Laughing Song - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The limited vocabulary suggests the childlikeness of the narrator and the experience:

  • Laugh/laughing appears in each of the first six lines and again in the opening line of the third stanza
  • Note, too, the repetition of ‘merry', ‘sweet' and ‘green'

The apparent artlessness of such emphasis suggests the lack of sophistication of the speaker, building on the effect of the rhyming in stanza one. This limited vocabulary also emphasises the absence of awareness of any other emotion or experience.

The sexual associations of the cherry and the ‘sweet, round mouths' of the girls is set against the artlessness and simplicity of the vocabulary.

Investigating language and tone

  • Try replacing some of the repeated words with a variety of words of a similar meaning, getting rid of the repetition
    • Would the poem have the same tone?

Structure and versification

The metre is a mixture of anapaestic and iambic feet which seems to reflect the rhythms of laughter. The use of rhyming couplets suggests the simplicity and completeness of each thought. This simplicity is further underlined by the predictability of the rhyming. The impression of an artless child speaking is conveyed by the clumsiness of the rhyme in the second couplet of the first stanza – merry wit/noise of it.

A sense of breathless anticipation arises from the use of commas and build up of subordinate clauses, which mean that we have to wait until the penultimate line to arrive at the completion of the invitation.

Investigating structure and versification

  • How does Blake succeed in making you think this poem is spoken by a child?
    • Write out a prose version of the first stanza.
      • Does this sound equally as childlike?
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