Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Songs of Innocence

Songs of Innocence: 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 they 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.
William Blake

Blake, like many other poets, wrote often about religion, or God. This was a very popular topic for romantic poets, and this poem is no exception. Blake talks about a piper, piping a song to a child. At first, the child was very sad to hear the story because he wept over it. The next time the story was told though, he wept with joy. The child then wanted everyone to hear this story, so he had the piper write it in a book. This story is about Christ on earth, also known as the New Testament, which is located in the Bible. The child cries at first because the people in the story crucify Christ. The reason he is crying is understandable. Why would a group of people crucify their own God? When it is played a second time though, the tears are of joy because it is through Christ’s death that we have the opportunity to live. Christ voluntarily came to this earth, so that we could have the opportunity to become clean and be saved. When this subject is thought about, it makes many people weep with joy. In the poem, the child wants everyone to hear this story, so they have the opportunity to be saved. Why is it that the child only wants other children to hear it? This can be answered by the title of the book; Songs of Innocence. Children are seen as innocent compared to adults. Adults have lived a longer life, and have made many more mistakes. Often times, it is also very difficult to try and teach adults about something, where as kids are easier. Their minds are more open to change, and learning about new things, where as adults are very closed off. However, children have also been seen as easily deceived. So does this mean that the story is told to children so they can just have something to believe in? Blake was often questioning the idea of organized religion, but not the idea of religion altogether. This is one of the reasons why people often find Blake’s work confusing. But Blake’s main focus for this poem, is to teach the children about God when they are still young, so they can grow up with the idea and pass it on to future generations.

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