Summary of the poem The Echoing Green by William Blake which is a part of the syllabus of class 9 English for students studying under Nagaland Board of School Education: This is a joyful poem celebrating the advent of spring. The green fields, chirruping birds and playing children remind the elderly observers of their own childhood. Thus the season brings joy to all. The older people remember their youth, just as these children will someday be reminded of it by their own descendants. These children, too, in their old age will talk of their youth. The old man sitting under the oak tree in the green is a symbol of strength and security.
In the last stanza, the mood is melancholic where the “Echoing” green becomes the “darkening” green. Spring will always come, but it will eventually end. This symbolises that joy and vitality of the season will give way to coldness and gloominess of autumn and winter. Similarly, there will always be young people to celebrate their joy in this world, but every young child will one day grow into an adult like “Old John,” who must sit and remember his joyful youth.
1. In line 2, the skies are referred to as ‘happy’. What do you think this description means? Why would ‘happy’ be used to describe the skies?
Answer: It means that the children are happy due to good bright weather. The word happy is used to describe the sky is because of the clear bright sky.
2. Pick the words in stanza I that bring out the happiness that envelopes everything.
Answer: Happy, merry, sing, welcome, cheerful, sound.
3. In line 11, the speaker refers to ‘Old John’, an old man who remembers his own childhood. Do you think this is a real person?
Answer: Old John maybe a real person or a symbol representing old age, memories and nostalgia.
4. What are the ‘old folk’ doing?
Answer: The old folks are sitting beneath the shade of an oak tree watching the children playing on the green field and they laugh seeing children playing and those remind them of their own childhood days.
5. In the last stanza, what are the ‘little ones’ doing?
Answer: The little ones are getting ready to go to bed to rest since they are tired after playing for all these times like the birds return to their nests when they are tired at the sunset.
6. Contrast the mood of the last stanza with that in the earlier part of the poem.
Answer: The first part of the poem Echoing Green by William Blake expresses a brighter time where the children are full of energy, enjoying the best part of their lives and the weather is as perfect as it can be. Altogether it pictures a happy scene. It symbolises the youthful days.
In the second part, however, the bright day comes to an end, marking the approach of a gloomy time where the children are now tired and want to go to their houses. The best of the time has gone. It symbolises the conclusion of the youthful days.
7. To what are old age and youth being compared in this poem? Why?
Answer: Old age and youth are being compared to the morning and the evening of the day in this poem.
In the poem Echoing Green by William Blake, the youth is compared to the bright and comfortable morning of the day as, like the morning, youth is also the start of the long journey and it is a time of activities and energy. He compared the old age to the dark evening as, like the evening, old age is also the end of the journey and people are no longer full of energy but are tired.
8. Do you think the word ‘echo’ resonates with the mood of the scene? Give reasons.
Answer: Yes, the word ‘echo’ resonates with the mood of the scene.
The word ‘echo’ perfectly captures the essence of the scene as watching the children at play, old John and the folks under the Oak Tree gets nostalgic and start to think about their own childhood. They start reminiscing the stories of their own youths.
1. What is the setting for this poem?
Answer: The poem Echoing Green by William Blake is about the different contrasting phases of life that a person must experience one at a time. This is beautifully represented in the poem through the picture of a village field where both young and old people gather to play and talk and reminisce.
3. The poem follows the structure of a day- ‘the sun does arise’ at the beginning of the first verse, and ‘the sun does descend’ in the middle of the third stanza and can be read as a metaphor for human life. Explain this extended metaphor.
Answer: The rising sun symbolizes childhood or youth when everyone is happy and joyful. Sports represent activities that dominate the youthful days. The descending sun symbolises the inevitable conclusion of life and old age when everyone is tired and just want to go back home and sleep.
4. ‘On the echoing green’- is repeated twice in the poem. Why do you think it is repeated?
Answer: I think it is repeated twice to emphasize the never ending cycle of the same phases of life through the lives of different people at different points of time. It was repeated to show that whatever was happening, had already happened before, and would be happening again.
5. Blake’s idea was to portray the ‘rising and setting’ of human life amidst the colourful backdrop of Nature. Explain.
Answer: Blake started the poem with the mention of the rising sun, to denote the beginning of the day, or metaphorically, the beginning of life. The rising sun symbolizes childhood or youth, a time when everyone is happy and joyful. Even the nature and creatures of it appear to align with the merry mindedness of the phase of life while sports and activities dominate the phase. With the advent of twilight and darkness at the end of the day, Blake pictured the gloomy end of the day or life, when people are tired and old and all they want is to go back home and fall asleep.
Read the lines from the poem and answer the questions that follow.
1. The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush
Sing louder around
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.
a) What time of the year is this?
b) What time of the day is it?
c) Mention the two happy sounds.
d) Mention the rhyme scheme.
Answer: a) This is the time of spring.
b) It is the morning time.
c) The two happy sounds are the sounds of the singing birds and the ringing bells of the churches.
d) The rhyme scheme is aa, bb, cc.
2. Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
‘Such such were the joys
when we all girls and boys,
a) What is old John doing?
b) What is he watching?
c) What is he reminded of?
d) What is the tone/mood in these lines?
Answer: a) Old John along with other folks is sitting beneath the shade of an Oak tree.
b) He is watching the children playing.
c) He is reminded of his childhood days.
d) The tone/mood in these lines indicate joy.
3. Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend”
And our sports have an end.
a) What are the children doing?
b) What time of the day is it?
c) How has the mood changed?
d) What part of the cycle of life is it?
Answer: a) The children are tired and so they run to their mothers and fall to sleep on their laps.
b) It is the evening time.
c) The mood has changed to weariness or tiredness.
d) It refers to the old age.
Ron’e Dutta is the Co-Founder and Editor of Online Free Notes. He is a journalist, a blogger, a creative writer, and a teacher. He is currently writing his first thriller novel on time-travelling. Read the prologue of the novel here. Connect with him on social media.