Theme and Summary of The Schoolboy 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 learning’s 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 nipped,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are stripped
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?
William Blake, regarded as an influential figure of the Romantic Age, was a 19th century writer, artist and a print maker. He has been deemed both a major poet and an original thinker. He was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 broad streets, in London. The Bible had an early, profound influence on Blake, and it would remain a lifetime source of inspiration, coloring his life and works with intense spirituality. He died on August 12, 1827.
Themes of writing: Opposition, Repression, Sexuality, Innocence and Experience, Religion, Imagination and so on.
The main theme and summary of the poem: In the poem ‘The Schoolboy’ the poet himself is a young boy, who is very joyful to get up early in the fresh and delightful summer morning. The chirping of the birds announces the day break. The boy gets entertained by the company of the hunter who blows his horn from a distance field and sweet songs of skylark. Our poet is very disappointed to attain the school in the sweet summer morning because he is very tired and even puzzled under the strict supervision of his teacher. Actually he wishes to enjoy the mirth of summer and he expresses that instead of enjoying the pleasures of summer, the child has to attend the school where every child wants to pass their days in boredom and dismay.
Then we can observe that the child expresses his extreme tiredness and so he sits drooping out in the sea of monotony. The child restrains the attack on him by the oppressive personality of the teacher and unnecessary lectures (shower of meaningless words) and his urge for unchecked freedom. Then the poet refers to a garden where the child can be taught in an interesting way, and only if nature accompanies him instead of the school teacher. Again, the poet compares a child with a bird. According to his view, a bird which is born cheerful and jovial can never sing sweet songs if caged. Similarly, a child if remained under the umbrella of annoying fear and tension, the skepticism of his teacher can never enjoy the natural instincts of joy and playfulness. Indeed a world full of rigid course of discipline will ruthlessly take away the beautiful springs (the childhood days) of a person’s life.
The boy complains to the highest authority, to father and mother, if a budding child is picked and swept of in the early stage of life in an ocean of sorrow, where there is no one to care for. If misery withers the tender plants the beautiful buds and the new born buds, summer can never be joyful. If care and concern rule over the plants, flowers, birds, such a summer will be dry and will bear no fruit. The child enquirers his parents as to how they can win back what mourn has destroyed. If the plants are withered due to the evil of grief, no fruit will be there in the season of autumn (mellowing year) this implies that if childhood pleasures and joys are suppressed and shortened one has to be very sure that the adult life will be utterly dry and unproductive.
Innocence is presented here as freedom from constraint and self-consciousness. The child starts out taking pleasure in an uninhibited life, full of trust in his world, both natural and human. The fragility of this state is clear from images like ‘blossoms’ and ‘tender plants.
In Blake’s work, parents are often perceived as inhibiting and repressing their children. Their own fears and shame are communicated to the next generation through the parental desire to ‘protect’ children from their desires. According to Blake, parents misuse ‘care’ to repress children, rather than setting the children free by rejoicing in, and safeguarding, their capacity for play and imagination.