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Songs Of Innocence And Songs Of Experience Demonstrate Both The Contrary States Of Innocence And Experience And Blake's Social Criticism.

3720 words - 15 pages

The "Romantic period" that spans from 1798 to 1822 is an era of great social and political upheaval, which characterized by industrialization and the French revolution. Following these two main phenomena many changes in the fields of economy, politics and religion were occurred and it became a major point of discussion by the romantic age poets like Wordsworth, Blake, Keats and Shelly. They brought out the negative consequences of urbanization, degradation of nature, exploitation, institutionalization and so forth. As a result of changing of the economic system from feudalism to capitalism, workers started to migrate to cities looking for jobs in factories. This caused inadequate wages, long hours of work under harsh disciplines, and the large-scale employment of women and children for tasks, which destroyed both the body and the spirit. Workers had no vote and there were no laws to prevent the factory owners from exploiting helpless workers. They were paid only a small wage, just to make them survive. Long hours of work, dirty dwelling, absence of facilities for recreation, led to gradual erosion of human values.William Blake who is recognized as one of the main poets of this era, addresses several phenomena of this period through his poetry. The poetry of William Blake is renowned for its critique of society and injustice as well as expressing strong religious influences. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience were written concerning the destiny of the human spirit and the differences between how children and adults look at a particular event in two different viewpoints. The poet stands outside of these viewpoints recommending neither and thus paving a way to readers to understand the realistic nature of society through contradiction. Songs of Innocence were originally engraved on illustrated plates in 1789. They were mostly joyful and sweet lyrics creating images of childhood in a happy natural setting. The titles "Laughing Song" and "Infant Joy" illustrate the tone; the children are angelic and are compared with lambs. However in most of these poems, Blake suggests that the innocent child is caught in an exploitative and harsh world that is beyond their understanding. In Songs of Experience, added in 1794, Blake takes a darker, sadder tone. These lyrics depict a world of sickness and tyranny. Children are poor and deprived of joy; love has become a type of bondage. Many of the Songs of Innocence have counterparts or 'contraries' in the Songs of Experience, the relationship is being indicated either by a common title, as with "Holy Thursday", "The Chimney Sweeper", and "Nurse's Song", or by contrasting titles as with "The Lamb" and "The Tyger", "The Divine Image" and the "Human Abstract", "Infant's Joy" and "Infant's Sorrow". As a poet who goes against dualistic viewpoint which governed two thousand five hundred years of Western thought that saw everything as composed of warring opposites, head and heart, human and non-human, life and...

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