Blake’s artwork permeated various themes and motifs. Fair to say, that an important element of his work was a deep, raging inner world that brought charges and was claimed by critics as “madness”. However, ignoring the accepted rules, loss of a common framework – is not yet the madness. Admittedly, Blake’s creative freedom is based on passion and openness to accept pulses from the higher realms of existence. He has created his own unique style of art as the cultural phenomenon and primary source of Romantic era.
Blake as innovator used an imagery from his own ambience to portray feelings, something that was unheard of during the classical period. His romanticism features the importance he devoted to imagination, symbolism, poetry liberalism, lyricism, and philanthropy sympathies. The subject of idealized childhood and theological matter are vital to his art as the symbol of the most delicate insights of the human mind. Blake reveals the innocence of the world through infant senses of wonder and intimacy of existence, all saturated with mystery and beauty.
The use of romanticism appeals to dreamy inner-self to transcend the boundaries that are set by a rational thinking. It helps understand the wholesome truth instead of just making conclusions on what can be seen. Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience provides a romanticized yet neatly circumspect view of nature, society, God, and religion from a variety of prospects, eventually demanding that the reader embraces the view to be found the most irresistible from among the infinite voices of the poems.
William Blake’s two-in-one volume Songs of Innocence and of Experience owns a sub-title ‘the opposite states of human soul’, the state of innocence revealed as contra to the matter of experience.
Songs of Innocence tells that the real life does not only consist of joyfulness, but also sorrow, so poems are full of gaiety and suffering. On the other hand, lyrics constantly remind that this is not only about simple everyday events, but also eternal life. The soul rejoices, but the flesh is doomed to suffer. Hence, bright motifs predominate in the imagery of the cycle, because it deals with the happy and carefree “state of the human soul”. Therefore, it teaches us while growing up not to forget about initial purity of the soul and its romance.
“Innocence” is a primarily instinctive, unexamined faith in God and, as a consequence, closeness to Him. Child and anyone who feels like a child, endowed with a special kind of “divine vision”, reveal the mysteries of the world. This ability, according to Blake, is the highest wisdom. The earthly life of a man for Blake is the path of the soul from the eternity to eternity and back. The soul, clothed in flesh for the period of his earthly existence, preserves the memory of eternity that is innocence until this memory isn’t blurred with the acquired knowledge. On the other hand, earthly existence is a reflection of what is happening in eternity. For instance, in The Little Black Boy poem author wittily notices the importance of saving the eternal soul:
My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white… (Essicks 2008)
It is a kind of Blake’s philosophical premise and artistic technique which largely determine the duality of each poem. Rudimental Christian values figured as a metaphor for the innocence of a godchild teach to be easygoing despite all of the experience.
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Songs of Experience certainly contains enough caustic, “satirical” mockery of bright, radiant, and implausible interpretation of the world of Songs of Innocence, and in this sense the second cycle bears the stamp of disappointment. However, this is not a disappointment in life in general rather feeling of sadness for bygone conceptions. In fact, experience does not negate the innocent, but gives it a special place of one of the aspects of diversity in the world. In other words, Blake portrays the ideal “experienced innocence”, which combines the purity with emancipation, instinctive “divine vision” with the acquired knowledge.
Ignorance, innocence, spiritual purity, naturalness are all the things that determine the range of emotional and shaped part of the cycle. According to Blake, it is not only a kind of lost paradise. His thought deepens in the form of a lost and found child, raised in the Ignorance Songs and Songs of Knowledge. The child represents the type of an attitude, which has an integrity that is already not available for an adult. In the adults’ world a child is always alone and miserable. The author seemed to show a “true soul” of mankind. The world is conceived as the perfect one, but the human spirit abides in lies and hypocrisy – this is the new Blake’s philosophy.
In conclusion, Blake premises that development is only possible through the contraries. Thus, innocence is associated with the childhood, while experience with the adulthood. Experience, thereby, appends a grade to innocence that darkens its trustful vision while countervailing with some of its recklessness.