William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience contrasts the innocence of childhood


The poems "The Lamb," "The Chimney Sweeper," "The Nurse's Song," and "The Dream" are from Songs of Innocence. In "The Lamb," Blake writes about the innocence of the creature and asks the lamb if he knows who made him. He then compares the lamb to the innocence of Jesus: "For he calls himself a Lamb." The lamb, a baby sheep, is innocent and pure as Christ. In "The Chimney Sweeper," an innocent boy must go to work when his mother dies, and he becomes sullied and dirty in the process. The poem reads, "There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head/ That curled like a lamb's back." In other words, a little boy must have his head with its curly, lamb-like white hair shaved to go to work in the corrupting city. The chimney sweeper is literally and figuratively dirtied as he works. In "The Nurse's Song," a group of children play in a pastoral scene until they are called by their nurse, "And the hills are all cover’d with sheep." Again, the innocent sheep find a place in this poem as the ultimate symbol of innocence. Finally, in "A Dream," a child mourns over a lost ant, who uses a beetle to light his way home. The poem ends on a happy note because the ant can find his way home.

"The Tyger," from Songs of Experience, is the counterpart poem to "The Lamb." The narrator asks, "What immortal hand or eye,/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" In other words, the narrator wonders who created the tiger, just as he wondered who created the lamb. The lamb is the ultimate symbol of innocence, but the tiger is a ferocious, bestial creature, the opposite of the lamb. In "London," the narrator watches people going about their dirty jobs in the city and sees suffering everywhere. The narrator remarks "How the Chimney-sweepers cry/ Every black’ning Church appalls." In this poem, the chimney sweepers are no longer innocent and happy but dirty and distressed. For Blake, rural scenes are the places of innocence and childhood, while adults in the city are corrupted and dirtied from their time on earth.  

Enjoy big discounts

Get 20% discount on your first order