Nurse's Song, (Innocence) William Blake: Summary & Analysis

In "Nurse's Song," William Blake crafts a charming and contemplative scene that juxtaposes the innocent joy of children's play with the nurturing guidance of a nurse. Through a rhythmic and lyrical composition, the poem conveys the harmonious coexistence of youthful exuberance and the comforting presence of an elder figure. By capturing the fleeting moments of carefree play and the nurturing embrace of the nurse, the poem reflects on the precious balance between innocence and responsibility.

Nurse's Song from Songs of Innocence

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.
‘‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away,
Till the morning appears in the skies.’’
‘‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep.’’
‘‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed.’’
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,
And all the hills echoed.

Critical Analysis

"Nurse's Song" by William Blake presents a tender and evocative portrayal of the interactions between children and their nurturing guardian. The poem is divided into two parts: the first stanza sets a serene scene of children's laughter on the green, while the second stanza captures a dialogue between the nurse and the children.

The opening stanza establishes the tranquil ambiance of children's laughter on the green and the peaceful resonance it brings. The nurse's heart finds solace in this joyful environment, creating a sense of unity and calmness. The imagery of "everything else is still" conveys a moment of quiet harmony amidst the exuberance.

The ensuing dialogue between the nurse and the children reveals a gentle interplay between responsibility and playfulness. The nurse's invitation to "come home" signifies her protective nature, while the children's insistence on continuing their play underscores their innocence and resistance to the encroaching night.

The poem concludes with the children leaping, shouting, and laughing, their joyful antics resonating through the hills. This imagery emphasizes the energy and enthusiasm of youth and adds a sense of vivid movement to the scene.

"Nurse's Song" encapsulates Blake's contemplation of the delicate balance between nurturing guidance and the free-spiritedness of childhood. It highlights the harmonious coexistence of these aspects, and ultimately, celebrates the purity of youthful joy.

Summary

"Nurse's Song" presents a serene scene of children's laughter on the green, juxtaposed with a dialogue between a nurse and the children. The poem captures the harmonious relationship between youthful playfulness and nurturing guidance. The nurse's invitation to return home and the children's desire to continue playing reflect the balance between responsibility and innocence. The poem culminates in the children's exuberant laughter, underscoring the vitality of youth and the nurturing environment.

Themes of the Poem

  • Innocence and Joy: The poem celebrates the purity and joy of children's laughter and play.
  • Nurturing Guidance: The poem explores the role of a nurturing figure, represented by the nurse, in providing a protective and caring environment.
  • Balance and Coexistence: The poem highlights the harmonious coexistence of youthful exuberance and responsible guidance.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Imagery: The poem employs vivid imagery to depict the scene of children's play and the nurse's presence.
  • Dialogue: The dialogue between the nurse and the children adds a conversational and interactive quality to the poem.
  • Rhythm and Rhyme: The poem's rhythmic structure and rhyme scheme contribute to its lyrical quality, enhancing its musicality.

Attitudes/Feelings

  • Joy and Playfulness: The poem conveys a sense of joy and playfulness through its depiction of children's laughter and lively antics.
  • Nurturing and Care: The nurse's invitation to return home reflects a sense of nurturing and care for the children's well-being.

Language

  • Descriptive Language: The poem uses descriptive language to vividly portray the children's laughter and the nurse's interaction with them.
  • Expressive Language: The dialogue between the nurse and the children adds an expressive and relatable dimension to the poem.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythm and Rhyme: The poem's rhythmic structure and consistent rhyme scheme contribute to its melodic and rhythmic quality.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration, such as "voices of children" and "leave off play," enhances the auditory quality of the poem.
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