What literary devices show the innocence and experience in William Blake's "Nurse's Song"?

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As with many of the poems in Blake's brilliant Songs of Innocence and Experience, there are two poems entitled "Nurse's Song," which although they possess similarities, are very different in terms of their tone and the message they convey. The first song, extolling innocence, presents us with a picture of children's happiness as the children are allowed to play "till the light fades away" before coming home to bed. The children are shown to be innocent and at one with nature, choosing to remain outside playin with the "little birds" and the "sheep." The alliteration in this poem helps establish the childlike view of innocence in such lines as:

Then the little ones leaped and shouted and laughed...

Note the repetition of the "l" sound and how it helps create a light tone whilst also making this poem almost like a nursery rhyme.

In the opposite poem, the same sound of children playing evokes a very different reaction in the nurse. Onomatopoeia is used to create a more sinister and foreboding tone through the reference to "whisperings are in the dale," and the way that "spring" and "day" are used as metaphors for youth and innocence, and "winter" and "night" are compared to experience and the necessity for "disguise" creates a much darker picture.

Read the study guide:
Songs of Innocence and of Experience

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