I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And „Thou shalt not“ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore;
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briers my joys and desires.
The PProphetic Books are founded in the real world, as are Blake’s passions and anger, but they appear abstruse because they are ordered by a mythology devised by the poet, which draw from Swedenborg , Jacob Boehme , and other mystical sources. Despite this, and despite the fact that from childhood on Blake was a mystic who thought it quite natural to see and converse with angels and Old Testament prophets, he by no means forsook concrete reality for a mystical llife of the spirit. On the contrary, reality, whose center was human life, was for Blake inseparable from imagination. The spiritual, indeed God himself, was an expression of the human.
The scientific and technological progress of the 20-th century has allowed ppeople to overcome time and distance, to cover in the twinkle of an eye the vast expanse of our planet. The whole world is open now. The limits and frontiers of the previous period have stopped to exist. We can choose any place on the planet and go there on business or for holiday
William Blake once said, „as the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys“. His poem „The Garden of Love“ – written during the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the strengthening of the Church’s stranglehold over England – uses carefully-written, highly suggestive language to represent Blake’s views of the Church and its values in aan intense and compressed way. This language allows for a wide range of varied interpretations, all of which however revolve around a central theme of the Church’s assimilation into the lives of parishioners.
If we chart the mental path of the speaker through „The Garden of Love“, we can derive the central theme, from which we can extrapolate more precise meanings. From the poem, it can be seen that its speaker is not an innocent, happy-living child. They are portrayed aas an adult, wandering back the place where they used to play, their „Garden of Love“. They state that „it was filled with graves, and tomb-stones. binding with briars, my joys and desires.“ Only a mature man or woman, having personally experienced the truth and existence of mortality (death, simply put) can utter such disheartening words.
The sophistication or experience of the situation portrayed by the speaker gives the reader a sense of mental devastation and empathetical disbelief on behalf of the speaker. „So I turn’d to the Garden of Love, that so many sweet flowers bore, and I saw it was filled with graves“ is a great outcry and reminiscence of the speaker’s childhood experiences. You can even sense the speaker changing their attitude to the places they are witnessing by the way the poem is structured. In „the Garden of Love“ we enter with the same expectations as the Speaker, deceived by the title and relaxed with the positive images. But their horror becomes our horror; we are repulsed with them, and despair with them.
The first Stanza basically reveals what they see as they visit the Garden. All of the first stanza’s lines have 8 syllables; lines 2 aand 4 Rhyme. The second stanza gives us a sense that what they see is not pleasing to them. All of the second stanza’s lines have 8 syllables, still; lines 6 and 8 still do rhyme. As we get to the third stanza, which talks about their reaction to what they see, there is no consistency in the Rhythm, and the rhyming pattern switches to two internal rhymes in the last lines. This switching of modes reveals their rather disbelieving response to what had happened to the speaker’s Garden, and positions the reader to accept the foregrounded theme of an intruding Church.
The central theme of an intruding Church (with a prerequisite capital C) is further developed through the images presented in the poem. In the first stanza, Blake writes that a Chapel had been erected in the Garden of Love „where [the speaker] used to play in the green“. This image is symbolic of the church imposing itself into Blake’s – or on a larger scale the individual’s – private life of joys and desires. Blake continues in the second stanza to describe how the Church imposed itself into the private lives and joys of people. He writes that the „„gates of this Chapel were shut, and „Thou shalt not“ writ over the door.“ The gates of the chapel being shut symbolizes the fact that the Church was separated from the common man and tried to exclude the individual from building a personal relationship with God and gaining a personal understanding of God. The Church discouraged such a personal knowledge of God in Blake’s time, which taught that it alone dictated the will of God.
However, the Church made many rules that God had never intended in the Bible. That tendency of the Church brings Blake to the „Thou shalt not“ written over the door. The Church was constantly telling people what they were not supposed to do and trying to dictate every aspect of their lives, which took joy out of many things in life. In the third stanza we discover that all the flowers that used to be in the speaker’s Garden of Love had been replaced by tombstones. The flowers are symbols representative of the joys of life, and the tombstones are representative of the fact that the Church was killing the pleasures and passions of life with its rules.
Blake more bluntly states this idea in the last
two lines of the poem when his speaker says that they also found in the Garden of Love „Priests in black gowns. binding [their] joys and desires.“ It is significant that Blake chose to stress the colour black – a colour with connotations of death and joylessness – as being associated with the priests. It is also interesting to note that the ministers of the joy-oppression the speaker is faced with are represented as priests. Also, in the poem as aa whole it is significant that the joys and pleasures of life are represented by a garden and that the restrictions of the church are represented by a man-made structure. Clearly Blake sees the „garden“ of love as the natural state created by God and the restrictions on joy as man-made artifice.
With images such as this, and due to its apparent simplicity, „The Garden of Love“ presents itself as a trite image ...
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