Tag Archive: Earth’s Answer


songsie.n.p1-29.100

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience are dichotomized into two categories: one of the newness of childhood and another that is tainted by the perils of misery. However, although the poems differ in form and attitude, there are also parallels and threads that beg to be analyzed by the reader.

The poem EARTH’s Answer. from the Songs of Experience contrasts the poem The Lamb from the Songs of Innocence for obvious reasons. The Earth’s Answer is a poem that personifies the Earth as a divine (feminine) character. Whereas, The Lamb is a poem that is about an innocent child, a male character, talking to a male character (if we will call the Christian God male). The Lamb is also devout to God and blessed by him: “Little Lamb God bless thee”. Earth’s Answer has a more resentful tone stating: “I hear the Father of the ancient men/ Selfish father of men/ Cruel jealous selfish fear”.

Both poems can be comparable because they both deal with entrapment. In Earth’s answer the bondage that the Earth experiences is more apparent as she is: “chain’d in night” and “her locks covered with grey despair”. The bondage in the Songs of Experience is due to the condition of mankind that needs to help her break the chains of their selfish fear that denies free love. In The Lamb, the bondage is less apparent. The entrapment in this sense is apparent by the inquiry of the voice (the boy) asking the lamb (but not really asking since he knows the answer) who “gave thee life & bid thee feed” and “gave thee clothing of delight”. The Boy asking The Lamb who has done all of this for him takes on an expectation of forced gratitude from the lamb that owes everything to God. In a way, to be forced to be grateful itself is an act of control over an individual. In this way the lamb is also being imprisoned by God himself.

-Beyanira Bautista

 

Advertisements

And the EARTH said, “No”

The Introduction

The Ancient Bard’s call to Earth to “Turn away no more” is an attempt to reverse all of the wrongs occurring while the Earth continues to orbit. This prophetic call from the Ancient Bard (presumably Blake) lays the groundwork for a greater foundation for the fact that Blake may actually be grasping at straws to attempt to correct the wrongs of the world–and he realizes this.

The Bard makes the request to the Earth in what would appear to be a question, but the punctuation terminating the statement renders it a command–“Why wilt thou turn away/ The starry floor/ The watry shore/ Is given thee till the break of day.” The Earth then interprets this as a call from a “Father of ancient men/ Selfish father of men”–the commanding father of the Ten Commandments. Blake’s Bard makes a request to basically stop nature, to do something unnatural in order to halt what appears to be a paradoxical nature (“In a rich and fruitful land,/Babes reduced to misery”). Blake recognizes these unnatural instances and wishes to put an end to them–to erase the class boundaries and the frames that “does freeze…bones around/Selfish! vain!”

However this is where Blake begins to waiver, and I believe that he himself recognizes his inability as a man and a poet to reverse the natural order. Blake’s request–originally framed as a question–is left ambiguously due to what appears to be faulty punctuation. He, as a poet, is unable to produce the request that would stop the Earth, stop nature, and ultimately cure all of the problems (we think…Blake thinks). The last stanza of the Introduction is the most powerful, but Blake cannot muster up the poetic power to produce it fully and ultimately fails in his mission as the Ancient Bard.

It seems that only divine intervention will be able to reverse the natural order–to stop the Earth from turning. In one sense, I feel that Blake recognizes this and attempts to channel some form of power through the Poetic Genius, which comes from the Divine. But he ultimately fails because it is channeled through a mortal man. Blake sees this in his placement of the period as the closing punctuation mark to his statement: he recognizes his limits as a mortal being and sees that he is bound to the natural order; that being a creation of nature, he cannot rebel against what created him.