Garden of Love Explication

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Bailey Krasovec
Garden of Love Explication

When considering the many works of William Blake, the poem “The Garden of Love” withstands to me as one of his best poems, and one that can be interpreted in a vast number of ways. After reading literary criticism on this poem, it was interesting how differently the author of the article critiques the piece, in comparison to how I myself had originally perceived it. In my opinion, William Blake is a poet of great complexity, who before his time had much to say about politics, society, and of course religion. “The Garden of Love” was always one of my favorites, because to me it symbolizes Blake’s questioning of the Christian church; grounds I feel many poets of the time were hesitant to step upon. In the last lines of this three-stanza poem, Blake goes on to describe the church, writing, “And I saw it was filled with graves/ And tomb- stones where flowers should be:/ And priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds, / And binding with briars, my joys & desires” (Blake). From the last stanza alone, Blake’s attitude on the church is evident. Earlier in the piece, he describes a church that has been erected in what he refers to as “The Garden of Love”. When speaking of this church, he does not perceive it as a joyous construction, but rather the dismal arrival of strict rules and unfriendliness. Blake mentions that the chapel doors are closed, indicating he may feel the church is an unwelcoming place, and goes on to speak about how lovely the flowers once were, where the church has now replaced the garden he speaks of. To me, the poem as a whole signifies symbolically that a beautiful earth, once green with life, has been disheartened, corrupted and taken over by the arrival of organized religion. Whether or not this poem is a deliberate stab at religion, reading the literary criticism on this particular poem made me consider it from an even heavier religious perspective. For instance, the criticism...
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