Use of symbolism in William Blake's songs of innocence and experience

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gsachdeva | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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There is hardly any poen in Songs of Innocence and Experience which does not have a symbolic or allegorical or allusive implication. Though these poems are rendered in the simplest possible language, they also have almost unfathomable meaning. The language of these poems is somewhat scriptual -simple and profound at th esame time. For example in the poem 'The Lamb' Blake says : "I a child and thou a lamb\We are called by His name" Christ is the lamb of God , and figuratively, we often call the child a little Lamb.

In 'Songs of Innocence', Blake accepts Lamb and child to symbolize innocence. Moreover , they also stand for Jesus Christ. While the oak tree of 'The Echoing Green' symbolizes old age, the poem, as a whole, may be considered to symbolise the life of man. In 'The Chimney-Sweeper' the cloud and the grave stand for the physical body of man.

In 'Songs of Experience', traditional symbols are given different connotations. For example 'The Tiger' is the anti-type of the lamb of innocence. It represents the violent and energetic aspects of human soul. God's purpose are esoteric, diverse and strange. The same hand that gives birth to the lamb goes to create just the opposite- a tiger. But the beauty that lies in the creation and the created object(tiger) is a testimony to God as a master craft man.  In the world of Experience the violent and destructive elements in creation must be faced and accepted. It is also to be admired likewise. In the two poems which tell the story of Lyca, wild beast like leopards, tigers and lions symbolizes the human passions and energies.

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