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Songs Of Innocence And Experience English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5525 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Blake considers, that terrestrial human life is a way of soul from ­ Eternity and back in Eternity. The soul clothes in a flesh for the terrestrial existence. It holds in remembrance Eternity, that is Innocence. But the got Knowledge deforms, obscures this memory. On the other hand, terrestrial existence, according to Emmanuel Swedenborg’s doctrine is reflexion of that occurs in Eternity. Blake the idea not only as philosophical basis uses this. It applies it as ­ an artistic touch. Therefore in each poem the double sense is hidden. When Blake describes a rural landscape, games ­ of children, a pray in St. Paul’s ­cathedral, it constantly reminds, that it is a question not of simple daily ­ events, and about the Eternal Life. Echoes of this Eternal Life we, mortal, can catch, caressing the baby or ironing шерстку a lamb. If we possess though to some extent ability of divine vision. Thanks to this implied sense plain ­ children’s verses turn to serious ­ philosophical product.

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At this time Blake it is boundless trusts in благостность and mercy of the God. The god is a uniform and unique good beginning, and the Human Son – the Christ – the invariable pastor and the defender ­ of people. Blake divided Swedenborg’s sights which rejected the concept of the Sacred Trinity. Swedenborg asserted, that the God is uniform, the God has only condescended for some time for the earth in image Jesus Christ. On the other hand, according to Swedenborg’s doctrine, the inner world of the person is simultaneously and the world heavenly. The love, compassion, care about near are “conformity” to that occurs in the Sky, that is conformity to the God. Each of us is the smallest ­ similarity of the Sky, or «the Sacred image». As consequence the Eternity as a unification is good luck achievable not only out of terrestrial existence. It can be found in a shower of everyone mortal, concluded in a carnal cover, but only if the soul keeps true spirituality, or Innocence.

But a real terrestrial life – a vale not only pleasures, but also sorrows. «Songs of Innocence» are full equally both pleasures,­ and sufferings – both that and another an essence necessary parts ­ of a divine Craft. The soul rejoices, for stores memory of ­ Eternity, but the flesh is doomed to suffer. «Songs of Innocence» describe ­ both fun, and a grief, However light motives prevail in images of a cycle: «Songs of Innocence» speak about happy­ and sorrowless «a condition of soul human», about ­ divine protection, about spirituality of the terrestrial world.

Creation «Songs of Innocence» has been finished in 1789. At that time Blake believed this cycle the finished product. However in five years he has created a new cycle «Songs of Experience» which has been united together with «Songs of Innocence» in integral product «Songs of Innocence and Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul». By this time at Blake sights at the world have radically changed. Variety of the reasons has caused this change, in particular, disappointment in the French Revolution and a withdrawal from ideas of Emmanuel Swedenborg.

Early sights Blake can be defined conditionally as “Christian”, and it is possible to name its new concept “natural”. In what consists it « natural»? The poet at an early stage almost focused all attention to extraterrestrial existence of soul and on idyllic Eternity. Echoes of this Eternity can be observed in some terrestrial displays. The Divine, however, has been separated ­from terrestrial enough by an accurate side. Achievement ­ of full harmony, a spiritual ideal probably only in Eternity, and the terrestrial life is held down by a flesh and consequently is ­ a vale of sorrows and tears. By writing time «Songs of Experience» Blake has considerably changed the point of view. Now it transfers the attention to a terrestrial ­ reality. Terrestrial griefs do not cause in it more thought on requital in the future. The protest instead ripens: the life could be ideal ­ and on the earth, but the earth is burdened by “spiritual fetters» which are necessary for dumping. In this case there will be «a returning ­ of the Earth», that is earthly paradise coming.

Poem «The Chimney Sweeper» is a typical example of polemic Blake of times «Songs of Innocence» with Blake times «Songs of Experience». Heroes of two poems are similar to the identical name among themselves, but in the first the small chimney sweep is unfortunate because of the hardship, in the second – is capable to test pleasure contrary to them. In the first it finds a consolation in the God releasing it from “coffin” of a terrestrial life, in the second – is dressed in “shroud” on the Earth by the God (is more exact, the God-fearing parents) is doomed to sufferings.

