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William Blake Poems

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"Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" appears to be very simplistic on first reading. Explain how the poems are in fact a much more complex exploration of Blake's beliefs and times. William Blake was born in London in 1757. He was home educated and was part of the upper working class as his father was a hosier. He was sent to a drawing school and was a dissenting Christian. His Christian beliefs are reflected in several of his poems. Blake became married in 1783 and married for love rather than money and status. To understand his poems fully we first need to understand what the titles of his two major sets of poetry mean. Innocence in the terms of Blake's poetry is "a person who has very little experience and does not know about the bad things that happen in life"-Quoted from the Dictionary. Immediately a link is made between the songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Experience on the other hand means "(the process of getting) knowledge or skill which is obtained from doing, seeing or feeling things"-Quoted from the Dictionary. These two themes are explored significantly within the poems. During Blake's time in London he saw many different movements and ideas develop such as a revolution in America where a group of British Colonies decided to rebel against Britain in their chance to gain independence. ...read more.


From his poems we can somewhat assume that Blake found Charity schools to be a money making scheme. This is proved by his view on the so called "religious people" who ran the schools. In the second line the masters are described as having "wands as white as snow" which shows them as having power because although white is generally used to show innocence in this case the word "snow" contradicts this as Blake often used snow to symbolise cold, dark and evil ambitions and scenarios. London is also mentioned in the first verse by the "high dome of Pauls" and the "Thames water" which in those days was very dirty, but was an integral part of London as were the children. Blake uses religious imagery within the innocence version quite a bit towards the end. "A mighty wind...[raised] to heaven", is used to create an idea based around the children's voices as if they were crying so loud that heaven could hear them. The owners are described as "wise guardians", which is ironic and patronising as Blake actually is meaning that they are horrible and cruel and have no knowledge what so ever. In the experience version of "Holy Thursday" Blake puts forwards different ideas. He starts off by talking about the "fruitful" children which are then "reduced to misery". This symbolises them coming into the schools cheerful and full of happiness and then being shafted out woeful. ...read more.


The use of this adds meaning to the poem because clothing is used to cover people and so William Blake might be trying to say that by covering your true self you are loosing the innocence of individuality. Another effect used in "The Lamb" is the fact that there is not much punctuation. This surprisingly creates a weird flowing nursery rhyme effect. On the other hand in "The Tyger" lots of somewhat harsh punctuation is used to create a pounding rhyme which inspires the reader to imagine the atmosphere of machinery. The reason for the mis-spelling of tiger is because Blake was self taught. This is a good example of differences in class at the time of William Blake. 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. ...read more.

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