This is the summoning of the maiden spring by the speaker to bring new life into the world. Here, the morn represents a new life for earth and nature. The world has just survived a brutal and vicious winter and is impatiently awaiting spring to share her seeds (pearls) across the land so that new life can be planted and nurtured to growth.
"We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat."
Summer is the season of celebration. The speaker is rejoicing in rapture at the high noon of the season and notes that noting of ecstasy is vacant or absent. Even the fierce "heat" that is referred to earlier in the poem is of no bother. This is a much different attitude the speaker now has compared to line 7 of the same poem (where protection from the summer sun was sought "beneath our thickest shades."
"Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load."
Autumn is fallen from grace and all innocence is lost. The hills of the earth have become "bleak" and Autumn is aware (experienced) of the inevitable approach of winter. In preparation for the death/frozen world, Autumn "fleas" from the earth, but leaves the fruit born during his harvest behind.
"He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep
The speaker here is wretched mariner, lost at sea and pleading for salvation from Winter, the "direful monster" responsible for his peril. No matter how hard he wails and begs, the tyrant and oppressive father (Winter) continues to ignore him and show no mercy. The mariner is a symbol for all humankind at the end of the cycle, gained with experience. The "yawning" is a reference to the dangers of a languished being.
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
The speaker is summoning the evening star, which is the planet Venus (the Goddess of Love) to bless the nighttime with her “torch of love.” There is a duo meaning to the night metaphor here: one is love (in particular, sex) and the other is the opposition between experience (day) and innocence (night). Returning to the night is darkness, the place of no knowledge or experience. However, the speaker still wishes the night to be lit with innocent passion in hopes to convince his lover to be taken.
He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.
The speaker here is a female, and she is retelling her loss of innocence (her loss of virginity) to a lover. This specific line in the poem is the specific moment of her capture and transitions from innocence to experience. Notice how the net is “silken” and the cage “golden.” Blake draws a specific comparison to the appeal of rich items, especially those worshipped in the church, when speaking to the theme of lost innocence and oppression.
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of the night,
Make weep the eyes of the day;
The speaker is battling with the idea that he is forced to live in a world of daytime, the symbol for the experienced where light and knowledge (reason and sensibility) are forced upon his existence. His imagination and creativity is “driven” from his mind under these oppressed conditions. But he raves on, determined that his inspiration will withstand the tyranny of light’s experience and “strike the ear of the night” when his innocence will permit him to articulate uninhibited. The speaker recognizes his own lunacy, but embraces it, believing his spirit will be victorious in overcoming the repression of the day and making it “weep” in defeat.
Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees
Whose ears have heard,
The Holy Word,
That walk’d among the ancient trees.
The opening stanza to “Hear the voice of the Bard” (the “Introduction to Songs of Experience”) can really not be shortened when analyzing. A beckoning to his readers, the bard (the speaker himself) places himself in opposition of the speaker of “The Holy Word” (God, or government). The poet is as omniscient as his adversary, seeing past, present, and future as well which is intended to paint an even-keeled argument from both speakers. The “ancient trees” in the last line is an allusion to the Garden of Eden. The speaker, like his reader, has survived the fall just the same, and understands the loss of innocence that has occurred. Unlike the rest of humankind however, our bard he is not to be silenced, challenging the father of oppression for “mighty control” over their listeners.
I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in,
The chapel here carries two meanings. On the one hand it is exactly as it reads, representative of religion, and Blake is condemning the opulence of the Christian church. A place that should serve as a refuge to the poor and needy instead presents itself as a lavish structure that is designed to keep the poor out. The second, and more bawdy and disguised image of the chapel is that of a woman’s vagina. The speaker of the poem uses the symbol of the church to represent his desire to love freely without guilt or remorse. Instead of being invited to “enter in” he is taught not to “dare,” which results in a vicious trespassing and contrite feeling of self-pity and shame at the end of the poem.
I strove to seize the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame,
But burst the Crystal Cabinet,
And like a Weeping Babe became—
This is the moment in this poem where the speaker, a lewd narcissist seeking erotic pleasures, falls from grace. After being captured into the cabinet himself, the speaker spends the first four stanzas attempting to make his moment of transcendence into a permanent state. The more aware he becomes of his preferred situation, the more his ego grows, until the point where he attempts to “seize” his object (his lover) with “ardor fierce and hands of flame.” The result to this action is an exile from the Crystal Cabinet, his heavenly domain, which also serves as a metaphor for the womb. Our speaker has fallen from grace and is born into the world of experience “a weeping babe.”
The Poems of William Blake Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Poems of William Blake is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I think the effect is that we can understand the poem on a metaphorical level even before we understand it on a literal level. The questions support the metaphysical ideas that Blake wants to illustrate without actually having to write them down....
There is a little iambic, some anapestic with stressed and unstressed syllables thrown in for some fun. The rhyme scheme also adds to a flow that gets the “sing song” vibe you are referring to. The rhymes are really all over the place like “dark”...
The Poems of William Blake study guide contains a biography of William Blake, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of select poems by William Blake.