William Blake's Songs of Experience

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Earth's Answer (Experience)

  • 5, 5 Line stanzas - ABAAB Rhyme scheme
  • Earth appealing- Read in conjunction to the Introduction
  • Earth personified. 'Earth raised up her head'
  • Bitter reply to previous poem
  • 'Stony dread' - Reference to Medusa?
  • 'Prisoned' - Bondage/Slavery
  • Full of misery and dread - cynical lexis
  • 'Ancient men' - Gods? Druids? Sould trapped in physical world
  • Stanza 3 - Slight change in structure
  • 'night' becomes symbol of misery
  • Repressive. Old Testament God
  • Stanza 4 - Don't hide your Joy because nature doesn't. 'Blossoms grow' - life starts again. Should we have these restrictions?
  • Stanza 5 - Restrictions on our life. After French Revolution
  • 'Man is born free but is forever in chains' - Rousseau
  • 'You have a world to win and nothing to lose but your chains' - Marx - The Communist Manifesto 1835
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Holy Thursday (Experience)

  • 4 Stanzas, shorter lines
  • Theme - Poverty and Religion
  • Alternate rhymes
  • Against established church
  • Cannot believe there is so much poverty (still relevant today)
  • 'Usurous hand?' - Charity done begrudgingly. Social injustice
  • 2nd stanza - bitter view of charity
  • Suffering and poem about class
  • 'Barbarism or socialism' - Rosa Luxemburg
  • Anaphora - 3rd stanza all start with 'And'
  • 'Thorns' - In society the mill owners? capitalists? but also Jesus' crown of thorns = symbol of suffering
  • Selfish society
  • Final stanza Blake criticises the system
  • 'Nor poverty the mind appal' - Shock OR pall bearers who carry the coffins = death due to poverty in society at the time
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Nurse's Song (Experience)

  • Bitter parody of Innocence version
  • Much shorter
  • Not the nurturing, kind-hearted nurse we see before
  • Starts the same
  • 2 Stanzas
  • 'Whisperings' - Secretive, no laughter, repressed children. 'Seen and not heard'.
  • No voices of children
  • Thinks back to her youth in a bitter way
  • 'green' - colour of jealousy
  • Same opening of 2nd stanza
  • 'Spring' - youth?
  • 'Winter' - Age?
  • Children did as they were told
  • Freedom repressed.
  • Cycle of repression
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The Chimney-Sweeper (Experience)

  • Much shorter
  • 3 Stanzas
  • Uneven rhyme scheme = Exposing hypocrasy of organised religion
  • 'Little black thing' - dehumanised
  • 'Snow' - contrast between black and white.
  • Church condoning ill treatment of children
  • Parents missing again
  • Abandoned for the sake of religion
  • 'They clothed me in the clothes of death' - As if someone has died. Winter and death associated
  • 'Are gone to praise God and his priest and king' - Trinity of oppression
  • 'Who make a heaven of our misery' - Ironic
  • We can't be happy - jealous world
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The Angel (Experience)

  • 4 Stanzas
  • Persona = Young girl who rejects the angel
  • 'What can it mean!' - bewilderment and excitement
  • 'Maiden' - Virginal young girl
  • 'Beguiled' - being charmed or tricked
  • 'Heart's delight' - hiding her true feelings and desires
  • 'Armed my fear; - judgement
  • 'Shields' and 'Spears' = love is like a battle
  • 'For the time of youth was fled, and grey hairs were on my head' - Don't miss out on chances.
  • Criticising chastity
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The Tiger (Experience)

  • 6 Quatrains
  • Trochaic and tetrameter. Rhyming couplets
  • Made up of unanswered questions. Questioning God?
  • 'Fire' - Link to blacksmith. God is the divine blacksmith stanza 2
  • 'Wings dare he aspire?' - link to story of Icarus
  • Stanza 4 - Time of industrial revolution. 'What the hammer? what the chain?' - Chains for slave trade being made and weapons for french revolution.
  • Metre reflects rhythm of forge and furnace of blacksmith working
  • 'Dare its deadly terrors clasp?' - Children under the machines? Voiced plosives 'd'
  • 'Threw down their spears' - Fall of man in Genesis
  • 'Did he smile his work to see?' - Is God smug?
  • 'Did he who made the lamb make me?' - Smiliar to the poem 'The Lamb'
  • Tiger - Industrialisation
  • Ends the safe like a refrain but the verb changes now 'dare' not 'could'.
  • Human and divine creation
  • "Never is he (Blake) more heretical that in the Tiger" - Alfred Kazin
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My Pretty Rose Tree (Experience)

  • Rose = The woman he loves?
  • Analogy
  • Extra marital affair
  • 'Ive a pretty rose tree' - beauty and pain in the rose
  • Recrimination
  • Satarising woman's reaction and jealousy.
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Ah! Sunflower (Experience)

