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Nurse's Song by William Blake

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Compare and contrast the two versions of "Nurse's Song", showing how Blake illustrates the concepts of Innocence and Experience The Blakean concept of "Innocence" is focused on purity, vulnerability, trust and harmony - often illuminated through the use of children. For "Experience" the crux is on remorse, regrets and the general loss of innocence. In the two versions of "Nurse's Song" children are used to bring out both the innocent and experienced side of the nurse. In the "Innocence" version of the poem, a repeated word pattern is used. It is reminiscent of children's chants and nursery rhymes because of the buoyant, song-like rhythm. "Come, come leave off play", "No, no let us play", "Well, well go and play". This emphasises the childlike, infantile tone of the poem bringing out the innocent, simplistic nature. It also shines a juvenile light on the nurse, which to a reader in an experienced state of mind, gives off a forced, unrealistic innocence. The use of sound in the "Innocence" version of "Nurse's Song" is very apparent. It relates to the sounds made by the children, heard by the nurse; "laughing is heard on the hill," this paints a pleasant picture, an unmistakeably happy image for the reader. ...read more.


An underlying message of a bad childhood, or a disturbing youth is given off when she says "The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, / My face turns green and pale". To some this could imply a feeling of jealousy in the nurse, green being an indication of envy - showing the nurse envying the children's innocence and happiness. However, I think it is simply a device to show how their purity and their inexperience are nauseating to the nurse; how it reminds her of her childhood, and how she has lost that youth and vulnerability and is sickened by her current self. In the second stanza of the "Experience" version, the first two lines are the same, although they seem somewhat more ominous because of the context. "Then come home my children, the sun is gone down / And the dews of night arise;" Also there are no speech marks around these phrases, unlike the "Innocence" version. It means that it is not direct speech from the nurse to the children, but rather an insight into the thoughts of the nurse - disguised and dark - leaving the reader with a nervous energy given off by the eerie mannerisms of the nurse. ...read more.


However another interpretation could be that literally in the daytime, during the spring and winter and at night you are always wasting your time; so no matter what you do time is passing by and you are gradually moving from a state of innocence to experience. That time is squandered in useless, unhelpful ways. The nurse's bitterness is expressed in her realisation of this desecration of such a precious thing. It seems premeditated and as though she has reminisced over her youthful times and understood her mistakes; as if she has discovered how she's capitulated to the ideals of "experience" and is unable to return to her candid, childlike self. I feel that overall, the message given by the "Experience" poem is one of bitterness, remorse and resentment. The darker tone of the poem gives it a deeper meaning - to embrace every second or to become a character like the nurse in this version: cheated in life and cynical about others. However, the playful, childlike "Innocence" version is far less evocative and conceives a simpler idea, to laugh and play "till the light fades away and the dew of night arise". ...read more.

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