Accusatory pathos is equally strong in both poems, but in everyone it sounds in own way: in the first – the happiness is possible only in heavens as expiation of terrestrial grieves, in the second – the happiness would be possible and on the earth if not brutality ­ of existing usages.


(Songs of Innocence)

When my mother died I was very young,

And my father sold me while yet my tongue,

Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep.

So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head That curi’d like a lambs back, was shav’d, so I said, Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head’s bare, You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.

And so he was quiet, & that very night, As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight, That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,

And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he open’d the coffins & set them all free. Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run And wash in a river & shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind. And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,

He’d have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark

And got with our bags & our brushes to work.

Tho ‘ the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm.

So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.


(Songs of Experience)

A little black thing among the snow:

Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!

Where are thy father & mother? say?

They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath, And smil’d among the winters snow: They clothed me in the clothes of death, And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy, & dance & sing, They think they have done me no injury: And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King Who make up a heaven of our misery.

The world is conceived as made, but the spirit human stays ­in a lie and pretence snare: it is new philosophy Blake. The poet already not the shepherd-boy with a pipe, as in «Songs of Innocence».


Piping down the valleys wild Piping songs of pleasant glee On a cloud I saw a child. And he laughing said to me.

Pipe a song about a Lamb: So I piped with merry chear, Piper pipe that song again – So I piped, he wept to hear.

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe Sing thy songs of happy chear, So I sung the same again While he wept with joy to hear.

Piper sit thee down and write In a book that all may read – So he vanish’d from my sight, And I pluck’d a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen, And I stain’d the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs, Every child may joy to hear

The new Poet is a Bard, clairvoyant, the prophet. Its problem – ­ to show to people a way to spirit clearing.


Youth of delight come hither,

And see the opening morn,

Image of truth new born.

Doubt is fled & clouds of reason,

Dark disputes & artful teazing.

Folly is an endless maze.

Tangled roots perplex her ways,

How many have fallen there!

They stumble all night over bones of the dead:

And feel they know not what but care:

And wish to lead others when they should be led.

The new stage of spiritual way Blake is connected with sharp turn Swedenborg’s ideas down. Blake has seen them from the new party. Blake marks in religious swedenborgian philosophy its one-sided essence, dogmatism, the passivity sermon. Swedenborg wrote, that the person spiritual is the person obedient to the God. Blake first was completely agree with this statement, but then it had doubts in greatness and justice of the God. The god became for Blake a despotism embodiment­. Сведенборг tried to explain an inner world through concepts ­ of a material world. Thus the material world was reduced to a pale ­copy of the fine and perfect world heavenly. Blake, having crossed through dogmas of Swedenborg, has resolutely rejected differentiation of the material and spiritual worlds. He asserted, that true spirituality is put in pawn in the Nature and only waits ­ for the Apocalypse, revolt against divine establishments ­ to be shown in full force.

In «Experience Songs» подспудно there is one of figures Blake’s mythologies – god Urizen (compare Your Reason). Urizen is the embodiment of conventional reason and law which resist to free, free Imagination.

Urizen is depicted in Blake’s watercoloured etching “The Ancient of Days”.

The pair «Imagination – Reason» – only a part of a chain ­ of contrasts which penetrates all cycle and sets its figurative system: Light – Darkness, Good – Angrily, the Life – Death, the Youth – the Old age, the Man’s beginning – the Female beginning, free love – suppression of desires etc. Blake counterposes his “Contraries” to Swedenborg’s idea of equilibrium. “Without Contraries is no progression”, says Blake. “Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.” The opposite beginnings are impossible one without another, but thus Blake accepted for positive ­remain positive, and accepted for negative – negative throughout all cycle, in any context, and it in many respects helps to decipher symbols of Blake.


Pity would be no more.

If we did not make somebody Poor:

And Mercy no more could be,

If all were as happy as we:

And mutual fear brings peace:

Till the selfish loves increase.

Then Cruelty knits a snare,

And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears, And waters the ground with tears: Then Humility takes its root Underneath his foot.