  • 2 Quatrains ABAB
  • 'Weary of time' = Dying?
  • 'Steps of the sun' = Growing towards the sun
  • 'Where the traveller's journey is done;' - Compared with a traveller
  • Traveller looking for answer. Is their destination heaven?
  • 'Virgin' - 'The Angel'?
  • 'Where the youth pined away with desire' - Don't waste opportunities
  • 'Shroud' - What you wear when you're dead
  • We are condemned to death
  • Only be free when we're dead
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The Lily (Experience)

  • 1 Quatrain
  • Rhyming couplets
  • Lily sometimes a symbol of death or of purity
  • Juxtaposing innocent with experience
  • Contrary state
  • Nothing dangerous about the lily unlike the rose
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The Garden of Love (Experience)

  • 3 Quatrains
  • ABACB rhyme scheme
  • Bitter, ironic title
  • 'Garden' - Eden-like setting? Natural innocence being confronted
  • 'And saw what I never had seen' - State of mind? different set of eyes? OR something built? Epiphany?
  • 'Chapel' - Symbol of authority
  • Symbol of religion taken the laughter/fun.
  • Religion should be open to everyone
  • 'Thou shalt not' - Negative prohibition
  • Lines lengthened in 3rd and final stanza
  • 'Priests' - symbols of repression
  • 'Briars' - Like 'Holy Thursday'
  • 'Garden of misery'
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The Little Vagabond (Experience)

  • 4 Quatrains with long lines - Dissonant effect
  • 'Vagabond' - Street Child
  • 'Healthy and pleasant and wam' - Church better if more like a pub?. Listing, better than the church
  • 'Such usage in Heaven will never do well'  - Weighing up each one
  • Denial of comfort
  • 'Dame Lurch' - What you're like through your name - aptronym
  • 'Bandy' - Rickets.Vitamin Deficiency
  • 'Birch' - Punishment
  • Reconciled with Devil - Fantasy
  • Church needs to be kinder and more compassionate
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London (Experience)

  • Familiar Quatrains and alternate rhymes
  • Scenes of contemporary London life - Negative places of capitalism
  • 'Wander' - no real aim or purpose
  • 1st stanza - what the speaker sees. Horror around him
  • 'Thames' - Another icon of London. Transport goods to the empire
  • 'Mark' - Verb, Look of poverty. Sign
  • 2nd Stanza what he sees. Repetition of 'Cry'
  • 'Ban' - Connotations of military summons. Things that are prohibited
  • 'Mind-forged manacles' - Made in our minds. Shackles
  • Doesnt say much for the British Empire
  • 3rd Stanza acrostic of HEAR
  • 'Appals' - Pall bearer?
  • 'Black'ning' Soot Or minds of church authorities. Morals blackened
  • Final stanza - saved the worst thing till last
  • 'Midnight' - fear
  • 'Youthful' = young girls, prostitutes
  • 'Plagues' = STIs. Infects babies and others. 'Marriage hearse' = ironic
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Infant Sorrow (Experience)

  • 2 Short stanzas, Opposite to Infant Joy
  • No regular metre
  • Iambic
  • 'Wept' - baby now sees world as a dangerous place
  • Blake's metre ensures that verbs like groaned, wept and lept are stressed. Highlights the misery of this new born baby.
  • 2nd stanza - metre is now clumsy
  • 'Bound' - Also bound literally - bound for rest of life
  • Living in a restricted world
  • 'Sulk' = Accepted its role in life
  • No room for imagination in this poem
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A Little Boy Lost (Experience)

  • 6 Quatrains ABCB rhyme scheme
  • Allegorical poem
  • 1st Stanza - Questioning things - childlike
  • Enclosed world
  • Church dont want him to think for himself
  • 'I love you like the little bird' - Simplistic and natural simile
  • Priests' power being questioned
  • ''zeal' and 'seized' = angry sounds. Priests aggression
  • 'Care' = irony=congregation
  • 'little' - Adjective little makes us more emotional
  • 'Chain' - restriction meteaphorically boung, literal?
  • Rousseau = Born free but boung by chains of society
  • 'Albion' - old name used for England
  • Ends with a rhetorical question
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A Little Girl Lost (Experience)

  • 1 Quatrain, moves to 5 line stanzas, lines longer
  • AABBA rhyme scheme
  • 'A' = representing any child
  • 'Children of the future' = looking forward thinking things would change.
  • Fight against restrictions
  • No cencorship
  • 'Gold' - age of innocence
  • 'Naked in the sunny beams delight' - Looking back. Eden - Adam and Eve
  • 'Garden' - Garden of Eden
  • 'Holy light' - idyllic love
  • 'wanderers weep' - freely
  • Stanza 6 - Disrupts our expectations
  • 'But his loving look, like the holy bool' - Restrictive, Biblical authority
  • Inverted syntax
  • Final Stanza - censorious ideas
  • World where man's word is law
  • Through experienced eyes
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