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Songs of Innocence and of Experience

by William Blake

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In Songs of Innocence and Experience, how does the speaker describe the movements of the children in "The Nurse's Song"? Is this description ambivalent, and is the poem as a whole less innocent-sounding than some of the others? If so, why? What lines or phrases might lead us to that conclusion?

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This poem describes the movements of the children as they play in a way that emphasises their innocence and youthful joy. Note how after being told they need to come in, they protest, saying that as birds and sheep are still around frolicking in nature, they should be allowed to continue playing as well. The last two lines describe the manner in which they play:

The little ones leaped and shouted and laugh’d 
And all the hills ecchoed.

In a sense, this description presents the children as if they were sheep gambolling about in the fields or birds flying between trees, happy and playing innocently as they laugh and enjoy the last few moments of the fading day. So joyful is their noise that "all the hills" rang with the echoes of their happiness. The children are presented as being happy, and perhaps ignorant, of the fading of the day, and continuing to play regardless of the setting sun. 

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