“Spring” by William Blake

Spring01

I know it’s not spring yet, but this is next up in the Songs of Innocence, hence I read it.

Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Bird’s delight,
Day and night,
Nightingale,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,–
Merrily,
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

As is often the case with Blake’s poetry, it appears deceptively simple but in actuality it is quite complex. While this seems like a playful song celebrating spring, with music and joy, there is actually a much deeper symbolism hidden in the poem. The key is in the refrain: “Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.”

The question we need to ask is—why is Blake welcoming in the new year in spring? I suspect that he is drawing from astrological cycles. According to the zodiac, Aries is the first sign of the astrological cycle, which would place the new year celebration around the time of the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is also symbolic of rebirth after the cold death of winter. So taken together, we have the rebirth of life, the beginning of a new cosmic cycle, and the rebirth of the god and/or goddess (if we tie in resurrection mythology usually associated with that time of the year). That to me seems like a genuine new year as opposed to the rolling over of the Julian calendar.

Blake never ceases to fascinate me. I can’t think of another poet who can present such profound ideas in such whimsical lines of rhyme. He was a genius and an artist.

Spring02

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Literature

5 responses to ““Spring” by William Blake

  1. Great poem. Sure he meant the Aries ingress, why would he mention the lamb otherwise? We haven’t had any winter in Zurich this year, so I can imagine it is almost spring.

  2. You know there’s a Blake Tarot deck, right, Jeff? It’s here: http://www.blaketarot.com/ I worked with it for many years and it’s one of my favorite decks. It has one additional Trump card (Eternity). Wands are Poetry (Fire), Cups are Music (Water), Swords are Science (Air), and Pentacles/Disks/Coins are Painting (Earth).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s