A Cradle Song

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Illustrated "A Cradle Song" in William Blake's Songs of Innocence

"A Cradle Song" is a poem written by William Blake in 1789 being a part of his book Songs of Innocence. The poem is 32 lines long and is separated into 8 stanzas.

Background[edit]

William Blake, author of “A cradle song” was born in London on November 28, 1757.[1] Blake wrote a collection of poems that he put together naming the book “Songs of innocence.” Blake claims “…in a dream Robert (his brother) taught him the printing method that he used in Songs of Innocence and other “illuminated” works.”[1] "Songs of Innocence" includes poems about children and the clash between the corruption of the world and the innocence of the young child. He also uses his imagery throughout Songs of Innocence to give a deeper understanding of what his poetry is saying.

Paraphrase[edit]

In “a cradle song” the mother of the baby is singing to her child asking the infant to stay asleep. She sings asking that the child sleep through the night although she is crying. The mother sees Jesus while she looks in the face of her infant. When she sees the infant smiling she sees Jesus smiling on her and the world. As the poem is ending she states how heaven and earth are at peace and have harmony when she sees the baby's smile.

Analysis[edit]

A key theme in “A Cradle Song” would be the mother’s love for her child. The mother says the word “sweet” a total of ten times in the poem. She also makes the infant seem angelic by the way she describes the child.The mother claims she is “dovelike” which the dove is a symbol for holiness and love. This giving the reader a sense that the child is angelic. Another theme in the poem would be how she tries to tie the spiritual world with the physical. She does this by saying how she can trace His holy image on her baby. The mother tells the baby to sleep as she cries. This shows how the mother is aware of the sinful world her baby will grow up and eventually die. She claims how Jesus wept for all and wept for her. She has faith that her infant will be okay once she can no longer protect her but it still saddens her to not be able to protect her.“A Cradle Song” has a structure where each pair of lines rhyme. This makes this poem very easy to sing and sound graceful. This type of structure is called rhyming couplets. The visual that Blake drew for this poem is of a mother sitting over her infant while the baby is in her crib going to sleep. In the visual the mother’s full undivided attention is on her infant as the infant is smiling.

In music[edit]

Famous English composer Benjamin Britten wrote music to Blake's "A Cradle Song" in 1947.[2] Britten was said to have been inspired by Blake and throughout his career Britten wrote many songs to Blake’s poetry. His popularity grew more and more through these songs. There are famous artists that have claimed that they were inspired by William Blake and even some of them using his poems, creating their own music to it. Some of these artist include Bob Dylan, John Lennon and the Beatles, Bono and U2, Led Zeppelin and many more.[3] It was one of five poems set to music by Benjamin Britten in his A Charm of Lullabies [4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1] "Cradle Song." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
  2. ^ [2] "The Comprehensive Britten Song Database." A Cradle Song. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
  3. ^ Burch, Michael R. [3] "William Blake: Influence and References in Popular Culture." William Blake: Influence and References in Popular Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2015.
  4. ^ Benjamin Britten. University of California Press. January 1, 1970. p. 59. ISBN 9780520016798. Retrieved January 7, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Davies, Keri. [4] "Blake Set to Music." Zoamorphosis.com. N.p., 08 Aug. 2010. Web.
  • Snyder, Timothy. "A Cradle Song." JSTOR. N.p., Sept. 1995. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
  • [5]"Synopsis and Commentary." » Songs of Innocence and Experience Study Guide from Crossref-it.info. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
  • Vines, Timothy. [6] ANALYSIS OF WILLIAM BLAKE’S SONGS OF INNOCENCE (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
  • Whissell, Cynthia. [7] "Ammons Scientific - Perceptual and Motor Skills - 92(2):459 - PDF." Perceptual and Motor Skills. N.p., 2001. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.