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Innocence And Experience In William Blake's Literature

691 words - 3 pages

Innocence and Experience in William Blake's Literature
William Blake focused on biblical images in the majority of his poetry and prose. Much of his well-known work comes from the two compilations Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The poems in these compilations reflect Blake's metamorphosis in thought as he grew from innocent to experienced. An example of this metamorphosis is the two poems The Divine Image and A Divine Image. The former preceded the latter by one year.

Blake's poems of innocence and experience are a reflection of Heaven and Hell. The innocence in Blake's earlier poems represents the people who will get into Heaven. They do not feel the emotions of anger and jealousy Satan wants humans to feel to lure them to Hell. The poems of experience reflect those feelings. This is illustrated by comparing and contrasting A Divine Image to a portion of The Divine Image.

A Divine Image gives human characteristics to the feelings of cruelty, jealousy, terror, and secrecy. The poem begins, "Cruelty has a human heart." This implies cruelty is an innate part of humans. It resides deep in everyone, just waiting for the right moment to emerge. The poem continues, "And Jealousy a Human Face." Cruelty can be a product of jealousy. Jealousy is the driving force behind acts of violence in countless poetry and prose prior to and beyond Blake's writings. A good example comes from Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The Baron cut Belinda's hair out of desire for her, but Clarissa helped him complete the cruel task by providing the scissors. She did so out of jealousy because she was in love with the Baron.

The third line, "Terror, the Human Form Divine," represents the purest feeling of humanity. People want to believe in God, but no matter how much they want to believe the terror resides in...

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