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Songs of Innocence and of Experience

            William Blake's illuminated book, "Songs of Innocence and of Experience," consists of a collection of poems illustrating the two opposing facets in life – innocence and experience. Blake's poetry demonstrates the inevitable evolvement from the joyful innocence of childhood to a despairing world of experience through a sense of parallels, which reflects upon the expression "there is no progression without contraries". In the three sets of poems, "Infant Joy" and "Infant Sorrow", "The Chimney Sweeper", and "Nurse's Song", Blake explores the two disparate but connected perspectives of our human lives through vivid concrete imagery, powerful abstract symbols, and ingenious juxtaposition.
             In the poems "Infant Joy" and "Infant Sorrow", Blake depicts two different aspects of childbirth and the relationships between the child and the parents. In "Infant Joy", the poem represents the celebration and joy felt at the arrival of an innocent baby. It is fundamentally a conversation between a newborn and a parent figure, consisting of only unsophisticated words because the infant has not yet learned how to speak, which recalls of the theme innocence. The blissful, enthusiastic tone of this poem derives from the diction of words such as "sweet joy" and "pretty joy". An apparent pattern in "Infant Joy" is the repetition of phrases – " 'What shall I call thee?'" (Line 3), " 'Sweet Joy befall thee!'" (Line 6), " 'Sweet joy I call thee'" (Line 9), and " 'Sweet joy befall thee.'" (Line 12) This pattern of repetition emphasizes the joy that the parent wishes upon the child. Contrastingly, the child in "Infant Sorrow" is the only one speaking and is describing his or her own birth as a traumatic experience using despairing words such as "helpless", "struggling", "striving", and "bound", which radiates an eerie sensation of being trapped in darkness and hopelessness.

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