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Innocence Vs. Experience

            The dictionary states the definition of innocence as freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil. Guiltlessness of a specific legal crime or offence. Freedom from guile, cunning, or deceit; simplicity or artlessness. Lack of worldliness or sophistication; naiveté. Lack of knowledge or understanding; ignorance. Freedom from harmfulness and inoffensiveness. And that of Experience as active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill: a lesson taught by experience. An event or a series of events participated in or lived through. The totality of such events in the past of an individual or group. In his book Blake uses these two terms to characterize the people or events in each poem. The two poems that represent these two terms the best are both which are entitled The Chimney Sweeper.
             In Songs of Innocence, all of the poems revolve around children, and the way a child sees or learns about God. The children in all of these poems are basically bereft of experience, but at this young age, they are beginning to or are forced to grow up quickly. Each poem speaks of the innocence of the child involved, the sort of lack of sin and in this way, Blake uses the presence of God or his angels to help portray this innocence. Blake also uses the innocence of the children in these poems to prelude to the experience they will all ultimately have to endure. In The Chimney Sweeper, the young boy, barely able to say the word "sweep-, is forced to give up his youthful innocence and go to work as a chimney sweep. "When my mother died I was very young/ And my father sold me while yet my tongue/ Could scarcely cry "'weep! weep! weep!-/ So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep."" He is forced to experience the hardships of being a grown-up, and having a job, while still at a tender age. As the poem continues, Blake describes the fears of the young children through a dream of one of them, but he uses an Angel from God to dispel those fears and make them feel safe and warm, and able to fulfill their jobs as young chimney sweeps.

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