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William Blake

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'Songs of Innocence' and 'Songs of Experience' appear to be quite simplistic on first reading. Explain how Blake uses imagery, form and language in these poems, and what their content reveals about the times in which they were written and Blake's beliefs In many of the poems from his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience collections, William Blake writes, at first sight, somewhat simplistically and often in nursery rhymes about life in the 18th century. However, a disturbing picture of poverty, exploitation, hypocrisy and moral decay emerges from the stories of ordinary people and, in particular, children, some of which is hidden and only becomes apparent when we analyse Blake's imagery and language more closely. William Blake was born in London in 1757 to a poor family. He grew up without a formal education but later studied drawing at a school on the Strand. In the early 1770s, he became a student at the Royal Academy where he studied Arts and then was apprenticed to a famous engraver, James Basire. Even though his engravings were good, he was only moderately successful with his work. However, his English skills were amazing for an autodidact. Historically, he witnessed many different events such as the Industrial Revolution, French Revolution and American Independence, which in turn influenced him, his writing style and his radical Christian and political views. Indeed, this can be seen in his legacy, and he is constantly referring to the struggles of London and its people during the industrial revolution in his poems. ...read more.


In the dream, "an Angel who had a bright key, And he open'd the coffins & set them all free;" which was Blake trying to express that new life is given to people and that if you follow God's rules, you will be happy in your afterlife no matter how miserable your current life is. He also gives more pastoral imagery of a "green plain" which is less industrial and more natural. In addition, in "The Chimney Sweeper" religion is degraded as the narrator, who has had experience now, blames the "God & his Priest & King" for his misfortunes, as well as his parents. Darker imagery and language is now used by Blake such as "little black thing among the snow" to describe the children, showing how a once pure and innocent child can be turned into the opposite through experience and society. The narrator then reflects upon how harsh the times were for him as a child by revealing "They clothed me in the clothes of death" which means he was left for death by his parents. Religious hypocrisy was one aspect Blake was strongly against, this was the idea that the Church was trying to tell people the right thing to do, but in fact were doing the exact opposite by neglecting the children and imposing fear into people using God. "The Chimney Sweeper" has six quatrains but the sentences are shorter in comparison to "Holy Thursday". ...read more.


shows he believes that if the unhappiness of the soldiers is continually ignored by those running the country a revolution is inevatable. The final stanza concentrates on marriage and new-life, both of which should bring happeness, instead Blake sees new-life as just continueing the cycle of the corruption, and he critisises the reasons for marriage, believing that many marry for convenience rather than marrying for love. Blake also critisises the "youthful harlot" and uses the word "plaugue" to suggest STD's which will be contracted and passed on. Blake uses immagery to put across his view, with the main idea being the constraint and lack of freedom for everyone within London. The poems from "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" have more meaning than the reader might first imagine due to mainly the events that were surrounding their author "William Blake" at the time of their writing. By the harsh reality of London at that time Blake incorporates the Chimney sweeps, Charity schools, London in general and the industrial revolution into his poems. He does not openly state what each poem is about but within in writing we can pick up on ideas and themes that influenced him to write these poems. While reading these poems people pick up on the things happening at the time due to the detail in which they are described in poetry. These poems are not just poems, they are more like Blake's autobiography on his life through the form of media he liked best, poetry. Umar Rehman 11F ...read more.

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