William Blake's Songs Of Experience
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William Blake’s Song of Experience
The songs of William Blake are probably the most easily understood and the most important of his writing. They are a necessity in order to understand Blake. It has been said that the songs are too short, but they make up what they like in length with quality (Gillham VIII-IX). Out of its context, each song means a great deal less than Blake expected of his total invention. Occasionally, a song may be taken to mean something quite different from what he intended. The songs were not written for our enjoyment or edification alone, but instead for our salvation (Gleckner 37). When read together the Songs of Experience are a reflection of Blake’s view on life (Gillham I).
The state of the Songs of Experience is expressed through selfishness, anxiety, insensitivity, and meddlesomeness. They all militate against a generous appreciation of life’s events. We assert our own interest in a way that doesn’t allow us to appreciate worldly happenings and then we are left with interests which are directed toward insignificant things.
Nearly all of the Songs of Experience depict people who have defended themselves from life’s experiences without knowing it. They are assertive people who are supposed to be wise, but their assertive wisdom prevents them from being able to see. Blake often depicts experienced man as a greybeard who has lost the use of his senses. His is often lame as well. We deny ourselves a full life in many ways and reading Blake’s poems often brings home the knowledge of our ways of crippling ourselves (15-16). To some degree, we live “in disguise” because we adopt set attitudes and responses. Our world lies hidden from us because we see only what habit and convenience prepare us to find. The Songs of Experience display our minds working this way (45), and this knowledge is unfortunately accompanied by the realization that there is little we can do to change ou...
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