The unrecognised artist
During his lifetime he was hardly noticed as a poet, painter and graphic artist. Then he wrote a poem that looked like part of a play by William Shakespeare …
Blake was born on 28 November 1757 in Soho, London (England). It wasn’t until later that others would describe him as groundbreaking.
One of the books he is known for is “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” (1789). In this book, you can read the poem “The Blossom.”
About “The Blossom”
The poem seems to capture this cheerful spirit that is related to Spring. This is the moment when a new life starts. Nature seems to be recharged after Winter.
In this poem, Blake brings forward to the type of birds: a sparrow and a robin. The sparrow is satisfied with its life, while the robin doesn’t see all the beauty that comes with Spring. Some say that he wanted to use the metaphor of the two birds to show the duality in society at his time. During his life (1757 – 1827) he was greatly inspired by the French and American Revolutions. Could this poem be about such a revolution?
The ruling class of England at his time was content the way things were going. The sparrow is a metaphor for this social class. Many wanted to change things, based on the events that took place in France and the United States. The robin is a metaphor for those who wanted change.
There is also the possibility that Blake didn’t write this poem about those who did or didn’t want change. It might be possible that he wrote about sexuality. During the period he lived, explicit poetry wasn’t considered as normal or standard. Therefore he was forced to use metaphors. Still, even in modern times, poets who write about sexuality may use metaphors such as Blake used.
So, if this is a sexually related poem, what could he have meant by this? Maybe he wrote about the joy of sexual love. In this case, the sparrow seems to experience free love. The words swift as an arrow could point to certain aspects of the male body. The blossom or blossoms are parts of a female body.
It’s more difficult to determine who or what the robin is. Were these the conservative people? Were these members of the church? Or could it be the women, who weren’t treated the way they should and wanted change, at least when it concerned sexual love? If this is so, the robin isn’t content with the fact that the sparrow seems the only one who is enjoying him- or itself.
Based on other poems that are included in “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”, it’s likely that Blake did indeed write about free love.
Mind you, the collection is often referred to as “Songs of Innocence.” The right title should be “Song of Innocence and of Experience.”