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    • Join Date: Jun 2006
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    The School Boy - William Blake

    Nor sit in learning's bower,

    Worn through with the dreary shower.

    Can anyone explain in plain English these two sentences?

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 58

    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    i can think of two ways for interpreting the figure of a speech in the first verse. "learning's bower" can refer to "school". A "boy" would no longer like to go or "sit" in a school because of the "cruel eye" of his parents that replaces the joy of studying with dismay. however, this figure can refer not just to "school" but to every place where knowldege is pursued. in that broader sense, philosophically we can question the mentality formed wrongly which seizes or resricts knowledge quest in an institution "i.e. schools". parents always dream of their children having great future. And that "best fucture" is always regarded, according to their mentality, materialistically as an equal to money and thus joy which is achieved primarly through getting a paper, i.e. certificate, form an institution. in brief, spirituality is gone. so "dreary shower", that renders the "bower" worn, refer to such mentality which stole and stealing all the joy of learning because the ultimate goal is no longer exist.

  1. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
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    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    Can anyone explain in plain English these two sentences?
    They're not two sentences; they're not even one. Some more context would help.

    Without that, I'd guess that the poet is talking about people who do not (either - the first thing they don't do is in the context) take shelter from everyday life ['dreary shower'] in academic studies ['learning's bower'].

    Last edited by BobK; 30-Jan-2007 at 18:12. Reason: Add quote for context (because of rezaa's interpolation)

    • Join Date: Jan 2007
    • Posts: 29

    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    William Blake is a quite difficult read.

    I would think that the "bower" is a tree limb upon which the student is sitting.
    Since the line begins with "Nor" to truly understand the meaning one would need to know the previous line.

    "Worn through..." The student is sitting outside on a branch of a tree studying, while the rain tires or wears him out.

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    The boy is bemoaning having to sit in a classroom, studying, while there is all the wonderful summer world outside that he is missing. "Learning's bower" = classroom; "worn through with the weary shower" = tired of the learning he has to do.

  2. #6

    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    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 cares 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.

    Etymology 1
    Old English būr, from Germanic *būraz. Cognate with German Bauer ‘birdcage’, Swedish bur ‘cage’.



    bower (plural bowers)
    1. A large nest made of grass and bright objects, used by the bower bird during courtship displays.
    2. Shady shelter: a shady leafy shelter or recess in a garden or woods
    3. Woman's bedroom or apartments: a woman's bedroom or private apartments, especially in a medieval castle
    4. Picturesque cottage: a picturesque country cottage, especially one that is used as a retreat ( literary )
    Blake could be comparing the school to a birdcage as in the German translation, being couped up during the hot days of summer.
    'Worn thro' could be how he feels having to endure endless lessons being rained down on him.

    I needed the rest of the poem to get the right context.

    • Join Date: Mar 2010
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    Re: The School Boy - William Blake

    i am learning the school boy courrently, and my english teacher said that

    Nor sit in learning’s bower- means the child cant sit in a beautiful green grassy type shelter, but the use of "learning's bower" means that there is an expectation that learning should belong at peace, but as you know that the poem is about how school is negative

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