How is the title phrase "songs of innocence" capable of more than one interpretation? Within this understanding, are adult limitations in understanding different in kind from a child's limitations?
On one level, "Songs of Innocence" refers to an understanding about being in the world. Blake sees children as embodying the condition of consciousness where there is a pure exploration of identity. There is a complete immersion and sense of authenticity about the world and being in it. In poems such as "Innocence" and "The Lamb," there is an exploration of identity that is predicated upon a sense of purity, a willingness to see the soul of the individual as capable of only goodness and sincerity. When Blake suggests that "Two Contrary States of the Human Soul" are explored through innocence and experience, Blake recognizes that the title is reflective of more than one interpretation of being in the world.
On another level, the title can be seen as an expression of melancholic nostalgia. Given the "experience" element that is revealed in poems like "The Sick Rose" and "The Tyger," Blake reveals that innocence is a time past. When Blake associates innocence with childhood, he is able to do so because children possess a lack of awareness about their own innocent state. In bringing out the "Experience" element in the poem, Blake illuminates an alternative interpretation to innocence. Experience causes the individual to look back longingly at a condition that will never be visited again. The viewing of innocence from the perspective of experience is a reverie for something that has passed, a mourning for a condition that is never to be experienced again. This interpretation brings out a nostalgic ache towards innocence, a time period of being that is gone forever when viewed through the frame of experience's reference.
It is through this that Blake is able to suggest that a child's limitations in understanding is different than an adult's. In poems like "The Lamb," the limitations to a child's understanding is that knowledge lies beyond the grasp of the child:
Little Lamb who made theeDost thou know who made theeGave thee life & bid thee feed.By the stream & o'er the mead;Gave thee clothing of delight,Softest clothing wooly bright;Gave thee such a tender voice,Making all the vales rejoice!
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?