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Blake’s Songs of Innocence & of Experience

R200

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems which embodies not only the talents of a writer, but also those of an artist working in illuminated printing, applying words and pictures to copper plates with the surrounding surfaces etched away. There are twenty one copies of Songs of Innocence and twenty seven of the work as a whole, but no separate copies of Songs of Experience.

Description

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems which embodies not only the talents of a writer, but also those of an artist working in illuminated printing, applying words and pictures to copper plates with the surrounding surfaces etched away. There are twenty one copies of Songs of Innocence and twenty seven of the work as a whole, but no separate copies of Songs of Experience. The poems are presentations of a contradiction between innocence and experience, two areas of life through which we all must pass and are, in initial appearance at least, very similar to the genre of late eighteenth-century children’s poetry, in terms of theme, title and simplicity. The subject matter of the poems would have been familiar at the time, with titles such as The Lamb and The Divine Image sounding like childrens’ hymns.

A point to make about the apparent simplicity of Blake’s poems is that they are deliberately so, in order to simplify the moral dilemmas of the time and present them in a form which could be understood. Ironically, the Songs of Experience are somewhat simpler in the way that the speaker of the poem is the voice of experience, warning the innocence about the futility of life. To summarize, Songs of Innocence show life through the eyes of innocent children, whilst Songs of Experience demonstrate an older person’s realisation that there is pain and terror in the world.

Additional information

ISBN

9781854377296