In fairness,this has been the reading for my Yr 8 (age 12 & 13 English class – working on the principle that they tell me that they hate all poetry,so they might as well hate fantastic writing instead of the “written for children” stuff.
So, we have read this – it seems apposite on a beautiful May morning to look at a poem that says that school destroys all love of learning, damages the very roots of personal development and is of less value than time outdoors ,a view they had no problems identifying with. So we read the poem, we made storyboards, we produced power points on the life of William himself , they loved the fact that his wife was illiterate when they met and that she still spoke to his spirit on all business matters after his death.
To quote Ahmed (age12) aot the end of our project “William Blake – what’s not to like”!?
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O! what sweet company.
But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away;
Under a cruel eye outworn.
The little ones spend the day,
In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour,
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learnings bower,
Worn thro’ with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy,
Sit in a cage and sing.
How can a child when fears annoy.
But droop his tender wing.
And forget his youthful spring.
O! father & mother. if buds are nip’d,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are strip’d
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care’s dismay.
How shall the summer arise in joy.
Or the summer fruits appear.
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy
Or bless the mellowing year.
When the blasts of winter appear.