Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake
Songs of Innocence and of Experience
William Blake
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Songs of Innocence and of Experience is a collection of illustrated poems by William Blake. It appeared in two phases: a few first copies were printed and illuminated by Blake himself in 1789. Innocence" and "Experience" are definitions of consciousness that rethink Milton's existential-mythic states of "Paradise" and "Fall". Often, interpretations of this collection centre around a mythical dualism, where "Innocence" represents the "unfallen world" and "Experience" represents the "fallen world".

Songs of Innocence
and
of Experience

by
William Blake


Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Introduction

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:
‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’
So I piped with merry cheer.
‘Piper, pipe that song again.’
So I piped: he wept to hear.
‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
‘Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.’
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience


The Shepherd

How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be fillèd with praise.
For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,
And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their shepherd is nigh.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience


The Echoing Green

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells’ cheerful sound;
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.
Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say,
‘Such, such were the joys
When we all — girls and boys —
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green.’
Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry:
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Songs of Innocence and of Experience


The Lamb

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