarning, which perhaps questions its position in 'Songs of Innocence'. On the other hand, 'The Echoing Green' seems perfectly suited for this collection, as the blissful scene is drawn throughout the poem, and time is only used to show the lives that have circulated around the green. The entire poem seems to be almost cyclical, as it begins with the line "the sun does arise" and concludes with the image of "the darkening green". I feel that this does not only symbolize a single day but also the passage of time and the numerous children who have played on the green in years gone by. The characterisation in the two poems is also dissimilar, as 'The Echoing Green' uses the "old folk", especially the figure of "Old John" in order to illustrate the scene further. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even the title demonstrates from the outset that this poem will appeal to our sense of sound, and use auditory aspects in the description of the green. The word "Echoing" also ties in with the theme of time, as it conjures an image of the noise of children playing in the past being reflected in a similar scene in the present. It is in the use of sound that makes this poem similar to 'The Schoolboy', which describes how "the huntsman winds his horn", and even uses the practically identical image of "when the birds sing on every tree", again combining man-made and natural noises. I feel that this is typical of Blake's poetry, as appealing to as many senses as possible, a poem is able to be brought to life, and the reader is perhaps more likely to involve themselves with what is being written. Therefore, although there are similar threads which are drawn through the two poems, their subjects are too diverse to really be paralleled. One might at first think, because of the genre they both belong to, that they will follow an analogous pattern, but this is soon dissolved by their themes. Only the language used, especially that of nature, and the use of auditory imagery is alike, but I feel that it is through their disparity that one is able to appreciate the qualities of each. Elinor Llewellyn UVI JAD Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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