The Garden of Love
By William Blake
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
Summary of The Garden of Love
- Popularity of “The Garden of Love”: “The Garden of Love” by William Blake, one of the most popular English poets and authors, is a thoughtful poem. It was published in 1974 in his work, Song of Experience. The poem presents the speaker’s amazement over the change he witnesses in the Garden of love. It also sheds light on the constantly changing cycle of the world.The poem attains widespread popularity on account of its representation of a place that has lost its prime.
- “The Garden of Love”, As a Representative of Amazement: Written from a young man’s perspective, the poem highlights how everything changes over time. It begins with a happy note when the speaker enters a place he refers to as the Garden of Love. Perhaps he has spent quality time at that place and might have decided to visit the place keeping in mind the same joyous memories. However, to his surprise, the garden of love has lost its original appearance as the beautiful place has undergone a significant transformation. The chapel, where he used to play, is now closed and no one is allowed to write over the door. Therefore, he returns to the garden of love. He wonders how a place that once filled with sweet flowers is now occupied with graves, tombstones, and priests who are preparing a funeral with desires and joy.
- Major Themes in “The Garden of Love”: The changing nature of time, past versus present, and amazement are three major themes of the poem. The speaker introduces a place once the epitome of happiness and joy. He enters the place having the same exuberant memories. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm fades away when he sees that the site is no longer the same. From the chapel to flowery gardens, everything is now set to meet the current standards of the world. The place has lost its originality and actual colors. In fact, the people have altered this sacred and holy place to satisfy their needs and desires.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Garden of Love”
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /a/ and /o/ in “And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds” and again the sound of /o/ in “And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door.”
- Allegory: It is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures, and events. This is an allegoric poem that speaks about the altering nature of time.
- Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. Blake has repeated the word “and” in the last stanza of the poem to emphasize the point such as;
“And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds.”
- Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing or idea of a historical, cultural, political or literary significance. William Blake alludes to the Christian religion in the opening line of the poem such as “I went to the Garden of Love.”
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “were walking.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds” and the sound of /t/ in “And the gates of this Chapel were shut.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William Blake has used imagery in this poem such as “And I saw it was filled with graves”, “And tomb-stones where flowers should be,” and “A Chapel was built in the midst.”
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet has used this device in the opening lines of the poem, where it plays metaphorically represents youth such as “Where I used to play on the green.”
- Metonymy: Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one object or idea takes the place of another with which it has a close association. The poet has used this device in the last line of the first stanza such as; “Where I used to play on the green.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem uses symbols such as youth, past glories and the power of time.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Garden of Love”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- Diction and Tone: The poem shows descriptive diction but the tone is somewhat sad and nostalgic.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. William Blake has used rhyming words in the poem such as; “seen/green” and “door/bore.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern throughout the poem.
- Quatrain: A quatrain is a four lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is quatrain.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each having a same number of lines.
Quotes to be Used
These lines from the poem, “The Garden of Love” are useful to use while reminiscing the good memories.
“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.”