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Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789)

by William Blake

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My copy of William Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' features Blake's original plates on one page and his poems typed out on the other. The pictures are strange, ornate, exquisite and the poems are poignant and beautiful, about children and nature, the Chimney Sweeper and the Echoing Green. More famous poems appear in the Songs of Experience, The Sick Rose and the Tyger. The work is visionary and shows sensitivity, depth and a great social conscience. ( )
  AmiloFinn | Jun 14, 2015 |
Songs of Innocence and of Experience remains a favorite of mine. The concept is brilliant-- illustrated poetry. Blake paints a beautiful picture with the poem woven into it. The words are so small I'm not sure how he actually got them on there. I told my daughter she should try to do a painting "Blake-style" with a poem woven into the picture.

Some of my favorite Blake poems are found in this collection: "The Lamb" and "The Tiger." But I read some new ones that I also really enjoyed. The first half of the book contains the Songs of Innocence and the poems reflect that theme with sweet poems of God and children and Shepherds, etc. Many of these poems in the Songs of Innocence seem like lullabies.

The second half contains the Songs of Experience, with more emphasis on pain, poverty, and sin. The cover picture for Songs of Experience is a picture of someone dead on their bed. It sets the tone for the whole last part. Is the first part like the Garden of Eden—Innocence, and Experience--post Garden? The title is Songs of Innocence and Of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. So is that contrasting good and evil? Here are some examples of his criticism.

Holy Thursday was pointed, “Is this a holy thing to see,/In a rich and fruitful land,/Babes reduced to misery,/ Fed with cold and usurious hand?” This was critical of children in poverty.

The poem Garden of Love, I found very critical of the church. The garden had a church built there and it was now filled with tombstones instead of flowers; and priests in black robes were binding with briars. Where he used to play was no longer a garden of love!

London was very critical of the city. Phrases like “Harlot’s curse” “blood down palace walls” “marriage hearse” “Infants cry” etc. really paints a bleak picture of the city. ( )
  heidip | Mar 16, 2015 |
Despite their age, these poems really sing to me: "Get with child a mandrake root...." ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
Despite their age, these poems really sing to me: "Get with child a mandrake root...." ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
First of all, I would like to state in my defense that I picked up this slim volume days before I started freaking out about getting to 50 books by any means necessary. Ever since I catalogued my poetry shelf, I've been making an effort to get more of it read. Plus, in the story currently in my head, I'm a teacher, leading a unit on poetry. And apparently now I'm doing research for the stories I tell myself on long walks and as I fall asleep.

Yes? Well, okay. I don't know exactly what I was expecting when I first picked this up, but it certainly wasn't the poems I found in Songs of Innocence. This first volume is so excessively sweet, devoid of any hint of adult cynicism, that I felt a bit unmoored, and it actually took me days to work my way through them. It wasn't until I made it into Songs of Experience and heard the call and response between volumes that everything fell into place. Each side is illuminated and brought into relief by the other.

This volume contains what must surely be one of the most famous poems in the English language -- "The Tyger," which somehow I think I had never previously read in its entirety, though certainly I have seen its opening lines quoted often enough. Myself, I prefer "the Little Vagabond."

Worth its reputation after all, I'd have to say. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
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Introduction

"Never before surely was a man so literally the author of his own book." - Alexander Gilchrist
Piping down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of pleasant glee,
Quotations
He who mocks the Infants Faith

Shall be mock'd in the Age & Death

He who shall teach the Child of Doubt

The rotting Grave shall neer get out (E492)
Blake claims that all religious beliefs, however various, have a common origin in the "Poetic Genius" (E1), the godlike spirit within all people.
A note that Blake wrote in his manuscript of "The Four Zoas" also cautions us against dismissing innocence as naivete: "Innocence dwells with Wisdom but never with Ignorance" (E697).
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Book description
This version of Blake's "Songs", edited by Robert N. Essick, presents Blake's 54 colour plates from "Innocence" and "Experience" along with an Introduction, transcription and extensive commentaries by Essick as he worked from the Huntington's copy E of the "Songs" commissioned by Thomas Butts in 1806. See below: Description (ISBN 0873282361)
Visionary, artist, poet and craftsman, William Blake had a unique view of the world around him. At the age of eight he saw 'a tree filled with angels,' and his perception of beauty in a paradisiacal arcadia shines from every naïve watercolour line of his paintings. Addressed to children, his poems are still loved today - 'Little Lamb who made thee/ Dost thou know who made thee' ('Lamb').
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192810898, Paperback)

Here is a beautifully illustrated edition of Blake's classic poems. The text of each poem is given in letterpress on the page facing the color plate, and a brief commentary by Sir Geoffrey Keynes on each poem follows. It is printed on paper especially manufactured to match the tint of that used by Blake.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:37 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

William Blake, the artist, writer and Romantic visionary who went largely unrecognised during his lifetime, is now hailed as one of Britain's greatest creative geniuses. The Songs of Innocence and of Experience contain some of Blake's best loved poems and form a stirring, poignant reflection on the range of human experience.Poetry.… (more)

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