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With reference to at least four poems, show how they are representative of themes and styles in Songs of Experience.

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Introduction

Aaron Justin Tan 05A23 With reference to at least four poems, show how they are representative of themes and styles in Songs of Experience. In the Songs of Experience "Innocence" has progressed towards "Experience", but it is important to remember that Blake's vision is essentially dialectical: "Innocence" and "Experience" are co-related as the road to "experience" begins from "innocence". The poems in Songs of Experience are darker in tone and outlook, affirming a bleaker (or more realistic) view of creation than their "Innocent" counterparts. Blake manifests the themes of cynicism, corruption, oppression, disillusionment and cruelty through the use of stylistic devices such as mirroring, juxtapositions, archetypes and imagery. In "The clod and the pebble", the poem provides two contrasting attitudes, one of selfless love for others, and the second, of Love as self-absorption and possessiveness. The first stanza seems to belong to the Songs of Innocence sequence, and the final stanza to Songs of Experience, and perhaps it is left to the reader to adjudicate between the two attitudes. However, as a poem in the Songs of Experience sequence, it is important that the final words are given to the selfish Pebble rather than to the down-trodden Clod, perhaps suggesting that it is the former's attitude which is seen to be the most insightful. Blake uses imagery such as the clod of clay to represent something insignificant, like mud, downtrodden. Blake also uses alliteration on the phrase "clod of clay" to emphasize its worthlessness. This imagery also creates an impression that the clay is malleable and unformed, implying youth, ignorance, naivet� and innocence. However, this spineless clay is "trodden with the cattle's feet" implying that it is absolutely and totally humbled, powerless and worthless. It is as though Blake is mocking this sort of selfless love- that it is like a doormat, and this innocence is only an illusion, that it can be walked all over. ...read more.

Middle

The first question, "On what wings dare he aspire?" could be a reference to Icarus who flew too close to the sun and melted his wings, or it might be a reference to Satan- the classic, winged rebel but the phrase "dare he aspire" communicates the idea that someone is forcefully attempting something. This pattern continues throughout the poem, and includes the image of the blacksmith creating the "tyger". The impressions of simple, stunning contrasts are also intensified by the poetic form of "The Tyger". The trochaic tetrameter supplies the poem with a feeling of raw, restrained energy. Then, this energy heightens the concentrated anticipation produced by the ending couplets, yet like a child's rhyme the unpretentious four-line stanzas give the reader an impression of simplicity. As a result, even the structure of the poem complements this extraordinary work in expanding contrasts. Blake has used rhetorical questions, simple meter and rhyme as well as incantory rhyme and contrasted this poem with meekness of "The Lamb". In a nutshell, this poem is not so much about the tiger as it really is, or as a zoologist might present it to us; it is the "Tyger", as it appears to the eye of the beholder. Blake imagines the tiger as the embodiment of God's power in creation: the animal is terrifying in its beauty, strength, complexity and vitality. In the poem "London", Blake has exposed the gulf between those in power and the misery of poor people. Man's lack of freedom and the theme of oppression is highlighted in this poem through Blake's use of repetition, imagery and biblical references. The central metaphor of this poem is the "mind-forg'd manacles" of the second stanza. This is a vivid symbol that explains a deep human truth. The image of the forge appears in stanza four of "The Tyger" as well. Here Blake imagines the mind as a forge where "manacles" are made. ...read more.

Conclusion

The long "o" sounds in the line "priests in black gowns were walking their rounds" give the impression that this is not an impassioned or infrequent occupation of the priests, but rather routine, methodical and bloody never-ending! The internal rhyme in each of the last two lines slow us down, emphasizing the oppression and again suggesting a cyclic, ongoing action. This cyclic action shows Blake's views on the inevitability of the loss of innocence in the face of experience. It is significant that Blake chose to stress the colour black as it is a colour with connotations of death and joylessness as well as being associated with the priests. Also, in the poem as a whole it is significant that the joys and pleasures of life are represented by a garden and that the restrictions of the church are represented by a man-made structure. Perhaps Blake sees the "garden" of love as the natural state created by God and the restrictions on joy as man-made artifice. With imagery such as this, and due to its apparent simplicity, Blake presents "The Garden of Love" as a trite image of the Church muscling in on the private lives of Englanders; an almost comically melodramatic scene of tombstones and Death-figure priests. It is thus perhaps too easy to dismiss this poem at once as nothing more than that. However, this simplicity allows the poem to become a didactic poem, with new levels of resonance rising from it with each reading. The level that first presents itself is explained above; the Church taking on itself the legislation and administration of morality. This Songs of Experience lyric deals with the repression of joys, desires and instincts by the church and by prohibitive morality. Given that the poem deals with a vision of a journey into the "garden", we could perhaps also view the poem as a commentary on the ways that conscience and guilt are imposed on the imagination and on what is natural and instinctual, the 'mind-forged manacles' of London. ...read more.

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