William Blake Essay

1232 words - 5 pages

In his poem “Nurse’s Song,” which can be found both in Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence, William Blake uses a central female character to make a significant political and social point. These poems are different versions of the story of a nurse. In Songs of Innocence, that nurse is seen in one way, and the poem continues in Songs of Experience to show a significant change in the nurse. She begins as one who is wide-eyed and trusting of the world, but by the end, she has come to be quite jaded. In some respects, she has become tired and beaten down by the world. By using this character, Blake makes a statement about the difficulty of the movement for female rights. He argues through ...view middle of the document...

After all, this is the thing that makes revolutions possible in the first place. Following that particular passage, Blake writes about how the nurse allows the children to continue to play deep into the night, not worrying for their safety at all. What this can tell us is that at the beginning of a revolution, a person might be tempted to think that the world is fair. The children will not run into any trouble because, to the nurse, things work out the way that they should. Some might look at this as naïve, but Blake recognizes that this kind of childlike innocence is an important part of any revolution.
Blake does not simply stop with describing the nurse as a person who sees the world as inherently fair. In order to make his ultimate point, Blake has to show the development of that nurse from a person with naïve exuberance to a person who has been withered by experience. This is why, when the reader sees the nurse again in Songs of Experience, they see a completely different picture. Then, she is no longer willing to give the children a pass, and she no longer sees the children’s play as being a positive, innocent thing. Instead, in this particular poem, the nurse is one who has been hardened and withered by age and experience.
In the poem, Blake writes, “When the voices of children are heard on the green And whisp'rings are in the dale, The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, My face turns green and pale” (Blake). In this particular passage, one can see the nurse reflecting on her own experience. More important, however, is the way she remembers it. When she says that her face turns green and pale, she is discussing the reality that she becomes sick thinking about her childhood. This is a woman who has been broken down by her experiences. She is no longer able to enjoy the joy of childhood, even in the faces of the little children who are still without worry. Later, Blake makes this clear when he writes, “Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down, And the dews of night arise; Your spring & your day are wasted in play, And your winter and night in disguise” (Blake). Here, Blake shows a picture through the eyes of the nurse. The nurse believes that play is folly and that the world is a serious place. While in the beginning, she saw the play of children as being something sacred and happy, she later sees it as a distraction from some real purpose that...

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