“The Ecchoing Green” by William Blake

EcchoingGreen“The Ecchoing Green” is one of Blake’s poems contained in the Songs of Innocence, which I find a little strange because I see this as a poem about the cycle of life and death. For that reason, it seems like a subject that he would have addressed in the Songs of Experience.

The Ecchoing Green

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bell’s cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the Echoing Green.

Old John with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
‘Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls and boys,
In our youth time were seen
On the Echoing Green.’

Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brother,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening Green.

(Source: poemhunter.com)

I see the poem structured to represent the three stages of life. The first stanza represents childhood and includes imagery of the Sun rising, spring, birds, and playfulness. The second stanza is about maturity, where the older generation observes the young and remembers the innocence and joy of their early years.

Finally, the third stanza symbolizes death. Here we have imagery of the sun setting, of the games coming to an end. The metaphor of being “ready for rest” evokes a weariness with life, that one is preparing for the final sleep. Also, the symbol of the “darkening Green” conjures images of grass covering a grave and contrasts with the Ecchoing Green which is growing and echoes the lives of people who lived before us.

As with so many of Blake’s poems, they seem simple on the surface, but as you look closer, you discover a depth that is not always apparent. Feel free to share your thoughts and impressions. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Cheers!


Filed under Literature

8 responses to ““The Ecchoing Green” by William Blake

  1. Lovely, light poem. I usually find Blake more puzzling than this when I read something of his for the first time. It is written from the viewpoint of someone who is innocent. Today I took pictures of my rose bushes as an example of his proverb, ‘Exuberance Is Beauty’.

    • Stuff Jeff Reads

      Hi Margaret! I agree 100%. This is way more accessible than say “Book of Urizen.” Glad to hear your rose bushes are blooming and bringing beauty to your life. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Cheers!!

  2. John C. Weaver

    I take this poem from “The Songs of Innocence” at face value . . . simply conveying youthful innocence and fond memories by the elders of past fun times and present appreciation at watching the young at sport during a full day of mirth and happiness. Thank you for including the illustrations to Blake’s poems . . . I was not exposed to them in college when I read Blake’s poetry in my British Literature anthology.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The illustrations really play a big part in blake’s poems. They add to the text to help create the mental image. Cheers!

      • John C. Weaver

        Upon reading your other comments on other Blake poems, I do see cycles in this poem “The Echoing Green”. However, I see the very positive cycles of the different parts of a happy day and in a positive light, the cycle of the different stages of life. Also, I see the church bells, mentioned twice in the poem, giving the Church a positive connotation in the “Song of Innocence” as opposed to the rather dire outlook of the Church in the poems of the “Songs of Experience”.

      • You’re so right about how the church is portrayed in the various poems. Thanks for taking the time to comment.