What is the thematic preoccupation of The School Boy, by William Blake?
The popular message of this poem is a protest against one’s deprivation from nature. The school boy is in love with only the things of nature: the songs of the birds, the horns of huntsmen and the shade and serenity of “bowers”.
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 the boy is denied this company. He is deprived because he has to go to school. But on the contrary, the child does not want to go to school. He insists:
But to go to school in a summer morn
O! it drives all joy away
Under a cruel eye outworn
The lit-tie ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay
The boy, in his protest queries: How can the bird that is born for joy, Sit in cage and sing?
He is not happy to wallow in captivity. The school for him is a cage with restriction from teachers and school authority. Under restrictive environment, how can a joyful child express his freedom? In the light of this seeming restriction or deprivation from the very things he loves, he protests to his own parents:
O! father and mother, if buds are nip’d
And blossoms blown away
If tender plants are strip’d
Of their joy in the springing day,
How shall the summer arise in joy
Or the summer fruits appear?
The boy does not foresee a fruitful or successful future which does not spring from the background of joy and happiness which nature showers upon him. He is deprived of his love of nature through academic restrictions or school regulations.