Blake begins this poem with a call to “Children of the future Age,” returning to the prophetic voice introduced in the “Introduction.” He wants these children, who presumably live in a better time, to understand that “in a former time,/Love! sweet Love! was thought a crime.” He then goes on to tell the story of such a love: “In the Age of Gold” where spring and summer reign, two youths meet in a “garden bright,” and play while their “Parents were afar.” These young people, who are presumably adolescents, based upon their next actions, grow “Tired with kisses sweet” and agree to rendezvous at night when everyone is asleep. The maiden returns home, but is struck with terror at her father’s “loving look.” The father asks his daughter, here identified as Ona, to speak to him. He is afraid for her, and his fear “shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair.”
This poem begins with a stanza composed of two rhyming couplets (AABB). The next six stanzas are five lines each and generally follow an AABBB rhyme scheme. The exception to this is the fifth stanza, which uses the same end rhyme for every line (AAAAA). This stanza is also the one in which the girl meets with her young lover. Before this moment, it had been anticipated, but Ona held herself back out of fear, but after this stanza, the girl runs to her father. The singleness of rhyme suggests a physical union between the two lovers, which precipitates the great distress of her father for the rest of the poem.
Implied by the father’s reaction is the belief that the budding love between the two youths is morally wrong. Coupled with his introductory stanza, the poem once again conveys Blake’s theme of free love as a spiritual ideal. The institution of marriage, to Blake’s mind a tool of organized religion, is a societal construct and therefore an impediment to true human nature. The innocent, natural love of the two young people is the real Love, but the father, trapped as he is in his archaic conservatism, cannot accept this truth. Blake’s prophetic voice offers the hope that one day his vision of “free Love” will be attained.