AD's English Literature : Analyzing William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Analyzing William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794)




 “An honesty against which the whole world conspires because it is unpleasant.” -T. S. Eliot

William Blake was hardly known in his life time though he was most original, strongly individualistic, and mostly a solitary figure. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, through his edition of Blake’s poems, brought him to public attention. In fact, Blake was a genius who distinguished himself in poetry, engraving and painting. He lived in London unlike many other poets who lived in the countryside. He had little formal education, but he taught himself. He was teepee in the Bible, Elizabethan literature and Milton. He knew many language including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French and Italian.


Blake was a man of vision who saw ultimate truth at moments of great illumination. Vision is for him the great secret of life. His endive work poetry or panting is an attempt to develop this faculty of vision so that man seems to understand and thereby forgive and at righty. 


William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) are his best-known works of poetry and have had a lasting influence on children’s literature. Blake’s Songs of Innocence (1789) Created through a new process called illuminated painting are examples of originality. He equated his extreme sense of freedom and happiness to the condition of childhood. In these poems, he says that childhood is the original state of happiness, ultimate enjoyment and unity. Some Songs, such as the “Introduction” and “The Lamb,” explore the innocence of children’s understanding of God and the natural world. In his Songs of Experience (1794) he expresses his deep indignation at the hypocrisy and cruelly in the world. In the marriage of Heaven and Hell he affirms the re-integration of the human soul divided by Innocence (Heaven) and Experience. For example, “The Chimney Sweeper” and “The Garden of Love,” reveal the hardships both children and adults must confront in the unsheltered world of “experience.” 


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     
     2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
      3. Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults

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