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Soon spreads the dismal shade Of Mystery over his head; And the Catterpiller and Fly, Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit, Ruddy and sweet to eat: And the Raven his nest has made In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea,

Sought through Nature to find this Tree,

But their search was all in vain;

There grows one in the Human Brain.

This poem (pair to «THE DIVINE IMAGE» from the first cycle) – central for understanding of philosophical system «­ Experience Songs».

Here Kindly, the Tolerance, the World, Love become a component of the unnatural social establishments ­ existing in kingdom Urizen, – that is the philosophical concept «Innocence Songs» is completely discredited. Having shown falsity and hypocrisy of the basic virtues of Innocence, Blake builds new allegory of private world of the person in which basis the image of the Tree lays favourite it. It from Fear and Humility – sanctimonious humility of a lamb (compare a poem “Lily”) grows and soon scatters a gloomy crone of Belief, that is unnatural, far-fetched religion which feeds the Caterpillar and a Moth, clerics being here symbols. At last, the Tree brings the Deceit fruit, that is lie and pretence ­(therefore it is sweet), and on the Tree there is a Raven – a death symbol. Such see Blakeу private world of the person and ­ a spiritual way of the mankind which has been held down chains of Urizen. In last ­ stanza it is underlined, that «gods of the sea and the earth», that is wildlife, uniform with Imagination, could not find this Tree as there is it in a human brain and cultivates him Urizen – inert, not creative Reason.


To Mercy Pity Peace and Love,

All pray in their distress:

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy Pity Peace and Love,

Is God our father dear: And Mercy Pity Peace and Love, Is Man his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart Pity, a human face: And Love, the human form divine, And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man of every clime, That prays in his distress, Prays to the human form divine Love Mercy Pity Peace.

And all must love the human form, In heathen, turk or jew. Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell, There God is dwelling too.

In this poem, central for « Songs of Innocence , in the most distinct form the basic idea of a cycle appears: the human nature is divine. The person and the God is one thing. Loving the person, we love also the God, in the God we love Its humanity. Here the basic, fundamental virtues of the world of “Innocence Songs» are directly named: Good, Tolerance, the World, Love, equally important as for a life terrestrial, and heavenly. These virtues in the “perfect” form exist in heavens, and in the “reflected” kind (according to «to the doctrine about conformity») are given people, and the people carrying in the Sacred Image, should share them with each other. The true Christian – the one who professes Good, Tolerance, the World, Love, that is that who creates an image of Eternity on the earth, and in this sense there is no distinction between the nations and religions (compare at Swedenborg: « To the person professing love to near, a way on the Sky it is opened irrespective of its terrestrial religion – the belief is learnt not by religion. Any person conducting a life moral and spiritual, comprises the Sky »).

According to new sights Blake, the way to «returning of the Earth­» lays through liberation of desires (first of all – love­) which are connected Reason’s chains – Urizen In a victory ­ of natural aspirations – both fleshes, and spirit-. Blake sees the Imagination celebration, falling of “spiritual fetters». The terrestrial, ­ carnal life with natural spirituality initially inherent in it becomes for Blake the new ideal rising to the place of ­ idyllic Eternity. However in the majority of poems ” Songs of ­ Experience » it is a question of suppression of natural instincts ­ or about punishment for their display, from here – severe, ­ sometimes bitter and hopeless tone of this cycle.

In «Experience Songs», certainly, caustic enough,­ “satirical” sneer over light, radiant – and ­ absolutely improbable – the world of ” Songs of Innocence » contains,­­ and in this sense the second cycle bears on itself the disappointment press. However it not is disappointment in a life in general, more likely, ­ disappointment in former ideals. However, to tell, that Blake ­ completely rejects the former representations, would be ­ exaggeration: he names the former vision “one-sided”, the ideas “limited”, but completely not incorrect. Experience ­ does not deny Innocence, but takes away to it a modest place of one of aspects of variety of the world. Blake shows, that Mildness is impossible without Violence, Mercy without Suffering, Pleasure without Grief, and Good without Harm. «Skilled ­ Innocence», combining cleanliness with liberation of desires,­ sanctity with absence of pretence and hypocrisy, instinctive ­«divine vision» with the got knowledge becomes ideal Blake­­­.

