The School Boy
by William Blake
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company.
But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn.
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour,
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learnings bower,
Worn thro' with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing.
How can a child when fears annoy.
But droop his tender wing.
And forget his youthful spring.
O! father & mother. if buds are nip'd,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip'd
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay.
How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear.
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year.
When the blasts of winter appear.
From : www.oldpoetry.com
The poem “ The School Boy” was written by William Blake, it is part of his “ Songs of Innocence” published in 1789.
In the poem the poet talks about a child that wakes up in the morning and all the hapiness he feels disapears when he realizes that he has to go to school.
The main theme is the sorrow that the boy feels having to go to school, when he wants to enjoy summer. He has the obligation to go to a close space, but he wants to go outside.
Another theme is nature, the freedom that it represents for the boy and the opression of the class. This repression is also represented by the boy´s parents who force him to go there.
It is written in first person, the word “I” is quite present in the poem and refers to Blake himself.
In my opinion, the author, William Blake, when he wrote the poem as an adult, he still remembered an experience of his childhood. He wrote the poem from a child´s viewpoint.
He wrote his child feelings in a summer morning and in a way, he complaint to his parents. Maybe, now he as an adult has voice and he uses it, because if you are a child everybody ignores you.
Taking into account that this book is written for children, Blake knows that children may feel in the same way as him and can help them.
According to the tone,the poem can be divided in three parts:
- 1st stanza, when the child wakes up and is happy
- 2nd and 3rd when he feels sorrows because he cannot enjoy
- the rest, it is a kind of claim directed to the reader in general or to his parents
So, the poem starts in a very positive way, but this only happens in the beginning. Then, it changes radically and the tone is very pesimistic. We are aware of the boy´s feelings, he passes from joy to sorrow.
The poem is structured in 6 stanzas, with 5 lines each one.
The rhyme is : 1st line with 3rd , and 2nd with 4th and 5th (ababb).The lines are no longer than 10 syllables, they vary between 6 to 10.
There are some key images present in the poem.
The first I have found and I think is central in the poem, is the image of the birds.Blake uses the bird as if it was the child himself. The birds sing happily when they are free, but if they are in a cage they cannot do it the same way. In the same way the boy feels, he is imprisoned at school.
Another image is the summer time, the boy sees summer as a way of being free, but instead of being outside, he is in a class. For him it is winter, because he cannot enjoy the good weather as nature does in summer.
This images serve to contrast the reality of the boy and his real desires.
There are also other features as the continuous contrast between outside-inside, summer-winter,joy-sorrow,...
Some exclamatios :O! Ah! that contribute to create the tone of sorrow of the boy.
And something important in the poem are the rethorical questions that are half of the poem. The boy aks those questions trying to get answers, because he does not understand why he has to go to school. He wants an answer or maybe a solution to it.
When I first read the poem I identified with the school boy, and I think that everyone can feel the same way. You get up in the morning and you are happy, but then you remember that you have to go to school and it is a very sad feeling like that.
You are not able to do what you want , you have to go to school, and there you don´t pay very much attention to the lessons.Time passes very slow and the class never ends.
And this feeling may be worst if the classes are in summer.
When this happens who do you blame for? Your parents, as the boy does.
So, in general this is a poem that can be read and understood easily, if you are a child or ever if you are older.