Thursday, November 03, 2011


In developing the contrast between the states of innocence and experience Blake moves to darker manifestations in the world which is created by the failure to live in awareness, harmony and brotherhood. The inner and outer worlds reflect one another. What we see without is within as well. As we progress through Songs of Experience we are shown the most disheartening and disturbing things which go on in our world. We are being shown what our internal lack of unity, integrity and compassion produces in the world which mirrors our psyches.

Beginning with The Tyger the darkness becomes more apparent, the symmetry is fearful, and the source of the disturbing symptoms is questioned - 'Did he who made the Lamb make thee?' At the same time that Blake begins to look at cruel realities he locates their origins in fallen institutions of government, church, morality and family.

SONGS 42, (E 24)
The Tyger

"When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? "

SONGS 44, (E 26)

"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.

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."

SONGS 46, (E 26)

"How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls"

SONGS 47, (E 27)
The Human Abstract.

"Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;"

SONGS 49, (E 28)

"I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow."

SONGS 50, (E 28)
A Little BOY Lost

"The weeping child could not be heard.
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They strip'd him to his little shirt.
And bound him in an iron chain."

Yale Center for British Art
Song 33, Holy Thursday
Cruelty reaches its maximum in The Little Boy Lost where the parents can only weep as their son is executed for honestly confessing that the God he saw was in humanity. 

In Songs 42 - 51, some of what Blake has revealed is the pain involved in confronting harsh realities, the role that religion plays in destroying love, ways in which the system justifies the perversion of love, and the resulting loss of potential for healing.

Index to Songs of Innocence and of Experience

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