William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

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A poet does not achieve the highest levels of success until generations and generations after his death have critiqued and recognized his works of art, as seen by the revered poet William Blake. He lived and crafted his finest masterpieces during the era of Romanticism, which is marked by the earliest poems of William Blake in 1783 (Anthology, pg 3). Along with Wordsworth, modern poetry was created (Anthology, pg 8). During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, poetry that described nature and landscapes emerged. Blake was a somewhat ambitious artist who questioned the world and rebelled against tradition and customs. He saw these aspects of life troubling because he did not always agree with the way in which society pressured him to conform. Although Blake did eventually marry, his marriage went through tumultuous periods, sometimes filled with sexual jealousy. This can be interpreted in the “Sick Rose”. William Blake could be characterized as an antinomian. He was a person who based his own religion and morality based on personal experiences with God, or a higher power (Notes, 6/27). His individualistic approach to life can be seen in his modernizing work Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. One of the more difficult works of Blake to assess is the pair of poems Holy Thursday. The first and most obvious difference between these poems is the way in which they are constructed. In Songs of Innocence, Blake is telling a story that merely explains the irony behind Holy Thursday, which is the fortieth day after Easter. The children he is referring to that are wearing red and blue and green are actually chimney sweepers. The irony is that the Church, who in an ideal society has a moral obligation to assist ... ... middle of paper ... .... Although these sets of poems contrast each other, they do enrich and compliment the other by taking the same feelings and manipulating them. For instance, the exploitation was seen in Songs of Innocence as sad and depressing, while in Songs of Experience the same exploitation was seen as angry, bitter, and deeply questioned by Blake. Ultimately, I believe these poems reflect different times in William’s Blake’s life when he could have been at peace and also frustrated with life in general and its meaning. Works Cited Kermode, Frank, and Hollander, John. The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: 1800 to the Present. Oxford University Press: London, 1973. Poet’s Corner. www.theotherpages.org/poems/blake02.html. Accessed: 12 July 2007. Shelson, John. Engl 212-British Literature II: Class Notes. Professor Craig Laird: Drexel University, 27 June 2007.
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