can anyone help me with William Blakes The Spring !! I cant make head nor tail of it!
Here is a reply I sent to an earlier (equally puzzled) correspondent:
This poem is a lyrical (ie no tale in it) ode - my dictionary says that an ode is a poem
'of lofty tone, treating progressively one dignified theme, often in the form of an
address.' William Blake was, of course, one of the leading Romantic poets, along with
Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley etc.
'To Spring' is one of the 'Miscellaneous Poems' and is followed by odes to the other
three seasons. Others of the Romantics also addressed themselves to the Seasons -
Shelley in particular, Wordsworth, and of course Keats. The latter's most famous ode
'To Autumn' and Shelley's 'Ode to West Wind' are perhaps the best known.
So - in a dignified way, we hear Blake saying lots of nice things about the coming of
spring. looking forward to its coming. Everyone in the Great Britain ('our western isle'
alluding to its position in Europe) becomes like a choir which 'hails thy approach'. The
landscape ('hills and vallies') show their joy at this, the beginning of new life in nature.
Here we need to acknowledge the other three seasonal odes, for this is but part of the
annual cycle: our ancestors, after all, counted time by the seasons, much as Blake
begins his four poems with Spring.
Some of the poetic phrases used by Blake in addressing Spring, treating it much like a
person, should be noted:
'dewy locks' dew falls about now, in the early morning, and makes trees look like
' bright pavilions' two meanings of pavilion are: a canopy; and part of a brilliant-cut
'perfumed garments' plants put out fresh shoots, some early flowers
'morning .... breath' the breezes occurring at sunset/sunrise
'pearls' dew again?
'love-sick land' nature has been sleeping during winter, longs for renewal
- and the final stanza follows much that pattern, with all of Nature's wonderment at the
beginning of another year.
Hope this helps. It is quite important to see what pictures Blake included with his
poetry (he was an engraver). One website which includes examples (+ more?) is at
As an aside, Shelley's Ode to the West Wind is Shelley as prophet of revolution. Plenty of subtext there and if I were setting students a real piece of analytical work, Ode to the West Wind is the piece I would choose!