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The Poetry Of William Blake Essay

2331 words - 9 pages

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, destructive.

Written in the time of the Romantic Movement, societies actions, hopes, fears and aspirations are all held within the poems in Blake's Songs.

This essay will explore Blake's background and how he came to write Songs.

Blake's influences will also be discussed, and how factors including the French Revolution helped shape his ideas.

Blake disliked the idea of dualism, and championed the individual. Blake's idealism and individualism feature heavily in Songs. It will be shown how Blake refuted dualism, how experience can prefigure innocence, and vice versa.

Some of the poems in Songs of Experience share the same title as in Songs of Innocence. This essay will also discuss Blake's ideas that the two states are complimentary, but also conflicting. Both states need each other; both are essential to one another. It will show how Songs of innocence and experience are related intra-textually. They echo ideas found in one another.

The relationship between Innocence and Experience will be explored through a few chosen poems taken from each state. It will be shown how Experience finally takes over and has its shattering say.

Five Key themes used by Blake in Songs of Innocence and Experience will be revealed and discussed.

It will be shown that the darker side to the symmetry of themes shown in experience highlights the fleeting nature of innocence.

Songs of Experience was written in 1794 and Songs of Innocence was written in 1789.

As a poet Blake was, quite remarkably, not blinded by conventions. He approached all his subjects seriously and with a mind unclouded by the accepted views of the day.

His political extremism soon escalated in the years preceding the French Revolution. He sympathised greatly with the actions of the French Revolutionaries.

Blake wrote his poetry in an era of social and political upheaval. The democratic ideas of the Revolution influenced Blake. He spoke in favour of the primacy of the individual and the imagination.

The core of his writing hinges upon the idea of individualism. He believed the individual should not be conformed by edicts of the church and state, a very unorthodox opinion for his time.

Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience contrast...

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