A Reading of Blake's A Cradle Song Essay

A Reading of Blake's A Cradle Song Essay

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"A Cradle Song"

S. Foster Damon's 1947 reading of "A Cradle Song" indicates that most early critics accepted Isaac Watts' Hush! my dear, lie still and slumber as the model for Blake's poem. However, Damon claims that "There is no more resemblance [between the two works]than there must be between any two cradle-songs. He also claims that the designs of the second plate have a "Raphaelesque hardness, which is in this day not pleasant."

Vivian de Sola Pinto acknowledges the connections between "A Cradle Song" and Watts' work made by Damon and others but notes that no critic has yet explored the relationship between Blake's and Watts' work in detail, a task she takes on in her 1957 study. Placing Watts' "A Cradle Hymn" side-by-side with Blake's "A Cradle Song," de Sola Pinto analyzes their thematic and prosodic similarities and differences, ultimately reading Blake's song as the "delogicalization" of Watts' hymn.

In his 1959 reading of "A Cradle Song," Robert F. Gleckner asserts that it is an expression of Blake's concept of moving into the realm of higher innocence citing as evidence that after 1815, Blake always followed "A Cradle Song" with "The Divine Image" in the sequence of Songs of Innocence. Gleckner discusses the movement from "pleasant dreams" and "sweet smiles" to "moans" and "weeping" as the movement from innocence into experience and ultimate innocence, "the hope of mankind" which is "the ultimate negation of self." Gleckner claims that this "song" is actually a "prayer," the same prayer mentioned in "The Divine Image." Hazard Adams' 1963 reading asserts that the poem is both a song and a "prayer for the continued innocence of the child." Adams classifies the poem as one of Blake's lullabies which Adams claims ...


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...iam Blake. Cambridge: UP, 1973.

Gleckner, Robert F. The Piper and the Bard: A Study of William Blake. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1959.

Glen, Heather. Vision and Disenchantment: Blake's Songs and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads. Cambridge: UP, 1983.

Hirsch, E.D. Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to William Blake. Chicago: UP, 1964.

Holloway, John. Blake: The Lyric Poet. London: Edward Arnold, Ltd., 1968.

Keynes, Geoffrey. Commentary. Songs of Innocence and of Experience Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul. By William Blake. 1789,1794. New York: Orion, 1967.

Leader, Zachary. Reading Blake's Songs. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

Lindsay, David W. Blake: Songs of Innocence and Experience. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, Int., 1989.

Ostriker, Alicia. Vision and Verse in William Blake. Madison: U Wisconsin P, 1965.

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