In "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," William Blake wrote, "Without Contraries is no progression." This perspective helps readers understand Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, a collection of poems in two parts. Poems from Songs of Innocence present life from a child's trusting viewpoint in which a benevolent God and kind people soften the rough spots of life. Poems that represent "Songs of Experience" were added later and released in the combined volume in 1794. They view life in all its ugliness and pain. To best reach the truth, Blake suggests, one must consider both sides of a topic. Several poems in the first section have matched counterparts in the second section.
"Holy Thursday" from Songs of Innocence portrays a group of orphans, led by the beadles, filing into St. Paul's Cathedral. Described as "these flowers of London town," they have a "radiance all their own." Likewise, the elderly men, "wise guardians of the poor," are presented favorably. However, in the counterpart "Holy Thursday," readers see a dark and cynical description of the same event. The orphans are described as "babes reduced to misery, fed with cold and usurous hand." Instead of using flowers as metaphors, Blake uses "bleak & bare" fields and "thorns," insisting that "it is eternal winter" in the lives of these children. This poem decries the fact that children should live in poverty and hunger.
Likewise, Blake juxtaposes "Infant Joy" with "Infant Sorrow." The first poem praises the blessing of a newborn baby, repeating "sweet joy" four times within the twelve lines of the poem. "Infant Sorrow" presents an angry, struggling, sulking newborn whose parents "groand" [sic] and "wept" upon his arrival. Certainly these two poems represent the "contrary states of the human soul" well: "I happy am," and, "Into the dangerous world I leapt."
By presenting these two poles of human life, Blake allows readers to enjoy the pleasures of life from the perspective of naive optimism while also acknowledging the pain that people endure from their own choices and from circumstances they can't control. The beauty of life is more attractive when juxtaposed with the ugly, and the ugly is more stark when compared to the lovely. Looking at both honestly should motivate people to strive to eliminate the bad and cultivate the good.