William Blake tells of the agony of a school boy, who prefers freedom, its accompanying romance with nature to the engagement and unnecessary restrictions of the school. This boy enjoys every other thing at summer, but school and its activities, he detests with passion. These are contained in the following lines of the poem:
I love to rise in summer morn
When the birds sing on every tree…
Arid the sky-lark sings with me
O! what sweet company.
Thus, what the school boy desires is not the high sounding grammar at school, or the restrictions by school authority, he enjoys the company of the huntsmen’s horn and the melodies of the birds. In contrast, the thought of school drives him crazy in summer. He argues;
“But to go to school if ì summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away”.
His summer joy is not only cut short by the thought of going to school, he dreads the cruel managers or handlers whose constant presence makes the little ones to be dismayed.
…To go to school in a summer morn
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay”.
In other words, the speaker and indeed other little children are not happy because their freedom has been restricted by the seeming cruelty of the school authority. Besides, the constant flow of grammar from the teacher seems to annoy him more as such makes no meaning to him. Instead he wants a lonely shade where he can learn from nature under the tree without restriction.
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning’s bower,
Worm thro’ with the dreary shower.
The concluding stanzas of the poem, specifically, the last two are suspense-filled due to the preponderance of rhetorical questions.
How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing…
How can a child…forget his youthful spring?
These lines show the boy’s resentment to his captivity at school. Then, turning to his parents, he asks them what will happen to a child who is deprived of the natural joy of childhood growth.
O! father and mother, if buds are nip’d,
…And if the tender plants are strip’d
Of their joy in the springing day?
The message being conveyed, thus, is this, if the happiness and the pleasures of one’s childhood are denied, how can such a child grow into a happy and better adult? How can success emanate from an unhappy and sorrowful background?