The Constraints of the Church

William Blake throughout his poems’ in Songs of Innocence and Experience emphasizes freedom and his sympathy for rebellion. In a lot of Blake’s poems the emphasis on freedom and sympathy for rebellion is against one his most central themes in the book, which is social institutions, mainly the church. Blake emphasizes freedom of thought, which the church confines and rebellion against the restrained teachings of the church. To a certain extent this opinion is a valid evaluation of Bakes views in Songs of Innocence and Experience in the poem “A Little Girl Lost”. However, some of Blake’s poems also implicitly advocate a patient, even passive, acceptance of injustice and suffering to the church. The  “Garden of Love” conveys that the church’s restrains are silently followed.   In addition Blake also conveys both emphasis on freedom of thought and rebellion against church and passive acceptance of injustice and suffering in the same poem. “The Little Boy Lost” conveys both opinions. Blake in Songs of Innocence and Experience conveys specific poems that emphasize rebellion and freedom against the church, but also in other poems conveys a passive acceptance to injustice and suffering that the church advocates.

        In the poem “A Little Girl Lost” Blake emphasizes rebellion against the teachings of the church and freedom of thought and love. This is conveyed through the use of multiple speakers and juxtaposition of metaphoric colors.  In this poem a girl rebels against the church by choosing to love and engage in sexual relations before marriage, which is forbidden in the teachings of Christianity.  Blake chooses to start the poem with speaker number one who directly addresses the readers. “Children of the future Age, / Reading this indignant page; / Know that in a former time, / Love! Sweet Love! was thought a crime.” (Blake, 1967, a.ll.1-4) This speaker directly talks to the audience and conveys to them that the freedom to love was inadmissible back in the day. From the beginning Blake conveys to the audience that the fact that love was condemned was appalling by suggesting that love was  “sweet love” and was thought of as a crime. The second speaker then narrates the story of a girl who rebels against the church and does fall in love despite it being thought of as a crime. “Parents were afar: / Strangers came not near: / And the maiden soon forgot her fear.” (Blake, 1967, a.ll.19-21)  By using the two speakers Blake emphasizes freedom of love and thought because he takes the time to point out to the readers through speaker one that love was thought crime and then through the second speaker describes how this injustice was rebelled against. The story of how the little girl rebels against the church expresses Blake’s sympathy for rebellion because through the first speaker he conveys that not being able to love freely was amiss and therefore the actions of the girl are justified.  Another way Blake emphasizes freedom of thought and love is through the juxtaposition of metaphoric colors. In the poem he points out the color green, through the garden in which the two lovers meet and juxtaposes the green with the girl’s white father and his hoary hair. The green in this poem is a metaphor for nature and freedom. In the garden the girl has the freedom to love and engage in sexual acts. “Once a youthful pair / Fill’d with softest care / Met in garden bright.” (Blake, 1967, a.ll.11-14) However Blake chooses to associate the girl’s father with the color white, which acts as a metaphor for God. “O the dismal care! / That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair.” (Blake, 1967, a.ll. 37-38) The green and the white are juxtaposed against each other to show that the girl is closer to green which is freedom and rebels against her father who is associated with white and is a metaphor for God. The father is closer to the God and church while the girl rebels against the church’s restrictions. Through the use of multiple speakers and juxtaposition of metaphorical colors Blake conveys his emphasis on freedom of love and thought and rebellion against the church’s restrictions.

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        In the “Garden Of Love” however, Blake conveys a passive acceptance to the injustice brought by the church. In this poem similar to “A Little Girl Lost” the freedom to love is being condemned by the Church. But unlike in “A Little Girl Lost” where the girl goes against the church and loves anyways, in this poem there is a passive acceptance to the constrains of the church. This is conveyed through juxtaposition. In this poem a Chapel replaces the Garden of Love that once used to be existent. “I went to the garden of Love. / And saw what ...

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