Compare and Contrast
Summary: In songs of innocence, by William Blake, he sings of enjoyment and happiness. He is the piper of happy and pleasant songs which children are delighted to hear. In experience, however, he is disenchanted and angry disobedient.
Blake songs of innocence and experience compare the innocent, pastoral world of childhood against an adult world of corruption and repression .The songs of innocence and experience show two contrary states of the human soul and these are needed to make human progression possible .The poem in two sections, have a difference of character between them. Songs of innocence set out on imaginative vision of the state of innocence. Blake writer of the ecstatic joy of childhood, in complete harmony with nature and God. Innocent is a state of bliss, there is no discord no irritation. But though the state of innocence is wonderfully charming, it is not everything, and cannot last long. To attain a higher state, man must be tested by sufferings and he must go through the actual experiences of life. This is the link between songs of experience and songs of experience. Songs of experience show how life challenges, corrupts and destroy it. Experience is a state of disillusionment .The soul that ran to embrace the world with open rams is rebuffed. It discovers in Mathew Arnold’s words:
The world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new
That really neither joy, nor love, no light, nor certitude, no peace, nor help for pain.
Corruption lies at the root of life. The innocent lamb is the victim to lion. Hunger pain and deceit escape the steps of everything. Jealousy shadows love. Faith appears as man’s pathetic refuse to face facts, hope, the illusion he pursues in flying from terrors in flying from the terrors, from fear.
Thus in the state of experience not only the innocent joys and pieties of the cruel laws of the society, but there is inevitable distortion and sadness, which systematized empirical philosophy imposes on life. Blake image of this state is grave.
In songs of innocence Blake sings of bliss and happiness. He is the piper of happy and pleasant songs which children are delighted to hear. In experience, however, he is disenchanted and angry rebel. Naturally for that reason, his tone is unpleasant. Many of the poems fall into pairs which show the change of attitude from innocence to experience so that the same situation may be seen from two perspectives. Many of the poems draw attention to the positive aspects of natural human understanding prior to the corruption and distortion of experience. In songs of innocence the atmosphere is one of the harmony, peace and joy. This is illustrated in a poem like Holy Thursday but the atmosphere changes completely in the songs of experience, where the poem thus opens with:
“Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land
Babes reduced to misery
Fed with cold and usurious hand”"
According to Blake experience destroys the natural, spontaneous, selfless love which characterizes innocence love. His view is that love demands not merely tolerance but forgiveness and brotherhood. But love in the songs of experience is corrupted in many ways:
“Love seemed not itself to please
Not for itself hath any case
But for another gives its ease
And builds a heaven in hell’s despite”
These later poems treat sexual morality in terms of the repressive effects of jealousy, shame and secrecy, all of which corrupts the ingenuousness of innocents love. With regard to religion they are less concerned with character of the individual faith then with the institution of the church, its role in politics and its effect on society and the individual mind.
So the style of the songs are simple and direct and the language and rhythms are painstakingly crafted the idea they explore are often deceptively complex.