Saturday, 16 November 2013

William Blake – Songs of innocence and of experience.

“At Lambeth, where many of the Songs were composed, Blake was once discovered in his little back-garden, sitting naked in the sun under a tree with Catherine, reading Paradise Lost. He called to the friend, ‘Come in! It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!” (Holmes in Blake, 1991,

“’”What,” it will be Questioned, “when the Sun rises do you not see a round disc of fire, somewhat like a Guinea?” O no, no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord almighty.” I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would question a Window concerning a Sight. I look through it & not with it.’” (Holmes in Blake, 1991, p.vii).

 “He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb” (Blake, 1991, 8; The Lamb).

“Look on he rising sun: there God does live
And gives his light. And gives his heat away.
And we are put on earth a little space ..
That we may learn to bear the beams of love.
For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear
The cloud will vanish we shall hear his voice.” (Blake, 1991, 10; The Little Black Boy).

“Father, father, where are you going
O do not walk so fast.
Speak father, speak to your little boy
Or else I shall be lost.” (Blake, 1991, 13; The Little Boy Lost).

“When wolves and tygers howl for prey
They pitying stand and weep;
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep.
But if they rush dreadful;
The angels most heedful,
Receive each mild spirit.
New worlds to inherit.

And there the lions ruddy eyes,
Shall flow with tears of gold;
And pitying the tender cries,
And walking round the fold:
Saying: wrath by his meekness
And by his health, sickness
Is driven away,
From our immortal day.

And now beside thee bleating lamb.
I can lie down and sleep;” (Blake, 1991, 21; Night).

The core in the songs of experience is that the root of evil is selfishness. Many of the pictures of the song of innocence is turned into evil by selfishness. Because selfishness destroys the circle of reciprocity, goodwill and gifts:
“Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou

A man lie me?” (Blake, 1991, 40; The Fly).

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