The Angel

The Angel

By William Blake

I dreamt a dream!  What can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne’er beguiled!

And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart’s delight.

So he took his wings, and fled;
Then the morn blushed rosy red.
I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again;
I was armed, he came in vain;
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head.

Summary of The Angel

  • Popularity of “The Angel”: Published in Blake’s collection Songs of Experience in 1794, “The Angel” is a thought-provoking poem. William Blake, an iconic English poet and writer, frames an angel in this short poem that appears in his dream throughout his life. It highlights the role of spirituality in one’s life. The poem has won immense popularity because it talks about the role of spirituality in one’s life.
  • “The Angel” As a Representative of Spirituality: This poem talks about the dream that the speaker dreamed throughout his life. In his dream, he appears as a maiden queen, and a guardian angel protects the queen all day. The poem’s first four lines depict the speaker in a state of perfect innocence the angel protects. However, sometimes, she pretends to be sad to get the angel’s attention but discovers that stupidity cannot seduce the angel’s guidance. In the second stanza, the speaker shares further characteristics of that angel who was there to protect her during her trying times.
    Being a good angel, he defended the queen from despair and hardships. However, there comes a time when the angel takes his wings and flees, leaving the dreamer confused. At this point, the dreamer realized that she has to protect herself, and she does so. She fought her battle and saved herself from all odds until, one day, the angel returned to the dreamer, but it was too late. The maiden queen has become a strong warrior, and now she does not need any protection. She has learned the art of fighting throughout her life.  
  • Major Themes in “The Angel”: The poem’s central themes are innocence, protection, transition, and change. The poem presents the speaker as a dreamer who dreams of being a woman, implying she is innocent, weak and afraid of the world. So, God sent His light, His angel, to protect her from the troubles. Through this poem, the speaker paints the role of religion in man’s life. It rather suggests that when we feel dejected or sad, we should turn toward God. The constant protection of angels shows God’s love and care for His people. However, the angel’s disappearance signifies the transition in man’s life. It shows that we need support and protection when we enter adulthood, but once we mature, we do not need others to protect us. Instead, we are full of judgments and experiments, and others’ interference often offends us. It also shows how sometimes man distances himself from religion when he gets emotionally and physically strong.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Angel

William Blake used various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices are analyzed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?” and the sound of /o/ in “Then the morn blushed rosy red.”
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. William repeated the word “and” in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point, such as;

“And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart’s delight.”

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t/ in “With ten thousand shields and spears.”
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten thousand shields and spears.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William Blake used imagery in this poem, such as; “And he wiped my tears away,”, “I dried my tears, and armed my fears” and “Soon my Angel came again.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet uses spirituality as an extended metaphor to show how religion extends its support toward the dismal souls.
  3. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. William Blake posed rhetorical questions in the opening line of the poem, such as, “I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?”
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as sadness, religion, help, protection, and empowerment.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Angel

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows descriptive simple, and poetic diction.
  2. End Rhyme: The end Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. William Blake used end rhyme in this poem, such as; “day/away” “night/delight” and “fled/red.”
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is quatrain.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an AABB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
  5. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem, with each comprising four lines.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to comment on the dual nature of mankind. These lines best describe how sometimes people fake their emotions.

“And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart’s delight.”