In William Blake’s Garden of Love, published in 1794, the speaker shows thatfrom day one of any persons life, nothing remains uniform. That life is alwaysin a state of change, disarray, and inconsistency.
The speaker tries to do thisby bringing you to a state of being and realization of the church, nature, andsentimental meaning. He accomplishes this task thoroughly by using manydifferent poetic forms such as symbolism allusions and imagery. The speakersmain objective is to show lives inevitable changes. That life no matter how onemay remember, whether it be as a child, adult, or elder, that it will not remainconstant.
In Blake’s poem Garden of Love the speaker shows this by telling of alife experience. He tells of a Garden, beautiful and pure, “That so manysweet flowers bore;” (8), and how it was a place of sanctuary for him inhis youth. This allusion of his Garden of Love is that of Edenic imagery. He seehis garden as a place of peace, where nature, God, and him, are one; such as theGarden of Eden. By using this imagery he shows that even from day one of humanexistence, that things evolve and mutate.
That through individuals actions ofwhat they think may be virtuous and moral, may indeed be an act of devastationand destruction. As a result, the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Love becameextinct and untouchable for all. The speaker portrays this by stating, “Andbinding with briars my joys and desires” (12). The speaker feels that theequilibrium which existed between them and all that lived in the garden becamenothing but a memory. A retrospection of the way life used to be; a taboofeeling that used to breathe freely through their veins.
He continues his storyby telling of his expedition back to his garden later in life, only to find outthat his Garden of Love had “. . . tomb-stones where flowers should be:”(10), and that it had been taken over by the church. This visual and internalimage helps to, very straight forwardly, represent death. The death of hisfeelings, the death of his peaceful environment, the death of his, and others,lives.
This radical internal imagery remarkably aids in the feeling of pain andhurt that the speaker felt when he saw what had happened to his “Garden ofLove. ” Furthermore, the “flowers” are a form of female sexualimagery. The flowers now replaced with graves has a very brutal and harshconnotation. The symbolic meaning of loosing a loved one, or loved ones. Hislife is no longer filled with love, but with death.
Perhaps the death of hiswife, mother, of female friend. Whatever the case may be, the speaker has lostsomeone of great and dear importance to him, and no one is there for him, noteven the church. He states, “And the gates of this Chapel were shut,”(5), insinuating that the church had not helped or comforted him, but destroyedthis equilibrium of peace that used to be present in this environment. Inaddition, organized church did not help people of all types. It shows thatreligion is segregating, and only concerned with the well-being of itself, andnot others. In line (12), “And binding with briars my joys anddesires”, it has the allusion to Christ on the cross.
The briars, a thornyrose type bush, represents the crown of thorns worn on Christ head. That somehowChrist’s love was now turning to death, and he had no one to turn to, except hisGod, for comfort. Like the speaker, that found joy in his garden, he can nowonly seek the compassion of his own God, nature.