Garden of Love
Blake is oriented towards playfulness and fun activities and the chapel symbolizes the opposite of Blake’s desires which is stillness and order.
The rhyme scheme of the first stanza is A-B-C-B. The use of figurative language along with the simple rhyme scheme combines to offer a soothing effect for the reader. Also, the repetition of “I” in the opening stanza encourages the reader to trust the poet’s point of view. “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. ”The tone gradually becomes darker because the experience of the poet’s life becomes more depressing with adulthood. The dark tone begins when the poet returned to the place where he used to play as a child. When he goes there, he notices that a chapel was built in the middle of his internal playground of happiness.
He understands that the carefree life he had when he was a child was now replaced by the rigidity of rules. This garden of love symbolized a place of merriment and liberty. As he gets older, he mentions that a chapel was built.This chapel represents all of the rules and regulations that the poet has to adhere to as an adult which takes away his freedom that he once felt as a minor. “I went to the Garden of Love… A chapel was built in the midst…” Blake figuratively speaks of the fact that he was not allowed in the chapel because of the strict laws, rules and regulations of religion – The Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not”. Disappointed, the poet decided to turn to another part of his internal Garden of Love where flowers once were. There, he hopes to feel a sense of happiness again.
The poet uses a symbol of flowers to represent joy, a feeling that he once felt in his youth. “… I turned to the Garden of Love That so many sweet flowers bore. ” In the last stanza of the poem, it seems as if all hope of happiness is lost for the poet. This happens when he got to the other part of the garden; it was filled with graves in a graveyard. These graves symbolize the disappointment that Blake felt as an adult. In the same place where innocence has bared its roots was the graveyard. This change highlights the theme: adults perceive the world differently from children.
His dreams that were once flourished full of imagination lay now under the weight of sadness and strict laws of society. The feeling of discontent arises because he wanted to obtain a sense of alleviation, but instead reality struck him. Also on the graves were tombstones which replaced the flowers. These represent death, surely as opposed to happiness. There were priests walking around in the poem, “And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds”, which symbolizes politics and those who enforce the law of religion. He feels all his childhood freedom and joy were taken away.This is depicted by the use of briars which literally are thorny stems.
Therefore, his dreams as a child were choked and could not come true anymore. “…and binding with briars my joys and desires. ” The mournful and somber tone of the poem brought about a sympathetic mood. It makes the readers feel sad for the writer because of the lack of happiness as an adult. The use of first person and symbolism were two techniques used that helped to make a powerful contrast of the experience of the writer’s childhood versus adulthood.