The Ecchoing Green Summary

"The Ecchoing Green" by William Blake is a 1789 poem about the arrival of spring.

  • The first stanza describes the sunrise on a beautiful spring day. Birds sing, and children play on a country green.
  • The second stanza tells of the older folks who watch and reminisce contentedly.
  • The third stanza describes the sunset and the end of the children's play as the green darkens.

Summary

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 589

Introduction

“The Ecchoing Green” (written as “The Echoing Green” in some publications) was first published in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence in 1789 as one of a series of poems that Blake composed and illustrated with colored engravings. The poem is composed of three ten-line stanzas that mirror the phases...

(The entire section contains 589 words.)

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Introduction

“The Ecchoing Green” (written as “The Echoing Green” in some publications) was first published in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence in 1789 as one of a series of poems that Blake composed and illustrated with colored engravings. The poem is composed of three ten-line stanzas that mirror the phases of a spring day. Using bright imagery and language, as well as playful end-rhyme, “The Ecchoing Green” depicts a joyful day shared by generations both old and young. The poem addresses themes of youth, the passage of time, rebirth, and carefree joy.

Summary

The first stanza of Blake’s “The Ecchoing Green” sets the stage for the poem’s events. The poem opens with a description of the sunrise and signals the beginning of a new day: “The sun does arise, / And make happy the skies.” The arrival of morning is accompanied by “the merry bells [that] ring,” which have the further purpose of announcing the coming of spring. The whole world seems to be full of joy at the arrival of the season, as birds of all sorts (“The sky-lark and thrush, / The birds of the bush”) seem motivated and bolstered by the happy occasion and sing “louder” to “‘the bells’ cheerful sound.”

Amid this scene of celebration, the poem introduces a speaker, who uses the plural first-person, declaring, “Our sports shall be seen / On the Ecchoing Green.” The speaker in this poem doesn’t represent a single person but rather the collective of people who have gathered on the field to participate in the beautiful day. The titular “Ecchoing Green” is also capitalized in this stanza, signaling that this green is more than just a field that acts as the setting for the people in the poem, but rather is indeed a subject within this poem as well.

The second stanza of this poem takes on a sentimental, somewhat nostalgic tone, as the focus shifts from the liveliness of the birds and children’s play to the “old folk” who have also gathered on the Green and who are watching the young people play with a carefree and easygoing attitude. As they watch, they reminisce about their days as youths. Despite this moment of reflection, the poem maintains its bright and cheerful mood, as the older people watch the children less with a tone of longing than with a knowing fondness.

The poem mentions specifically a white-haired man called “Old John,” who sits under an oak tree with the other old folks and “laugh[s] away care.” Happily, and with a carefree manner, the older people all “laugh at [the children’s] play” and declare that “such were the joys” when they as children frolicked about “On the Ecchoing Green.”

The third and last stanza of the poem describes the setting of the sun and the end of the day. After a full day of activities, all who have come out to enjoy the beautiful spring day have worn themselves out and are getting ready to go home. The young children have enjoyed their sports until they have no more energy for excitement.

The sun sets, and the tired children return to “the laps of their mothers.” The birds, who had earlier sung along with the merry bells, are also preparing for the evening: “Many sisters and brothers, / Like birds in their nest, / Are ready for rest.” And finally, when there is no more celebration to be had and no more activity to observe (“And sport no more seen”), the evening sets in “On the darkening Green.”

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