Critical Summary of Songs of Innocene and Experience is a collection of poems by William Blake



Innocence and disillusionment are the two important themes in the poetry of William Blake while symbolism and mystic element remain the prime means of disclosing the ideas and beliefs of the poet. In "Songs of Innocence and Experience", Blake is "showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul". The poet has actually projected "innocence" and "experience" or "disillusionment" as contrary while projecting the evolution of man from one state of being, innocence, to another i.e. disillusionment. In fact, Blake rethinks what Milton produced in his existential and mythical states of "paradise", "Innocence", and "Fall", Experience". The "Songs of Innocence" is a state of childhood and "protected innocence" though this state is not immune to fallibility. "The Songs of Experience" depict the moral, social and political corruption as well as tyranny of the Church and the state. If "Innocence" is the joyful period of felicity and heaven then "Experience" is the state of "fallen beings" or to quote Bible: "A heap of broken images".

The Songs of Innocence understand the world with the innocent state of being, a child. It is strange that while man is "immature" and growing, he is able to discern the truths of existence so easily. He is purer and can think clearly. He is meditative. He is inquisitive: "Little lamb who made thee?". He reflects and propels the answers: "Little Lamb I'll tell thee!" The heavy weight of existence doesn't trouble him. Nothing bothers him. He remains in the ideal world of perfect harmony with the nature and the Creator. He is friendly and charming. He has neither fear nor guilt. There is sheer innocence and truth. "Innocence" adopts the ideal form of human existence. We observe a carefree child roaming about, like imagination, without any restraint or prejudices; he is free to form beliefs and ideas. The childlike, pure, state of man is idealized by the poet.


The Songs of Experience reflect the corrupted state of being, "the fallen man". It is the condition of man when he has been corrupted by the vices and evils of this world. Experience is the stage of man when originality is lost and the mere imprints of the world are mirrored as mean and tyrant. Experience is often regarded as a "dark forest in which man finds himself alone". This shows the decay and loss of human values. It appears to be a tale of man's cruelty and corrupted reason which resulted in drawing him away from God. Blake longs for the spiritual revival of man and focuses on individual to God relationship like the one in Paradise. The purpose of the poet in Song of Experience is to project the value and importance of resurrection. Blake seems to follow St. Paul that "To the pure, all things are pure". Therefore, man's soul, not necessarily appearance, be clean and pure to soar to God for any regeneration or resurrection.



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