In a word, Experience assumes wider and diverse ­ picture of the world including Innocence as one of two equivalent – and equal in rights – the parties, each of which ­ is equally necessary, that is why is sacred.

However the basic thought of a cycle nevertheless consists that in kingdom of Urizen of virtue of Innocence pretty often ­ turn to the contrasts. For this reason so ­ unconditionally discredits Blake Kindly, Tolerance, the World, Love which become symbols of lie, hypocrisy and pretence so ruthlessly attacks mercy and religion which are the reasons of tears and sufferings. While there are «spiritual ­ fetters», idyll is inaccessible, but after falling of these fetters Paradise is possible and on the earth for the Nature, as a matter of fact, and is that Эдем which will carry out eventually all human desires. «Experience songs» sing scolded, but not killed beauty ­ of a terrestrial life, identity of the Nature and the God – only in such sense and it is necessary to understand them «natural».

Its book «The Marriage of Heaven and Hell», (1790) became the manifesto of “natural” sights Blake. Difficultly enough with accuracy to define a genre of this product is simultaneously both the philosophical treatise, and the arch of aphorisms, and a poem in prose: undoubtedly, Blake meaningly ­ tried to simulate bible stylistics. It is devoted polemic with ­ initial Christianity, no less than with Swedenborg sights. Developing «theomachic» the tradition going in the English ­ literature from J. Milton (from its poem «Lost Paradise», 1667),

Blake declares insolvent the standard Christian concept of Good and Harm. Kind (Sky) sung in «­ Innocence Songs­» and represented by Christian religion as proceeding from the God and, hence, is unique good, becomes at Blake passive, all-accepting, that is why not creative, not the capable beginning to development; on the contrary, rebellious Harm (Hell) sees to it the beginning active, creating for it, breaking traditional ­ representations, moves development. The good personifies ­ spiritual stagnation, and Harm – throwings and spirit struggles without which ­thought movement is impossible.

Jehovah appears in a poem as a severe, despotic deity ­ and it is actually identified with Urizen. The Satan, ­ on the contrary, is shown as the selector, the fighter personifying ­ the Poetic Genius. Breaking Christianity canons, Blake the Christ, tries to prove, that more likely, belonged to party of the Satan for was guided by Imagination and preferred to follow the desires and promptings, instead of the imposed dogma.

The imagination which Blake considers as the higher ability of the person, undoubtedly, starts with the Hell. The sky personifies an order, rationality, dogmatism; the Imagination is held down by nothing, chaotically and absolutely irrationally. Traditional Harm ­ becomes in « The Marriage…» A symbol of spiritual freedom, creative ­ energy, reformative the world, and traditional Good – ­ a passivity and dogmatism symbol. However Blake remains it is true to the ­ dialectics and asserts, that two opposite are mad about each other and only their coexistence, “a marriage” conducts to original spirituality.

The second major question « The Marriage…» is a question of unity of soul and a body. Blake rejects supported of Swedenborg traditional representations about a body as «sinful flesh­» (i.e. Harm) and to a shower as носительнице ­ divine fire (i.e. Good). Wedding ­ occurs not only in a universe, but also in each of the mortal: soul and a flesh – are uniform. Blake asserts, that «All Live – Is sacred», that is the material world not simply is a pale ­ copy of the world heavenly, it is self-important and self-sufficient, that is why is in own way perfect. The soul does not exist separately from a flesh as the flesh is so sacred, as well as soul; and therefore carnal desires are completely not sinful (as confirms the Sky), on the contrary, sinfully their suppression. In liberation of a flesh ­ which will cause liberation of spirit, Blake sees a way to a cleaning Apocalypse, to falling of Kingdom Urizen.

Certainly, the maintenance «Sky and Hell Wedding» ­ is not settled at all by these general provisions. This difficult ­ and deep philosophical product written in ­ characteristic for Blake an allegorical, figurative manner. He did not aspire to simplicity for matters about which it narrated ­- mutual relations of Good and Harm, the Person and the God, – do not suffer simplification, but the thoughtful reader cannot get into an essence of its philosophy and to track, at least partly, a thought course «great visionery».

