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Songs of Innocence and of Experience

by William Blake

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,060382,980 (4.16)1 / 73
Fiction. Poetry. HTML:

Songs of Innocence and of Experience compiles two contrasting but directly related books of poetry by William Blake. Songs of Innocence honors and praises the natural world, the natural innocence of children and their close relationship to God. Songs of Experience contains much darker, disillusioned poems, which deal with serious, often political themes. It is believed that the disastrous end to the French Revolution produced this disillusionment in Blake. He does, however, maintain that true innocence is achieved only through experience.

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 Folio Society Devotees: Songs of Innocence and of Experience33 unread / 33BooksFriendsNotFood, December 2023

» See also 73 mentions

English (33)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The commentary is uh. Exceedingly pointed, I feel like. ( )
  localgayangel | Mar 5, 2024 |
Beautiful language, not always about beautiful experiences. ( )
  mykl-s | Jun 11, 2023 |
When I applied to my interlibrary loan program for this book, I received a much larger book of Blake's work as edited by Robert N. Essick. I am so glad that I did because Essick provides interpretation and explanation of all the plates written and drawn by William Blake. Without the editing I would not have seen the peculiarities of the poems or fully understood how the poems "of Experience" were so diabolically contrary to those written in "Songs of Innocence." William Blake's work can be seen as masterful when accompanied by discussions of all the allegories. ( )
  Kimberlyhi | Apr 15, 2023 |
My heart crying for chemmy swiper. Blake's poetry is obscure, but not because of arcane language or occult symbolism. Blake is hard because his mind travels in connections that reach far into his own deep psyche. Even after 300 years, Blake is representative of no one but William Blake.
Tiger, tiger... ( )
  Azmir_Fakir | Oct 31, 2022 |
William Blake’s remarkably written and illustrated poems have endured the test of time and continue to amaze and delight me, even though I have read them dozens of times over the years.

My favorite poems from the Songs of Innocence are, sadly, about innocence abused. It seems such a contrast to me to read Nurse’s Song, in which the children beg for more time to play and frolic in the open air and the “laughing is heard on the hill”, and the Chimney Sweeper, which opens with the death of a mother and selling of a child to work in the soot and suffocation of the chimney sweep. That the sweeper is able to maintain his innocence and trust in the face of such a fate is a remarkable testament to the faith of the yet unspoiled child.

Of course, there are religious implications in each of the poems, which are intended and profound. The symbol of the lamb, as standing for both the children and their saviour, runs through several of the poems, including the most famous, The Lamb, which begins, familiarly, “Little lamb who made thee?”

These poems would be quite impressive had Blake written only of innocence, but he wrote a second set of poems, Songs of Experience, which contrast diametrically with the innocence poems. In fact, many of them bear the same name, as in the poems titled Holy Thursday. The poem from Songs of Innocence portrays the children, lined up in twos, entering the cathedral with angelic faces and voices, close to heaven. It’s counterpart in Songs of Experience speaks of the poverty and hunger suffered by so many children of the time.

Parallels exist between many of the poems, contrasting innocence and experience. As The Lamb is the most famous of the Innocence poems, The Tiger is the most famous of the Experience poems. The poems represent the natural world and God’s creation of both the predator and the prey. Blake’s exploration of the two aspects of God and the complexity of His creation.

Cannot close without including my favorite of all the poems:

A POISON TREE
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunnèd it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,—
And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (129 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Blakeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Essick, Robert N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fawcus, ArnoldPublisher's Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmes, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynes, GeoffreyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willmott, R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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).
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Contains about 150 pages commentary by Robert N. Essick. Please do not combine with other editions of Blake's work.
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Fiction. Poetry. HTML:

Songs of Innocence and of Experience compiles two contrasting but directly related books of poetry by William Blake. Songs of Innocence honors and praises the natural world, the natural innocence of children and their close relationship to God. Songs of Experience contains much darker, disillusioned poems, which deal with serious, often political themes. It is believed that the disastrous end to the French Revolution produced this disillusionment in Blake. He does, however, maintain that true innocence is achieved only through experience.

.

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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').
Haiku summary
Beauteous verses,
Voice of purity and pain,
Madman or Prophet?
(hillaryrose7)

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