By Alan Tomlinson (auth.)
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Additional resources for Macmillan Master Guides Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
The carrion-eating Raven that nests in the tree's 'thickest shade' symbolises the fear of death. In Milton the main purpose of thy Priests & of thy Churches Is to impress on men the fear of death, to teach Trembling & fear, terror, constriction, abject selfishness. The last stanza of 'The Human Abstract' emphasises. the unnaturalness of all this. ' The titles of the two poems carry some relevant significances of their own. 'The Divine Image' builds up a solid body of living activity for the human affections to relate to.
The title page that Blake designed for combined editions of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience carries a subtitle, 'Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul', and many an Experience poem is designed as the deliberate antithesis of an Innocence one. Thus 'The Lamb' of Innocence is confronted by 'The Tyger' of Experience, or the reader is offered two sharply contrasted views of the 'Holy Thursday' ceremonies in London's St Paul's Cathedral. The 'Holy Thursday' example is an especially useful one because a comparison of the two poems makes it so clear that what we are being given is two different ways of seeing the same event, two observers, neither of whom sees in the same way as the other does.
That free Love with bondage bound. Jealousy is motivated by a fear of losing the beloved and a selfish desire to possess the beloved. In Blake's works jealousy is a common attribute of the vengeful and tyrannically demanding Old Testament God whom he called Nobodaddy - nobody's father. In 'To Nobodaddy', an unpublished poem from a manuscript notebook in which Blake made the first drafts of many of the Songs of Experience, he is addressed as 'Father of Jealousy', and described as hiding himself in 'darkness & obscurity' in an attempt to intimidate and control his children.