The sun does arise,

This poem from William Blake is about as happy a poem as you could find – a jolly scene on a village green, somewhere in the English countryside where old people and young people are all enjoying themselves playing sports and games all day from sunrise to sunset. It is a poem which seems to come from that growing 18th century English sense of confidence and prosperity, stability and progress.

William Blake : The Echoing Green

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring.
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.

Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
‘Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls and boys,
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green.’

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mother
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

William Blake (1757-1827) P. 1789

From <;

It is a poem in three stanzas with a progression through time, almost like a linear narrative. The first stanza has the sun rise, the morning birdsong and the church bells calling the villagers to their sporting activities on the green. The second stanza must be around the middle of the day, with the old folk of the village led by Old John watching the youngsters play and recalling when they were young and playing on the green. The subliminal message is of the stable and continuing wellbeing of life in rural England. In the third stanza the sun goes down, it is the end of the day, the children are tired and go to rest seeking out their mothers before going to bed. The day is done and all is well with the world.

Happy days (but perhaps as Blake would have wished it rather than how it actually was).

The Poetry Dude


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