Nurses Song William Blake Innocence Analysis Essay

Nurse's Song (I) - Imagery, symbolism and themes

Imagery and symbolism

The green - Blake's symbolic village green has three, inter-linked aspects:

  • The colour green is associated with growth, fertility and spring
  • Village greens were places of play and freedom. They represented the importance of play and, therefore, of imagination in human life.
  • Village greens were not owned by anyone. They were common land. They, therefore, represented another kind of freedom - freedom from the rule or demands of a landowner or authority figure. They were the opposite of ‘chartered' towns which were under the authority of its officials.

Using this image emphasises the freedom and play which is at the centre of this poem and suggests, too, the inner freedom of the nurse. She seems in harmony with all that is growing and playful.

The Nurse - The image of the nurse is used to represent the caring and nurturing capacity within human beings. This can be used to protect the freedom of what is carefree, innocent and vulnerable. When this is so, the nurse or care-giver delights in their charge and has no desire to repress or rule. But this capacity can also be distorted into a desire to control what is carefree and vulnerable.

Fading light - Unlike The Ecchoing Green, the darkness appears much earlier in Nurse's Song. The children focus only on making the most of the daylight. However, the nurse is aware of the threat that lurks in darkness (‘the dews of night arise' seems unhealthy) and the need to be responsible in terms of the day to come. That the children desire to play as the light fades could symbolise their developing maturity and fading innocence. The Nurse's acquiescence can be variously interpreted as:

  • A wise realisation that the children need to learn to cope in the dark
  • Permission to play as long as possible is a way of extending her charges' innocence given the inevitability of darkness / experience
  • Her continuing pastoral care
  • An abdication of responsibility.

Investigating imagery and symbolism

  • In what ways do the associations with green reinforce the emphasis on growth and freedom in the children's play and nurse's response?
  • How do you interpret the Nurse's response in the final stanza?
  • In the light of this, how ‘dark' do you feel your reading of the poem should be?


The nature of authority

A central theme in Nurse's Song is the nature of authority and leadership, related to the theme of parental care. This nurse is someone who is with, but not in charge of, her children. Her care does not repress or restrict them; she responds to their needs for freedom and enjoys their capacity for play.

Childhood innocence

A secondary theme is the nature of childhood innocence. There is a positive representation of unselfconscious delight in freedom and play, suggesting the life of the imagination. However, the gathering gloom threatens to curtail innocent activities.

Investigating themes

  • Compare the portrayal of authority here with the rule of The Shepherd.

Nurse’s Song 1 and Nurse’s Song 2 by Blake Essay

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Nurse’s Song 1 and Nurse’s Song 2 by Blake

In looking at the poems Nurse’s Song 1 and Nurse’s Song 2, one has to look at the titles of the book in which they are in, the words themselves, and the etchings that go along with the poem. In the Nurse’s Song 1, the book that it is in is called Songs of Innocence. The title of the book shows to the reader that the narrator is writing from the point of view that she is watching children play, watching the innocence of the children in front of her. The second poem, Nurse’s Song 2, falls under the title Songs of Experience. In this poem, the narrator talks of the memories she has from her childhood.

In song one, the scenery is described in the very beginning of the poem. The narrator is…show more content…

The children want to stay outside and play because they are not tired, and they see all the other young animals playing as well. The poems ends with a comparison of the children to the animals: “The little ones leaped, shouted, and laughed, And all the hills echoed” (lines 15-16).

The sheep that they see act much like the children are acting. The sheep run, jump, and “baa” (or shout) when excited. This could be what is “echoed” in line 16. Or, since the children are in a valley, the hills could be echoing their laughter back down into the valley.

The second song has a much different feel to it, both in it’s etching, and in it’s verse. The picture that the verse is written on it not a bright as the first song. The greens are much darker, and the only blue is in the background of the two children, and above the title of the poem. The picture itself consists of three people, what seems like a boy sitting in the background, alone and concentrating on some sort of work, a young girl with a mischievous look on her face, and an older woman combing the young girls hair. The three are in a sort of door, the boy leaning against the frame, while the others are out in the sun. The

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