The poem in Songs of Innocence tells the tale of a Nurse who, we are to assume, is looking over some children playing in a field. When she tries to call them in, they protest, claiming that it is still light and therefore there is still time to play. The poem fits in with the theme of innocence, as it makes no mention of the negative aspects of playing outside; the children are oblivious to the dangers of playing outside late at night that would be considered in a modern society. The language uses various images associated with children's playing and imagination. The Nurse is of a jovial and warmhearted nature, as she allows the children to continue with their games, with no thought for the wider consequences.
The poem in Songs of Experience is a bitter and remorseful tale. The poem portrays the Nurse in a different light: she is bitter and jealous of the innocence that the children possess. Blake may be trying to portray the Nurse as a woman crushed by the weight of the world and turned bitter and cruel, no longer able to see the positive aspects of life. The language reflects her bitter nature, for example, "my face turns green and pale" and "wasted in play".
Texts on Wikisource:
- Nurse's Song (Songs of Innocence)
- Nurse's Song (Songs of Experience)
- When the voices of children are heard on the green, First draft of Nurse's Song (Blake, 1794) from Notebook