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Songs of Experience

The Songs of Experience were first advertised in 1793, before being rebound with the Songs of Innocence the following year. As one might expect the poems of Experience are darker in tone and outlook, affirming a bleaker (or more realistic) view of creation than their 'Innocent' counterparts, more satirical, cynical and worldy-wise, and often more angry. In the Songs of Experience 'Innocence has "progressed" towards 'Experience', but it is important to remember that Blake's vision is essentially dialectical: 'Innocence' and 'Experience' are co-related states, and Blake is certainly not attempting to suggest that 'Experience' is "better" or "more realistic" than the idealistic naivety of 'Innocence'. And behind the Songs of Experience also is the hope of transformation, that "the cries of chimney sweepers, soldiers, harlots, menace church, palace and established religion, calling not for removal to 'new worlds, as in 'Night' in Innocence, but for the transformation of this one." (Peter Butter).
 Just as the figure of the Lamb dominates the Songs of Innocence, so the Songs of Experience are presided over by the figure of the 'Tyger', that mixture of the Beautiful, the Dangerous and the Energetic, with its associations of "Christ the Tiger". It is worth remembering that Blake was conscious of the dangers of a pallid and life-denying Evangelical Christianity which castigated sexuality and sexual energy to the realms of the unspeakable demonic. From the point of view of the Songs of Innocence this view of sexuality, (and of tigers) is unthinkable, but these are not the Songs of Innocence!

Introduction (Experience)
Earth's Answer
My Pretty Rose Tree
A Poison Tree
The Tiger
The Sick Rose
Infant Sorrow
The Chimney Sweeper (Experience)
Holy Thursday (Experience)
Ah! Sun-Flower
The Fly
The Clod and the Pebble
The Garden of Love
The Voice of the Ancient Bard
A Divine Image

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