Choose three poems from Songs of Innocence and show how they exemplify Blake's concept of innocence.

In “The Lamb” Blake underscores the purity and goodness of the innocent. In “The Chimney Sweeper” Blake shows how the innocent are vulnerable to exploitation. In “Infant Joy” Blake highlights the joy that comes with innocence.

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In his poem “The Lamb,” Blake underscores the purity and goodness of the innocent. The speaker in the poem is a child who is speaking to a lamb. The child asks “Dost though know who made thee?” The child then confirms the Christian belief that this animal was created by God and expresses awe and praise for the wonders of God’s creations. The “soft,” ‘meek,” lamb is also symbolic in part of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe to be the son of God. In depicting the lamb as an innocent pure creature Blake is emphasizing Jesus’ goodness.

In “The Chimney Sweeper” Blake expresses his view that those who are innocent and naive are vulnerable to exploitation. The speaker in this poem is also a child, a young boy whose father sold him into labor. The child firmly believes that if he and his fellow child laborers are good workers they will be ok. “If we all just work hard, nothing bad will happen,” he states at the end. This statement leaves readers, particularly adult readers, feeling sad. Because there is no guarantee that nothing bad will happen to these boys. But the way that the boys have been taught to believe this brings to mind religious indoctrination and how it can be used to exploit the innocent.

Finally, “Infant Joy” is another poem that highlights the sweet feelings that accompany innocence. Once again the speaker is a child, but this time it is just an infant who is two days old. He says he has no name but then states “Joy is my name—/Sweet joy befall thee!” Here Blake suggests that with innocence comes happiness and optimism.

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