The period Blake’s struggle against God with its rebelliousness,­ all-rejection and maximalism has appeared short­. It was followed by deep crisis and – as its result ­- a long silence, full refusal of the publication of the products. Spiritual crisis has returned Blake to thought on the God, on Innocence, but already in its other understanding. Now it considers creation of a material world as a component and direct result of Fall from what follows, that the flesh is inherently opposite to a spiritual ­substance and, hence, is initially sinful.

The special place among Blake’s products of this period ­ occupies a poem “The Mental Traveller” (written apprx. 1800). It some kind of the spiritual autobiography of the poet and simultaneously spiritual biography of mankind. Blake describes origin, a celebration and decline of any idea and ­ in parallel shows, how its own sights developed and changed.

« Songs of Innocence and Experience » – it is the widest a known part Blake’s heritages. They give full enough, but far not exhaustive representation about creativity of this ­ remarkable master. It would be desirable to hope, that eventually ­ the Russian reader will manage to get acquainted more full with ­ a heritage of the great poet-seer which has in many respects anticipated ­ the further development of poetry, and human thought as a whole.

Auguries of Innocence

“Auguries of Innocence” by William Blake occupy a special place in his work. This piece dates from 1801-1803 years and conventionally related to the second period of his poetry. This years new spiritual quest Blake, when it replaced the idealistic, the naturalistic mood of the past comes an entirely new concept of peace, based on – perceptions of reality in the unity of all its contradictory aspects.

It is difficult to determine the genre of the work. At first acquaintance it seems that in “Auguries of Innocence” is no definite plot line, they seem only aphoristic fragments, in no way linked.

As one of the most complex and original phenomena of European literature, “Auguries of Innocence” is an organic part of the artistic world of Blake. Understanding of this work can not be outside the context of the poet.

The main problem that confronts a writer, stated in the title of the poem – “Auguries of Innocence.” In Blake’s Innocence does not exist apart from knowledge, these polarities are not negate each other, all co-exist in unity.

It was this idea (the combination of incompatible) tends to reflect the poet in his work.

Poem “Auguries of Innocence” was preceded by a cycle of poems “Songs of Innocence and Experience», which shows very clearly the dialectical vision of the world poet. “The meaning of the book – the idea of continuity of human spiritual experience, his integrity, … uniting in some higher synthesis inherent in the personality of the birth of” innocence, purity – and all the inevitable sophistication of each are far from being ideal. “

It is poetry, “where the world is comprehended in the encounters, the higher harmony of the eternal and unbearable social dissection, the current of his being, at the intersections of polarities.” (4, 28), and these polarities of innocence and knowledge do not negate each other, everything is interconnected, everything exists in unity. “We can not reject one another glorified, because everything in life is inextricably intertwined.” (5, 19)

The same perception of contrast we see in “Auguries of Innocence.” But Blake infinite variety of this dialectic struggle of creation and destruction. His images are continuously evolving. From this diversity, at first glance, a simple way that makes it difficult to understand. (12, 171)

Start “Auguries of Innocence” with lines that are most often quoted when referring to the name of William Blake, with the lines have become a manifesto of English Romanticism:

To see a World in a grain of sand,

And a Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour. (1, 324)

No accident that this stanza reminds one of the first. It expressed the central principle of Blake. Here we are talking about the view of the internal and external. In each grain of sand, the author seeks to discern a reflection of the spiritual essence, the desire for direct ascent from a single, private experiences to the infinitely wide, universal generalizations. And it was called a man with imagination.

Center of the complex artistic world of Blake is the man. Man is heaven and earth, hell and heaven and all the phenomena of the universe simultaneously. The poet says:

Thou art a Man: God is no more:

Thy own Humanity learn to adore,

For that is My spirit of life.

(The Everlasting Gospel)

This is Imagination is what helps to throw off the shackles of an enslaved spirit, unleash the perception, “see eternity in one moment.”

The value of free imagination – the main idea of the next track:

A robin redbreast in a cage

Puts all Heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill’d with doves & pigeons

Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.



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