Church and Religion in the Songs of Innocence and Experience Essay

Church and Religion in the Songs of Innocence and Experience Essay

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Church and Religion in the Songs of Innocence and Experience

Throughout “Innocence” and “Experience,” many poems incorporate
religious views and imagery. Blake presents many contradicting views
on the Church and religion, the contrast being particularly clear
between “Innocence” and “Experience.”

Within the “Songs of Innocence” a child-like portrayal of Church and
religion is portrayed. Throughout “Innocence” there are many
references to “The Lamb” representing Jesus Christ who was the
Sacrificial Lamb, as shown in the poem “The Lamb.” Another common
image of religion used by Blake is that of religion as the Shepherd,
the Shepherd is “watchful” and ever watching over his sheep,
protecting them, Blake is showing religion as being ever-present and
constantly present. This is a very child-like and partial view of
Christ. Religion is portrayed in a child like manner, as is Christ in
the poem “On Another’s Sorrow,” Christ is portrayed as “[giving] his
joy to all” as he is embodied both within an “infant small” and “men
of woe.” Also in “On Another’s Sorrow,” religion is seen as immanent,
as God “gives to us his joy.” A simple view is portrayed: one that God
is ever present and is there within everyone. Images of the Church and
religion are juxtaposed to images of joy, fun and laughter, showing
the simple view of religion portrayed. This view is extended in “The
Divine Image” in which the balanced structure continues the child-like
view of religion. The image that God is present within everyone is
also shown in “The Divine Image” is that God is ever-present within
everyone. In “The Chimney Sweeper,” religion is used to help the
chimney sweeps get through their arduous days, and the vision of
Christ helped h...


... middle of paper ...


...are shown as “walking around in
black gowns” and “binding briars with [his] joys and desires” thorns,
representing the Church and religion, were restricting his life, and
joy was prohibited. Within “The Human Abstract” religion is referred
to as the “dismal shade of mystery,” and the priests are the “ravens”
which have made “[their] nests in the thickest shade.” A negative
image of the Church is explored, as the Church is shading people from
the light.

The theme of religion is one central to both “The Songs of Innocence”
and the “Songs of Experience” as a result of this, Blake could be seen
as “primarily a religious poet.” Although the theme is ongoing, within
“Experience” many other themes are also explored, showing that Blake,
although concentrating primarily on religion, did explore other themes
relevant to everyday and the current state of living.

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