The Passsge From Innocence To Experience In Songs Of Innocence And Experience By William Blake

1525 words - 6 pages

The Passsge from Innocence to Experience in Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake

In this first essay, I will be dealing with poems from
William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. More
precisely, I shall be dealing with the Introduction from
Songs of Innocence, as well as its counterparts Introduction
from Songs of Experience and Earth's Answer. For my thesis,
I shall attempt to demonstrate how Blake used the symbols of
the Piper and the Bard to represent the states of innocence
and of experience, and how he passes from one state to the
next through the use of these symbols.

Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience are two
series of poems which complete one another. Each poem has a
counterpart in the opposite series. Many people tend to
misread or misinterpret these poems. In order to be able to
fully understand what Blake is saying, we must look at both
corresponding poems as one.

Let us examine the images of the Piper and the Bard.
The OED defines Bard as an "Ancient Celtic order of
minstrel-poets, whose primary function appears to have been
to compose and sing verses celebrating the achievements of
chiefs and warriors." In his poems, Blake's definition is
fundamentally the same, except that he utilizes the term to
mean someone "Who Present, Past, & Future sees". The Bard
is able to see through time and space. He is what Blake
defines as a Visionary. The Piper, on the other hand, is
not of this nature. He is a simple man who dwells in
innocence. He listens to the child he encounters without
thinking. In his mind, everyone is good, everyone is
honest. But while the Bard is living in a world of
experience, he sees without judging, he knows without
thinking. The Bard is at the highest level attainable by
humankind. He has returned to the perfect unity that was
before the creation of our fallen world. Therefore, he
lives in innocence. But a Bard he cannot be without
experience, because he is destined to tell the stories of
those from the past to the masses of the future. He cannot
be whole without combining both innocence and experience
within himself. No living being can exist solely in
innocence or experience. We necessarily must be a
combination of both.

In Introduction from Songs of Innocence, the Piper
"loses" his innocence, in a manner of speaking. The child
makes the Piper write his songs so "that all may read". In
doing so, he creates writing for the first time. Therefore,
he gains experience, in that he can educate others of his
songs, teach them to others, all the while, not having to
remember them all. It is not so much that he has lost his
innocence, as that he has gained experience.

Blake passes from the Piper in Songs of Innocence to
the Bard in Songs of Experience much in the same manner he
did with the Lamb and the Tyger. In the Songs of Innocence,
the Lamb is a powerful symbol of innocence. It is youth; it

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