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The Garden Of Love

Rating: 3.6

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,
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COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Deci Hernandez 10 October 2012

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.

8 6 Reply
Kevin Straw 10 October 2012

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.

6 7 Reply
Abhishek Tiwari 10 October 2011

'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?

8 5 Reply
Valerie Sada 08 October 2008

Well, to me this poem seems to be giving an example of how as a child, the innocence of not knowing is so powerful that it blinds us from reality and we create what we want. He loved that place because he used to play there in the green. But now, as he went back, now mature, he is able to see the reality which he had never seen before. All along he was playing in a graveyard but he never came to see that until he was older and felt the deception. Hope it helps, it's just what i got from it.

8 4 Reply
Ramesh T A 10 October 2009

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

6 5 Reply
Solomon Senxer 13 September 2019

A depiction of false religion! When legalism takes over the Gospel! Wonderful poem from William Blake

2 0 Reply
* Sunprincess * 13 March 2016

............a wonderful poem with the most vivid and picturesque imagery....super amazing ?

2 2 Reply
Hans Vr 20 February 2015

Still today so many religious leaders suffer from the Thou shalt not- disease instead of preaching the huge message of love. Our world is craving for love, and still our leaders manage to destroy the wonderful garden of love that this world should be. Wonderful poem. I do not understand how the mean marks of this poem are anything lower a full 10

4 2 Reply

Does this mean Thou Shalt Not Love or was he disappointed with LOVE? or didn't find that place of happiness he so remembered?

2 2 Reply
Frank Avon 10 October 2014

One of Blake's most characteristic poems, not as well known as others, such as 'The Tyger' or 'The Lamb, ' but perhaps even more important as a statement of his values. One might infer from a first reading of this poem that Blake was anti-religion. In fact, he was intensely religious. His visions and visionary poems always proceeded from his faith, from very early childhood on. He was, indeed, anti-institutional. He felt that most institutional churches had become precisely the sort of legalistic bodies that Jesus himself spoke against so adamantly. The Chapel in this poem stands for such institutions, in which 'Thou shalt not' predominates over 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' The last two lines - longer than the others, with pronounced internal rhymes - may be one of Blake's most dramatic and engaging images: 'binding with briars my joys and desires.' As he says in another one of his well-known poems, 'The Divine Image, ' the truly godly values are 'mercy, pity, peace and love.' Personally, I wish that Blake's poems were taught in all churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious institutions as well as in schools and families. Even young children will enjoy hearing them read. This would be a good one to start with.

9 2 Reply