The Poetry of William Blake

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This essay will aim to show the relationship between Innocence and Experience in William Blake's Songs.

Both Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence serve as a mirror Blake held up to society, the Songs of Experience being the darker side of the mirror.

Blake's Songs show two imaginative realms: The two sides to the human soul that are the states of Innocence and Experience. The two states serve as different ways of seeing.

The world of innocence as Northrop Frye saw it encapsulated the unfallen world, the unified self, integration with nature, time in harmony with rhythm of human existence.

Frye saw the world of Experience as a fallen world, with the fragmented and divided self, with total alienation with nature,
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The poem "The Lamb" begins with the question "Who made thee?" The speaker is a child asking of the lamb's genesis. The child begins to answer the questions in a riddle; he who "Calls himself a lamb" is meek and mild like a lamb.

The child's innocence is highlighted with the question "Who made thee?" it is quite a straightforward question to ask. Yet at the same time the child is also asking questions adults have asked throughout time about our origins. Even though the poem is straightforward in style, because the child answers his own questions, a sense of perceptiveness is added, a foreshadowing of experience. Overall, however, the poem is quite one sided with Blake showing only the positive aspects of the Christian tenet.

The Songs of Experience are much darker in tone. The poems point towards an austere reality, a bleaker view of creation itself.

The poetry here is a lot more pessimistic and angry. The state of Innocence has progressed towards this state of Experience, where upheaval and menace lurks.

Blake's vision is dialectical; the states of Innocence and Experience are interrelated. Blake argues that experience is not better or indeed more preferable to the state of innocence.

Possibly Blake's most famous poem, entitled "The Tyger", dominates Songs of Experience. The Tiger is seen to be a mixture of the striking and the perilous and a stark contrast to the vision of the lamb in Innocence. The Tiger exudes a raw sexual energy.

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