The Violation of Blake's Songs of Innocence
Abstract: William Blake's Songs of Innocence contains a group of poetic works that the artist conceptualized as entering into a dialogue with each other and with the works in his companion work, Songs of Experience. He also saw each of the poems in Innocence as operating as part of an artistic whole creation that was encompassed by the poems and images on the plates he used to print these works. While Blake exercised a fanatical degree of control over his publications during his lifetime, after his death his poems became popular and were encountered without the contextual material that he intended to accompany them.
William Blake was probably more concerned than any other major Romantic author with the process of publication and its implications for the interpretation of his artistic creations. He paid a price for this degree of control over the process of printing, however: Blake lived in poverty and artistic obscurity throughout his entire life.
This essay will aim to show the relationship between Innocence and Experience in William Blake's Songs.
William Blake was a poet and artist who was born in London, England in 1757. He lived 69 years, and although his work went largely unnoticed during his lifetime, he is now considered a prominent English Romantic poet. Blake’s religious views, and his philosophy that “man is god”, ran against the religious thoughts at the time, and some might equate Blake’s views to those of the hippie movement of the 20th century.
William Blake composed two series of poems: Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence. The poems are intertwined as to compare the thoughts of children and adults on the same issues. The innocence of children is discussed on topics of religion, love, and justice. The opinions of adults are also experienced on these topics, but are given from a more experienced viewpoint. William Blake comparatively writes two series of poems to address the controversy of God, love, and justice from pure thinkers and from corrupt thinkers.
The Theme of Authority in William Blake's Poetry
The theme of authority is possibly the most important theme and the most popular theme concerning William Blake’s poetry. Blake explores authority in a variety of different ways particularly through religion, education and God. Blake was profoundly concerned with the concept of social justice. He was also profoundly a religious man. His dissenting background led him to view the power structures and legalism that surrounded religious establishments with distrust.
The distinguishing features of innocence and experience play a crucial role in William Blake’s written and illustrated work. Blake, born in 1757, paid special attention to the human life and its state of mind in his artistic endeavors (Blake Archive). Throughout all of his works, particularly in the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, the reader consistently tries to decide which state of mind is preferable and how they differ. Unlike many authors, Blake provides illustrations for his work. In some cases, Blake’s illustrations serve the purpose of relaying ideas that are not readily apparent to the average reader in his written works. For a large amount of his work, the illustrations complicate the understanding of his written ideas of innocence and experience by the reader.
William Blake’s Poetry
William Blake was one of those 19th century figures who could have and should have been beatniks, along with Rimbaud, Verlaine, Manet, Cezanne and Whitman. He began his career as an engraver and artist, and was an apprentice to the highly original Romantic painter Henry Fuseli. In his own time he was valued as an artist, and created a set of watercolor illustrations for the Book of Job that were so wildly but subtly colored they would have looked perfectly at home in next month's issue of Wired.
He lived in a filthy London studio where he succumbed to constant visions of angels and prophets who instructed him in his work.
In 1789, English poet William Blake first produced his famous poetry collection Songs of Innocence which “combines two distinct yet intimately related sequences of poems” (“Author’s Work” 1222). Throughout the years, Blake added more poems to his prominent Songs of Innocence until 1794, when he renamed it Songs of Innocence and Experience. The additional poems, called Songs of Experience, often have a direct counterpart in Blake’s original Songs of Innocence, producing pairs such as “The Lamb” and “The Tyger.” In Songs of Innocence and Experience, Blake uses musical devices, structure, and symbolism to develop the theme that experience brings both an awareness of potential evil and a tendency that allows it to become dominant over childhood
William Blake is remembered by his poetry, engravements, printmaking, and paintings. He was born in Soho, London, Great Britain on November 28, 1757. William was the third of seven siblings, which two of them died from infancy. As a kid he didn’t attend school, instead he was homeschooled by his mother. His mother thought him to read and write. As a little boy he was always different. Most kids of his age were going to school, hanging out with friends, or just simply playing. While William was getting visions of unusual things. At the age of four he had a vision of god and when he was nine he had another vision of angles on trees.
Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Intro. Geoffry Keynes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.