Earth raisd up her headFrom the darkness dread & drear.Her light fled:Stony dread!And her locks coverd with greydespair.Prisond on watry shoreStarry Jealousy does keep my denCold and hoarWeeping oerI hear the voice of the ancient men.Selfish father of men!Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!Can delight,Chained in night,The virgins of youth and morning bear?Does spring hide its joyWhen buds and blossoms grow?Does the sowerSow by night?Or the plowman in darkness plow?Break this heavy chainThat does freeze my bones around.Selfish! vain!Eternal bane!That free Love with bondage bound.•Alliteration•Metaphor/personification/Anthropomorphism•HyperboleThe repeated use of the „d‟ soundaccentuates the heavy, solemn tone– „head‟, „darkness‟, „dread‟, „drear‟,„fled‟, „cover‟d‟, „despair‟ – of theopening stanzaThe elaborate form ofpersonification in this poem, alongwith the imagery and itsassociations, allows Blake to expresscomplex metaphysical andtheological issues, of the Fall of Manfrom Grace and Good, in anapparently straightforward way.The figure of "Earth" here, might beloosely interpreted as therepresentative of Experience itself,but more widely as temporalphysical existence.
The five-line stanzas rhyme ABAAB. Themonosyllabic endings to the majority of linesthroughout the poem create a solemn tone.Lines 3 and 4 in each stanza read like half-lines, with two stresses per line. The need topause between lines slows and emphasisesthem. This intensifies the impression of sternlament.The rhyme scheme matches that of theIntroduction, providing a reply in form as wellas in content.
Earth - Earth is traditionally personified as female (as in the expression „Mother Earth‟) because theearth gives life to vegetation and produces food by which humankind lives. In Christian tradition,earth is connected to the physical existence of humans, since, according to the creation narrative inGenesis 2:7, Adam was made from the dust of the earth.Here, the earth‟s prone position and subjection to a male God‟s control would tally with the view ofmale / female relations in Blake‟s day. However, here the traditional warmth associated with„Mother Earth‟ has been reduced to darkness, coldness, greyness and stoniness. Instead of the hopeof new life, there is „despair‟.Instead of a reciprocal relationship with God, Earth seems resentful.Bondage – Terms of confinement echothrough the poem – „Prison‟d‟, „Chain‟d‟,„heavy chain‟, „bondage‟ and „bound‟. Thisreflects Earth‟s perspective that she isconfined to the darkness because God iswantonly cruel and selfishly fears what Earthmight achieve if released from his control.There is no recognition that the darkness andbondage is a consequence of human actions,over which God weeps. According toChristian understanding, it is human rebellionwhich has opened the way for death anddecay.Procreation – the Earth complains thatthe natural progress for the „virgins ofyouth‟ towards „free Love‟ is hinderedby the darkness. The images of naturecoming to fruition – „bud‟ turning into„blossom‟, seed being sown for aneventual harvest, after the land has been„plow[ed]‟ are symbolic of sexualactivity.
Our understanding of Earths Answer depends on how we interpret the questions posedby the Introduction (Experience) and the Bards motives for asking the Earth to return toGrace.If the Earth sees the "father of ancient men" as cruel, jealous and selfish then she is rightto turn away and attempt to remain free. However, because the Earth has fallen fromGrace, then perhaps she does not see the truth behind the Bards plea for her toreturn, and remains, as she sees it, a prisoner and victim of a jealous God.Earth replies to the bard‟s call from the “Introduction” by stating that Reason and the“Selfish father of men” have imprisoned her. She is chained in cold and darkness on the“watery shore,” the bounds of the materialistic world, which is mentioned in the“Introduction.” She seeks daylight, arguing that the creative forces of life such as springblossoms, the sower, and the plowman, can only bring life by daylight.She asks that the bard, or the reader, “break this heavy chain” that binds even “freeLove.” Rather than hide sex, which is natural to all creatures in the darkness of shame, itshould be openly celebrated and acknowledged as a gift from her creator.
How the human mind sees the nature of the worldand its creatorIn this poem, Earth believes she is the prisoner and victim ofa jealous God. According to Blake, this is a consequence of„the Fall‟. However, Blake‟s perspective on the Fall is not theconventional one. He believed that:• It results in people having a divided inner state• They project all their negative fears and instincts outwardinto an image of a tyrannical God• This image of God forbids the expression of human instinctsand emotions• Thus, their bodies become dead prisons to them rather thanmeans of communication and relationship with others andsource of pleasure.
This connects with Blake‟s opposition to JohnLocke. Blake believed that humans are essentiallyspiritual beings and that the body should be anexpression of a person‟s spiritual nature. Yet, hebelieves that people do not believe this. Theybelieve that their bodies are purely physical andthat reality consists solely in what can beunderstood via the senses. In this way their sensestrap them in a materialist approach to life and theyare unable to experience themselves, includingtheir bodies, as spiritual beings. This seems to bethe entrapment against which Earth protests.