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William Blake

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"How does William Blake use Songs of Innocence and Experience to express his views about the society of his day and its institutions?" William Blake was born in 1757 in London. He was from a working class background and had to teach himself from the books that he had to hand. In the early 1770's he studied art at the Royal Academy then in 1774 he obtained an apprenticeship with a famous engraver. In 1776 American Revolution secured independence from Britain. This created great political upheaval and paranoia. The Revolutions' in America and France got the rich and wealthy classes in England fearful of a similar revolt in their country. In 1782 Blake married Catherine Boucher. 1784 he set up his own engraving business, Blake was a talented poet and artist. He made his living as an engraver throughout his life. In 1789 Songs Of Innocence was published. Blake produced this with his own skills, he wrote the poems, drew the illustrations and designed the pages himself. After the pages were printed he coloured them by hand. In 1794 Songs Of Experience was published. And just as before, he used his own skills to design the book. 1827 Blake died at the age of 70. Blake was best known for his eccentric ideas that pointed out what was wrong with the world as he saw it. At one point Blake was put on trial for treason. The reason for this was that a soldier strayed into his garden and Blake started swearing at him. This showed his hostility towards authority and order. ...read more.


The second poem that I have chosen is "The Garden Of Love", this is from Songs of Experience. Blake begins, "I went to the Garden Of Love, And saw what I never had seen: A chapel was built in the midst, Where I used to play on the green." The Garden of Love is a metaphor for the Garden Of Eden, which symbolises a world with out sin, and there was no church then. Adam and Eve communicated with God themselves then, and they did not need the church for that. Then he states that a chapel was built on the green when he used to play, so maybe the chapel has ruined his freedom to play on the green. And as before we know that Blake believes people should get pleasure from nature and freedom. Then Blake says, "And the gates of this chapel were shut, And thou shalt not. writ over the door; So I turn'd to the Garden Of Love, That so many sweet flowers bore." "Thou shalt not" is an important phrase from Bible; it is used in the 10 Commandments from Exodus/ Leviticus. Blake believed God wrote the Bible. But it is interesting that the phrase the church has lifted out of it is, "thou shalt not" emphasising the negatives. And the only way to talk to him is through the church, but as before with Adam and Eve, they did not need the church to communicate with God. So instead he turns to the Garden of Love instead. Blake says, "And I saw it was filled with graves, And tomb-stones where flowers should be: And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds, And binding with briars, my joys & desires." ...read more.


We do not have chimney sweepers around any more, as it is dangerous and a sin to make a child a slave. London has now changed for the better even though pollution is still very bad. "The Garden of Love" can be compared to a modern society as the church still claims that to communicate with God it has to be with the church but it is not the same, people have the choice to or not to believe in the church and are not forced to. The church cannot call a little boy a 'fiend' and the parent can protect their child from the church. Blake uses metaphor really well and can create a mental picture to symbolise something else. For example: "I went to the Garden of Love" This presents an image of a garden. And you think about the Garden of Eden. Blake often describes an object or person as something else for effect. "How can the bird that is born for joy, Sit in a cage?" The child is referred to as a bird that is locked away in a cage and cannot enjoy freedom. These are just a few ways that Blake emphasizes his views. The poems do relate to the title in my opinion. Most of the poems in Songs of Innocence are mild like "The Lamb" and Blake does not blame religion and does not blame the government as much as he does in Songs of Experience. In Songs of Experience Blake holds the government and religion responsible for the awful state of the country. In a way it is like he has had more experience and has realised these problems are worse than he thought. By Paris Deacon ...read more.

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