Songs of Innocence and Experience - William Blake - ebook
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Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems by William Blake in two phases. "Innocence" and "Experience" are definitions of consciousness that rethink Milton's existential-mythic states of "Paradise" and the "Fall." Blake's categories are modes of perception that tend to coordinate with a chronology that would become standard in Romanticism: childhood is a state of protected innocence rather than original sin, but not immune to the fallen world and its institutions. This world sometimes impinges on childhood itself, and in any event becomes known through "experience," a state of being marked by the loss of childhood vitality, by fear and inhibition, by social and political corruption, and by the manifold oppression of Church, State, and the ruling classes. The volume's "Contrary States" are sometimes signalled by patently repeated or contrasted titles: in Innocence, Infant Joy, in Experience, Infant Sorrow; in Innocence, The Lamb, in Experience, The Fly and The Tyger. The stark simplicity of poems such as The Chimney Sweeper and The Little Black Boy display Blake's acute sensibility to the realities of poverty and exploitation that accompanied the "dark satanic mills" of the Industrial Revolution'.

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William Blake

Songs of Innocence and Experience

BookRix GmbH & Co. KG80331 Munich

Songs of Innocence and Experience

By William Blake

SONGS OF INNOCENCE

INTRODUCTION:

Piping down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of pleasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child,

And he laughing said to me:

‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’

So I piped with merry cheer.

‘Piper, pipe that song again.’

So I piped: he wept to hear.

‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;

Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’

So I sung the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.

‘Piper, sit thee down and write

In a book, that all may read.’

So he vanished from my sight;

And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,

And I stained the water clear,

And I wrote my happy songs

Every child may joy to hear.

THE SHEPHERD

How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot!

From the morn to the evening he strays;

He shall follow his sheep all the day,

And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,

And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;

He is watchful while they are in peace,

THE ECHOING GREEN

The sun does arise,

And make happy the skies;

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring;

The skylark and thrush,

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around

To the bells’ cheerful sound;

While our sports shall be seen

On the echoing green.

Old John, with white hair,

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk.

They laugh at our play,

And soon they all say,

‘Such, such were the joys

When we all—girls and boys—

In our youth-time were seen

On the echoing green.’

Till the little ones, weary,

No more can be merry:

The sun does descend,

And our sports have an end.

Round the laps of their mothers

Many sisters and brothers,

Like birds in their nest,

Are ready for rest,

And sport no more seen

THE LAMB

Little lamb, who made thee?

Does thou know who made thee,

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, woolly, bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little lamb, who made thee?

Does thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:

He is called by thy name,

For He calls Himself a Lamb.

He is meek, and He is mild,

He became a little child.

I a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by His name.

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee!

THE LITTLE BLACK BOY

My mother bore me in the southern wild,

And I am black, but O my soul is white!

White as an angel is the English child,

But I am black, as if bereaved of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree,

And, sitting down before the heat of day,

She took me on her lap and kissed me,

And, pointing to the East, began to say:

‘Look on the rising sun: there God does live,