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(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 / London)

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The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And 'Thou shalt not,' writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Read poems about / on: green, love, joy, flower, sleep

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Comments about this poem (Broken Love by William Blake )

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  • Sara Zeo (10/10/2013 10:40:00 AM)

    In this poem The Garden of Love the poet talks about how mans aesthatic desires are restricted by the religon.

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Jack Growden (10/10/2013 4:08:00 AM)

    Feel free to read, rate and comment on my work. Thanks: http: //www.poemhunter.com/jack-growden-2/

  • Deci Hernandez (10/10/2012 3:16:00 PM)

    How difficult is it to love God but not hate our brothers? I understand William's struggle with being absolved by church orthodoxy or lack of orthodoxy.

  • Deci Hernandez (10/10/2012 3:16:00 PM)

    How difficult is it to love God but not hate our brothers? I understand William's struggle with being absolved by church orthodoxy or unorthodoxy.

  • Deci Hernandez (10/10/2012 3:15:00 PM)

    How difficult is it to love God but not hate our brothers? I understand William's struggle with being absolved by church orthodoxy or unorthodoxy.

  • Kevin Straw (10/10/2012 2:51:00 PM)

    The center of this poem is the river. I learn from Wikipedia that “Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life.” Love with a capital “L” is Venus, or a personification of love. The river is no longer flowing to give love because Love is absent from it, sleeping on its bank. Because the river is not flowing healthily a dank marsh has formed in which the rushes grow. The sound of weeping is for the absence of Love. “the thistles and thorns of the waste” are a personification of chastity – the implication of “beguiled” is that these plants should be part of Love’s domain, but were cheated into being hard Love-less chastity. Blake puts the blame for the absence of Love onto the priests who dig up Love’s flowers and replace them with the graves and tombstones of dead hearts. The priests have got from the wastes (v2, l2) briars with which they are binding even the Poet’s “joys and desires” – not only do they prevent desire, they spoil joy as well.

  • Abhishek Tiwari (10/10/2011 1:55:00 AM)

    'tombstones where the flowers should be'
    This I think is the filtrate of this poem..
    And of course it reminds me the garden of my school, where v played hide and seek, is now haughtily occupied by the temple of Godess Saraswati...
    The Godess of knowledge...
    So no place to hide,
    Forget Hide and Seek..
    : (
    I think this happens to one and all, in one way or the other...isn't it?

  • Abhishek Tiwari (10/10/2011 1:52:00 AM)

    'tombstones where the flowers should be'
    This I think is the filtrate of this poem..
    And of course it reminds me the garden of my school, where v played hide and seek, is now haughtily occupied by the temple of Godess Saraswati...
    The Godess of knowledge...
    So no place to hide,
    Forget Hide and Seek..
    : (
    I think this happens to one and all, in one way or the other...isn't it?

  • Ramesh T A (10/10/2009 2:42:00 AM)

    Indeed love lives in Nature but not in churches man made!

  • Michael Pruchnicki (10/10/2008 10:26:00 AM)

    William Blake was a poet, engraver, painter, and mystic. As such, his poem 'The Garden of Love' illustrates his belief that direct access to God is more important than any Church with its establishment and practices that tend to drive away the direct experience with God that he espouses.

    'The Garden' has been relegated to the wild heath with its dank weeds and rushes, the thistles and thorns of an unkempt wasteland-a garden gone to seed. A structure has been built where once a beautiful garden flourished, a place where God is seen in all His natural beauty. A place created by God's bounty! Now gates and doors keep out the faithful, and 'Thou shalt not' enjoy the bounty of creation, by laws enforced by 'priests in black gowns' who walk their daily rounds like watchmen to keep out trespassers! Now death reigns supreme as granite tombstones replace flower beds and thorny briars bind his joys and desires.

    Blake employed copperplate engravings and watercolors to illustrate his own work as well as that of the Book of Job and Dante's 'Divine Comedy.' He was well aware of the ravages of time, and his 'Songs of Experience' and 'Songs of Innocence' bear out his belief that man can transcend mortality with belief in the supernatural.

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