The Angel - Language, tone and structure

Language and tone

The speaker is introduced as lacking awareness in a variety of ways:

  • The opening rhetorical question shows she cannot – or does not wish to - understand what she has experienced
  • The description in stanza three, where ‘The morn blush'd rosy red', sounds like a standard line from any 18th century poem. It suggests the speaker is used to responding in stereotypical ways, not only in describing the dawn but also in her response to life
  • The repetition with difference in stanza two also highlights this unthinking, almost trite response
  • This is emphasised by the regular rhyming couplets.

Although the angel is seen as engaging with the speaker, the speaker retreats into concealment. The ultimate result of this is that the temporary ‘fleeing' of the angel is contrasted with the permanent ‘fleeing' in the closing stanza.

Investigating language and tone

  • What do you think Blake wishes us to understand about the dream which the speaker does not understand?

Structure and versification

The pattern of closed rhymed couplets is modified by the internal rhyme of the third line of the third stanza. It produces the effect of a caesura, giving emphasis to the arming of the fears and, therefore, preparing for the denouement in the final stanza.

The contained nature of the closed couplets is appropriate to the closed nature of the situation in the poem. The absence of real possibility for change which is evident in the content is reflected in the closed, finished nature of the couplets.

Investigating structure and versification

  • How would you answer someone who said that Blake was just adopting a literary form popular in his time in this poem?
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