The Blossom

The Blossom
The poem written by William Blake isn’t listed in just any book or poetry collection. This is included in his masterpiece entitled "Songs of innocence and of experience" (1789). But what is the poem "The Blossom" really about?

The poem written by William Blake isn’t listed in just any book or poetry collection. This is included in his masterpiece entitled Songs of innocence and of experience (1789). But what is the poem The Blossom really about?


Oh, this is a wonderful time of year. Well, if you happen to live in the northern hemisphere of our planet. If you aren’t, then this time of year it’s autumn. In the northern hemisphere, it’s spring. Spring comes with all beautiful things to see and to explore. Related to spring are the blooming trees. Unfortunately, this period of blooming doesn’t take very long. Just a few weeks, then it’s over. This is a good time to share a poem about blossom.


The poem seems to capture this cheerful spirit that is related to Spring. This is the moment when new life starts. Nature seems to be recharged after a period of 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. There were also many who 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.

The Blossom

The Blossom

Merry, merry sparrow!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Sees you, swift as arrow
Seek your cradle narrow
Near my bosom
Pretty, pretty robin!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Hears you sobbing, sobbing
Pretty, pretty robin
Near my bosom

— William Blake


The original illustration of this poem is shown below. We decided to use an alternative version, since the version on this website is a low resolution scan of the original.

The Blossom
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy C, 1789, 1794 (Library of Congress): electronic edition object 10 (Bentley 11, Erdman 11, Keynes 11).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit

Photo credit: Harm Jagerman.

The Blossom
Article Name
The Blossom
What is this poem really about?
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs

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