Question: Discuss the Two contrary states of human soul in the poetry of Blake.
The most interesting aspect of William Blake’s poetry is that he tries to explore the psychological truth of life. He observes that there are two contrary states in the human soul. In his poems under the title of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Blake (1757-1827) blazons the contrary qualities of the human soul.
The significance of the title
The title of Blake’s collection of poetry “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” has two sections in which the poet talks about the happiness and innocence of a child’s life and the injuries and cruelties of the civilized world. So, the title of the collection of poems is very vital as the reader can feel the sense of the poet from the title. The remarkable poems are illustrated here to prove him as a poet of two contradictory states of the human soul.
“Introduction” is a title poem of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”. This poem expresses the two sites of the human heart. In the “Songs of Innocence”, the speaker is a piper who would like to sing the songs of happiness and innocence to make all walk of people happy and comfortable.
“Pipe a song about a Lamb;
So I piped with merry cheer,”
The piper declares that he sings the songs of innocence by the order of god to please the valleys. But in the section of experience, the speaker is a bard who this time sings about caution and worry in a terrific tone which is completely different from the gentle tone of innocence.
Nurse’s Song in ‘Songs of Innocence’ and Nurse’s Songs in ‘Songs of Experience’ express two contrary modes of mind. The nurse in the first poem is intentional to look cheerfully at her world and adopts an easy-going manner toward the children. On the other hand, she has reason to be fearful and protective inexperience.
Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Your spring and your day are wasted in play,
And your winter and night in disguise.
Thus, Blake means to say that the response of a single mind is changed in the time span.
“The Lamb” vs “The Tyger”
One of the best examples of inverse qualities of the human soul is lamb and tiger. The lamb is the symbol of innocence, some other soft qualities of the human mind, and even Jesus Christ himself. Wrath, anger, and cruelty such human qualities have been symbolized by the tiger. The poet also wonders whether the same God has created both these contrasting qualities of the human soul.
“Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
“The Chimney Sweeper”
This title poem of “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” limns and satirizes the child labor of contemporary England that is available in developing and poor of countries of the world nowadays. “The Chimney Sweeper” in the first series of poems depicts the contentment and sense of security of a soot cover boy. But the resentment and helplessness of the sweeper have upheld inexperience. Thus, the same heart is quite different.
“The Divine Image” vs “A divine Image”
“The Divine Image” in the “Songs of Innocence” and “A Divine Image” in “Songs of Experience” portray some contrasting states of the soul. In the first poem, Blake shows that mercy, pity, peace, and love are the qualities of the soul created by God on his own level. In the poem “A Divine Image”, the poet exactly displays the contrary qualities like cruelty, terrors, and secrecy.
“The Divine Image” vs “Human Abstract”
The most interesting and extraordinary poems of William Blake are “The Divine Image” of innocence and “Human Abstract” of experience. In both of the poems, the expert poet has recounted four good qualities of the human soul such as mercy, pity, peace, and love but the purpose of such qualities are totally different. Inexperience, the qualities are used to hide and cover evil motives.
Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly,
Feed on the Mystery.
Thus, the genius poet asserts as soon as human beings are inexperienced, they lose their innocence.
The purpose of the literature that literature deals with human philosophy and that psychology has been made quite perfect by William Blake through his psychological analysis. We can never be able to understand without the poems of Blake that innocence and experience are complementary.