In his work, Songs of Innocence and Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul, William Blake uses the aforementioned contrasting states of being to illustrate his unique view of the world around him. Through this work, Blake lays bare his soulful views of religion and ethics, daring the reader to continue on in their narcissistic attitudes and self-serving politics. While Blake's work had countless themes, some of the most prevalent were religious reform, social change, and morality. Philosophically, one would think that William Blake was a Deist; however Blake rejected the Deist view of life. He was a devout Christian, yet he also wanted nothing to do with the church or their teachings. These views give Blake a refreshingly sincere quality with regards to his art and writings. Blake frequently alluded to Biblical teachings in his work and, more often than not, used corresponding story lines to rail against the Church's views and accepted practices. One may say however, that Blake's universal appeal lies within his social commentary. Similar to a fable, Blake weaves a poetically mystical journey for the reader, usually culminating in a moral lesson. One such poem, "A Poison Tree," clearly illustrates some of William Blake's moral beliefs. With his use of imagery, as well as an instinctive knowledge of human nature, William Blake shows just how one goes from the light to the darkness (from innocence to experience) by the repression of emotions.
If one were to read the "A Poison Tree" on a strictly superficial level, it would be enough to understand the basic meaning: Speaker is mad at friend. Speaker talks to friend, is all better. Speaker is mad at enemy. Speaker says nothing, anger builds....
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...is overall truth and spent his life trying to dispel the conventional wisdom of the Church during that time. In any case, there are many different ways that William Blake's work can be interpreted, and on many different levels. The only one that truly matters is the one that touches the reader. It is what Mr. Blake would have wanted.
Blake, William. "A Poison Tree." The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2. 7th ed. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2000. pg.58.
Gleckner, Robert F. The Piper and the Bard: A Study of William Blake. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1959.
Hirsch Jr., E.D. Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964.
Johnson, Mary Lynn and John E. Grant, eds. Blake's Poetry and Designs. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1979.
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