The School Boy

The School Boy


  • *“The School Boy” is a poem from Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”.
  • It presents a young boy’s views on formal education, painting it as a form of restriction and lack of freedom for children.
  • Primary themes include nature, childhood, individual freedom, and institutional control.


  • School Boy: Represents the innocent joy of childhood.
  • The bird in the cage: Symbolises the confinement and entrapment of institutional control.
  • Natural imagery: Depicts youthful playfulness and learning through first-hand experiences.


  • Nature vs Institution: The poem juxtaposes the joys of nature’s freedom with the stifling environment of formal schooling.
  • Childhood: Blake emphasises the importance of a child’s own discoveries, portraying childhood as a time of wonder and exploration.
  • Individual Freedom: The poem champions the idea of individual freedom, that learning should be driven by curiosity not by imposed schedules and syllabi.


  • Visual Imagery: Illustrations of blooming flowers, singing birds, and learning in nature set the scene of freedom and natural learning.
  • Kinesthetic Imagery: The portrayal of the ‘drooping tender plant’ engaging the reader’s sense of movement, presentation of the children’s weariness in school.

Rhyme and Metre

  • “The School Boy” uses the AABB rhyme scheme giving it a rhythmic symmetry.
  • It is composed of six quatrains written in iambic pentameter, which is considered as the natural rhythm of English verse.


  • Understanding “The School Boy” can be enhanced by considering Blake’s broader oeuvre and his belief in freedom from institutional restrictions.
  • Blake was critical of traditional education methods and institutions, which he saw as inhibiting children’s natural growth, nurturing and development.
  • Contrary to the norms in the 18th century, Blake believed in a child-centred learning method where a child’s natural curiosity and freedom were allowed to thrive.

These points create the framework for a deep analysis and understanding of “The School Boy” by William Blake, giving a perspective on the innocence, freedom, and the natural curiosity of children as central themes in this piece.