A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘Spring’

Dr Oliver Tearle’s summary of a fine Blake poem

‘Spring’ is not one of William Blake’s most famous poems. The poem was first published in Blake’s 1789 collection Songs of Innocence. It’s a glorious celebration of the arrival of spring, exploring the harmony of man with the natural world and some of Blake’s more popular themes: childhood, innocence, and nature being three of the most prominent.


Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Bird’s delight,
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,—
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

‘Spring’ makes reference to some of Blake’s other poems in Songs of Experience, such as ‘The Little Boy Lost’ and ‘The Little Boy Found’ (‘Little boy’) and ‘The Lamb’ (‘Little lamb’), and the speaker sounds childlike, like the child william-blake-spring-poem-illustrationwho is the speaker of ‘The Lamb’. Many of the poems in Songs of Innocence are similarly childlike; the simple rhyme scheme and language of ‘Spring’ supports this aspect of the poem.

Not that the rhymes are too rigid, of course: ‘girl’ and ‘small’, ‘crow’ and ‘you’, ‘kiss’ and ‘face’. The poem is childlike but also, like many of Blake’s poems, songlike: it’s almost like a harking-back to that medieval song, ‘Sumer is icumen in’, celebrating the arrival of a different season, and indeed Blake’s ‘Spring’ has the feel of a medieval song or ‘round’ to it.

Everything is in communion with everything else in ‘Spring’: the sound of the flute with the song of the nightingale, the little girl and the little cockerel that both ‘crow’, and the ‘kiss’ that seals the child to the lamb. The human world and the rest of nature are in harmony.

In the last analysis, ‘Spring’ is one of Blake’s most accessible poems because its sentiment is one that will find an echo in every heart: the coming of spring and the beginning of a new year as a source of joy as all of nature seems to leap into new life.

Discover more of Blake’s poetry with our analysis of his poem ‘The Lamb’, his ‘The Garden of Love’, and our thoughts on his classic poem ‘Jerusalem’. If you’re looking for a good edition of Blake’s work, we recommend the affordable Oxford Selected Poetry (Oxford World’s Classics).

The author of this article, Dr Oliver Tearle, is a literary critic and lecturer in English at Loughborough University. He is the author of, among others, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History and The Great War, The Waste Land and the Modernist Long Poem.

Image: William Blake’s illustration for ‘Spring’ (from William Blake Archive), via Wikimedia Commons.

4 thoughts on “A Short Analysis of William Blake’s ‘Spring’”

    • Blake contrasted poems under the Innocence heading with contrary poems under Experience, but I can’t see a contrast for Spring. The poem was of course originally etched on a plate with illustrations. The picture here is of a mother with her baby, showing it the sheep and lambs. The second plate has the baby ‘pulling the soft wool’ of a lamb. Blake’s drawing is charming but quite crude compared to his later work. See, for example his superlative Job etchings.


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