A detailed study of William Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' in relation to the principles of the pastoral convention.

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Literature Coursework

Kara-kaye D'Aguilar Hoilett

Questions:(a)What does the Pastoral Convention refer to?

(b)By detailed reference to Blake's poems, show how they highlight features of the pastoral.(c)What is the underlying significance of Blake's usage of the Pastoral? (What message is he conveying by using it?

In the poetic anthology, Songs of Innocence and Experience by ardent romanticist William Blake, the reader is exposed to a kinship of poems, a majority of which vividly reflect the characteristics archetypal to the Pastoral Convention. Through detailed reference to relevant poems of Blake's poetry assemblage, this treatise endeavours to, via exploration of the major elements of poetry--imagery, tone, rhythm and rhyme--adequately convey this relation. Blake's employment of the 'pastoral device' reveals several underlying issues which it is the supplementary aim of this essay to effectively impart up on the completion of this analysis.

Pastoral--a term derived from the Latin word pastor ("Shepherd")--is a literary genre established by the classical Greek poet Theotcritus and perpetuated by the Roman poet Vergil, whose Eclogues (39 BC) were widely imitated during the Renaissance by Italian and English writers.

Theocritus described the idyllic life of the bucolic countryman, praising the simplicity of rural existence and implicitly condescending the misery and corruption of civilized urban existence. The shepherds of classical and Renaissance pastoral are poor and humble, and therefore excluded from sophisticated society. The pastoral setting is a benign Arcadian scene in which the only masculine responsibilities are the tending of flocks and crops, the making of music, and the wooing of women. The frank artificiality of the form made it an invaluable medium throughout its history for exploring the attitudes of cultured people. The idealized setting typical of the genus is frequently a thin disguise for a complex debate. The assumption that humanity and nature remain essentially innocent until corrupted...