Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Some of the poems of Songs of Innocence invite us to compare them with specific poems from Songs of Experience.
These two poems, Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow, contrast being born to innocence and being born to experience. In Infant Joy all signs of trouble have been removed from the state of innocence. Enclosed within the heart of a blossom the infant radiates the joy which he symbolizes.  

British Museum Songs of Innocence
Plate 28
Copy A 
Song of Innocence & of Experience, Song 25, (E 16) 

"Infant Joy 

I have no name 
I am but two days old.-- 
What shall I call thee? 
I happy am Joy is my name,-- 
Sweet joy befall thee! 

Pretty joy! 
Sweet joy but two days old, 
Sweet joy I call thee; 
Thou dost smile. 
I sing the while 
Sweet joy befall thee."

The infant of experience is not passive nor does he enter a gentle world designed to suit his needs. He wails and struggles, strives and leaps. The world of experience demands more from the infant but offers the consolation of the mother's breast.
British Museum Songs of Experience
Plate 38
Copy A

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 48, (E 28)  
"INFANT SORROW          

My mother groand! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud;
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my fathers hands:
Striving against my swadling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mothers breast."


The babe of Infant Sorrow is no ordinary child. Like Orc or Hercules he bursts into the world making an effort to free himself from constraints. Entry into the state of Experience resembles entry into the state of adolescence, whereas entering Innocence is equivalent to entering childhood.  

The setting of the image for Innocence is within the world of vision or imagination, while experience is placed in a realistic setting appropriate for our world of generation. 

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