There Seems To Be Little To Distinguish The Songs Of Innocence And The Songs Of Experience. Discuss With Reference To Content, Style, Form And Poetic Technique.

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Blake's songs of innocence and experience are written differently to emphasise the differences in what we find appealing at different ages. The Songs of Innocence are written in a way, which could be compared with nursery rhymes for their style and rhythm. This is shown differently in the Songs of Experience, which seem much more appealing for an older audience giving more focus on the content. In this way, the Songs of Innocence are much more similar to the Songs of Experience but our focus is taken away from the content and put more into the way in which it would be read. In this way, they abandon the cheery form by which the Innocence poems are written (regardless of their content) and give a much more sombre effect.

In the Songs of Innocence, Blake often uses exclamations to emphasise a happy and joking atmosphere as opposed to an exclamation of anger.

These give the impression that the subjects Blake was writing about are being portrayed in a child-like manner with laughter and sadness mixed. This is shown in all the Songs of Innocence with the exception of "The Echoing Green," "Little Boy Found," "The Divine Image" and "Night." The other 15 poems in this collection all contain at least one exclamation mark and therefore contain a much lighter tone. This is proved several times in each poem. However, often the exclamation mark induces naivety and innocence because it is used as a plea. This is shown in "Little Boy Lost (Father, father, where are you going?):" "Father, father, where are you going? Oh do not walk so fast!" Because this is written in a basic way, this has been used in Songs of Innocence. Had it been written in a more insightful fashion, this poem could have been used in the Songs of Experience due to its content. The same poem title "Little Boy Lost (Nought loves another as itself)," is also about a lost boy but not in the physical sense as he has appeared to have lost his faith in God, or lost his faith in the equality of man. The image portrayed is that of a child who does not love anyone more than he loves himself. A priest punishes him, although due to the nature of the punishment, we are led to sympathise for the "lost" boy. The "lost" children Blake writes about are lost in a different way to those in Songs of Innocence. In "The Little Girl Lost," the feeling of being lost is shown in a little girl's parent's dream. As a paternal instinct they have dreamt about their child, Lyca, only 7 years old being alone and lost in a desert surrounded by lions and tigers who "play" around her and then induce "ruby tears." This is almost a nightmare for parents, and it is not obvious at first who is seeing this image, Lyca or her parents, until "The Little Girl Found." Their finding their child meant she was no longer lost and that she is safe with them.

Despite the musical appeal of the Songs of Innocence, they are written in a much more sombre tone at times, which is accentuated when mixed with the style in which it has been written (as opposed to the Songs of Experience, not in the form of a nursery-rhyme). Due to this way of writing the poems, they could be either read or sung to small children, which is often the only innocent element of the poem. For instance, "The Chimney Sweeper,"'s tale is of woe and anguish, yet the style provokes a happier image. He explains that the reason why he is black is due to the sweeping of chimneys and the reason for him to be in this job is because his father sold him at a very young age after his mother died. This is no tale of happiness and innocence. However, his innocence is displayed quite clearly when his friend has a dream about God rescuing them from their dark days, as long as they "grin and bear it" until they meet Him. Their willingness to put faith in God shows they have no one else to turn to. Therefore the boy's narrative style and the nursery-rhyme style in which it is written are the only elements of innocence as his naivety is so clear.

In most of the poems in Songs of Innocence and Experience, Blake seems to blame adults and religion for the loss of children's innocence. In "The Chimney Sweeper" (Experience) for instance, the child knows why he's unhappy and it's due to his parents forcing him to learn the sins introduced by religion.

"They [his parents] clothed me in the clothes of death And taught me to sing the notes of woe." His innocence is lost by the recognition of religion's sins and that his learning them was not of his own will. His strength to be able to evaluate the situation in such a manner shows that his experience has taught him why it happens. It is also noticeable that the repetition of "weep! weep!," also used in Innocence, is followed by "in notes of woe!" In the Innocence version, he does not explain why he was weeping, and perhaps does not know why. In the Experience version, it is explained because it shows that he is experienced in feeling woe and therefore knows why it happens.

It is clear that Blake does not only feel that adults remove the innocence of children but also the church. The church and "God" bring about a lot of the rules humans follow throughout life (such as "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not commit adultery") and these are rules which have progressed and been magnified over time. The narrator of "The Chimney Sweeper" is only a young boy whose rules to follow are those set by his parents, such as when bedtime is and when he should come home from playing with friends. The Chimney Sweeper's tale describes a life of rules set by the church and his parents, all three of whom have entirely removed the innocence of a small boy.

Blake's poem "The Tiger" in Songs of Experience gives an overall message which could serve to prove the theory about Blake's resentment towards adults and religion, and the difficulty to link the differences between the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience. It questions "God" about creating innocence and evil and why are they both in the same world? He asks how the same creator could make both the lamb and the tiger.

"Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee?" The Tiger represents strength, power, mystery and also beauty. He is a wonderful creation but with the power to kill. These are all features adults and possibly also religion can possess.

The difficulty to distinguish between the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience is due to there being both innocent and experienced messages in each poem. In "The Tiger," it seems almost as though Blake is painting an elaborate portrait of a tiger, focusing on its more fearful characteristics and also using a rhythmic tone to make the poem feel less imposing. In fact, it seems almost as though it's an angry poem, blaming "God" or whatever created the living things on Earth. There are 14 question marks in "The Tiger," showing the desperation in Blake's tone to find out the answers to his questions. He seems to be unable to comprehend the reasoning behind the creation of both innocence and experience, experience in this case being almost morally evil. In the first stanza, he asks: "What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" And in the last stanza he asks: "What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?" In the last stanza he asks who dares to create the tiger and its terrifying demeanour.

This poem is very powerful as Blake's resentment towards adults and the church is made very clear. There are many innocent elements to "The Tiger," such as the light tone in which it is written. The first line of the first stanza, "Tiger, tiger, burning bright" could also be sung as a nursery rhyme, resembling most of the poems in Songs of Innocence and Experience. This could even be sung to the tune of "Twinkle, twinkle little star" which is one of the more innocent nursery rhymes sung to small children, children of the age of "The Chimney Sweeper" which shows the irony of what Blake is portraying because he is describing the harsh realities of life.

The poems in Innocence could be included with Songs of Experience as they all contain the same sorts of underlying messages of despair and grief, but they are written in a much lighter tone to give the sense of an innocent situation, but the reality is that both the Songs of Innocence and Experience are written about the same things, just written differently. The children of Innocence and Experience are always the innocent component, described often as lambs, yet Blake depicts them to be corrupt by the power that is the Tiger, or their parents and the rules of the church.

The differences between the Songs of Innocence and Experience are indistinguishable because each poem contains some innocence and some experience. They poems of Innocence seem much lighter but only due to the tone. The Songs of Experience do not adopt as much of a light-hearted tone, but hold the same messages, only with deeper explanations than those in Innocence.