The Garden Of Love

Without metaphor, our language and literature would be pale shadows of themselves.

For class, we had to “remediate” a metaphor, which was to manipulate an assigned text into a different media, and then present it in public. We were assigned William Blake’s poem “The Garden of Love” and chose to create an image to represent the metaphors we saw in the poem. Below is the poetry, and following that, the image, with the analysis below it.

The Garden of Love


I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
Garden of Love image

See the flower key below.

Key to flowers for “Garden of Love” remediation

Absinthe = absence

Acanthus = unbreakable bonds

Anemone = abandonment

Asphodel= my regrets will follow you to the grave

Bugloss = falsehood

Catch-fly = Snare

Cypress = Death or grief

Cherry Laurel = Perfidy

Madder = Calumny

Calendula = pain

Nettle – cruelty

Rhododendron = danger

White rose = innocence, silence

Sunflower = pride

Thistle = criticism

Weeping willow = bitter sorrow

There are multiple layers of meaning able to be drawn from Blake’s poem, which is an indictment not only of religion, but of the culture that allowed the chains to be drawn tight around them, and which preferred to ponder ghastly graves than flowers, lightness, and love. The use of a floral language, even if not directly referenced, is implicit in his use of the contrast between sweet flowers, and briars. In the presentation image, the flowers used to convey the sentiments of the poem are weedy, unbeautiful, or ephemeral: that is, not a flower you could pluck and add to a bouquet without it dying very quickly.

Blake himself, in the poem, uses language in a way meant to sway his audience toward him. Who could resist the idea of the idyllic child’s play on the green, romping in the sunshine? Then, from sweet flowers to tombstones, again, the natural draw is to life, joy, and the desires he so vividly describes as bound with briars. No child having grown up in the countryside playing outdoors and picking berries would be able to resist the memory of sweet juices hard-won with a little blood and tears from scratches. Blake, a master of this appeal, makes his audience recoil from a cultural constant, the weekly trip to a church, and perhaps, consider what they went to the church for, and why.