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William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience

A Student's Guide

by Brendan Cooper (Author)
Textbook XIV, 108 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • Chronology
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 What Are the Songs About?
  • 3 The Meaning of “Innocence” in the Songs
  • 4 The Meaning of “Experience” in the Songs
  • 5 Nature and the Pastoral
  • 6 The Role of Childhood
  • 7 Blake’s Visual Images
  • 8 Why Are They Called “Songs”?
  • 9 Could Blake Spell?
  • 10 Was Blake a Romantic Poet?
  • 11 Was Blake a Genius or a Madman?
  • Appendices
  • (i) Blake and Drugs
  • (ii) Blake’s Compositional Methods
  • (iii) Blake’s Mythology
  • Albion
  • Beulah
  • Four Zoas
  • Har and Heva
  • Los
  • Luvah
  • Tharmas
  • Thel
  • Urizen
  • (iv) The “Problem Songs”
  • “The Little Girl Lost” & “The Little Girl Found”
  • “The Voice of the Ancient Bard”
  • “To Tirzah”
  • “A Divine Image”
  • (v) What Were Blake’s Visions?
  • (vi) Musicians Inspired by Blake
  • Hubert Parry
  • Benjamin Britten
  • Jim Morrison
  • Van Morrison
  • William Bolcom
  • Jah Wobble
  • Patti Smith
  • Bruce Dickinson
  • Ulver
  • Richard Ashcroft
  • Pete Doherty
  • Testament
  • (vii) Blake on His Own Work
  • (viii) Ten Facts About William Blake
  • (ix) Blake on Film
  • Mean Streets, dir. Martin Scorsese (1973)
  • Blade Runner, dir. Ridley Scott (1982)
  • Dead Man, dir. Jim Jarmusch (1995)
  • Red Dragon, dir. Brett Ratner (2002)
  • Bibliography
  • Index

| vii →

Acknowledgements

I would like to begin by thanking James O’Brien, poet, sage, and friend, for his wisdom and guidance in early stages of this project, and his invaluable input on the manuscript.

I am very grateful to Christabel Scaife and Emma Clarke at Peter Lang for their help and support in shepherding this study towards publication. I would also like to thank the Yale Center for British Art for providing the images used here.

All inspiration endlessly flows from my two daughters, Manon and Hermione.

This book is for Nouska, my light in the dark, my joy with silken twine.

| ix →

Figures

Experience frontispiece (Bentley Copy L, Plate 29), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience combined title page (Bentley Copy L, Plate 2), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Songs of Innocence title page (Bentley Copy F, Plate 2), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“Introduction” to Songs of Experience (Bentley Copy L, Plate 31), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“The Ecchoing Green” (Bentley Copy F, Plate 9), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“My Pretty Rose Tree”, “Ah! Sun-Flower”, “The Lilly” (Bentley Copy L, Plate 53), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“Infant Joy” (Bentley Copy F, Plate 29), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“The Tyger” (Bentley Copy L, Plate 36), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“Holy Thursday” (Bentley Copy L, Plate 10), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. ← ix | x →

“Laughing Song” (Bentley Copy F, Plate 14), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“The Little Girl Lost” (Bentley Copy L, Plates 33 and 34), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

“The Blossom” (Bentley Copy L, Plate 20), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Innocence frontispiece (Bentley Copy L, Plate 1), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

| xi →

Chronology

1757 William Blake born at 28 Broad Street, Westminster, 28 November.

Summary

William Blake (1757–1827) is one of the most significant figures in the history of English poetry. He is also one of the most mysterious, most challenging, and most frequently misunderstood. His Songs of Innocence and of Experience, on the surface so simple, are laden with mysteries that seem to deepen on every reading.
In this book, aimed at A Level and undergraduate students, Brendan Cooper explores the subtleties and contradictions of the Songs, avoiding formulaic readings by asking key questions about Blake’s life and art. What are the Songs about? What does Blake mean by «Innocence» and «Experience»? Why are they called «Songs»? Was Blake a genius, or a madman?
This engaging and accessible introduction to Blake’s work will help students to navigate its complexities and develop their own critical responses to the text.

Details

Pages
XIV, 108
ISBN (PDF)
9781787077577
ISBN (ePUB)
9781787077584
ISBN (MOBI)
9781787077591
ISBN (Book)
9781787072206
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (August)
Tags
William Blake English literature Poetry Study guide
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. XIV, 108 pp., 14 coloured ill., 30 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Brendan Cooper (Author)

Brendan Cooper read English at Downing College, Cambridge, where he also completed a PhD in American Literature. He is the author of Dark Airs: John Berryman and the Spiritual Politics of Cold War American Poetry (2009), as well as numerous articles and chapters on twentieth-century American and British literature. He is presently Head of English at Eton College.

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Title: William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience