Songs of Innocence and Songs of experience by william blakeHow are these poems contrary? What do they communicate about innocence and experience? What does Blake mean by experience and what the...

Songs of Innocence and Songs of experience by william blake

How are these poems contrary? What do they communicate about innocence and experience? What does Blake mean by experience and what the importance of experiece seems to be, relative to innocence?

Asked on by maria1525

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

They indicate opposites even though they may sound quite a bit alike.  Take the "Chimney Sweep" poems, for instance. They are both about the young boy whose job it is to clean out chimneys, but the first is focusing on the boy in the early days as a sweep...he is young, still innocent, a little excited about the job, a bit fearful of the closed in spaces of the chimney.  The second is focusing on his attitude toward life after being a sweep for a while.  It is definitely more negative, darker, more pessimistic as though the boy loathes his job and sees no way out from it.  He is constantly, even in his non-woring hours, surrounded by the dark coffin-like tightness of the chimney and it smothers him.

The same is true of "The Lamb" and "The Tiger".  They begin the same, asking the creatures "who made thee?" But the Lamb is focused more on soft, innocent, cuddly creature who represents Jesus...the savior of the world.  It is full of kind, positive, nurturing language.  The Tiger, on the other hand, is dangerous and wild.  He has been corrupted by the world, no longer innocent.  He represents the factories and the anvils and the dirty blacksmith's workspace.  He is not cuddly, although he is beautiful...he entices and tempts like most deadly but luring things in the world which will corrupt and kill if you allow it.  In the end, Blake comes back to the fact that the same creator created both the lamb and the tiger, and that we basically have free will to choose our paths.

Do you see how these parallel poems show innocence and experience?  Now go back and read a few more.  See if you can pick out the difference in the word choice--postive and negative connotations, allusions to things in the world, etc.

Good Luck!

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I wouldn't say that the poem are contrary. They both convey questions about life and 'the people in charge of one's life--whether spiritual or legal--."

In Songs of Innocence, it is a circumstance of tragic surroundings in which a child does not have any rights and is forced to lead a life that is at the whims of adults.

In Songs of Experience, it is also a circumstance of tragic surroundings in which he questions why things are the way they are, and why a higher power can not intercede on anyone's behalf.

They are powerful represnetations on the powerlessness of people to get out of circumstances they can not control.

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