Blake's "The Garden Of Love" Essay

989 words - 4 pages

At first glance, the poem, "The Garden of Love" may appear simplistic and even depressing Blake writes most often in regular rhythm, seemingly sticking to the rules, blunt observations on such subjects as tigers, lambs and roses. At first glance one might think it was supposed to be a dismal look on how we are much happier as naive children. "Tomb stones where flowers should be" could be thought to mean that tombstones are sad things for children. (line 10).The speaker of the poem tells of his visit to the Garden of Love and of the chapel that is now where he used to play as a child. Instead of welcoming him in, the chapel has 'Thou shalt not' of the Ten Commandments written over the door. At first glance you might think that "experience" or the loss of innocence has destroyed the garden as well, transforming the 'sweet flowers' to graves and tombstones. These tombstones and the flowers were always there, but simply not seen as negative things when the speaker was a child. But if one were to finish and move on, left with only these initial impressions, it would be a great pity not to have found the deeper meaning in this work.The secret to the poem lies in its second line. The speaker is talking about the change in how he now sees his surroundings, not a change in the garden itself. The poem marks the passage from childhood innocence to adult experience. There are strong elements of the passage from innocence to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Just as the biting of the apple interpreted as a sexual awakening, so is the speakers 'joys and desires' include the pleasures he is denied by the rules of morality set by the church. In another version of The Garden of Love , the poem begins with the narrator lying beside a river and listening to Love weep. This is the first indication the reader receives that Love is under attack. He then walks over to the "heath and wild", where the "thistles and thorns of the wild" tell him how they are "driven out" and made to be pure and innocent. These thorns and thistles represent Love's wild passions and desires that are compelled to be subdued.The gates of the chapel being shut symbolizes the fact that the church was separated from common society and tried to exclude the individual from building a relationship with God and gaining a personal understanding of God. The church was constantly telling society what they were not supposed to do and trying to dictate every aspect of their lives, which took joy out of many things in life. This further separated man from God. The last two lines, sum up what Blake saw as the threat of losing the 'joys and desires' of childhood innocence: unless we can...

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