William Blake’s Poems As Social Protest And Anger At The Increased Industrialisation Of Society

July 2, 2021 by Essay Writer

Blake’s biggest fear is the city or industry engulfing everything. Most of his poetry revolves around politics, philosophy and religion. Blake’s works show that terms like Innocence and Experience are antithetical terms and contain within themselves their own opposites. He unsettles established oppositions and makes us see the world in new, imaginative and liberated ways; innocence to experience, good to evil, God to devil, white to black, pure to impure, child to adult, nature to city and human to God.

Blake believes in good and evil and he is highly fanatical about God but because of his dissenting background, he does not believe in orthadox religion.He disagrees with the concept of good evil which is supported by the church. Blake retains a hatred for all institutions, the church being a massive institution, amidst his religious beliefs. He believes that they manipulate the idea of sin. His series of contraries state that goodand evil, innocence and experience, reside in us at the same time. Without contraries, there is no progression.

Innocence, an image of how things could be and perhaps they should be, also which is something that is celebrated, gradually changes and turns into experience. Blake believes that whilst it is said that innocence and childhood is lost, experience and adulthood is a lot worse than it should be because of institutions and material of things like the church and the government and how they oppress us.

His hatred and opposition for all institutions and authorities becomes very distinct once again when describing Sir Joshua Reynold’s art. Reynolds would divert to classical art in an effort to elevate the portraits of those of the wealthy class however Blake believed that this was absurd and his style was sterile. “This man was hired to depress art.” (William Blake) He also goes on to say that “I spent the vigour of my youth and genius under the depression of Sir Joshua.” (William Blake) It is evident through the production of his art and how it looked that he does not belong to any contemporary space. “I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s.”(William Blake) This line is key to understanding the figure of William Blake and his hatred for institutions.

Blake’s big fear in the Songs of Innocence and of Experience is that industry is engulfing everything in every possible way. Songs of Innocence and of Experience shows us the two contrary states of the human soul. Blake disdained the Industrial Revolution anyway he held expectation this may change. This expectation was significantly apparent in one of his sonnets that he distributed, this being ‘​Jerusalem’​. While he grasped and had confidence in the morals of the French Revolution, ‘​Jerusalem’​ shows how expectation despite everything remains. While not being in Songs of Innocence and Experience, ​’Jerusalem’​ uncovers how Blake loathed the modern transformation and how the French Revolution’s standards ought to be the way to deal with life. Jerusalem speaks to the great side of Blake, who utilizes it as an asylum and a position of bliss. ‘Nor will my sword rest in my grasp till we have manufactured Jerusalem in England’s green and charming area.’ He is denouncing the mechanical transformation right now. Blake asserts that his displeasure will be activated reliably and will consistently battle until the innovative revulsions end and England is cleansed from treachery. The Promised Land is spoken to by Jerusalem. Blake did this to demonstrate that in spite of the fact that he thinks the mechanical unrest is horrendous, the future despite everything has trust.

Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794) compares the honest, peaceful environmental factors of earliest stages with a grown-up universe of persecution and suppression; in spite of the fact that poems, for example, ‘The Lamb’ mirror a mild temperance, ‘The Tyger’ show opposite, darker forces. Consequently the entire arrangement talks about the significance and downsides of two distinctive world standpoints. A significant number of the poems break into sets, in this way a proportionate situation or question can be at first observed and afterward be experienced through the crystal of blamelessness. In particular, he censures authoritarian government, harsh philosophy, sexual suppression, and systematized religion; his extraordinary understanding is the manner by which these various types of intensity work together to impede what is generally heavenly in humankind.

Most definitely, the character of individual confidence is less worried than with the body of the Church, her political job and her social and social outcomes. “The Lamb Copy T”​ is one of Blake’s most childish poems. The voice of a child is automatically rendered in this. It seems natural that the child is engaging with the animal, in this case the lamb. The theme of the innocence of childhood is also rendered here. The lamb, which is a representation of a child, is depicted as being innocent. Because they are innocent however, Blake does not mean that they are ignorant or completely divorced from the setting of Experience. We see that young boys and girls get lost in the poems. Blake believes that innocence clearly is a visual of how the world should be. There is a bright, welcoming element to this poem as the pure door is open and there is a dove on the door which represents innocence and purity. There is nothing didactic in this poem. There is no anger in this poem as it is bound up with light heartedness instead. The child may not retain any knowledge or opinion of their surroundings thus showing there is a lack of hatred in ‘​The Lamb Copy T’.

In Songs of Experience, the images are different. The atmosphere is darker, the flowers are sic and there are oppressed children and chimney sweepers speaking about the power structures that oppress them. ‘​The Tyger Copy T’​ portrays a different tone and atmosphere however. The tyger is a symbol of something beautiful yet ferocious however their lack of ferocity is instead being presented. This poem instead interrogates the act of creation instead. Tygers, which are usually depicted as intimidating animals, are instead smiling and are ‘teddy-like’ therefore this image belongs to the Songs of Experience. The images therefore clearly reflect the tone of the poem. The speaker of the lamb believes that the universe is benevolent. And that the contrary states exist together.

Two contrary states also exist together between ‘​The Chimney Sweeper​’. This can be depicted as a radical poem of social protest. Innocent children at this time are being exploited and are sold at the young age of four. “It is you who deceive children with this false morality, just as it is ‘your chimneys’ (verse 1, line 4) that are responsible for having boy sweeps in the first place.” Some choked inside the fireplaces they were attempting to clean. Others grew up hindered and twisted, kicking the bucket at a youthful age from malignant growth or lung illnesses. The biggest horror of the poem comes in the subsequent stanza, where the boy says it was ‘Because I was happy’ that his parents condemned him to this early death. Blake has purposely given us a sentence which doesn’t bode well so as to give us how absolutely wrong it is to abuse the immaculateness of the youngster. There is a contrast of the reality of confined life to the dream of freedom. The real world is black. Blake uses the voice of the child to attack this horrible myth hence the reason why he despises organised religion and institutions.

In the Songs of Experience, Blake implicates the institutions and the parents of these children for colluding with them. He celebrates childhood and advocates innocence. Blake’s furious social protest and anger at the increased industrialisation of society is again evident in the ​‘London Copy T’​ where he advocates the importance of spiritual vision while expressing his horror of what people have become in the city of London, which he now sees as a mechanised industrial city. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience are clearly poems of furious social protest, and anger at the increased industrialisation of society and he laments this in the poems aforementioned above. He consistently shows us the two contrary states of the human soul.

References

  1. Bloom, Harold. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. http://www.blakearchive.org
  2. www.poetryfoundation.org
  3. http://www.blakearchive.org/
  4. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/

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