Earth's Answer, William Blake: Summary & Analysis

In "Earth's Answer," William Blake presents a passionate and rebellious response from the Earth itself, reflecting the tension between natural forces and oppressive forces that seek to control and suppress. Through vivid and symbolic language, the poem explores themes of liberation, resistance, and the struggle against societal constraints. The Earth's voice becomes a powerful symbol of defiance against the stifling forces of jealousy and selfishness.

Earth's Answer

Earth raised up her head
From the darkness dread and drear,
Her light fled,
Stony, dread,
And her locks covered with grey despair.

‘‘Prisoned on watery shore,
Starry jealousy does keep my den
Cold and hoar;
Weeping o’er,
I hear the father of the ancient men.

‘‘Selfish father of men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
Can delight,
Chained in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?

‘‘Does spring hide its joy,
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the plowman in darkness plough?

‘‘Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around!
Selfish, vain,
Eternal bane,
That free love with bondage bound.’’

Critical Analysis

"Earth's Answer" portrays the Earth's rebellion against oppressive forces and societal constraints, reflecting the theme of liberation and resistance. The poem's language and imagery convey the Earth's anguish and determination to break free from the "heavy chain" of selfishness and fear.

The Earth's emergence from "darkness dread and drear" symbolizes a defiance against suppression and stagnation. The use of "Starry jealousy" as a guardian keeping the Earth "Prisoned on watery shore" alludes to celestial forces that perpetuate a sense of imprisonment and despair.

The Earth's critique of the "selfish father of men" represents a rebuke against oppressive authority figures who perpetuate "cruel, jealous, selfish fear." The Earth's rhetorical questions challenge the notion of whether such fear can truly bring joy and liberation, especially for the "virgins of youth and morning."

The poem invokes natural cycles like spring, growth, and sowing to contrast the Earth's desire for freedom with the oppressive darkness of bondage. The imagery of spring's hidden joy and nocturnal sowing serves as metaphors for suppressed potential.

The final plea to "Break this heavy chain" and the denouncement of "Selfish, vain, Eternal bane" emphasize the Earth's yearning for freedom and love unburdened by oppressive constraints.

"Earth's Answer" emerges as a poignant expression of defiance and a call for liberation, depicting the Earth's determination to reclaim its inherent vitality and autonomy.


"Earth's Answer" portrays the Earth's rebellion against oppressive forces, symbolizing themes of resistance and liberation. The poem contrasts the Earth's vitality and yearning for freedom with the chains of fear and selfishness that bind it. The Earth's passionate plea for the breaking of these chains serves as an emblem of defiance and the quest for true liberation.

Themes of the Poem

  • Liberation and Resistance: The Earth's rebellion against oppression symbolizes the theme of seeking liberation and resisting constraints.
  • Oppression and Fear: The poem critiques the effects of selfishness, jealousy, and fear, which hinder growth and joy.
  • Natural Symbolism: Natural imagery and metaphors highlight the Earth's struggle and its desire for freedom.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Symbolic Imagery: The Earth's emergence, "starry jealousy," and the "heavy chain" serve as symbolic representations of oppression and defiance.
  • Rhetorical Questions: The Earth's questions challenge the legitimacy of fear and oppression, underscoring the theme of resistance.
  • Contrast and Juxtaposition: The poem contrasts the Earth's desire for freedom with the darkness of bondage and the constraints of fear.


  • Defiance and Liberation: The Earth's voice conveys a sense of defiance against oppressive forces and a yearning for liberation.
  • Rejection of Fear: The Earth's plea for freedom reflects a rejection of fear and selfishness as sources of true joy and fulfillment.


  • Emotive Language: The poem's language evokes strong emotions, expressing the Earth's anguish and determination to break free.
  • Rhetorical Language: Rhetorical questions and exclamatory statements add intensity to the Earth's defiance and resistance.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythmic Flow: The rhythmic flow of the poem's language adds emphasis to its emotional intensity and the Earth's voice of rebellion.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration, such as "Starry jealousy," adds auditory impact to the poem, underscoring its themes.
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    Feel free to explore more aspects of the poem or ask any questions you may have!
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