Summary and critical analysis of the poem “Laughing Song” by William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha ha he!’

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha ha he!’

“Laughing Song” is a poem by the English poet William Blake published in 1789 in his collection of poems Songs of Innocence. In this poem, the poet describes the merry-making natural things and urges the people to join him in singing songs in the appreciation of nature’s beauty. The lively picture of a landscape with every one of its animate and inanimate objects pulsating with life is tellingly drawn in the poem ‘Laughing Song’. The woods let out exaltations of joy and the stream runs (not simply flows!) and laughs, its waves resembling dimples of laughter. The air and the green hill laugh merrily and respond to the joviality. In the second stanza, the poet portrays the laughing meadow which is rich in greenery and even the insignificant grasshopper celebrates the scene, laughing merrily. This all-pervading happiness is further made symphonic with the laughing notes of three children – Mary, Susan and Emily. In the third stanza, the colourful birds are said to be laughing in the shade. Now that the rural air is overwhelming in its visual splendour the poet makes the occasion more gracious, inviting us to the ‘table with cherries and nuts’, to join him in singing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha, Ha, He!”


“Laughing Song” is a lyric poem, written in three stanzas of four-beat lines rhyming aabb. The imagery of the poem produces a lasting sensory impact upon the reader. The green woods and the glassy crystalline stream gliding, dimpling, through the valley, and the hills adorned with the rich array of greenery and the vast meadow, are all appealing to the eye. The panoramic painting of the lovely landscape is made sonorous with the laughing songs of innocent children. The word ‘laugh’ is to be underscored because it actually adds an audible sensation of joy to the visual impact of the scenery. The cherries and nuts arranged on a table is another delightful sight carrying us far back to the land of fairies, of a Keatsean island scenery of oozing beauty and Arcadian charm. The reader is invited to this scene of innocent beauty where there is complete abandonment to the mood of joy.

Also read; Summary and Critical analysis of the poem The Little Vagabond by William Blake

Also read; Summary and Critical analysis of “The Clod and the Pebble” by William Blake