William Blake's Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow Essay

William Blake's Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow Essay

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“Infant Joy” from “Songs of Innocence” by William Blake is a simple song that highlights the joy of childbirth from a mother’s perspective. The mother asks the child what she should name the newborn child. The newborn names itself Joy, because that is all it knows. In contrast “Infant Sorrow” from “Songs of Experience” by William Blake is a simple song that focuses on childbirth from the infants perspective. It is a much less pleasant experience compared to that of the mother’s. The newborn struggles as it leaves the comfort of its mothers womb and enters the world. Romanticism is defined by Margaret Drabble from and emotional perspective as “an extreme assertion of the self and the value of individual experience”(Drabble 842-43). The songs “Infant Joy” and “Infant Sorrow” bring contrary experiences of childbirth, which is a result of the infants loss of innocence due to an increased amount of experience in the world, to light due to the emphasis that Romanticism places on human experience. The poems also highlights the individual newborns experience of imagination, which is “a watchword” in Romanticism, and whether it is bound and repressed or encourage to flourish by parental authority (Drabble 842-43). The different personal experiences of childbirth and imagination is seen through the language that the poet uses to describe childbirth, the nature that the infant decides for itself, and the amount of constraint that the parents place on the infant, which can be related to the newborns capacity to imagine.

“Infant Joy” brings to light the positive personal experience of child birth from a mother’s perspective by having a conversation with the newborn. The mother asks the newborn what its name should be: “What shall I call the...


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...omfortable and as a result, the infant decides upon a negative nature in contrast to “Infant Joy.” The infant in “Infant Joy” experiences less of the world than the infant in “Infant Sorrow.” The extra experience that the infant in “Infant Sorrow” has, causes the infant to see the world in a less blissful state which results in a stifled imagination. The different perspectives from the infants prove how important personal experience is, especially in Romanticism.




Works Cited
The Oxford Companion To English Literature (5th ed.). Ed. Margaret Drabble. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985. Print.
Blake, William. “Infant Joy.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 87. Print.
Blake, William. “Infant Sorrow.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 95. Print.

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