Comparison of “The Garden of Love” and “The Echoing Green”
This is a comparison of two poems by the poet William Blake. The first poem is called “The Echoing green” and is a poem from 1789, in a collection called “The Songs of Innocence”. The second poem is called “The Garden of Love” and is from 1794, from the collection called “Songs of Experience” In this assignment I will compare these two poems, focussing mostly on the mood.
The green tells us that the story takes place outside. The story is set in a village. The poem is set in the spring, which can be seen in this quote: “To welcome the spring”.
There are three stanzas in the first poem, with ten lines in each stanza.
This is the mood and atmosphere of “The echoing green”
In the first stanza the poem creates a certain atmosphere throughout the beginning of the poem: “The sun does arise, and make happy the skies”. Not only does it create a mood of spring by naturalistic elements, but it also contain a personification, when it comes to making the skies happy. We do know that skies of course cannot be happy; it contributes to creating a mood by metaphorical tools. Words as “cheerful”, “happy” and “sing” are also creating a mood. The word “sing” does not necessarily create a mood, though in this context it does.
In the second stanza, I find the mood rather nostalgic, but in a cheerful way, which can be seen in the last four lines when the elder people are looking back to when they were young and played on the echoing green. There is a contrast between “old John” and “youth-time”, which is a contrast between young and old.
In the third stanza the mood is more dark, but in a peaceful way. Words like “darkening”, “the sun does descend” indicates the fact that the mood is darker than the first two stanzas, which is due to the theme of the poem. In the first stanza, it was cheerful and about youth and therefore the beginning of life, while the third stanza, it is suddenly darkening, which can symbolize the end of life. Therefore, the whole poem is about the circle of life, from being young to growing old and die.
In “The Garden of Love” there are four stanzas, two with four lines, one with five lines and one with only one line.
In the other poem, “The Garden of Love”, the setting is exactly the same. This is the author’s purpose, because these two stories are more or less made for comparison, which I will interpret when I compare these two poems. That being said, the mood and atmosphere are completely different.
The first stanza is about a person who discovers that his beloved garden has been replaced with a chapel. Already in this stanza, the reader gets the feeling that it is something negative and melancholic. There is a chapel instead of the echoing green, which can be a symbol of death and despair. The fact that the person in the poem discovers that the echoing green is not there anymore, makes it even darker.
In the second stanza, the mood is more or less the same. There are still used words associated with negativity, to stress the mood of the poem. This is evident because the gates of the chapel were shut. If the gates were open, it would be less filled with sadness.
The third stanza is the darkest one, filled with religious words, to help creating a mood of melancholy. Words like “graves” makes the mood full of despair. Also, the fact that the flowers have been replaced with tombstones is a symbol of death replacing life, as flowers can be a symbol of life while tombstones can be a symbol of death. Also the black gowns can be a symbol of death, because black often is associated with something negative, in this case death. The priests in this stanza control the joys and desires of the person in the poem. This can be a symbol of the fact that his destiny is in the hands of others.
The green has obviously changed in many ways, from flowers to tombstones, and from focus on nature to focus on religion.
The titles in these poems do not reveal much of the context of the poems, in my opinion. For example, “The Garden of Love” does not sound like a garden full of death and religion, more like a garden full of life and positivity. The other title, “The echoing green” does not reveal much either, as the words does not contain any emotive words, like for example “love”.
There is no doubt the poems are partly made for comparison. The mood is darker in “The Garden of Love”, compared to “The echoing green”. The first poem can be seen as a symbol of the circle of life, with a peaceful ending. On the other hand, the second poem can be seen as a symbol of death. Religion becomes a symbol of death in the second poem. In the first poem, religion is hardly mentioned. The poems contradict each other, with themes such as life and death and happiness and despair. As mentioned before, the setting is almost the same in the two poems, which can make it easier to compare the poems.