Critical Appreciation of the poem “Nurse’s Song”

Critical Appreciation 

Critical Appreciation of the poem “Nurse’s Song”

Introduction-

The ‘Nurse’s Song in the Song of Innocence is quite a simple poem in which the poet renders a conversational narration of the talk between the nurse and the playing children. The sheep and birds are, as usual, the stock participants in the enjoyment. As a guardian angel, the nurse prevails over the landscape observing the playing kids.

Development of Thought-

It is doubtful and hence an ambivalent question whether we can equate the nurse of “Nurse’s Song’ with the shepherd of ‘The Shepherd’ or Old John of ‘The Echoing Green’ In the latter cases, they never venture to cast a bridle either upon the sheep or on the children respectively. The Nurse views the juvenile sports and it brings tranquility to her heart. In the second stanza the nurse asks the children to stop playing and turn back home. But as she ventures to curb the freedom of the playing children, the children protest against the sortation on the ground that the creatures of nature have not returned to their dwelling place. The sheep and the birds are still there and as the sun has not fully set they can play till it is almost dark. And dramatically the curb is drawn back and the nurse becomes benevolent enough to let the children play and permits them to play until it is night and then they are to go to sleep. Having been allowed the liberty and freedom to play they shout with redoubled energy.

Shades of ‘Experience’

In ‘A Cradle Song’ the mother is weeping over her child. In some poems of Innocence there are disturbing hints of experience to come”,says A.M. Wilkinson. One of the fine examples we can quote to prove Wilkinson is the nurse of Nurse’s Song’. She cannot be blindly credited with the sacred position of a guardian angel because she exerts her authority over the children. But she is not yet despotic. She can be more or less said to be in a medium stage of the gradual metamorphosis of Blake’s poetic development from innocence to experience. This poem is one of the few that foreshadow the impending change into experience. But we must understand that she is not an exclusively strict disciplinarian.

The Nurse and the Children-

Though the nurse is not as generous as the ‘O’d folk’ or the shepherded who simply follows his flock she cannot refuse the request of the children to play more. True it is her duty to take the children home and protect them from the enclosing darkness. But the children are to be allowed to play until they are tired, satisfied and till the sun sets. The happiness of the children is overt and excessive and once again all the hills echoed.

Atmosphere of Innocence-

The playing children and the purely natural sights of the hillside furnish the atmosphere of innocence in the poem. Childhood is a period of innocence the sophisticated social set-up has not affected the children. Since they are free in their pursuit of joy they are pretty aloof from the mannerisms and divided aims of the world. They want to play and frisk amidst the greenery until they are tired and satisfied.

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