• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What impression do you receive from the Songs of Blake's own religious beliefs?

Extracts from this document...


Sophie Lakes. What impression do you receive from the Songs of Blake's own religious beliefs? In your answer write about the themes, tone and style of not more than five poems. William Blake was incredibly spiritual and certainly a strong Christian, although he disliked organised religion as he saw it to be an oppressive tool. His brother died of consumption at quite a young age, and this had a profound effect on Blake, who is said to have seen his soul 'ascend heavenward clapping its hands for joy'. I feel it is fair to argue that Blake used his poetry to express his religious views, and criticise the Church's repressive nature. Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience certainly contain many poems with religious overtones. Blake uses various techniques to show his own feelings for, in particular, organised religion and the church. Animal imagery is particularly prominent. Holy Thursday, from Songs of Innocence depicts an image of children visiting St Paul's Cathedral. The title itself suggests the celebration of the day Jesus' friend Judas betrayed him, and as a result he was taken on the following day, now known as 'Good Friday' to be killed. On this day Jesus gave the commandment 'That ye love one another as I have loved you.' It is this feast that the children, usually from Charity Schools, seem to be celebrating. ...read more.


The use of the pronoun 'He' could suggest that the lamb is Jesus, 'He is meek and he is mild; He became a little child', although it could too be symbolic of all children. It can be argued that Blake's intention was to use biblical references to connect with all people, as, in the time of his writing, the church was far more prominent than it is today. Although this poem implicitly references the bible with the 'lamb', it could too simply be Blake's way of criticising the Church's treatment of innocent children. This being said, I feel it is possible that Blake did not intend to overtly portray his religious views in this poem. The Divine Image, from Songs of Innocence uses anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman things, to convey its religious content. The word 'divine' means 'relating to Gods, gods, or goddesses', again showing a specific religious reference. The poem seems to convey a message of God encompassing all that is positive, 'For Mercy has a human heart, / Pity a human face'. It is possible that Blake intended this poem to contradict his other, more critical religious poems. Despite his spirituality, it would be feasible to view Blake as an atheist, because of his contempt for the church. This poem, therefore, is arguably the most accurate in showing his own religious beliefs, laid bare and free from criticism. ...read more.


The structure of this poem is also different to its counterpart, as the sentences are much shorter and many more questions are posed about society. Blake uses negative diction throughout, 'Babes reduced to misery' and 'eternal winter' being examples of this. The poem implies people living in unorganised innocence, passively accepting things that they believe they cannot change. This poem certainly seems to impose upon the reader Blake's cynicism of organised religion and perhaps the passiveness of people, who fail to question religion, as shown also in A Little Boy Lost. In conclusion, I think it is far to argue that Blake does use his poetry to reflect his own religious views and does this through his sarcasm and cynicism of the church. Arguably the poems in Experience show this more blatantly, as the imagery and diction becomes increasingly negative. The Songs of Experience do show his beliefs, but in a less aggressive way than the Songs of Experience. The impression I receive from the Songs is one of Blake's distrust of the church, and of society, but a great belief and faith in God and the capacity of well-doing held by individuals. Religion is a prominent theme in the collection, but I feel that the tone is the most important technique he exercises, as it shows his sense of humour too. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Poets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Poets essays

  1. In the poem, 'To His Mistress Going to Bed,' John Donne, in the form ...

    Donne's complex logic continues until the end of the poem. An allusion is then made to Greek mythology of Atlanta, the goddess of love. This is a development of the previously discussed conceit of the fools, whom get distracted easily, by Atlanta's balls.

  2. Types of Love in Donne's Poetry

    There is a tonal shift in this stanza, Donne's tone becomes less abusive and mocking, and becomes more playful and mocking: 'Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be To warm the world, that's done in warming us' Donne states that the sun must be tired of journeying the

  1. Many of the more famous Blake poems present us with a inner message, displaying ...

    It really emphasises the point of the poem as it is not what is expected of a poem of this sort. The poem is comprised of four stanzas just like the poem "Out of the dark" by Edward Thomas. They both seem to have taken this point to an advantage, comprising all the stanzas somewhat chronologically.

  2. Referring to either The Flea and/or The Broken Heart do you think that it ...

    However I believe that Donne uses extravagant metaphors in order to shock his audience in order to allow them to connect with his ideas and opinions. Even though he uses extravagant metaphors to startle his audience, simple images would have had little effect in a poem such as "The Flea".

  1. To what extent does religious poetry appeal to readers who hold religious beliefs?

    The terms "very young" sounds innocent and sweet. In Blake's days, it was common for parents to sell their children because socially it was accepted and parents thought they were doing the "right thing." The other reason is that most people were financially poor and by selling their children, they could have some money in their pockets.

  2. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock opens Selected Poems. Remind yourself of the ...

    He over-estimates the consequences of his actions. He is aware that he is feeble, yet takes no action to counter this, therefore leaving himself in a state of continual depression. Eliot suggests that the women that Prufrock so desperately wants to attract have a self confidence that Prufrock does not possess himself.

  1. "when we have finished reading the poem, it is the images of the albatross ...

    that can allow the Mariner to see the error of his ways and be forgiven. This is the pivotal moment of the poem because he has changed from some one who has no respect or love of

  2. Which Narrative Techniques Does Coleridge Use To Make The Poem Vivid And Compelling?

    the horrifying, repulsive world that he comes to inhabit because of it. The consequences are all the more terrible for having been set in motion by such a thoughtless act in the first place. Coleridge is working towards a goal; to portray the mariner's development into a sensitive, understanding, and compassionate human being.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work