Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Summary and Analysis of "Earth's Answer"

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Summary

Earth replies to the bard’s call from the “Introduction” by stating that Reason and the “Selfish father of men” have imprisoned her. She is chained in cold and darkness on the “watery shore,” the bounds of the materialistic world, which is mentioned in the “Introduction.” She seeks daylight, arguing that the creative forces of life such as spring blossoms, the sower, and the plowman, can only bring life by daylight. She asks that the bard, or the reader, “break this heavy chain” that binds even “free Love.” Rather than hide the act of sexual congress natural to all creatures in the darkness of shame, it should be openly celebrated and acknowledged as a gift from her creator.

Analysis

Blake subtly undermines the Bard’s voice by having the Earth reply that she is helpless to “rise up” on command. She needs the redemption brought by Love, which is both sexual and spiritual, for the two are not a dichotomy in Blake’s mind, to free her from her icy bonds. In fact, what is necessary is that those things normally relegated to the night, such as a lover's tryst, be brought into the daylight. Only then can Earth be restored to her primordial glory. Blake echoes the Garden of Eden account in Genesis, where the sin of knowledge of good and evil, and disobedience of God's command, led Adam and Eve to leave the noonday sun and hide themselves from their Creator's likely wrath.

In responding to the Bard, Earth places the responsibility for her own restoration on the Bard, and by extension, on all men, to break the chain of Jealousy and to free Love. Only then can she be free again.